Two years after Wisconsin union law, police arrest protesters

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 24, 2013 6:26 PM
Two years after Wisconsin union law, police arrest protesters

By Brendan O'Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Two years after a Wisconsin law severely curbed public sector union power, police on Wednesday arrested more than two dozen people who have continued to hold daily protests against the law in the rotunda of the State Capitol building.

Capitol Police in Madison, Wisconsin said they arrested 25 people for not having the required permit to demonstrate. Another person was arrested for disorderly conduct after allegedly spitting on a protestor.

Those arrested were taking part in the daily Solidarity Sing Along of Arlo Guthrie and Billy Bragg protest songs every weekday at noon for the last two years.

The sing-a-long began after tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered to protest Republican Governor Scott Walker's February, 2011 plan to reduce the power of unions.

The law made it voluntary for public sector employees to pay union dues and required unions to be certified by a regular vote of members. The protests in 2011 and 2012 forced Walker to face a recall election last year, which he won.

Bill Dunn, 63, one of the regular singers, said the purpose of the demonstrations was to continue opposing Walker's policies and to express the "voices of working class and poor people heard in the halls of power, instead of only those of influence peddling lobbyists."

Dunn and the other protesters were fined $200 and released.

"The Capitol Police are upholding the law to ensure the building can be shared by all citizens who come to the Capitol," said Stephanie Marquis, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Administration, which oversees the Capitol Police Department.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Greg McCune, Bernard Orr)