At least 15 school systems in Wisconsin are closed today as more teachers join in a third day of protests over a bill that would strip public employees of most collective bargaining rights.The legislation at issue is part of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to close Wisconsin’s $137 million budget shortfall this year. The bill would require all public employees except police and firefighters to make increased contributions to their health care and benefit plans. It also limits public employee union negotiations to wage issues.
It is the latter measure that has sparked huge protests in this heavily unionized state. About 40% of the 2,600 people represented by the Wisconsin Education Association Council called in sick to attend the rallies yesterday, according to CNN. At least 10,000 public employees and supporters rallied at the state capitol to oppose the bill, and many camped out in the rotunda overnight to resume demonstrations today.
Governor Walker told ABC News that he was prepared for the outcry, and thinks he has enough votes to pass the bill, which cleared the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee late last night after 17 hours of protests and testimony. The Republican-controlled State Senate is expected to pass the bill today.
Watch a video of the protest below.
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