In Wis., Political Standoff Continues Protesters filled and surrounded the Wisconsin state Capitol Monday for the seventh day in a row. Unionized public employees are outraged over a plan put forth by Republican Gov. Scott Walker that would strip most collective bargaining rights from most government workers. Walker insists he needs that change to address the state's budget deficit. Wisconsin Republicans say they are going back to work even if they can't pass the bill in the state Senate — because Senate Democrats left town.
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In Wis., Political Standoff Continues

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In Wis., Political Standoff Continues

In Wis., Political Standoff Continues

In Wis., Political Standoff Continues

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Protesters filled and surrounded the Wisconsin state Capitol Monday for the seventh day in a row. Unionized public employees are outraged over a plan put forth by Republican Gov. Scott Walker that would strip most collective bargaining rights from most government workers. Walker insists he needs that change to address the state's budget deficit. Wisconsin Republicans say they are going back to work even if they can't pass the bill in the state Senate — because Senate Democrats left town.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

For the seventh day in a row, protesters filled and surrounded the Wisconsin state capitol today.

U: NPR's David Schaper is in Madison to tell us what's happening.

DAVID SCHAPER: It's kind of an all-day, constant thing here. It's been going on all day and all night. There's people who are camped out here and continuing to hold vigil all night long.

SIEGEL: And is the Wisconsin Legislature going to get back to work soon?

SCHAPER: That's not making Republican majority leader Scott Fitzgerald very happy. He said today the Senate will meet tomorrow to consider other, non-budgetary items and show the state and really the nation that the Republicans, anyway, are eager to do their jobs.

SIEGEL: You know, just because they don't want to participate, you can't stop us from doing the people's work.

SCHAPER: Now, the Democrats say that they, too, want to get back to work and are really doing their jobs from afar. Some are staying away from the capitol, as far away as in Chicago. One of those staying in Chicago is Democratic State Senator Jon Erpenbach.

SIEGEL: We could be back in Madison later this afternoon and voting on it tonight, if Governor Walker would just understand that there's a very legitimate compromise on the table and something that would unite the state again, at least. Right now, Wisconsin is as deeply divided as I've ever seen it.

SCHAPER: And so in the Assembly, the lower chamber, the House, if you will, in the Wisconsin Legislature, they will be taking this bill up tomorrow. They will be voting on it. Democrats have not gone away and will stay in session as well and will try to offer some amendments and slow the process down, muck up the works, if they can, to try to keep it from passing, at least very quickly.

SIEGEL: And David, you said most public employee unions. Do I have this right, that the governor's proposal would not alter collective bargaining for all public employee unions in Wisconsin?

SCHAPER: No, the bill makes an exception for public safety workers, in particular many police officers around the state and firefighters in the state of Wisconsin.

SIEGEL: Can you get any sense of whether these protests are gaining support or losing support as they go on?

SCHAPER: It's a little difficult, today in particular, because the crowd is not nearly as big as it was on Saturday. The protests are going to continue, but it's probably going to lose a little bit of momentum as a lot of folks have to get back to work.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's David Schaper in Madison, Wisconsin. Thank you, David.

SCHAPER: Thank you, Robert.

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