By AMANDA VENDER

PHOTO: Barbara J. Miner
PHOTO: Barbara J. Miner
PHOTO: Barbara J. Miner
Fratney Street Elementary School students from Milwaukee lead marchers through the Wisconsin capitol rotunda. An estimated 100,000 people protested the governor’s attack on workers’ rights. PHOTO: Barbara J. Miner

It wasn’t snow and ice that shut down classes at several Wisconsin school districts for days in February. It was the students and teachers who walked out to protest at the Wisconsin State House in Madison, the state capitol. They are angry about a bill proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to limit the rights of state and city workers (such as teachers, nurses and garbage collectors), to organize in unions for decent pay and working conditions.

In January, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the state’s representatives passed tax cuts that allow businesses to pay a lot less money to the state government—money that the government needs to operate. This added to the problem of the economic crisis that has hurt all states badly. Then, in February, Governor Walker proposed his bill to fill the budget gap, he said, or workers would lose their jobs.

“I joined the protest because it was important to me to make sure that people in my state can have a good life from the salaries they make at work,” Elizabeth Nelson, 11, of McFarland, Wisconsin, told IndyKids. Mateo Cubillos, a fifth-grader in Milwaukee, also joined the protest in Madison. “It makes me feel proud because I am defending more than just my school. I am saving thousands of schools in Wisconsin,” he said.

Governor Walker’s bill would:
• Limit unions (organizations of workers) to negotiate only for wages, not for benefits or working conditions
• Limit wage increases of workers
• Make unions hold a vote every year so members can decide if they want to be in a union or not

What is a Union? An organization of workers. Through a union, workers can negotiate a contract, a written document, with their boss to ensure decent wages and working conditions.

PHOTO: Barbara J. Miner
PHOTO: Barbara J. Miner