After Tumultuous Day, Wisconsin Farmers Plan A Tractorcade

March 10, 2011

Bill Chappell

Wisconsin's state Assembly has approved a bill stripping nearly all of the state's public employees of their right to collective bargaining, giving Gov. Scott Walker a victory in his budget fight.

As we reported earlier, Democratic state senators had fled the state, relying on a rule that required at least 20 legislators be present for a vote on any issue involving the budget. But early Thursday morning, Republican state senators used a procedural rule to put the measure to a vote — by removing the bill's budgetary language.

An observer could be forgiven for not seeing how negotiations between the state and its employees could fail to be a financial issue — especially an observer who had read a release from the governor's office Monday titled "Collective Bargaining is a Fiscal Issue Part 3." But not everyone's cut out to be in politics.

News that the bill had passed led to bedlam at the Capitol, which was then closed to the public after the building was stormed by angry opponents of the measure.

The Wisconsin Capitol may see more excitement Friday, when it faces a Day of Tractors — or, more accurately, a tractorcade. The event is sponsored by farmers who want to protest Gov. Walker's budget, as well as his move to limit collective bargaining rights in the state.

From Wisconsin Public Radio, Steve Roisum reports for Newscast:

Along with those driving their rigs, there are expected to be tens of thousands of farmers and their supporters on the ground. Western Wisconsin dairy farmer Joel Greeno is among them. He says they're there in part to tell Gov. Walker he's wrong to try to curtail bargaining rights for state employees.

"An attack on workers' collective bargaining rights is the same as an attack on farmers' collective bargaining rights," he said.

Greeno says farmers are also rallying against several less than ag-friendly issues in the governor's proposed two-year budget.

The Wisconsin Farmers Union says that the proposed budget would also make it harder for thousands of farmers to be eligible for a state health insurance program. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.