Illinois unions rally to support Wisconsin, Indiana

February 28, 2011

by Sean Crawford

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Tim Walters joins fellow demonstrators to rally in support of Wisconsin workers in Springfield, Ill. over the weekend

Pro-union demonstrators in Wisconsin are vowing to return to the capitol in full force today. Thousands of people are protesting a proposal to ban public workers from most forms of collective bargaining.

Crowds thinned Sunday night after police asked them to leave the building. Meanwhile, protestors in Illinois rallied in Springfield this weekend in a pre-emptive protest of sorts.

Emotions ran high but the crowd was much smaller than what has been seen in states like Wisconsin or Indiana, where public employee unions are face threats from Republican state leaders.

Illinois is controlled by Democrats and while there has been talk of changes to public workers pensions and benefits, few expect more far reaching legislation to advance in the state anytime soon. But that wasn't stopping rally organizers.  Sara Weidemeier is the Bloomington-Normal coordinator for www.moveon.org.

"We know that if it happens to Wisconsin, it's going to happen to Indiana, it's going to happen to Florida.  It's eventually going to happen to us."

The rally featured several speakers who preached support for organized labor in other states and took aim at politicians, primarily Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who they say is trying to stamp out the middle class. Walker is pushing to take away collective bargaining, saying it's necessary to help out Wisconsin's finances.

A number of Democratic lawmakers from both Wisconsin and Indiana have taken refuge in Illinois as a way to slow down legislative action in their own states.