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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

 3:20 PM 

Protestors await Senate vote

Pauline Gilbertson was convinced long before an official vote that the Senate would pass so-called right-to-work legislation.

Still, the retired public school teacher stayed in the midst of the hundreds of right-to-work protestors who gathered today outside Senate chambers, just as she stuck it out four years ago during the Act 10 protests.

“I believe it was a done deal going into this,” Gilbertson said. “The bill is directly out of the [American Legislative Exchange Council] playbook.

“I truly believe Scott Walker is pandering to conservatives to raise more dollars for a presidential bid.”

Chants of “Whose house? Our house” only occasionally drowned out Gilbertson’s voice as general murmuring and milling about replaced the more outspoken Act 10 protests of four years ago.

And, again unlike four years ago, it was easy to find a relatively quiet spot. Jim Mathews, of Baraboo, stood alone between two pillars on the Capitol’s third floor, looking over the railing at the protest scene.

The member of Steamfitters Local 434 said he already had talked to his Senate and Assembly representatives about right-to-work.

“If the representatives do what people spoke out and told them to do,” Mathews said, “then they’ll vote it down.”

Jeff Mehrhoff, business representative and governmental affairs director for the Painters & Allied Trades District Council 7, did not share even that small dose of optimism. He said more Republicans would stand up to right-to-work legislation if redistricting had not made their districts so conservative.

“They’re worried,” he said, “about getting primaried.”


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