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From Cairo to Madison: Worker Unrest Spreads

"I just think it's really crappy."

It was an I-told-you-so moment.

On last night's TV show, Glenn Beck noted that the "crazy" connections he had been trumpeting between progressives, including unions, and the Egyptian unrest was, well, not so crazy after all. As evidence, he noted the increasing union unrest in Wisconsin and protesters' references to Egypt. The unions there are upset at an emergency budget proposal by new Governor Scott Walker that would end most collective bargaining rights for state workers:

On Tuesday, hundreds of Wisconsin's public employees and students clogged a hearing for hours and camped out in the state Capitol overnight in a desperate attempt to delay action on Walker's plan.

The Legislature's finance committee is preparing to vote on the measure, which would end collective bargaining for all state, county and local workers except for police, firefighters and the state patrol. The move marks the boldest step by a new Republican governor and Legislature to solve budget problems by confronting organized labor.

Opponents seized on the finance committee's public hearing on the bill on Tuesday to launch what Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, called a "citizen filibuster" that tied up the hearing for hours. A vote by the committee would set up final votes in the state Senate and Assembly later this week.

Vos, the co-chair of the committee, finally ended the hearing at 3 a.m. Wednesday, 17 hours after it started. Democrats said they would continue to listen to workers who still wanted to speak. Republicans planned to reconvene later in the day to vote on the measure.

Two floors below the hearing, dozens of University of Wisconsin-Madison teaching assistants and students surged into the Capitol rotunda late Tuesday evening, putting down sleeping bags and blankets. Many were still asleep on the floor when the hearing ended.

"I just think it's really crappy," said Alison Port, a 19-year-old freshman from Wauwatosa as she clutched her laptop and her Green Bay Packers blanket. "Let's take all the rights away. If he starts here, where's he going to stop? What else is he going to throw at us? It's only going to get more extreme."

The issue is overtaking the state. School officials in Madison announced Wednesday's classes were canceled because 40 percent of the 2,600 members in the teacher bargaining unit had called in sick.

Even some of the newly-crowned Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers got involved, issuing a statement in support of union workers.

"We know that it is teamwork on and off the field that makes the Packers and Wisconsin great. As a publicly owned team we wouldn't have been able to win the Super Bowl without the support of our fans," the statement, signed by five former players and two current ones, reads. "It is the same dedication of our public workers every day that makes Wisconsin run. They are the teachers, nurses and child care workers who take care of us and our families. But now in an unprecedented political attack Governor Walker is trying to take away their right to have a voice and bargain at work."

The statement makes sense considering players are currently locked in a heated labor labor dispute with NFL owners.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

One last thing…
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