March 17, 2011- For about 30 minutes Wednesday afternoon, a group of a couple hundred union workers, labor activists and progressives turned the lobby of a DC office building into a mini-Wisconsin State Capitol.
In a microcosm of the fight between labor and the Republican-led government in the Badger State, union protesters (and their progressive allies) stormed the lobby of a downtown DC office building that hold the headquarters of BGR Group, a lobbying firm that was hosting a fundraiser for, among others, several of the Republican state Senators who just voted to strip collective bargaining from thousands of Wisconsin union workers.
The protesters occupied the high-roofed marble lobby for about 30 minutes. They chanted, they spoke and they waved many of the same signs they've been waving across the Midwest for weeks. And upstairs, just as in the state Senate chamber in Madison, the targets of the protest said they were unfazed.
The demonstration was put on by a slew of progressive and labor groups. The largest contingents were workers from the AFSCME union and the AFL-CIO. But there were plenty of supporters on hand as well.
"He's trying to break the poor people from political power," Lisa Werth, a DC nanny and the daughter of two Wisconsin union workers said of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). "People I know back home voted for Walker because of his pro-life stance. But he doesn't have a pro-living stance."
A small crowd of bona fide socialists waving copies of the Socialist Worker showed up too, and they were not eager to talk. One who'd only go by 'Mike,' only agreed to a quick interview after "vetting" me.
"Fox News types are always eager to use Red Scare rhetoric [on us]," he told me. "That makes certain liberal groups, yeah, a little bit skittish."
But Mike said his group was there to show solidarity, not call attention to their more controversial cause.