Local Unions Protest Scott Walker's Springfield Speech

More than two dozen union members took the trip downstate to protest Walker's visit

By Lauren Petty and Mary Ann Ahern
|  Tuesday, Apr 17, 2012  |  Updated 10:17 AM CDT
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Unions Protest Scott Walker's Illinois Speech

Mary Ann Ahern

More than 1,000 protesters rally outside Illinois' state capital ahead of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Tuesday address.

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Illinois union leaders boarded a bus Tuesday morning to Springfield to show their disapproval of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker giving a speech at their state's capital.

More than two dozen union members took the trip downstate to protest the visit. When they arrived, they met more than 1,000 demonstrators shouting, "Scott Walker's got to go" and "Union buster."

"Mr. Walker has taken us on and decided that it's all the fault of the workers, and it's not the fault of the workers," said union member Jesse Rios. "When you look at it and you really study it, the economic problems started with Wall Street and the big banks. Corporations are running this country now and running it down."

Labor unions in Chicago said they aren't happy the Illinois Chamber of Commerce invited Walker to speak to more than 200 business leaders.

The group told NBC Chicago they want to send a message to Walker, who is well-known for taking on unions in Wisconsin.

"I'm very concerned about what message, even inviting him here, sends," said Constance Means, a union member. "I'm sure that those businesses understand Gov. Walker's work to undo all of what labor has fought for."

Last year Walker's controversial budget bill was passed while several Democratic senators were on the lam in Illinois. After three days of debate, the assembly passed the measure that would strip collective bargaining rights from most public workers before Democrats knew what was happening

Walker also is scheduled to speak Friday at an Illinois Policy Institute luncheon in Chicago.

"With Gov. Walker at the helm, Illinois' neighbor to the north took real steps toward reform and closed its budget gap without tax increases or broken promises," the group said in a statement.

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