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Timeline of budget bill protests
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Timeline of budget bill protests

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FRIDAY, FEB. 11: Gov. Scott Walker unveils his budget repair bill, which would curb most collective bargaining rights for most public employees and ask them to increase contributions for benefits. Democrats and labor leaders call it union busting and begin to mobilize against it.

SATURDAY, FEB. 12: Union leaders start lining up workers to testify Tuesday at the Capitol on the bill. 

SUNDAY, FEB. 13: About 150 people protest in front of the Capitol while about 100 others demonstrate in front of the Governor's Mansion.

MONDAY, FEB. 14: Hundreds of students, perhaps more, demonstrate outside the governor's office, offering "Valentines" to Walker. More than a dozen union leaders meet in Madison to map a strategy.

TUESDAY, FEB. 15: At least 10,000 protesters gather at Capitol Square, while 3,000 more fill the Capitol. Hundreds sign up to speak to the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee. The Madison School District announces classes will be canceled Wednesday due to "excessive" teacher absences. About 800 East High School students leave school and march to the Capitol. The finance hearing continues into the night, and people begin camping out in the Capitol overnight.

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 16: About 20,000 protesters gather at the Capitol. Madison schools remain closed for a second day, and WEAC calls on all its 98,000 members who can to come to the rallies. Hundreds of people still wait to speak before Joint Finance. More people camp out in the Capitol.

THURSDAY, FEB. 17: Fourteen Senate Democrats flee to Illinois to prevent a vote on the bill in the Senate. About 25,000 people rally at the Capitol. At least 15 school districts close, including Madison for a third day. 

FRIDAY, FEB. 18: Some 40,000 people rally at the Square, joined by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Richard Trumka, the national AFL-CIO head. A Dane County judge denies the Madison School District's request to force teachers to return to the classroom. National media start to report from the city.

SATURDAY, FEB. 19: An estimated 68,000 people descend on the Capitol, including several thousand pro-Walker supporters, who turn out in large numbers for the first time. Although there are lively discussions, police report no violence and there are no arrests.

SUNDAY, FEB. 20: Sleet and snow dampens turnout, but thousands still rally at the Capitol. Madison teachers remain out of their classrooms for a fourth day. At least one doctor admits writing questionable notes excusing teachers for "stress" during their sick-out.

MONDAY, FEB. 21: The South Central Federation of Labor endorses a general strike.

TUESDAY, FEB. 22: The Rev. Jesse Jackson leads students back to East High School as schools throughout Madison welcome teachers back. The Assembly takes up the bill in the Senate's absence; Democrats offer more than one hundred amendments.

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 23: Audio is released of a phone call between Walker and a man he thought was billionaire campaign contributor David Koch, during which Walker says he "thought about" planting troublemakers among the protesters at the Capitol and outlines plans to trick Senate Democrats into returning to the state. The Assembly hears debate on about two dozen Democratic amendments out of more than 100.

THURSDAY, FEB. 24: Capitol officials propose closing the building at night, shutting out hundreds of protesters who had been sleeping there. The Assembly continues to wade through Democratic amendments long into the night.

FRIDAY, FEB. 25: Just after 1 a.m., Assembly Republicans abruptly call a vote on the budget repair bill and pass it before many Democrats could cast votes, ending the longest continuous Assembly session in state history. Angry shouts of "Shame!" erupt from the Democrats and onlookers as the Republicans quietly filed out of the chamber.

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