MADISON (WKOW) -- Officials estimate as many as 100,000 demonstrators were rallying at the Capitol Saturday afternoon, voicing their opposition to the Governor's two-year budget and newly signed law stripping most collective bargaining rights from state employee unions.
Madison police estimated that between 85,000 and 100,000 protesters were on the square around 2 p.m. The Department of Administration's estimate was 49,500 at 2 PM, and had increased to 66,000 as of 4 PM Saturday.
The previous record for demonstrations against Governor Walker's controversial budget proposals was set February 26, when more than 70,000 people were on the square.
With all 14 Democratic senators returning from more than three weeks out of state, Saturday's rallies drew national media attention.
Farm unions organized a tractorcade with about 50 tractors riding in single file around the square.
MADISON (WKOW) -- Pro-labor organizers expect thousands at downtown rallies Saturday.
They'll rally against a new Republican-sponsored law that drastically weakens the state's public employee unions.
Opponents of the law that would strip most public employees of nearly all their collective bargaining rights say the fight is not over even though Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law on Friday.
Tractors are already arriving for a rally Saturday. Nearly 50 tractors are expected for a parade and then a rally Saturday morning: the rally is set to begin at 11:30. The rally was scheduled by the Wisconsin Farmers Union and Family Farm Defenders to protest against the bill.
14 Democratic Senators will be back at the Capitol Saturday, for the first time since they fled to Illinois to delay action on the bill 23 days ago. They're expected to talk to media at noon.
Union supporters have staged several large protests in Madison over the past month. They have vowed to step up efforts to recall Republican senators who backed the bill.
Gov. Scott Walker says the bill is necessary to help balance the state budget.
There will be many from out of state at rallies Saturday.
Dozens of Minnesota teachers left for Wisconsin.
The state teachers union, Education Minnesota, is sending three buses that hold about 50 people each to the rally.
Union spokesman Lonnie Hartley says the union wants to show support for teachers in Wisconsin and other unionized employees.
Education Minnesota announced the move Thursday, shortly after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker promised to sign a bill stripping nearly all collective bargaining rights from public employees. He did so Friday morning.