“For better and worse, divided Wisconsin has been
at the forefront of American politics recently, and to
understand what happened and why, Jason Stein and
Patrick Marley’s deeply reported and illuminating book
is an invaluable resource.”
David Maraniss, Madison native
and author of
Barack Obama: The Story
When Wisconsin became the first state in the nation in 1959
to let public employees bargain with their employers, the leg-
islation catalyzed changes to labor laws across the country.
In March 2011, when newly elected governor Scott Walker
repealed most of that labor law and subsequent ones—and then became the first
governor in the nation to survive a recall election fifteen months later—it sent a
different message. Both times, Wisconsin took the lead, first empowering public
unions and then weakening them. This book recounts the battle between the
Republican governor and the unions.
The struggle drew the attention of the country and the notice of the world,
launching Walker as a national star for the Republican Party and simultaneously
energizing and damaging the American labor movement. Madison was the site of
one unprecedented spectacle after another: 1:00 a.m. parliamentary maneuvers,
a camel slipping on icy Madison streets as union firefighters rushed to assist,
massive nonviolent street protests, and a weeks-long occupation that blocked the
marble halls of the Capitol and made its rotunda ring.
Jason Stein and Patrick Marley, award-winning journalists for the
kee Journal Sentinel
, covered the fight firsthand. They center their account on
the frantic efforts of state officials meeting openly and in the Capitol’s elegant
backrooms as protesters demonstrated outside. Conducting new in-depth inter-
views with elected officials, labor leaders, police officers, protestors, and other
key figures, and drawing on new documents and their own years of experience
as statehouse reporters, Stein and Marley have written a gripping account of
the wildest sixteen months in Wisconsin politics since the era of Joe McCarthy.
They offer new insights on the origins of Walker’s wide-ranging budget-repair
bill, which included the provision to end public-sector collective bargaining; the
Senate Democrats’ decision to leave the state to try to block the bill; Democrats’
talks with both union leaders and Republicans while in Illinois; and the reasons
why compromise has become, as one Republican dissenter put it, a “dirty word”
in politics today.
Jason Stein
Patrick Marley
both cover the Capitol for Wisconsin’s largest
newspaper, the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
. Stein previously covered politics and
business for the
Wisconsin State Journal
and has received national recognition for
his reporting. He is a past president of the Wisconsin Capitol Correspondents
Association. Marley previously covered local government for the
Kenosha News
His work has been recognized by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Coun-
cil and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.
LC: 2012040563 HD
332 PP. 6 X 9 12 B/W ILLUS.
E-BOOK $16.95 ISBN 978-0-299-29383-3
“A timely report on one of the most
tumultuous periods in Wisconsin’s
history. Stein and Marley cover the
substance of the story without bias
and include details not previously
known to the public. “
Joe Heim,
political analyst, Wisconsin Public
“An important work that offers
behind-the-scenes details on the
institutional players most involved
in the events leading up to and
following Governor Scott Walker’s
introduction of his explosive col-
lective bargaining bill. It will be of
great interest to those who have fol-
lowed the drama closely as well as
to lay readers.”
Judith Davidoff, news
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