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Occupy Chicago Demonstrators Protest Wisconsin Gov. Walker

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Protesters gathered Thursday morning in front of the Union League Club downtown, where Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was speaking.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports, Walker addressed business leaders at the Union League Club about budget battles in Wisconsin.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports


The protesters, chanting “We are the 99 percent” disrupted Walker’s speech for a few minutes before being led out of the room.

Outside, about 100 public union members and Occupy Chicago activists protested his appearance. Protesters Kelvin Ho said Wednesday that Walker “personifies” what the Occupy movement opposes.

Walker made headlines earlier this year for ending collective bargaining for state employees in Wisconsin, as an element of his budget.

During his speech, Walker said state workers in Wisconsin now have a choice on whether to join the union. He also said local governments now have more flexibility to save money without worrying about expensive union work rules.

Protest organizer Catherine Murrell said Walker’s idea of reform isn’t right for Illinois.

“His idea of budget reform is to bust unions, and basically just slash state budgets – cut jobs rather than create jobs – so he can give corporate welfare handouts,” Murrell said.

Organizers were hoping to get direct access to Walker, but security was tight in front of the club.

Earlier this year, Walker pushed through a law that forbids most government workers from collectively bargaining for wage increases beyond the rate of inflation. It also requires public workers to pay more toward their pensions and double their health insurance contribution, a combination equivalent to an 8 percent pay cut for the average worker.

Amid heated protests in Madison, Wis., the state’s 14 Senate Democrats left and hid out in Illinois, thus preventing the quorum required for the state Senate to vote on bills involving spending money.

Republicans fought back by taking all the spending measures out of the legislation, but keeping in the provision to restrict collective bargaining rights for state employees. The bill passed a short time later without the Democrats.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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