Wis. labor protesters say they're not backing down

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Thousands of pro-labor protesters undeterred by the success of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's plan to cut public workers' collective bargaining rights marched at the state's Capitol on Saturday, vowing to refocus their fight on future elections.

Walker signed the plan into law Friday, capping a week of political maneuvering that brought a swift end to a standoff that saw tens of thousands of demonstrators converge on the state's capitol and 14 Democratic senators flee to Illinois in an ultimately failed attempt to block the legislation.

Throngs of protesters gathered Saturday outside a convention center where 13 of the senators made their first public appearance in Madison since ending their self-imposed exile, yelling "Fab 14, our heroes!"

Before marching around the Capitol with demonstrators, Senator Spencer Coggs of Milwaukee said Walker had forced Republicans into "walking the plank" by passing the law. He and the others said they also planned to shift their energies toward recall efforts already under way against eight GOP colleagues.

Some of the Democrats also are facing recall efforts.

Walker's plan has spurred a national debate over labor rights and its passage is key to Republicans who have targeted unions in efforts to cut government spending across the country. But labor leaders promise to use the setback to fire up members and mount a major counterattack against Republicans at the ballot box in 2012.

Dozens of farmers who paraded through the streets on tractors were among those supporting union workers Saturday. They drew cheers as they pumped their fists in the air and displayed signs such as "Planting the seeds for a big season of recalls."


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