CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- About 250 people gathered Saturday afternoon at the Capitol to support public employees in Wisconsin.
Demonstrators carried signs reading, "Stop the Attack on Workers' Rights," "Welfare Can't Support All of Us" and "Civilization Requires Organization." The event was part of rallies across the country called "Save the American Dream."
The nationwide events were organized by MoveOn.org, unions and other groups.
At the Charleston rally, acting state Senate President Jeff Kessler said people such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker "expect us to put the pain on the backs of the people who have already been paying for our problems."
"When AIG and Lehman Brothers went under, they [top federal officials] sent all the money to the top and left us holding the bag," said Kessler, a Marshall County Democrat and candidate in this year's special election for governor. "We want everything shared, from top to bottom."
Wisconsin's Walker, a Republican, sparked controversy when he not only asked state workers to agree to wage and benefits cuts, but also introduced legislation to end collective bargaining for most state employees.
John Waltz, a leader of the Kentucky-based group Heartland Revolution, said, "It is because of the labor movement that we have many of the freedoms we enjoy today, including an eight-hour day and a 40-hour work week."
Barbara Spradling, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 77 in West Virginia, said, "We are fighting big money."
"When I look at him [Walker] on television, I don't see anything there," she said. "I see a person who sold his soul."
The rally Saturday was announced publicly only a day earlier.