Peggy Arnold has come to the Capitol to protest Governor Walker's "budget repair bill" every day since Tuesday, Feb. 15, standing inside and out, for "at least six hours a day."
She is a retired school teacher and counselor; she lives in Madison. She's resided in Wisconsin for the last seven years, but when she taught, it was in Illinois.
She notes that collective bargaining has benefited educators, "especially women educators," greatly over the years. "When I started teaching, women were paid less than men," she says. There were no provisions for maternity leave. " I have benefited from negotiated benefits," she says.
Arnold has stage IV breast cancer and has been receiving oral chemo treatments for the last 14 months. When the cancer was first discovered, she was grateful for her sick days and also a sick day bank, in which other teachers could give Arnold their sick days. Those were negotiated benefits, she points out. She also says that without the health benefits she has now, her current treatment would have bankrupted her family.
She's aware that there are those in this struggle who would say, "Why should she get those benefits, when I cannot?"
"I have voted continually over the years [for candidates that advocate] that everyone can have health care," she says forcefully.
In her days at the Capitol, she has been impressed with the steady increase in the numbers of protesters, the number of "ordinary people," from across Wisconsin, and "their resolve."
Finally, she underlines that as taxpayers, "We the people are all employers" of public workers and she hopes that we will "set a good example of how a good employer treats employees."