Wisconsin Doctors Tell Teachers: Call in Sick to Continue Protests

Doc say they'll write notes for teachers to skip work to keep up the protests.

ByABC News
February 19, 2011, 12:44 PM

Feb. 19, 2011— -- Some Wisconsin doctors threw their support behind teachers protesting the Republican governor's efforts to strip unions of their bargaining powers, saying they would write sick notes for teachers to skip work to demonstrate.

The union protesters have been picketing the state capitol in Madison for five days, angered by Gov. Scott Walker's proposed bill, which has the backing of the Republican controlled state Senate.

The Madison School District has said teachers who call in sick to protest won't be paid, but a group of licensed Wisconsin doctors came to the capitol today saying they would write a physician's note for anyone who asked.

Dr. Kathy Oriel told ABC affiliate WKOW-TV in Madison that the doctors realize they could get in trouble for their offer.

"We think its worth the risk," she said. "Teachers have no choice."

The physicians told WKOW-TV that they are acting on their own, not in connection with any hospitals or organizations, but they said the notes are valid.

The demonstrations heated up today, when thousands of supporter's of Walker's bill -- many of them bused in by tea party groups -- raised their voices against opponents outside the state capitol.

Despite the influx of supporters, pro-union activists were in the majority at the dueling rallies in Madison as nearly 70,000 people filled the square outside the capitol building. Tea party members' voices were added to the chorus of dissent on the fifth day of the massive, peaceful protests.

Walker supporters chanted "Pass the bill! Pass the bill!" as pro-union picketers shouted back "Kill the bill! Kill the bill!" Tea party protesters carried signs reading "Your Gravy Train Is Over … Welcome to the Recession" and "Sorry, we're late Scott. We work for a living."

As the five-day old demonstrations escalated, tea party groups pledged to begin recall efforts against the 14 Democratic state senators whose absence has left the legislature without a quorom, preventing Walker's bill from coming to a vote.