More than 1,000 Minnesota union workers raised the roof of the state Capitol, raised their arms and raised their voices Tuesday to chant: "We are one."
In one of the building's larger rallies in recent memory, the workers came to the Capitol to declare their solidarity with unions in Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin, unions are battling a proposal to virtually eliminate collective bargaining and cut their pay. The moves brought the Wisconsin Legislature to a standstill, made 14 Democratic Senators leave the state to stall the proposal and tens of thousands to the Madison Capitol to rally day after day.
Such measures, Gov. Mark Dayton assured the cheering St. Paul crowd Tuesday, will not become law in Minnesota.
"Drastic extreme measures will not become law here. They won't become law here because I'm here," Dayton said to chanting, applauding masses, who beat on drums and filled the Capitol's rotunda and upper floors."Working men and women's basic rights to organize...will not be taken away here, because I'm here....We will not become Wisconsin."
Republicans controlled the Minnesota House and Senate but Dayton, a Democrat and union supporter, said he would not abide GOP moves to curtail workers' rights. While Minnesota Republicans have introduced to eliminate collective bargaining deadlines, eliminate pension contributions, cut the state workforce and freeze state workers' pay, Dayton has made clear his veto pen is at the ready to deal with those.
The governor said he would "not let right wing billionaires" -- the Koch Brothers -- who reportedly have helped finance Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker campaign control the debate in Minnesota.
"We will not let them divide worker against worker. We will not let them divide middle class families. We will not let them divide neighbors against neighbors," said Dayton, who had significant union support for his own campaign from unions.
Eliot Seide, executive director of Minnesota's AFSCME Council 5, had even stronger words for the actions in Wisconsin. To the crowd, he dismissed the Republican moves in Wisconsin as authoritarianism and tyranny.
His strong words had strong support.
"It's pretty obvious there is an assault on workers in this country," said Bruce Ohman, a retired electrical lineman from West St. Paul, who worked at phone banks for Dayton during the campaign.
Marianne Christianson, who was born in Wisconsin and is a retired teacher, didn't volunteer for Dayton but sees him as the Minnesota stop sign for anti-union moves.
"If we hadn't gotten Dayton then it would have happened here," Christianson said, just before the crowd joined together to sing the union anthem of "Solidarity Forever."
Seide, who led the rally echoed the words of many in the crowd: "Today...we are all citizens of Wisconsin."