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“In spite of the people behind us with their middle fingers up, we think Colorado belongs to us, not to them,” said Republican state Sen. Bill Cadman, who has introduced legislation to ban public entities from entering into collective bargaining with labor unions.

Throughout his remarks, a woman yelled, “Look at the haters!”

Meanwhile, the counterprotesters annoyed union demonstrators by waving yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, courtesy of the Independence Institute of Golden, Colo., and loudly playing patriotic songs, courtesy a fife-and-drum duo.

The tea party ralliers defended Mr. Walker’s decision to restrict public-service unions, saying the public shouldn’t be at their mercy for essential services.

“It’s time somebody stood up and made the hard choices,” said Tom Buchanan, chairman of the 9-12 Project in Loveland, Colo. “Private unions can do whatever they want to do, but public-sector unions need to go away. The government shouldn’t be in a bargaining position with unions.”

That’s short-sighted, said Teamster organizer Jim Adams, who said the Wisconsin governor should sit down with the unions rather than issue ultimatums.

“We understand how the economy works,” said Mr. Adams. “But once you demand something, it’s an affront not just to unions, but to working people everywhere.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.