fresh voices from the front lines of change







Big things are happening in Wisconsin in response to Governor Walker’s assault on the rights of working people. The Governor is trying to end 50 years of collective bargaining for Wisconsin workers, and has threatened to call out the National Guard to enforce it. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) was founded in Madison.

As of the time this is posted all Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate have walked out (update: left the state), preventing any vote on this. WSJ: Wisconsin Fight Heats Up as Democrats Skip Vote,

Prospects for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill that would strip the state’s public employees of most collective-bargaining rights were thrown into question Thursday when the state’s Democratic lawmakers were not present at the start of the state session to vote on the bill.

The bill has sparked three days of massive protests by public-sector unions around the state capitol, as well as the closure of public schools in Madison as hundreds of teachers called in sick.

Thursday: The Cap Times: Protests build on Square, in Capitol again; streets shut down,

Madison police closed downtown streets Thursday as thousands of protesters massed once again at the Capitol.

Hundreds of young students from many school districts reached the Square after marching from Madison West High School and joined in the protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, being taken up in the state Senate.

Motorists, pedestrians and protesters should be aware that traffic closing and detours are in a very fluid situation Thursday, so streets both away from and on the Square could open or close depending on what’s happening.

Wednesday an estimated 30,000 Wisconsin residents marched on the State Capitol in Madison in protest, following around 15,000 on Tuesday. Read the PRWatch ongoing live blogging of events here and the Wisconsin AFL-CIO coverage here.

Many schools are closed, as teachers instead are attending the rally.

By 6 a.m. Thursday morning, the closings had started to spill into the Milwaukee area with Glendale/River Hills, Racine, Beaver Dam and Watertown schools all closing.

From AP: “The story around the world is the rush to democracy,” said Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar. “The story in Wisconsin is the end of the democratic process.”

“I went to Iraq and came home to Egypt?”

From PRWatch:

Mary Bottari reports from the 3rd floor of the Capitol where she has spotted a young man holding a sign that says “I went to Iraq and came home to Egypt?” His name is Zach Laport from Spooner, Wisconsin. He served in Iraq from 2004 to 2007 and is now a student at the University of Wisconsin Madison. When asked why he was at the rally, he said “My Grandma is the librarian at Spooner Elementary School. My Mom is a public health worker. My Aunt and Uncle are teachers. Spooner is four and a half hours away and they couldn’t be here, so I came for them. My brother and I signed up for the military because we needed the extra income to go to college. Wisconsin has some of the best benefits in the country for its students, and we don’t want to lose that. I feel that Scott Walker is acting like a dictator. He is not negotiating, he is just giving orders. This week he came after worker rights and next week he is going to take one billion dollars out of K-12 education.”

Obama: “An Assault On Unions”

USA Today: Obama argues with GOP governor over unions,

In an interview Wednesday with WTMJ-TV of Milwaukee, Obama said Walker’s effort to eliminate collective bargaining rights for state employees “seems like more of an assault on unions.”

Assault On All Working People

Yesterday, in the post Wisconsin: Face-Off Over Labor

This is couched as solving state budget problems, and more broadly is clearly as an attack on unions. But it really is an attack on working people everywhere. The only rights working people have is if they can overcome the hurdles to organizing a union. Without this fundamental right to bargain workers – all of us – become nothing more than replaceable, disposable, expendable cogs in the money machine.

Stand With Workers

If you are IN Wisconsin, Chicago, or anywhere in the area, get your butt to Madison. People are SHOWING UP!

Working America: Click here to say “I stand with Wisconsin’s working people.”

You can visit Not My Wisconsin and sign their petition,

Governor Walker is preparing to call in the Wisconsin National Guard to defend his plan to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights from state nurses, teachers and other employees. With virtually no public input, discussion or debate with affected workers, Governor Walker is briefing the Guard and state agencies to prepare for a disaster that he might cause. The Governor should not threaten to use the National Guard against Wisconsin public workers! TAKE ACTION: TELL THE GOVERNOR THAT THIS IS “NOT MY WISCONSIN” SIGN UP FOR E-MAIL AND/OR TEXT ALERTS

There is a Facebook group: Protect Wisconsin Families – go join.

Democracy For America says UNIONS = JOBS:

Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker is on the attack. His proposed state budget attempts to strangle workers rights by eliminating the right for cops, firefighters, teachers, or any other government employee to let their union negotiate their pay and benefits through collective bargaining.

This is only the beginning of the Republican attack on unions and middle class families. Similar attacks on unions are expected by Republican Governors in Ohio and New Jersey very soon with other states to follow.

It’s time for us to stand up — all of us — across America — in solidarity with union workers and the good paying middle class jobs they protect.

Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) says Stand in solidarity against Walker’s radical proposal and threats – sign the open letter,

The Wisconsin State Senate may vote as early as today. Gov. Walker has threatened to call out the National Guard against workers who protest his radical plan to cut benefits of middle class workers and strip them of their rights.

Stand in solidarity with tens of thousands of workers who have been protesting — sign the open letter.

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