Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Wisconsin Demonstrates Against Scott Walker's War on Unions

Yesterday we noted the details of a bill introduced by Wisconsin's new Tea Party Republican Governor Scott Walker that would increase payments from public sector employees while eliminating collective bargaining powers for unions (including teachers)—while also introducing unprecedented executive powers to terminate state employees with little due process. In passing, Walker mentioned plans to call in the National Guard, if necessary. It's an announcement that rankled many (maybe intentionally), including the 100,000-member "voice of America's 21st century patriots" organization VoteVets: "Veterans are strongly objecting to Governor Scott Walker's inappropriate threat…."

Today, response to Walker's bill has been… unfavorable. About ten thousand currently surround Walker's capitol office and are streaming into the dome. Walker should be extra-worried to know that the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers and its former stars, the most important political lobby in the state, have come out against him.

And what is the brave Republican Governor, who calls himself "tough," doing in response? He is standing up to his critics by moving his legislative budget address to the compound of a private corporation.

Even in biting wind, protesters are continuing to surround the capitol. Firefighters and police, whose unions are exempted from the collective bargaining elimination, have come out in support of their state colleagues. At top, a photo from inside the capitol dome. Meanwhile, the line for those waiting to speak at a an open session of the Joint Finance Committee meeting, which began today at 10 a.m., snakes through the capitol's stone corridors. All of this on a state primary day for candidates running for Madison mayor, Dane County executive and State Supreme Court.

Instead of holding the address in the state capitol, Walker has moved the event to Vita Plus, a large private manufacturer of livestock feed and supplements. Walker waited until today to announce the move. His excuse for holding a refugee session?

“I am giving my budget address outside of the Capitol to highlight the goal of my administration, ensuring Wisconsin has a business climate that allows the private sector to create 250,000 new jobs by the end of my first term."

Recently unemployed Russ Feingold has joined the fray, rallying supporters to oppose the governor.

In cities all over Wisconsin, protests are popping up. In the capitol building itself, "solidarity" signs could be seen in some windows.

The bill, introduced just this week, is already up for a planned vote on Thursday. State Senator Robert Jauh (D-Poplar) asked for more time, saying "Even God took seven days."

But Walker knows time is his enemy. With opposition to his bill growing, even from inside his own party, Walker has to ram this thing through now. And ram it through he might. Word on the street is that Walker has the votes.

The unheard of move to take government functions to private industry locations could not be more perfect symbolism for what Walker and the GOP intends to accomplish over the next four years—first in Wisconsin and then in your town. With his choice of words explaining his move of the event, the governor has launched the culture war for the next political cycle, pitting publicly employed Americans against their private counterparts in a battle where the only assured outcome is losses by both sides.

Email Abe Sauer at abesauer [at] gmail.com. And for continued coverage from the field followUppity Wisconsin and #NotMyWi and #SolidarityWI.

30 Comments / Post A Comment

KarenUhOh (#19)

It's perfect this is happening first in Wisconsin. If it's ever going to be done right, it'll be there. Because someone needs to remind the Tea Party, those intrigued by its methods, and especially those who feel stapled to the sidelines, that the Tea Party didn't invent the idea of taking to the streets to protect rights from being usurped.

To remind everyone that they aren't the only patriots with something to defend.

barnhouse (#1,326)

This was great, Abe.

iplaudius (#1,066)

How does the Tea Party come out against labor rights (middle class, duh) and in favor of big corporations? WTF is wrong with these people?

Morbo (#1,288)

The Tea Party is a movement for Boomers. Most of them have the mis-guided belief that that they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.

With the kids out of the house, the public schools can go to hell.

With their older loved ones passed on, social services can go to hell.

The only thing they care about is what they are "entitled" to, namely their Medicare entitled to them by the states, and the Social Security payments from the federal government. anything that could interfere with those cash flows is seen as "big government waste", including the salaries of state and municipal workers.

There are areas in the state and municipal budgets that can be cut. Pension reform needs to happen, and existing workers need to pay in more for their future benefits and health care.

However, by talking an antagonistic posture in these discussions, Walker and Christie, and those like him pretty much make sure no progress will be made.

SourCapote (#4,872)

they still have trickle down wet dreams at night in their cowboy pajamas

DMcK (#5,027)

What baffles me is that Walker won by a double-digit lead — I'll bet lot of the people in those pictures voted for the guy! — and he's doing exactly what his supporters elected him to do. And only now are the consequences starting to set in. This stupefying disconnect from reality, this utter inability to actually envision real-world consequences beyond trumpeting first principles — this is the defining characteristic of modern conservatism in general and the Tea Party very much in particular. I'll never understand it.

pansons (#4,471)

DMcK, I wish to learn more about your views and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

SourCapote (#4,872)

@DmcK yes a few of their principles require government intervention and actually create what they were trying to break down

Abe Sauer (#148)

@dmck PRIZEWINNER! Reports about the protests are full of "I voted for him but…" kind of reactions. Walker ran on this kind of "brown bag" platform that was hollow but sounded good to people who felt cheated and powerless by modern economic realities (i.e. lower middle class). Of course, those are the very same people who are now realizing what little power they did have was in numbers (collectively) and that the person many of them voted for now fully plans to make them all as powerless as possible.

I cannot stress enough the symbolism of the governor moving his budget address to a private location. Before this it was just an unfathomable demonstration of patronage.

SourCapote (#4,872)


Morbo (#1,288)

So, Abe, does this mean a recall initiative could take place?

Isn't it at lease one year in office, and 25% of the last election's vote count signing a petition, and you have yourself a ballot-able issue?

Abe Sauer (#148)

"Recall" has been thrown around a lot and there is more than one sign currently carried at the capitol reading "recall walker." 1500 have signed this online petition but, ha ha ha, like everything online they probably don;t count for anything.

Recall rules for WI state one needs "valid signatures of electors equaling at least 25 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor in the last preceding election." and that those must be collected within a 60-day period. 2,160,731 votes were cast in the 2010 election, so, you know, a few more signatures than 1,500 at Change.org.

But yes, there needs to be a year first.

Ironically, there was talk of recalling walker a few years ago when he was the county exec. in milwaukee.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

I voted for him but…

…but I thought that there would be someone more intelligent and responsible than me "up there" (Comrade Obama!) rejecting my dumb-ass vote. Unfortunately, turns out that the elections were free for real, so now I have to live with the consequences of my own stupidity. And that is what I am protesting against.

My thought exactly! Wisconsin voted for him! He has to balance a budget or we will be in serious trouble! Our family had to pay more for our health care this year and we didn't get a pay raise in-fact they even made it harder to get a bonus, why do we have to give but people in unions don't? What happens when we are forced to cut back–we drop cable TV, cut the land line, bare minimum cell phone plan, wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat, walk, bike or take the car instead of the SUV, eat at home, and yes the kids have to cut back on extra activities, cut our entertainment to board games and WII. Oh, yes we did all of that. Americans are so spoiled and used to living with debit, debit and more debt that we feel someone is taking away from us when we are really living with-in our means. Wake-up America it is inevitable.

Coming out against public sector employees is hardly lining yourself up with big corporations.

Abe Sauer (#148)

No, but union busting is.

Not necessarily. Many unions are also big corporations. And certainly this specific case isn't.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Outlawing collective bargaining = union busting.

propertius (#361)

I'm not sure I would call the public sector unions corporations.

"Capitalists by other means", maybe.

offthewawl (#8,258)

Tried to find a joke in Scott Walker's discography but came up dry. The general vibe from "Cossacks Are" on The Drift sorta captures this guy, though.

Moving a legislative announcement to a private corporation's headquarters is nothing new. Last summer,the Department of Homeland Security (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to be specific) announced their takedown of nine "piracy" sites at Disney headquarters.

It's a very unseemly move but at least it lets the constituents know which side you're playing for.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Also, as an update, and to prove how poorly thought through this bill is from a fiscal perspective: "Wisconsin communities could lose $70 million or more in federal aid for transit systems under a bill quickly moving through the state Legislature, opponents of the bill are warning.

The measure by Gov. Scott Walker would strip most union rights away from most public employees. That could put in danger federal aid for buses because U.S. law requires that collective bargaining rights remain in place to get federal funds, according to the U.S. Department of Labor."

Fredric L. Rice (#9,905)

What's telling about this is the theofascist is threatening to use the military against people who dare to exercise their Constitutional rights. These right wing extremist Republicans *hate* American's rights, freedoms, and liberties so here we have one of them specifically stating he would use the military to deny Americans their inviolate rights.

And yet he was not arrested for treason or (though it's no longer against the law) sedition against the State.

Abe Sauer (#148)

The capitol has become a campsite:

zidaane (#373)

Thanks Abe.
I still want a PayPal button to send you to Haiti.

gottaw8 (#10,015)

I would like to know how many of Wisconsin's state union workers support other union workers? I would wager that more than 50% of them drive a foreign vehicle. When one does most of their family's shopping at Walmart, spending money on useless Chinese crap, then they purchases a motorcycle from Japan and a car from Korea, this is what happens and will continue to happen. Union and other high paying jobs will be lost. Wake up, Americans, start investing in US.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Tremendous point. +10,000

sicofglobalism (#10,222)

As a person is compelled to prostitute themselves again and again on the streets, on the car dealers lot, leaving their home in one country to work in another country, how many, many places we have been compelled to compromise, appease, comply, aid and abet our own take-down. Wish I had time to write more but just think of all the loan officers, young naive, who participated in the sub-prime mess. Think of Africa awash in greed and corruption, as our own continent is. I'm too poor to afford to shop for my meds at anywhere but WalMart. Too poor, to stand up against someone who makes cars cheaply. BUT, there is an alternative. Just as around the world we now see a mass strike against being prostituted and hungry we have a model left us by the founding fathers in the constitution. Article 25, section 4 Oust the madman. Reinstate Glass-Steagall, better read up on this, and initiate a global NAWAPA (this is a must read.) Globalism is a failed system; we must have sovereign nation states instead of corporatocracies. Now is the time for solidarity. We have a chance to make it now for the dream of our founding fathers. Read the Mayflower Compact. Read the preamble of our constitution. We, the people, must stand together and defeat the deadly monetaristic looting operation of multinational corporations by adopting the American system of economy as devised by Alexander Hamilton and practiced by Washington, Lincoln and FDR. See Lyndon LaRouche webpage for more details on the struggle that we now face against power of 'roaches' in high places.
gottaw8 blames the victim but he is right, we must wake up, get up, suit up and speak up for the truth, we cannot fail with truth on our side.

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