Daily Archives: March 10, 2011

Then They Came for the Trade Unionists (a quote for this evening)

Thursday 10 March 2011

On this day, it behooves us to remember the words of Martin Niemoller.

First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

I am a trade unionist, and yesterday in Wisconsin, they came for me. They came for you. They came for every working person in America, and their intent could not be more clear. Governor Scott Walker, along with the Koch Brothers and the right-wing radicals of the Republican Party, moved in darkness and with shameless deceit to gut the ability of dedicated laborers to bargain on an equal footing for the right to earn a living wage and to have access to decent health care.

by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed (there is more)

I’d like to thank my wife, Ellen Smith, for pointing this piece out to me.

John Nichols sums up the Wisconsin situation in his The Beat column from The Nation.

clipped from John Nichols in www.thenation.com

You can go here to read the whole column.

Wisconsin State Representative Mark Pocan, the former co-chair of the legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee, says he is starting to feel as if he lives in a “third world junta.”
Wisconsin State Senator Bob Jauch, a senior Democrat, says that what he is witnessing feels like “a coup.”
Marty Beil, the head of the AFSCME Council 24, the state’s largest public employee union, said Wisconsin had been turned into “a banana republic.”
And thousands of Wisconsinites, men and women, adults and their children, public employees and private-sector workers, have poured into the state Capitol in Madison, shouting: “Shame! Shame! Shame!”
Republican operatives whose disregard for rules – and the popular will – is so extreme that the longest serving legislator in the nation, Wisconsin State Senator Fred Risser, a Madison Democrat, says: “They have not just bent the law. They have broken it.”
They did so without hearings, without debate and without following the state’s open meetings laws.
But it was a surprise attack rather than an honest win.And it will inspire an appropriate response: Protests now, and the recall and removal of Republican senators in short order.

Some of the Republicans may think that “cooler heads will prevail.” They are wrong. The cool heads, the calm and rational Wisconsinites, will be busy in coming days: collecting signatures of recall petitions.

blog it

Quote of the Day – an award for Scott Walker

“We probably should have invited him here today to receive the Mobilizer of the Year Award.”

— AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, referring to Gov. Scott Walker


Today begins a response by workers to the Wisconsin Senate’s surprise move last night…

Today people are returning to the Wisconsin capitol building to protest the act of the Republican Senators and the approval they have received by Scott Walker. The organization of trade unions is becoming intense and recalls of some legislators and a build up to recalling Walker (which cannot happen until next January by Wisconsin law) are in process.

Frank Emspak of the Workers Independent News in Madison stated:

“We’ve had democracy by deception here. You’re talking about disenfranchising millions of people, not only in Wisconsin, but also throughout the Midwest, and basically saying that working people, in an organized fashion, have no right to participate in the electoral process. That is what the Republicans are doing.”

And there was this statement by Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME):

At a time when we should be pulling together to create jobs, Governor Walker and the legislators who back him are more interested in stripping nurses, teachers, correction officers, bus drivers and EMTs of their rights. This is a question of right and wrong. The governor is tearing Wisconsin apart when voters want real solutions to the problems they face.

This is about more than Scott Walker’s arrogance. He is tossing aside basic American values. Public workers fought long and hard for the right to collective bargaining. Martin Luther King, Jr. died defending that right for AFSCME sanitation workers in Memphis. We are not going to allow a small group of radical politicians in Wisconsin destroy what Americans have fought generations to win.

Only one Republican, Dale Schultz, voted against the bill last night. Schultz is a moderate Republican who previously proposed a compromise. His vote is likely to protect him from a recall effort by unions and Democrats.

Shultz stated:

As someone who as spent the better part of the last four weeks working toward and hoping for a compromise, this is a difficult night.

I’ve had the honor and privilege of representing folks in Southwest and South Central Wisconsin for 28 years, and where I come from ‘compromise’ isn’t a dirty word.

I’ve received tens of thousands of emails, thousands of phone calls and letters, and spent hours meeting with thousands of citizens in my district. I’ve heard personal and heartfelt stories of friends and neighbors, and they ask for just two things.

First, be inclusive by listening and working with your colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reach a compromise which addresses our fiscal crisis. Second, public employees are willing to make sacrifices on things like wages and benefits, but we need to preserve collective bargaining as a tool which has helped keep labor peace in this state for decades.

Ultimately, I voted my conscience which I feel reflects the core beliefs of the majority of voters who sent me here to represent them.

Because of the Wisconsin law that prohibits a recall until an elected official has served one year in office, only eight of the Republican Senators, who violated the open meeting rule and the 24 hour public announcement policy by eliminating collective bargaining last night, may currently be recalled. These are:

* Robert Cowles
* Alberta Darling
* Sheila Harsdorf
* Luther Olsen
* Randy Hopper
* Glenn Grothman
* Mary Lazich
* Dan Kapanke

The protestors will have until January of next year to get the 500,000 signatures needed to recall Scott Walker. Meanwhile, Walker has been a Uniter, not a Divider: he has united the Unions, the Democrats, the people of Wisconsin and voters all across the unites States. Perhaps we could get the Republicans to run him for President.