Madison, WI - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has proposed to take away union collective bargaining rights for more than 175,000 public employees. Walker has made his state the center of a vicious, far-reaching union busting move. But the people of Wisconsin are rising up. They are fighting back.
On Feb. 15 a rally of more than 12,000 people converged on the Capitol with chants of “Recall Walker.” This followed a rally of 2000 students on Feb. 14. The Madison School District has announced that they will not hold classes Feb. 16 because so many teachers have already called in sick in order to attend the protests.
Wisconsin workers are aware that the class struggle, the war on workers, is now focused on Wisconsin. “If this goes through, that is the end public sector unions in Wisconsin. The governor is determined to make workers poor. He serves only the rich,” said Christian Hainds, Chairman of the Midwest Council of the Office, Professional Employees International Union Local 2009.
Walker has excluded from the bill the only three unions that endorsed him in his recent run for governor - the police, state troopers and firefighters unions. Despite this, scores of firefighters from Racine, Janesville, Madison and other places showed up at the rally to show solidarity with their sisters and brothers in other unions. Private sector workers also showed support and turned out in big numbers from across the state. Walker has talked about making Wisconsin a “right to work for less state.” He wants to make it difficult or better yet impossible for any worker to belong to or enjoy the rights of union membership.
The many thousands that braved the cold weather were clearly inspired by recent events in Egypt. Comparison between Hosni Mubarak and Scott Walkers as dictators who take rights away from the people were often repeated. More importantly, Wisconsin workers saw the strength of a people united in Egypt. Now they want to defeat the dictator.
Workers and people of conscience have been making calls and visiting their state representatives. “We will not stop fighting this bill until it is defeated,” said Hainds, “we are ‘the people’ and we have the power. Now is the time to use it.”