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Milwaukee workers and youth picket county executive’s luncheon

By Luscely Flores and Sean Orr |
June 27, 2015
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YES members picket signs outside the Hefter Conference Center.
YES members with "Stop the MPS takeover" picket signs outside the Hefter Conference Center. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Milwaukee, WI - More than 50 youth, teachers and community members gathered outside the Hefner Conference Center, June 25, to let County Executive Chris Abele know that Milwaukee does not support his attacks against our working class-communities. Abele was participating in a $20 a head 'public' luncheon at the extravagant UWM-owned mansion to answer questions about the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) takeover, the proposed arena deal, and his current dispute with the Milwaukee County transit union.

The picket brought together people angered over a number of Abele’s crimes against the people of Milwaukee. Numerous youth affiliated with Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) and teachers participated to oppose the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program (OSPP), which would allow Abele to take over 'failing' public schools and sell them to private charters and vouchers. A group of community members and labor leaders organized as the Alliance for Good Jobs attended to demand good union jobs as a requirement for the deal to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.

There was also a contingent from ATU Local 998, which represents 1100 Milwaukee County Transit Company (MCTS) drivers and mechanics. Last week, 96% of Local 998 members voted in favor of a strike if Abele does not accept the union’s demands for more drivers, better insurance, time for bathroom breaks and an end to a two-tier wage system. If negotiations continue to fail, MCTS drivers and mechanics will walk off the job as early as June 27.

Chris Abele, the Milwaukee County executive who lives in a million dollar condo in downtown Milwaukee, does not represent the people of Milwaukee, but rather those who seek to make profit off of them. One of the schools at risk for privatization is South Division, one of the city’s only fully bilingual high schools where over 20 languages are spoken. If South is taken over and transformed into a private school, there will be no legal guarantee that the school will provide the services needed for its diverse student community. That does not matter to Abele, however - there is a lot of wealth to be made from selling public schools to the highest bidder. Whole communities will be shut out of an education if this MPS takeover plan is allowed to be carried out.

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