Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin’
Meanwhile over in Wisconsin:
“After a year dominated by the Tea Party, the American left has found its voice, and a cause, united against a bill backed by the state’s Republican governor, Scott Walker, to neuter public sector unions.
The bill, which restricts collective bargaining and other union rights, was close to being passed by the Republican members of the Wisconsin state assembly on Thursday.
Trade union supporters have been pouring in – 160 from Los Angeles arrived on Wednesday – for what is seen as the most important labour dispute in America since the 1950s. It is Organised Labour versus the Tea Party and the outcome is uncertain.
It came after 12 days of continuous protest by teachers, students, steelworkers, pensioners, nurses and a host of others. There are placards proclaiming Cops for Labor, even though the police, with the fire service, are exempt from the anti-union measures.
“We have to stand with our brothers and sisters,” said Dane county deputy sheriff Jim Brigham, 41, standing on one of the capitol’s snow-covered walls addressing about 50 fellow officers opposed to the bill.
He sees it as part of a systematic campaign by conservatives, backed financially by the billionaire Koch brothers, to dismantle the unions. “They are trying to take this state. If it falls, others will fall too,” Brigham said. Ohio, Indiana and other states are at various stages of similar anti-union legislation. “
It seems that the people of America are learning from the Middle East in the ad hoc revolts against authority, Huff Post has more from Wisconsin:
“MADISON, Wis. — Harriet Rowan was among the first to join what has become an almost two-week-long rally at the Wisconsin Capitol, and she said with the arrival of thousands of others, confusion, misinformation and rumors quickly spread.
“I came back on Tuesday night and there was absolutely no organization,” Rowan said. “People needed people to go up upstairs and testify all night to keep the building open … people were going around just waking people up … it was chaotic.”
The University of Wisconsin senior made a spur-of-the-moment decision to coordinate protest efforts, making signs with media talking points and starting a Twitter feed detailing legislative meeting times, union rally locations and details on day-to-day life in the Capitol.
Other Madison residents have opened their doors to out-of-town strangers, offering a bed to anyone friendly to unions. At the Statehouse, a spread including pizza, chili and artisanal cheeses is offered to hungry protesters. Busloads of supporters from Los Angeles and elsewhere arrive to boost the numbers.
Nearly two weeks after the start of massive protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal that would strip nearly all public employees of their collective bargaining rights erupted, a network of volunteers has emerged as the skeleton that keeps the daily demonstrations alive.”
More on the Koch brothers.
Update 1: Andrew Murphy has made a very powerful comment on this issue:
“Reuters left out alot.
Section 16.896 of the bill clearly states that the governor has unilateral authority to sell off or lease the operation of the state’s power, cooling and heating plants in no-bid contracts.
It does not mention Koch’s by name but they have opened and hired 7 lobbyists in Madison and Koch industries are already advertsing the hiring of plant managers for positions Koch industries doesn’t even existed yet in Wisconsin. Here is the job offer from Think Energy Group, part of the Koch Industry.
Even Forbes magazine who one could hardly accuse of being anticapitalist or even anti-Koch Industries smells something fishy, perhaps
“At best, it is highly irregular that a state legislature would grant the executive the power to sell off or lease public utilities without a bidding process. At worse – well, I would hate to think that such a bargain could be struck all for the benefit of one particular company.”
The proof that this is not really about the state budget is that the governor’s plan exempts the police, firefighters and the State Patrol from any pension reforms or collective bargaining reform. What an amazing coincidence that the very blue collar unions that typically vote Republican are being left alone. “