by Gary Farber
Don't tell me we can't win this. Wisconsin Police Have Joined Protest Inside State Capitol.
From inside the Wisconsin State Capitol, Ryan Harvey reports:
“Hundreds of cops have just marched into the Wisconsin state capitol building to protest the anti-Union bill, to massive applause. They now join up to 600 people who are inside.”
Ryan reported on his Facebook page earlier today [Friday, Feb. 25 -gf]],:
“Police have just announced to the crowds inside the occupied State Capitol of Wisconsin: ‘We have been ordered by the legislature to kick you all out at 4:00 today. But we know what’s right from wrong. We will not be kicking anyone out, in fact, we will be sleeping here with you!’
[...] This is not a budget issue! This is a CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE! [...] Mr. Walker! [...] We know pretty well now who you work for! [applause] Let me tell you who WE work for! [points to self and police emblem] We work for all of these people! [applause] We are not here, Mr. Walker, to do your bidding! We are here to do their bidding! [...] Mr. Walker, this not your House! This is all of our House! [camera pans 360°]
I want to give this officer a big fat kiss on the mouth.
Pictures from Ryan Harvey, February 25, Occupied Capitol Building, Madison, WI:
Hardhatted working class dreamers who lead us.
The people of Wisconsin.
All who stand of the by people, by the people, for the people.
Walking into the occupied State Capitol of Wisconsin was more than mind blowing. I had imagined a small group of folks holding space in one area, confined by police lines.
And from what the news has been reporting, things were starting to die down here.
What I saw was quite different. Right inside the door, a huge poster hangs. “IN THE EVENT OF A GENERAL STRIKE, I VOW TO SUPPORT WORKERS”, it reads, and hundreds of signatures have been scribbled beneath.
The entire 4 or 5 story building is nearly completely occupied by union members, students, and people from across Wisconsin. There were literally hundreds of people here last night, and one or two hundred this morning that, like me, slept on the cold floor or on mats they had brought in.
The Capitol is covered in posters and signs reading things like “Hands Off Workers, Make the Banks Pay”, “Scott Walker is Robin Hood in Reverse”, and “Our Prayers to Libya – Power to the People”. A gigantic “Tax the Rich” banner hangs over the railing on one of the third floor walkway.
In the atrium at the center of the building, beneath a giant dome that peaks above Madison, an impromptu, all-day open-mic is hosted. Speakers announce their union or school, or where they came from. Drummers bang beats to massive chants that erupt every few minutes. “Beat The Bill!” the crowd says over and over, causing echoes throughout the space.
Firefighters, construction workers, steamfitters, cleaners, state workers, high school students, veterans, and police officers stood side by side in opposition to the Tea Party-backed Governor’s crazed anti-Union legislation being discussed around the corner.
Dotted among them were a few non-locals like myself, some who came from as far as Los Angeles to show support. When non-locals announced their presence, huge cheers erupted and people came to them to thank them. [more]
The M******t [a restaurant] in Madison, WI confirms that on Friday night, ******* (one of the owners) politely asked Scott Walker to leave the establishment when other customers began booing him. A bartender at The M*****t said that ‘his presence was causing a disturbance to the other customers and management asked him to leave.’
Maybe he should have stayed home and ordered pizza instead? Okay, maybe not; there might be a long wait.
David Dayen reports, Saturday February 26, 2011 11:07 am: PHOTOS, VIDEO: Massive Crowds – and Organizing – in Madison.
MADISON, Wis. — Thousands of people took part in rallies in support of unions around the nation on Saturday, including here in the Wisconsin capital, where a political stalemate between the Republican governor and Democratic legislators over curtailing the power of unions led to similar battles in other states in the past week.
The tens of thousands of people who filled the square around the Capitol here Saturday rivaled the largest of the demonstrations that have taken place since Feb. 15 over Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to limit the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions and to require public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions.
“We’ve had bargaining for 50 years, and he’s trying to destroy it in a week,” said Al Alt, a teacher from Waukesha who was among the protesters. [...]
Under a light snow here on Saturday afternoon, demonstrators chanted “This is what democracy looks like” and “Scott Walker’s Got to Go!”
Many of the placards protesters carried were directed at Mr. Walker’s relationship with Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire brothers who have bankrolled conservative causes and Republican politicians, including Mr. Walker’s election campaign last year.
“We will not tolerate Koch heads in Wisconsin,” read one of the signs.
In Miami, about 150 people took part in a rally at Bayfront Park in solidarity with public employees in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
Many picketers expressed concern that Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, might try to strip away the few protections unions have in Florida. A bill in the Legislature would block union dues from being automatically deducted from paychecks.
The protest in Madison on Saturday was loud but peaceful, and the police have described the demonstrators’ behavior as “exemplary” as protesters have gathered and slept throughout the public areas of the Capitol for days.
But the sleepovers will end on Sunday, when the Capitol Police say they will instruct demonstrators to leave at 4 p.m. for cleaning and maintenance of the building. Mattresses, chairs, cooking equipment and other gear the protesters have used are being removed.
Some demonstrators said they expected at least some protesters to resist having to leave the building, and union officials are unhappy with the decision. Alex Hanna, a co-president of the Teaching Assistants’ Association, called the moved “undemocratic and obviously politically motivated.”
Illinois FOP is ready to stand with all Illinois labor organizations in support of unions facing threats similar to those in Wisconsin.
Midwestern states are standing together. Indiana Informs Wisconsin’s Push (these are selective quote's; I'm making an argument; for Governor Walker's and Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana's arguments, click through to the article:
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and other officials who are pushing to eliminate or weaken collective bargaining by government employees say their goal is to save millions of dollars and increase government’s flexibility to run its operations.
The experience of a nearby state, Indiana, where Gov. Mitch Daniels eliminated bargaining for state employees six years ago, shows just how much is at stake, both for the government and for workers. His 2005 executive order has had a sweeping impact: no raises for state employees in some years, a weakening of seniority preferences and a far greater freedom to consolidate state operations or outsource them to private companies.
For state workers in Indiana, the end of collective bargaining also meant a pay freeze in 2009 and 2010 and higher health insurance payments. Several state employees said they now paid $5,200 a year in premiums, $3,400 more than when Mr. Daniels took office, though there are cheaper plans available.
Andrea Helm, an employee at a children’s home in Knightstown, Ind., said that soon after collective bargaining was ended and the union contract expired, coveted seniority preferences disappeared. “I saw a lot of employees who had 20, 30 years on the job fired,” she said. “I think they were trying to cut the more expensive people on top to make their budget smaller.”
Mr. Walker is trying to persuade Wisconsin lawmakers not only to emulate Indiana at the state level, but also to extend the bargaining restrictions to local governments. He would allow bargaining on only wages, and he argues that, by banning negotiations on subjects like outsourcing, health coverage, workloads and seniority, his plan will be a boon for taxpayers at every level of government.
Teachers’ union officials said they had traded wage gains to keep their health plan, adding that districts could use cheaper plans, but that would result in worse coverage for teachers.
Union officials say that collective bargaining provides workers with important protections against retaliation, age discrimination and management decisions that sometimes change with the political winds.
“Layoffs may not be based on merit or effectiveness, but on anything management wants it to be,” said Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which represents 98,000 public school employees.
Ms. Bell said that experienced, high-salary teachers would have targets on their heads and that class sizes would grow bigger without union prodding.
Jim Mills, a longtime welfare worker and union activist in New Castle, Ind., said a big problem with ending collective bargaining was that workers who had ideas to improve government agencies or services became scared to stick their neck out and make suggestions to their bosses.
“If we saw there was a bottleneck and something didn’t work and told them, it was ‘Get lost, you’ve got to do it the way we told you or you can leave,’ ” Mr. Mills said. He noted that after bargaining was banned, his union local dwindled to just 12 members from 260, partly because workers were scared management would know who still paid union dues.
Mike Huggins, the city manager of Eau Claire, Wis., said Mr. Walker’s push to curb bargaining could make management more difficult at the city level because it would hurt municipal employees’ morale and end the labor-management cooperation that he said had yielded excellent ideas to improve services to the public.
He cited a new effort in which Eau Claire saves money for itself and 11 surrounding communities by providing round-the-clock emergency medical service coverage. “All these practices and working relationships we’ve developed over the years would go away,” he said.
If there is one thing the two sides agree on, it’s that an end to collective bargaining will lead to far weaker public sector unions. Mr. Daniels said that after he banned bargaining, membership in the unions for state workers nosedived by 90 percent, with workers deciding it was no longer worth paying dues to newly toothless unions.
Los Angeles solidarity.
Avedon Carol writes that:
...let's not pretend the Republicans are in this alone. The Republicans didn't get where they are today without lots of help from the Democratic leadership. Dems at the state level may be acting courageously to prevent Republican legislators from doing more to wreck the states, but blaming "the Republicans" for everything, while it is what you can expect from MoveOn, is a dangerous illusion. TARP would have been dead in the water without the help of Senator Obama. The Bush tax-shift would have withered away had it not been for Obama and the Dem leadership. We might even have a decent health insurance option had Obama not worked so hard to prevent it. Don't just laugh at Republican voters who "vote against their own interests" for politicians who promise to help them and then spit in their faces when Democratic voters have been doing the same damn thing.
And she links to The Koch Brothers' End Game in Wisconsin.
1) Koch Brothers get their puppet Governor Walker in power
2) Governor Walker gins up a crisis
3) Democrats and Progressives take the bait and counter-protest on collective bargaining
4) Governor Walker will compromise on collective bargaining if the rest of the budget is passed as is
5) Bill passes, with trojan horse give-a-way to the Koch Brothers nested in
6) Koch Brothers will buy Wisconsin state-owned power plants for pennies on the dollar in closed unsolicited bids for which there will be no oversight
7) Koch Brothers get the best vertical monopoly in a generation
Who 'Contributes' to Public Workers' Pensions? Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter, David Cay Johnston explains:
[...] Accepting Gov. Walker's assertions as fact, and failing to check, created the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not.
Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers. [....]
[Cross posted at Amygdala]
UPDATE, 8:47 p.m.: Madison police chief troubled by Walker's comments on protesters:
Madison Police Chief Noble Wray said Thursday that he found comments by Gov. Scott Walker made about protesters at the state Capitol during a prank phone call “very unsettling and troubling." [...] “I would like to hear more of an explanation from Governor Walker as to what exactly was being considered, and to what degree it was discussed by his cabinet members. I find it very unsettling and troubling that anyone would consider creating safety risks for our citizens and law enforcement officers,” the chief said. [...]
The Madison Police Department released a separate statement: “The men and the women of the Madison Police Department train for crowd situations where an agitator or provocateur may try to create safety risks for citizens and officers. During the demonstration around the Capitol Square no such situation has arisen. Crowd behavior has been exemplary, and thousands of Wisconsin citizens are to be commended for the peaceful ways in which they have expressed First Amendment rights.”
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie had no immediate comment on Wray’s statements.
PolitiFact Wisconsin examines Walker's statement saying "almost all" of the protesters in Madison coming from outside of Wisconsin.
I would now like to, and will, point out Laws governing recall in Wisconsin:
The citizens of Wisconsin are granted the authority to perform a recall election by the Wisconsin Constitution, Article VIII, Section 12 to all elective officers after the first year of the term for which the incumbent was elected.
Scott Kevin Walker was sworn into office January 3, 2011.