Massive Protest In Wisconsin Shows Walker’s Overreach

About 100,000 people gathered in Madison, Wisconsin to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s new anti-collective bargaining law. The state Senate hurriedly passed the bill without a quorum last Wednesday. Roger Bybee of Working In These Times reports:

The rally featured 50 farmers on tractors roaring around the Capitol to show their support for public workers and union representatives from across the nation, stressing the importance of the Wisconsin struggle. Protesters were addressed by a lineup of fiery speakers including fillmaker Michael Moore, the Texas populist radio broadcaster Jim Hightower, TV host Laura Flanders, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, and The Progressive editor Matt Rothschild, among others.

The bill is law, but the fight is far from over. The Wisconsin Democratic Party says it already has 45% of the signatures it needs to recall 8 Republican state senators. So far, canvassers have collected 56,000 signatures, up from 14,000 last weekend. The surge in signature gathering is another sign that the Walker government’s abrupt push to pass the bill has energized the opposition.

Polling bolsters the impression that Walker overreached by forcing the bill through with a dubious procedural trick. Simeon Talley of Campus Progress notes that, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, Americans oppose efforts to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

Jamelle Bouie of TAPPED notes that the enthusiasm gap that helped elect Scott Walker last year has disappeared. In June 2010, 58% of Democrats said they were certain to vote compared to 67% of Republicans. In March 2011, 86% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans surveyed said they would certainly vote.

Firefighters shut down bank

Wisconsin firefighters found a way to get back at one of Scott Walker’s most generous donors, Madison’s M&I Bank, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd reports in AlterNet. Firefighters Local 311 President Joe Conway put a call out to his members who banked with M&I to “Move Your Money.” Firefighters withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings in cashiers checks. The beleaguered bank closed its doors at 3pm on March 10.

John Nichols of the Nation reports that other unions got in on the act. He quotes a pamphlet distributed by Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 565:

“M&I execs gave more money than even the Koch Brothers to Governor Walker and the Wisconsin GOP,” the message goes. “M&I got a $1.7 billion bailout while its CEO gets an $18 million golden parachute. Tell M&I Bank: Back Politicians Who Take Away Our Rights (and) We Take Away Your Business.”

Nichols explains that the next big step in the fight to overturn the bill will be the Wisconsin Supreme Court election, set for April 5. Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg is challenging conservative state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. Legal analysts have raised serious questions about the bill and the process by which it was passed. A court challenge to Walker’s law might stand a better chance if a liberal justice replaces the conservative pro-corporate Prosser.

Guess what? We’re not broke

Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly takes on a GOP talking point, the myth that the United States is broke. It’s a convenient claim for those who wish to make massive cuts to popular programs without having to justify taking them away. If we don’t have the money, we don’t have the money. If it’s a choice between cuts and bankruptcy, cuts suddenly seem not only acceptable, but inevitable.

But the United States has a $15 trillion economy, immense natural resources, a highly educated workforce, and countless other economic advantages. The problem isn’t a lack of resources, it’s extreme inequality of distribution. Over the last 20 years, 56% of income growth has been funneled to the top 1% of the population, with fully one third of that money going to the richest one-tenth of one percent.

Benen notes that the Republicans didn’t think we were broke when they were advocating for a $538 billion tax-cut package, which wasn’t offset by a dime of cuts.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.


For more Care2 coverage on the Wisconsin unionbusting, click here.

Photo courtesy of Jessie Reeder via Flickr
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger


Bernadette P.
berny p7 years ago

thanks for the info

Alexandra O.
Alex O7 years ago

Suze O - Others might respect your opinion but I find it very difficult when it is knee deep in a tremendous amount of ignorance. Walker did not do his job as you seem to think, in fact he did just the opposite of what he was elected to do and you well know it. I believe the thousands who have vehemently disagreed speak loudly to his lack of conscience, intelligence and human decency. It would do you well to educate yourself on such topics as this before you continue down this road of obvious lunacy.

Hope S.
Hope S7 years ago

New (old) word for you: Bourgeoisie

In industrial capitalism the bourgeoisie becomes the ruling class – which means it also owns the bulk of the means of production. Ownership of the means of production enables it to employ and exploit the work of a large mass of wage workers (the working class), who have no other means of livelihood than to sell their labour to property owners.

So why are the rest of us fighting among ourselves?
The people are just fighting for jobs.

Matthew K.
Matthew K.7 years ago

I really do not understand working class Republicans who are against unions other than the fact that they digested too much propaganda and can not think for themselves. It is a federal right to unionize and collectively bargain. But also it is really the only way to maintain personal integrity over their own labor. My hope is the real truth of how union power boosts the middle and working class occurs. We need a widespread labor movement in this country.

Mick R.
Mick R7 years ago

Suze O. - It's OK to have different opinions but they should be based on the truth and not ignorance. You say that Governor Walker is doing what he was elected to do. So, he and the lawmakers were elected to take a budget surplus and give it and much more, in tax breaks, to the wealthy and the corporations in order to create a budget deficit. So, that was their job because that is what they did. They then blamed the public employees for the problem even though they created it just a few weeks earlier with those tax cuts. But no blame to the highest paid public employees and the ones with the richest pensions (safety employees) because they had supported his election. Then, after the public employee unions had agreed to give up millions and millions of their salary and benefits to balance the budget, he wants to take away their right to bargain. Oh, but only those who didn't support him in his election. If this is what you think a lawmaker or governor is elected to do then you are quite ignorant and someone needs to tell you. Your posts are misinformed and confused. Sorry but that's the truth and if you can't take the truth then maybe your conservative values don't serve you too well.

Charlene R.
Charlene Rush7 years ago

To Suzie O.: I respect your opinion, as misguided as I believe, it may be.
If we didn't have free speech, I wouldn't want to live here, and neither would you.

I can understand conservative thinking.
What I cannot understand, is anyone supporting a politician, who actually, wants more government, and more power put into the hands of Big Business and Wall Street.

If you think for one minute that the Tea Party Republicans don't want more government, just think about the freedoms, they wish to take away from the people.
They want to put laws in place, that relinguish citizens self-governing and liberties. There are more issues they dislike, than issues they like.

Their hatred for President Obama is far beyond, reasonable. I didn't like George Bush, but, I didn't hate him. He loved large corporations, as does Gov. Walker.
The problem is, we gave Big Business all of those tax cuts, with the purpose of job creation; and, what did they do with it? They sent the jobs to other countries.

This is where I don't comprehend the thinking of the conservatives.

Charlene R.
Charlene Rush7 years ago

Gov. Walker, may end up being 'the gift that just keeps giving', to the unions.
He probably did a better job of attracting union supportors, than the unions, themsleves, could have done.

The ego-centric attitude of the Tea Party Republicans is astounding.
They reneged on their campaign promises, and the voters are F-I-N-A-L-L-Y seeing them for what they truly, are.

Thank the dear lord.

Suze O.
Suze Q7 years ago

Stephen, I am really sorry you have such an attitude about others opinions.

Stephen Greg
Jason T7 years ago

Suze O.

Put a sock in it. People aren't suggesting we take away Walker's freedom of speech. He already sold his souls and his freedom to the Koch Brothers anyway. We are taking advantage of our freedom of speech, so way to be hypocritical. And people have a right to be angry with, even to hate, people who are doing highly despicable things, like Walker. Anger exists for a reason, so we might as well put it good use. Get off your high horse, you just look like an idiot up there.

Carole H.
Carole H7 years ago

Whoops got so carried away with commenting on a comment forgot to say well done to all those demonstrating and to the firefighters in particular for hitting the ´´powers that be´´ where it hurts - in their wallets - a lesson here for all of us. Carry on the good fight and know there are many world wide wishing for your victory.