HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

OVER IN A FEW DAYS? NOT IF THE WISCONSIN 14 HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT

This past year I have tried to divorce myself from politics but what is happening in Wisconsin right now is too horrifying to ignore.

Scott Walker, the Cheesehead "Hoser" Mubarak, is attempting to kill unions in our state. And he has the audacity to bald facedly lie about it! The unions have said they are willing to make concessions in benefits but are demonstrating to keep collective bargaining.

In case you are unaware, Wisconsinites actually gave their lives in the fight to establish unions back in the early 1900's.

Author Ken Germanson:

Let’s not forget the accomplishments of Wisconsin’s workers and their unions in helping to make Wisconsin a great state in which to live, a state that is known for providing a high quality of life for her citizens and for leading in progressive innovations. By most standards, our citizens are better educated, have a greater commitment to clean water, skies and land, choose honest and dedicated government servants and maintain strong workplace protections. Even with all those quality of life benefits, our state has become a national leader in industry and agriculture.

This would not have been possible without the political and legislative leadership of labor and without the sacrifices of many workers who struggled to organize to develop a solidarity strong enough to create change. Wisconsin was in the vanguard of early union organizing. As early as 1865, Local 125 was formed in Milwaukee as part of the Molders Union, the nation’s first modern trade union. Shoemakers in Milwaukee founded the Knights of St. Crispin in 1867, which quickly grew to 50,000 members, becoming the biggest union in the nation until it died during the panic of 1873. During the nationwide campaign for the eight-hour day in 1886, Milwaukee workers mounted perhaps the most all-encompassing effort of any community. Workers shut down most industrial plants during the first five days of May, and several thousand were marching toward the Bay View Rolling Mills (the city’s largest employer) when the State militia fired in to the crowd, killing seven. Coming one day after the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, the two events may have had the cumulative effect of stifling the eight-hour movement for several decades, but it did show, more importantly, how workers acting in solidarity could have an effect upon a community.

Out of that tragic event came the development of a viable Socialist movement in Milwaukee and the resulting elections of community leaders that would leave a positive mark on the state’s largest city. Meanwhile, “Fighting Bob” La Follette’s Progressive Party came into power in the state.

How do we know this so called governor is lying? Read his lips - if they are moving, bingo:

If anyone thought Gov. Scott Walker -- in his frantic push to extract unilateral concessions from state employees and break the back of public employee unions throughout the state -- could not possibly be more arrogant, they were wrong. Walker took this aspect of his character to a whole new level late this week, in a press conference in his office.

In an appearance that lasted all of 10 minutes, including questions, Walker insulted the Democratic members of the state Senate who fled the state today to prevent passage of these measures, belittled the tens of thousands of citizens who've flocked to the Capitol in protest, and unaccountably claimed the mantle of overwhelming public support for his agenda.

"These are bold political moves, but these are modest, modest requests," Walker asserted, of proposals that would completely strip public employees of their right to collectively bargain for anything except salaries (and to severely limit their ability to do even this), along with sweeping new rules that will make it difficult for their unions to survive. He said his office has gotten "over 8,000 emails" over the last few days and "the majority are telling us to stay firm, stay strong and protect the taxpayer."

In what he obviously thought was an effort to be diplomatic, Walker said the teeming masses of protesters, who, even as he spoke, packed the Capitol inside and out, had "a right to be heard." But, he added, they don't have the right to "drown out" the millions of state residents he claims support his moves.

Walker called on the Democratic members of the state Senate to return to work to do the job "they were elected to do." Again, he insisted this is what the state's residents want, overlooking that the Democrats' decision to not show up for work today was drawing audible cheers from many thousands of people.

One reporter suggested a possible compromise: just hike the amount workers pay toward their benefits without gutting their rights to collective bargaining. Walker rejected this, saying it was too essential to his plan.

So what impact might Democrats have if they return? Walker said they had the right to propose amendments, but he had no intention of doing "anything that's going to cost state and local governments the ability to balance their budgets."

The Senate Democrats, predicted Walker, would "do their stunt for a day or two," adding that their action today "is more about theater than anything else."

He also alleged that the unions couldn't be believed when they now say they want to negotiate because, back in December, after he was elected and before he took office, they tried to "ram through" state employee contracts in the dying days of the last session, even though he had already been elected governor.

Asked if he thought his proposal -- which called on the Legislature to act six days after it was introduced -- did not amount to ramming things through. He denied it absolutely, and chided the reporter for editorializing.

Walker reiterated that it should have been obvious to everyone what he had in mind before he announced it, saying, "If anyone doesn't know what's coming, they've been asleep for the last two years."

He also restated his talking point about how the average state employee contract takes 15 months to negotiate, time the state simply does not have.

Curiously, as he spoke, the Madison Common Council was about to hold a special meeting to pass city employee contracts that have been negotiated over just the last two days, in anticipation of the changes sought by Walker. Turns out contract negotiations can be done even more quickly than Walker and the GOP can rob workers of their rights.

But there was no time for anyone to make that point. Gov. Walker exited the room, through a back door.

Hey, Wisconsin teabaggers! and all the rest of this country: Do you like the forty hour week? Thank a Wisconsin Union Member! Do you like having weekends off? Thank a Wisconsin Union Member!

What is most disturbing to me is the absurd lack of interest the situation in Madison is causing among the Democratic Party leadership.

You don't have to be a genius to know that if Walker, who is a drone of big money interests, can crush Wisconsin unions, it is all over but the shouting for the Democrats down the road. Unions have been the biggest supporters of progressive Democratic candidates.

Is Jesse Jackson the best they can muster? Where the hell is President Obama when he is truly needed? Or the great "peace maker" Bill Clinton? Or at the very least Secretary of Education Arne Duncan?

Hey, boys, bend over and kiss your ass good bye!

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