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Friday, March 25, 2011

Why We Still Need Collective Bargaining Today

March 24, 2011 at 18:47:24

Why We Still Need Collective Bargaining Today

By debbie hines (about the author)

There's a misguided move to end collective bargaining rights for unions for all the wrong reasons. Those supporters who want to end collective bargaining see it as a cost saving measure. Those clamoring to end collective bargaining rights are looking to return to the past glory days without collective bargaining. Well, the past was not so glorified for many workers in the US.

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the New York City Triangle Fire where on March 25, 1911, 146 garment workers died after a fire broke out at the Triangle Waist Company. The mostly girls and young women, who were killed, were locked in the factory to prevent them from taking breaks. Many perished through the fire or jumped to their deaths from the 8th and 9th floors. At that time, there was no union or collective bargaining to protect their rights or require basic work place safety for the workers.

After the fire, the New York legislature passed laws requiring automatic sprinklers, unlocked doors during working hours, doors that swing outward, to name a few . Just like today's dissenters of collective bargaining, the same rhetoric was heard 100 years ago. Sprinklers were called "cumbersome and costly". Others warned the new laws would drive business out of the city and state of New York. Does this sound familiar?

Everything always boils down to cost cutting over safety and saving lives. If today's House Republicans and Wisconsin Republicans were alive in 1911, they would call these basic fire safety measures "job killers". Big business and special interest groups have always fought against rights for the working people, as too costly. Corporate interests argued against basic minimum wages, child labor laws, minimum work day hours and overtime pay, all at the cost to working people. Over the years, unions through collective bargaining have fought for the rights and safety for working Americans.

If we allow collective bargaining rights to be stripped, we will return to the days of yester year when workers were not safe. By way of recent example today, the National Traffic Air Traffic Controllers Association has long requested that air traffic controllers not work alone on night shifts. Ever since 2006, the union has argued for 2 person late night shifts. And just this week, one lone air traffic controller at Regan National Airport in Washington, DC admits falling asleep, resulting in 2 planes attempting to land without his assistance. Paul Rinaldi, the head of the union representing air traffic controllers, has long argued against single person late night shifts. The cost to hire 2 air traffic controllers to work on night shifts far outweighs the costs to lives perished in an airplane crash, as the one occurred in 2006 in Kentucky due to a lone traffic controller, at the helm.

There's an old saying that says sometimes you need to learn the hard way. When it comes to lives and basic safety, I'd rather not learn the hard way. I'd rather continue with unions and their collective bargaining efforts fighting for safety. Unions are not perfect. But, the risk of loss of lives without them is too much to bear. Safety has a price. But, lives are priceless.


Washington DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, former prosecutor and Assistant Attorney General of MD. She frequently appears on television commenting on law, race and social justice issues. As an ivy league educated woman of color, she speaks (more...)

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This is What Plutocracy Looks Like

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Rock County Labor Council

South Central Federation of Labor


Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

Wisconsin AFL-CIO Union Links


Minnesota AFL-CIO

Workday Minnesota



AFL-CIO State Federation and Central Labor Councils


Unions Affiliated with the AFL-CIO

United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)


Labor News Union Resources

America@Work - AFL-CIO magazine

Democracy Now! - Amy Goodman's news site.

LaborNet - The best labor news site in the U.S.

Labor Notes - Monthly labor magazine still putting the movement back in the labor movement.

LabourStart - A great international labor news site, updated daily.

LA Labor News - Los Angeles labor news edited by Jim Smith

Unionist.com - News and graphics for union editors plus books and newsletters for union stewards.

Workers Independent News Service - WINS is a project of the UW School for Workers.

Union Organizing - Good site filled with alot of information..

Bulbul - California feminist/labor cartoonist.

Carol*Simpson - They fire off cartoons aimed at America's corporate establishment and its wholly owned subsidiary the U.S. Government.

ILCA - International Labor Communications Association, the AFL-CIO editors group.

Laborart.com - Rick Flores, labor cartoonist and UAW member.

Northland Poster Collective - Great labor t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc...

Wisconsin Laborers District Council - An affiliation of thirteen Laborer Local Unions, representing nearly 9,000 construction craft laborers across the state of Wisconsin.

WI LECET - Laborers'-Employers' Cooperation & Education Trust

Campus Green Party News - Democracy always works better when there is more than one viewpoint.

Vote Smart - A website trying to give you as much information as possible so you can cast an educated vote.

"In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up
because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me -- and by that time, no was left to speak up."

-Pastor Martin Niemoller

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Friday, March 18, 2011

President Obama: MIA

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

President Obama: MIA

Good presidents do what is best for the country. Great presidents, however, do not only what is best for the people, but are also willing to speak to the courage of their beliefs, of their principles, even if it may be unpopular among many of their constituencies. They don’t put their “finger in the air” to judge what’s popular. Republican Theodore Roosevelt, and Democrats Franklin Delano Roosevelt and “Give ’em Hell, Harry” Truman were among the great presidents. If Barack Obama doesn’t soon speak out on behalf of the working class, he may find his legacy mired in the struggle to become even a good president.

As expected, Michael Moore, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka were in Madison, Wisc., to support and rally the workers in their fight against the union-busting governor and Republican-dominated state legislature.

But, so were union members Bradley Whitfield, Susan Sarandon, Tony Shaloub, and dozens of musicians and singers, including Peter Yarrow who, as part of Peter, Paul, and Mary, was at almost every major social protest for more than 40 years.

“This is not merely a protest on the steps of the Capitol here in Madison,” said Shalhoub, “this is the birth of . . . a nationwide movement destined to restore the rights of workers, to safeguard quality education for our children and to reassemble and reconstitute the fragmented and wounded middle class.” Shalhoub, who won three Emmys, was born in Green Bay; his sister is a Wisconsin teacher.

“Workers,” Sarandon told a crowd of almost 100,000, “had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, defy the courts to create a movement which won the eight-hour workday and caused such a commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, Social Security, unemployment insurance and the right to assemble in collective bargaining.”

Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) told thousands of cheering protestors they had to “reclaim the essence of economic justice before it is lost on the corporate scaffold.” Former senator Russ Feingold, the only senator brave enough to oppose the PATRIOT Act when it was created, said the actions of the governor and legislature were “an outrageous assault on working people.”

The people, the workers, were there when newly-elected Gov. Scott Walker first announced, February 11, he was going to demand hard concessions from the public sector unions. They were there when he lied about the budget and his intentions. They were there when the truth came out that at the same time Walker and his Republican cabal were taking away worker rights and demanding more wage and pension sacrifices, they were also assuring significant tax rebates and making innumerable promises to Big Business. They were there when a Wisconsin Policy Research Institute poll revealed that in less than a month Walker’s approval rate had plunged to only 43 percent. And they were there after he signed a bill, March 13, deviously manipulated through the Senate in the middle of the night, to strip collective bargaining rights of public employees.

But, while the masses protested the shredding of their rights, not at any rally anywhere in Wisconsin were several people who should have been there. Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (R-Calif.), Vice-President Joe Biden, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis have been conspicuously absent. So are almost all major national Democratic political leaders, obviously afraid to publicly support their largest constituency, the American working class.

One person, more than any other, needed to be there, if only to prove that campaign rhetoric and one’s promises mean something after the election.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. Barack Obama told energized and reinvigorated crowds, both small and large, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself [and] I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”

As president, Obama may be wearing comfortable shoes, but he hasn’t gone to Wisconsin to stand by the workers, nor has he ever walked a picket line at least in the past two years. His only public comments, and even then weak ones, were to call the actions in Wisconsin an “assault upon the workers,” and several days later to add, “I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified, or their rights are infringed upon.” It was a statement that could have been said by any Democratic president—and most Republican ones as well.

There are dozens of reasons and excuses why President Obama is not in Wisconsin. The one that seems to be most probable is that going into a re-election campaign he doesn’t want to alienate any of his constituencies. It’s doubtful, however, that anyone on the extreme right wing will vote for him, no matter what he does or doesn’t do. It’s also probable that the core of the Democratic party—the unions and workers, the youth, the alienated and disenfranchised, and those who believe in social justice, who awakened in 2008 to give him a mandate for change—may give him only lukewarm approval or, worse, be silent in 2012. They have every reason to believe they had been betrayed.

Good presidents do what is best for the country. Great presidents, however, do not only what is best for the people, but are also willing to speak to the courage of their beliefs, of their principles, even if it may be unpopular among many of their constituencies. They don’t put their “finger in the air” to judge what’s popular. Republican Theodore Roosevelt, and Democrats Franklin Delano Roosevelt and “Give ’em Hell, Harry” Truman were among the great presidents. If Barack Obama doesn’t soon speak out on behalf of the working class, he may find his legacy mired in the struggle to become even a good president.

• Brian LeCloux of Sun Prairie, Wisc., assisted.

Walter Brasch, during a 40-year work career in mass communications, has been a member of several unions, in both the private and public sectors. He is a syndicated newspaper columnist and the author of 16 books, including With Just Cause: Unionization of the American Journalist. He can be contacted at: walterbrasch@gmail.com. Read other articles by Walter, or visit Walter's website.

This article was posted on Friday, March 18th, 2011 at 8:00am and is filed under Obama, Unions.

Monday, March 14, 2011

War against Workers

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

War against Workers

The Need for Solidarity

Recent events in Wisconsin have been a real eye-opener. Anyone in America not mesmerized with Dancing With The Stars or the latest on Charlie Sheen or their X-Box 360 knows that a class war is on.

When the banks and their corporate partners decided to maximize profits and globalize the economy the war was on. It was then that the US was de-industrialized and the great industrial trade unions were smashed. The United Auto Workers, the United Steel Workers, the United Mine Workers unions are just shells of their former selves.

That hollowing out of the US has left the teacher’s unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) combined, as the largest national force of organized workers left. And that explains the withering attack on teachers, not just in Wisconsin, but from coast to coast which is currently in progress . The forces of globalization see more profits to be won by destroying the public schools and impoverishing teachers and other public sector workers. At the same time they seek to destroy public worker pensions and will ultimately mount a full frontal assault on Social Security and Medicare.

But right now it’s organized teachers in the cross-hairs. Recently, a teacher in Oakland named Anthony Cody reacted to the events in Wisconsin in the context of the stunning appearance of President Obama with Jeb Bush at a South Florida inner-city high school. Cody, who is a National Board Certified teacher and taught science for 18-years in the inner-city, paid homage to the teachers of Florida. He wrote:

Florida teachers showed us last year how to fight this trend. They made a powerful alliance with parents, and put immense pressure on their political leaders to stop Senate Bill 6. They ultimately convinced Republican governor Charlie Crist to veto the bill. This year they have launched a campaign called Awake the State that is holding dozens of rallies across Florida to oppose the huge budget cuts that loom for schools and social services.

An insiders account from Florida would have to concede to Brother Cody that there was indeed immense pressure from teachers and their parent allies. This pressure included a massive demonstration in Tallahassee, volumes of testimony before committees of the Legislature, visits to the Legislator’s home offices, a well-funded lobbying campaign run through the Florida Education Association (FEA), a mountain of e-mail and other communications to the lawmakers, the creation by parents of powerful YouTube videos that went viral on the Internet, and the wearing of red T-shirts in public schools around the State.

And SB6 sailed through both chambers of the Florida Legislature! Not a vote was changed because money calls the shots now in Florida and all the teachers and parents and people of the state can demonstrate and e-mail and vote until they’re blue in the face and money will still make the law.

Getting back to our story, though, as the legislation worked its way to the governor’s office, Charlie Crist had made nothing but supportive statements. He repeatedly assured the bill’s prime sponsor, Jeb Bush’s man, Sen. John Thrasher of Jacksonville, that he intended to sign it. Never was heard a discouraging word from Crist on SB6.

Then something happened that changed everything. There was a clap of thunder and the sleeping giant stirred.

I’m not at liberty to reveal the teacher’s name, but in Miami-Dade County, the largest district in Florida and the fourth largest in the country, a former US Army Ranger and conservative Republican began calling and texting his long list of contacts with a message. “You have a doctor’s appointment Monday” went the text and Monday referred to April 12, 2010. It was a call to sick-out, in effect, an illegal strike.

Administration of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) got wind of the proposed action and began warning teachers of the dangers of it. Staffers for the United Teachers of Dade (UTD) fanned out across the District to instill the fear of job loss and even criminal prosecution in the membership. Word began to spread statewide and so the Florida Education Association (FEA) reminded all teachers that a sickout was a violation of law. Teachers should just keep on wearing their red shirts and e-mailing Gov. Crist and even if SB6 did become law, teachers would still retain the right to beg for mercy.

But on the appointed Monday 6,300 of Miami-Dade’s 21,260 teachers called in sick. The teachers of Miami-Dade County shut down the District’s public schools with an act of civil disobedience! Lo and behold, that next Friday, Gov. Charlie Crist did a complete about face and vetoed SB6. The FEA and UTD bent over backwards to give all the credit to Crist. Teachers were urged to write “thank you notes” to the governor. Our red clothing and e-mails had carried the day.

Very few thank you notes went to the now retired Crist from Miami-Dade. Teachers there knew better. We had done it! We had the power! When we moved together, nothing could stop us! And they knew it too! Not a single teacher among the 6,300 MDCPS teachers from the illegal strike was fired or disciplined in any form or fashion. Administrators, union bureaucrats, teachers, parents and students just celebrated the defeat of SB6 and President Obama’s new friend, Jeb Bush.

Much the same dynamic is playing itself out on a larger scale in Wisconsin today. The teachers united, an irresistible force, has become conscious of itself. Teachers shut down schools in Madison and several other districts for three days when Gov. Scott Walker’s machinations became clear. He even threatened them with the National Guard but they remain unbowed. They forced Gov. Scott Walker to resort to thoroughly undemocratic measures, the acts of a petty tyrant, to get his union busting way.

As with Charlie Crist in Florida, some are determined to give the lion’s share of credit in Wisconsin to 14 Democratic politicians who crossed the state line into Illinois. It is critical that someone else get the credit because their power is the secret that must be kept from teachers around the country if the public schools are to be destroyed. Teachers in Wisconsin are now being misdirected away from their real power, the ability to shut down and eventually to take over the schools, into dead ends like recall petitions and electoral politics. So Wisconsin may prove that we are not quite ready to win yet.

But Florida one year and Wisconsin the next. We are getting close!

Paul A. Moore is a teacher at Miami Carol City Senior High School. He can be contacted at: Pmoore1953@aol.com. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.

This article was posted on Monday, March 14th, 2011 at 8:01am and is filed under Civil Disobedience, Education, Solidarity, Unions.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Obama Rebuffs Invites to Stand with Workers. Will Workers Stand with Obama Again in 2012?


WASHINGTON -- Union leaders urged Vice President Joe Biden during a White House meeting last month to go to Wisconsin and rally the faithful in their fight against Gov. Scott Walker's move to curtail collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

OBAMA'S SILENCE DEAFENING -- Over 100,000 rally, Saturday March 12, 2011 at Capitol Square in Madison, in Madison, Wis. The Obama administration rebuffed invitations to stand with the workers and their families. (AP/Steve Apps) Request rebuffed, they asked for Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

So far, however, the White House has stayed away from any trips to Madison, the state capital, or other states in the throes of union battles. The Obama administration is treading carefully on the contentious political issue that has led to a national debate over the power that public sector unions wield in negotiating wages and benefits.

Some labor leaders have complained openly that President Barack Obama is ignoring a campaign pledge he made to stand with unions; others say his public comments have been powerful enough.

The stakes are high as Obama looks toward a grueling re-election campaign. Republicans have begun airing television ads linking Obama to "union bosses" standing in the way of budget cuts in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states.

As a candidate, Obama seemed to promise more to organized labor, among the Democratic Party's most loyal constituencies.

"If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I'm in the White House, I'll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself," Obama said at a speech in 2007. "I'll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner."

Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, the nation's largest nurses union, called Obama "largely a bystander" in the debate over collective bargaining. "I think we're feeling a sense of betrayal from him and not liking it much," she said.

Doug Schoen, a Democratic political strategist, said Obama's strategy seems to be "keep your distance, avoid direct engagement, say most of the right things most of the time, and hope for resolution through sources other than your own."

Walker on Friday signed a bill that strips most collective bargaining rights from the state's public workers, except police and firefighters. The measure passed the Legislature following more than three weeks of protests that drew tens of thousands of people to the state Capitol in opposition. The governor had announced his plan on Feb. 11, saying his state was broke and there was no point negotiating with the unions when there was nothing to offer.

The request for Biden to travel to Wisconsin came from Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, according to two union officials familiar with the Feb. 24 meeting. The officials requested anonymity because the meeting was private.

Five days later, during the AFL-CIO winter meeting, McEntee told Obama senior adviser David Plouffe that unions wanted more than words, the officials said. McEntee told Plouffe they wanted a high-profile emissary to stand with protesters to show that the president was by their side.

A spokesman for McEntee, Gregory King, declined comment on the substance of the private meetings, but said the union is "pleased with the support we've received from the Obama administration."

Biden's press secretary, Elizabeth Alexander, declined to elaborate on Biden's discussions with union leaders or say why he had not gone to Madison. She said Biden was "obviously very supportive" of labor, had a long history of fighting for collective bargaining rights and, along with Obama, has been "very involved in what has been going on in Wisconsin both privately and publicly from day one."

Obama has called Walker's proposal an "assault on unions" and urged governors not to vilify public workers. After the state Senate relied on a procedural move Thursday to pass the anti-bargaining rights measure without any Democrats in the chamber, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama believes it is wrong for Wisconsin to use its budget troubles "to denigrate or vilify public sector employees."

Solis also pledged her support for public employees on a phone call with thousands of members of the Communications Workers of America.

"Budget sacrifices are one thing but, demanding that workers give up their voice is another," Solis told the union members.

But asked whether Solis would go to Wisconsin or any other state where protesters are rallying, spokesman Carl Fillichio said she's "keeping an eye on the situation."

DeMoro, from the nurses' union, has been reminding Obama about his 2007 campaign promise to walk with union members. She has even sent out press releases offering to buy the president a pair of shoes to march with demonstrators.

"Standing with the embattled workers would be an important symbol," DeMoro said.

There's no question that Obama will keep getting strong re-election support from organized labor. But he stands the risk that unions won't be as enthusiastic if he is too aloof about the attack on bargaining rights. On the other hand, it's possible that unions will be so consumed with their own efforts to save bargaining rights, recall governors or other issues of self-preservation that they won't have the time to work on Obama's behalf with full vigor.

Schoen, the Democratic consultant, said Obama is "trying to have it both ways."

If the budget-cutting tactics of Walker and GOP Gov. John Kasich of Ohio are successful, Obama doesn't want to be seen as aggressively taking sides, Schoen said. If they fail, the president can say he was always on the side of the unions.

Most union leaders have praised Obama in public for offering support with his words. Some believe it may be better for him to stay out so Republicans can't claim the protests are being organized in a grand political move.

"Obama needed to hang back and let people fully understand this is being run by the people of Wisconsin, not by the Democratic Party leadership," said Greg Junemann, president of the International Federal of Professional and Technical Engineers.

Both parties already are using Wisconsin to try to boost their political fortunes.

Crossroads GPS, a group organized by former Bush advisers Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, announced this past week that it would spend $750,000 on national cable television ads supporting Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday set a goal of raising $100,000 in 24 hours from angry voters opposing the Wisconsin legislation.

Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

Friday, March 11, 2011

America needs JOBS!

Job Party

cheddar2.gif15 million unemployed. 12 million underemployed. Unions under attack.

Record corporate profits. Banker crimes unpunished. Tea Party on the march.

It's time for change. It's time to fight back. It's time for the Job Party. Join us!

Our kickoff event was a fun and spirited NYC Cheesehead Rally in NYC on Feb. 19 to support Wisconsin workers who are under attack from Gov. Scott Walker and the Tea Party.

‘Wisconsin Moment’ a Historic Opportunity to Move America Forward

Trumka: ‘Wisconsin Moment’ a Historic Opportunity to Move America Forward

by James Parks, Mar 10, 2011

This Wisconsin Moment is a historic opportunity to come together and shift the national focus back to creating jobs and building middle-class living standards, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said today.

Speaking to the Campaign for America’s Future Summit on Jobs and America’s Future in Washington, D.C., Trumka said the “corruption of democracy” in Wisconsin presents a challenge and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for progressives:

As progressives it is our job to transform the outrage and make this moment a movement to ensure that this corruption in the Midwest does not stand.

In your lifetime have you ever seen this much solidarity, this much excitement, this much activism? And we have the immense responsibility to keep the fire lit and spark real change for America.

He also lambasted corporate CEOS and their politician puppets who use economic insecurity to divide people. CEOs misread the November 2010 election results, Trumka said.

They didn’t want to hear that we were demanding good jobs—big bold solutions to put America back to work. Instead they heard desperation and a willingness among working people to turn on one another—and they saw it as the green light to come after us in an unprecedented coordinated attack.

And now they’re seeing what backlash really looks like.

This is our time, he said:

… it’s time for progressives like us to earn our paychecks. It is our job to channel this Midwest uprising, this populist outcry into the large-scale creation of good jobs that can resuscitate America’s middle class, America’s people and our economy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wis. Voters File Recall Petitions Against Anti-Worker Senators

Wis. Voters File Recall Petitions Against Anti-Worker Senators

by James Parks, Mar 2, 2011

This morning, voters from around Wisconsin took the first steps toward taking their state back by filing recall papers against eight Republican senators who have backed Gov. Scott Walker and pushed his partisan attempt to take away collective bargaining rights for thousands of teachers, nurses, librarians and other workers.

In a statement, Wisconsin workers said Walker and the Senate Republicans are not reflecting Wisconsin values. Instead, they are doing away with decades of bipartisan cooperation in government. Walker claims he wants to give our children the “tools they need,” but in reality, he has taken a baseball bat to their future. His budget is wrong for Wisconsin, the workers said.

“He is attacking education, seniors and working families by putting the budget burden on their backs. Meanwhile, he is asking for no shared sacrifice from the extremely wealthy and corporations who funded his campaign.”

Roy Vandenberg, a member of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2-144, said:

Gov. Walker and Senate Republicans are refusing to listen to the hundreds of thousands of working families who traveled to Madison to make their voices heard. He has refused to listen to the majority of the people of this state who disagree with them. So now it is time for us to make our voices heard in their districts. If they will not listen to “we the people” then the “we the people” are going to take our government back.

Ann Louise Petreault, a nurse at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and member of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, adds:

Gov. Walker continues to turn a blind eye to the majority of Wisconsinites who believe his plan to end collective bargaining is wrong. He won’t take yes for an answer. He just continues his political attack to strip us of our collective bargaining rights.

Here’s Bryan Kennedy, president of AFT Wisconsin:

We have learned that today people have begun filing recall petitions in an effort to take Wisconsin back. We are now going to focus our organizing attention on these efforts, and all across the state we will immediately join these efforts and begin collecting signatures, knocking on doors, making phone calls and talking to our friends and family. Starting today, day by day, one by one, we will begin taking our state back before Gov. Walker is able to take it backward.

Gov. Walker and the Senate Republicans have failed to show leadership and work across party lines to compromise and get Wisconsin moving forward again by creating jobs, the statement said.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Large majority of Americans back public employee union rights: poll

The Raw Story

Large majority of Americans back public employee union rights: poll

By Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 -- 10:00 am

WASHINGTON – Americans want to maintain the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions by a nearly two-to-one margin, according to a new New York Times/CBS poll.

Sixty percent said they oppose attempts in states like Wisconsin to curtail those rights, while only 33 percent said they support those efforts. Seven percent had no opinion.

The results may reflect a growing backlash against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who has for weeks been involved in a high-profile standoff with state Democrats and union supporters over his budget plan, which would curtail union bargaining rights.

Invoking the state's budget deficit, Walker extracted major concessions from public worker unions on pensions and benefits, but they insist the state not take away their right to collectively bargain in the future.

The collective bargaining provision would have "no immediate effect" on the budget and "wouldn't save any money this year," the National Journal reported.

The public appears divided on whether attempts to reduce the benefits of government workers are aimed at cutting the deficit or simply busting unions.

In the Times/CBS poll, 45 percent said it's usually about trimming deficits; 41 percent said it's about weakening unions. Fourteen percent weren't sure.

When asked about options to reduce the deficit, raising taxes decidedly won (40 percent) over decreasing benefits of public-sector workers (22 percent).

A plurality of the public, however, said that unions have "too much" influence in American life and politics (37 percent). Only 19 percent said they have "too little," and 29 percent believed that unions have the "right amount" of influence.