Posted In: Multimedia, Uncategorized, Wisconsin, Workers' Rights

OUTRAGE IN WISCONSIN!

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Photo: Morry Gash/AP

By Cynthia McCabe

Outrage over the maneuvering by Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans in Wisconsin to ram through a bill silencing workers’ voices went out in shockwaves from Madison Wednesday night and reverberated across the country.

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel:

Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers met in the dark of night, in a near-empty Capitol, and stretched their authority to the breaking point in an attempt to ram through legislation that the public does not support and that will harm thousands of the American working class. Its legality is dubious. Its intent is mean spirited. It is perhaps the most grievous example of how democratic decision making should not take place. The governor and his legislative minions should be ashamed of what they’ve done.

In exercising the nuclear option to impose their will on Wisconsites, Governor Walker and Senate Republicans attacked middle class families, from students to seniors, in their state. This is an affront to teachers, nurses, students, firefighters, construction workers and other everyday people who stood up, spoke out, and learned how much their voice mattered to their elected leaders.   The response will be unified and the collective voice of millions of working Americans from all across this nation will only grow louder.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):

I am disappointed in the Wisconsin legislature’s decision to trample on the rights of teachers and other public employees. I have always supported workers’ rights in Nevada and across this nation. In these tough economic times, when state budgets are strained to the breaking point, everyone must make sacrifices. That includes public employees, many of whom have already conceded to unpaid furloughs, pay cuts and salary freezes, and some of whom have even lost their jobs. Workers in Wisconsin were willing to make sacrifices and tighten their belts, like families around the country. But Governor Walker and Wisconsin Senate Republicans have stubbornly refused to negotiate or compromise, refusing to budge from their extreme proposal.

Last night’s vote to strip Wisconsin workers of their collective bargaining rights wasn’t about tough budget decisions. Republicans simply scapegoated hard-working people who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and launched an ideological assault on the right of working people in America to organize and collectively bargain. The workers affected by this decision aren’t getting rich teaching children to read or cleaning floors in the State House. Republicans should stop attacking middle-class people working hard to put food on the table for their families.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine:

The decision by Governor Scott Walker and Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature to use procedural gimmicks and a straight partisan vote to press on with legislation that would take away collective bargaining rights held by Wisconsin public employees for over 50 years is contrary to the state’s political traditions, is punitive in nature, and does nothing to address the budget issues that he and his fellow Republicans claimed were at the heart of this legislative dispute.

Villainizing public sector workers or other hard working Americans isn’t going to get us any closer to addressing the budget issues facing our states or the country as a whole and does nothing to lay the foundation for a more prosperous future.

In these tough budget times everyone needs to share in the sacrifices necessary to bring budgets into balance and to spend taxpayer resources wisely and leaders of both parties have to come together to find common ground. Its very disappointing that Republicans are preventing that from happening in Wisconsin.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, chair of the Democratic Governors Association:

The shameful display we saw in Wisconsin last night embodies some of the worst partisan politics that we have seen on the state-level in recent memory. After weeks of attempting to ram through a ban on collective bargaining under the guise of balancing their state budget, Wisconsin Republicans – led by Governor Scott Walker – showed that they are more interested in destroying the right of workers to organize and enacting partisan retribution than they are in practicing fiscal responsibility.

Every governor is tasked with balancing a budget and leading their state through these challenging times. But let’s be clear: Governor Walker’s push to undermine worker’s rights—against the will of the people of Wisconsin—will not put his state on sounder fiscal ground, create jobs, or expand opportunity.

Democratic governors are faced with the same challenges facing Republican governors like Scott Walker, but we understand that our primary goal should be bringing people together to create new jobs and opportunity now. With their singular focus on settling old political scores at the expense of everything else, Republican governors are practicing the worst, Washington-style politics and only serving to prolong our nation’s economic recession.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison:

These dead-of-night tactics are a common theme in the Republican war on working families. Just as Washington Republicans passed their slash-and-burn budget bill at 4:40 a.m. on a Saturday morning, Wisconsin Republicans passed their anti-working family bill last night without a single Democrat in the room.

The New York Times tells the story: a tiny group of Republicans acted against the will of the people, without debate and without public representation. Last night they demonstrated their disrespect for Americans who only want to do good work, support their families and pay their bills. Instead of creating jobs, which they promised the nation they would do, Republicans have spent the last three months firing hard-working Americans and taking away their rights and freedoms.

The Republican war on working families is far from over. The Progressive Caucus is standing with everyday Americans every step of the way, fighting to stop Republicans’ shameless power grabs and layoffs.

To the working people of America we say: Stay strong. We stand with you. This is only the beginning of a long road that leads to a better America.

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Michael Sargeant:

Gov. Walker and Republican Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald have perverted the legislative process to ram through their extreme attack on Wisconsin’s working families,” said Sargeant.

Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald’s comments earlier today on how his ultimate political goal is to defund labor unions and defeat President Obama laid bare the GOP’s true motivations in their so-called attempt to repair the state budget. By using this ploy to ram through the budget bill provisions that eviscerate workers’ rights, the Republicans have betrayed not only the legislative process, but all of Wisconsin’s working families.

The Senate Democrats have tried time and time again to negotiate a compromise with the GOP leadership to resolve the state’s budget issues without damaging workers’ rights or further burdening those hurt most by the recession. Tonight’s maneuver makes it clear that Wisconsin Republicans never had any intention of working out a good-faith agreement.

This is power-play politics at its most cynical. Policy-making by deception has no place in our statehouses.

Wisconsin Republican legislators who participated in tonight’s legislative manipulation should be ashamed.

AFSCME Wisconsin President Marty Beil:

Gov. Walker and his puppets have taken a baseball bat to the rights of Wisconsin workers.  They have left no doubt that their highest priority is to take away rights from all Wisconsin public employees.

Their assault on workers and the democratic process has nothing to do with balancing the state’s budget.

After arguing for weeks that radical changes in public employee rights were an integral fiscal cog in his budget repair bill, Gov. Walker’s allies abruptly separated out the union bashing provisions and abruptly passed them with no prior notice and no debate.

Early on, our members agreed to every fiscal concession in the governor’s proposal.  We have always insisted that Walker’s attack on our rights has nothing to do with the budget.  By separating these provisions, Walker’s puppets have proved our point – this isn’t about money, it is about undermining workplace democracy.

This is a dark time for Wisconsin.  This is not how Wisconsin works.

Walker has driven the state far away from its core values.  But after each dark night, there comes a new day.  And this new day starts today, as Wisconsin citizens across the state answer this insult by pouring their energy into recalling Wisconsin Senators who have sold their souls to the highest bidder.

AFSCME County and Municipal Employees Councils 24, 40 and 40:

Governor Walker’s power grab is an affront to democracy.  The voters will not stand for denying the rights of Wisconsin’s public employees – and they will be held accountable for their actions at the ballot box,” said Bob McLinn, President of AFSCME Council 24, and a correctional officer at Waupun Correctional Institution.

Governor Walker and eighteen Republican senators handed us a setback, but we will win this war.  This attack on the working and middle class will not stand – and we will take back our democracy in recall elections,” said Brian Stafford, President of AFSCME District Council 48, and chief repair person for water distribution, City of Milwaukee.

This is a sad day for democracy and for Wisconsin.  But our state’s nurses, teachers and EMTs will overcome.  We will take back our government from the big moneyed interests and reverse this attack on workers’ rights,” said Jim Garity, President of AFSCME Council 40, and Jefferson County Highway Department equipment operator.

SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry:

Tonight, Scott Walker made it crystal clear to the people of Wisconsin — and the entire nation– the extent he will go to in order to pay back billionaires such as the Koch Brothers and bad actor corporations that want to destroy the middle class.  This legislative gimmick proves Walker’s attack on the middle class was never about balancing the budget; it was always about stripping workers of a voice and rewarding the cronies who helped finance his campaign.”

It was so important for Walker to move this legislation in the dead of the night, that he and Republican legislators may have illegally denied the people of Wisconsin their right to adequate notice to be involved in this process. In the end, Scott Walker turned a deaf ear to the tens of thousands of courageous nurses, environmentalists, students, faith leaders and others who stood up for a brighter vision of Wisconsin that values fairness, rewards hard work, and provides quality services to those who need them.

From denying working people the right to have a voice, to failing to create the jobs that Wisconsinites so desperately need, Walker has proven time and again that his first priority is rewarding the Koch Brothers and corporate interests, not the people of Wisconsin.

Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republican senators may have rammed this anti-middle class legislation through tonight, but over the past three weeks they ignited a movement in Wisconsin and nationwide that remains even more committed to creating a stronger, more fair and promising vision of America.  No amount of legislative maneuvers will ever quell their determination to stand up for that vision.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW):

Joe Hansen, UFCW International President, said, Tonights late-night actions by Wisconsins Republican Senators will not stand.  Working families and the broader community in Wisconsin and across the country have overwhelmingly stood up for the right to bargain collectively.  Governor Walker’s true motives have been made clear that this was never about balancing the budget, but rather to exact political revenge on the hard working teachers, firefighters and public workers that make Wisconsin a great state.

And for those politicians who seek to emulate Governor Walker, rest assured, these attacks on middle class families has unified and inspired an even stronger grassroots movement for change in this country.

UFCW members work in some of the nations largest supermarket chains and major food processing and meatpacking plants.  UFCW members put food on Americas dinner table and with a voice at work and the right to bargain with their employer, they are able to bring middle class jobs to every neighborhood in America.

UFCW Local 1473 member Tricia Hawkins, who was inside the Wisconsin capitol building when the vote was taken:

I work at Hormel Foods in Beloit and I have a good job because I have a seat at the bargaining table.  I know collective bargaining works because our members work with management to reach the best agreement to make a stronger company and a good place to work.  She continued, Working people understand that hard times call for shared sacrifices but Governor Walker proved tonight that his motivation was never about shared sacrifice. He is out for political revenge.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN)

Yesterday, by voting on a non-fiscal measure to strip the people of their right to collectively bargain, Wisconsin Republicans proved what we have known all along. This has never been about the budget. It’s been about limiting the rights and the voice of ordinary, working Americans.

But you can’t silence Americans by cutting them out of the political process when it’s convenient or even by banning them from entering their own state capitol. I have every reason to believe the people of Wisconsin will continue to raise their voices for freedom and I applaud their efforts.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN):

We were all shocked by what happened in Wisconsin Wednesday night. Eighteen Republican state senators broke faith with the people who elected them. They broke their word. They may have even broken the law. They wanted to bust public sector unions — the last line of defense for the rights of teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses, and other public servants — so badly that they were willing to cheat the system.

Let’s be clear: They did this in the hopes that, with the bill passed, the crowds would dissipate and we’d let this go.But they were wrong. We’re not going to let this go. We’re going to help the people of Wisconsin fight this bill — and the illegal power grab it took to pass it — every step of the way. We’re going to help them hold accountable the elected officials who sold out workers and subverted democracy.

And, most of all, we’re going to make sure that this is the end — not the beginning — of the right wing’s attempt to destroy the middle class. It took a power-hungry, corporate-backed governor and 18 senators with no respect for the law or the struggle of working families to bring this issue to national attention. But the fight to stand up for the middle class against corporations and the politicians they own has always been a national fight. It’s up to us to make sure we win that fight for the working families whose voices — whose livelihoods — are at stake.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI):

I am extremely disappointed in the late night, dishonest actions of Governor Walker and Republican state legislators.  Not only have they put an end to 50 years of workers’ rights in Wisconsin, but their shameful move shows that they have no respect for the voices of working families or the democratic process in our state.

I’m saddened by the disregard for public employees and their willingness to negotiate on important state budget challenges.  The fact that legislators stripped the bill of fiscal details to jam through the destruction of worker rights by itself shows once and for all that this stunt was not about balancing the budget – it was a partisan power grab.

This is not the way we do business in Wisconsin. We can’t accomplish anything when it’s all about politics. Right now, we need leaders in the state who are willing to get together and listen to each other, in the honor of Wisconsin democracy, to find the common ground that I know exists for the future of our state.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI):

Tonight’s vote by the Wisconsin State Senate is sad and shameful. It demonstrates total disrespect for the law and for the people of our state. Our fight to reclaim our democracy is energized, not over.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI):

Last night, Wisconsin Republicans proved what we have been saying for a long time – Governor Walker’s desire to eviscerate collective bargaining in Wisconsin is about ideology not about the budget.

We’ve already seen a lot of buyer’s remorse in Wisconsin.  It’s no wonder that Governor Walker wants to move beyond this.  But instead of negotiating in good faith with workers and listening to Wisconsinites, he rammed this through the State Senate with no debate.

Over the years, Wisconsin’s state health care programs have been among the most successful in the country.  In one action in the dark of night, Wisconsin Republicans have jeopardized the health of women, children, and our seniors.  With Governor Walker in the driver’s seat, we can kiss goodbye the more than 30 years of bipartisan history in Wisconsin of protecting women’s health – ranging from breast exams to STD tests to birth control.

He may think our memories are short, but we will not forget this.  It’s despicable.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) :

…With a swift procedural maneuver, Governor Walker made one thing perfectly clear last night: his party’s goal has absolutely nothing to do with the Wisconsin budget and everything to do with union busting. If Governor Walker truly cared about the budget, he wouldn’t have added millions to Wisconsin’s deficit with tax breaks for the wealthy – just a few short months after he was elected.

What is happening in Wisconsin makes absolutely clear that this battle is really about Republicans’ insatiable quest to deny working Americans the right to negotiate through collective bargaining. Republicans want to deny basic negotiating rights to thousands of state workers, including teachers, nurses, and all the state employees who work every day to protect the health, safety and well-being of Wisconsin’s residents.

The Republicans’ incredible overreach is not limited to Wisconsin; it is playing itself out in state houses all across the county and also in Washington. I, for one, will continue to push back, and to fight for workers’ rights alongside legions of Americans who have mobilized against the Republican assault on the middle class and working families. The Republican assault is undemocratic, it is un-American and together we will reject their efforts.

On Twitter:

Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader: Tonight #WI GOP showed their true aim: undermining workers’ rights. I continue to stand in solidarity with #wiunion.

Michael Moore, documentarian: Today was the 78th birthday of the New Deal. That these “laws” would pass in MI & WI on this day is a disgrace & the people will respond.

Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: Hey Scott Walker: this is not your air traffic controllers moment, it’s your Waterloo.



Reader Comments

  1. Greg

    Jim,
    I respect your right to an opinion. This is not about you vs. me. This is about them vs. us. What do you think Walker was saying when he gleefully reported to the fake Koch that we were going to make history here in Wisconsin and compared himself to Reagan. This is called “Divide and Conquer” And thanks to folks who don’t read and truly educate themselves on the issues at hand, we will be divided and we will lose together. And the Koch’s and Walker will have their party in Cali, at our expense. Wake Up Man. Sarah Palin, Rush, Glenn, Shawn, Ann, Bill O, Savage and the like have never advocated working together to solve a problem or public issue. No, because that doesn’t sell. What sells is hate, disrespect and total disregard of harmony and working together. I truly believe that this is why we are in this present state of disharmony. Public Workers and unions are not the problem here. They didn’t create the problem. We all need to work together to solve these issues. In the course of 40 years of employment, I’ve been a member of 3 diverse unions, machinists, textiles and teachers. These unions always worked together with the company or school district to solve budget and other issues. It worked. I find that if I sometimes look at the other perspective, you can always find common ground and together solve any, ANY problem. That process was not part of what happened in my once proud state of Wisconsin. Let’s try reaching out to each other, instead of beating each other up.

    Reply
  2. Dave neubert

    Hell…even President Reagan supported unions.
    These Republicans sandbagged the working people who pay the bills

    Reply
  3. Orlan Brown

    It is time to show these goons how we acheived the workers rights that our predecessors worked so hard for.

    Reply
  4. Janice Myers-Poirier

    I never thought, at my lowest times, that I would see what’s happening to the public schools happening. I think it must be the word, “public.” Public is the word that represents most of us. Public doesn’t mean “wealthy” because if it did……….there would be other terms like “private, voucher, charter, or even elite.”
    The students are being ignored in the public schools. In an attempt to bully teachers……the children are being made to suffer.
    In my state of Florida, the new governor promised to dismantle the union, cut the budget and remove tenure while he was campaigning. Sure enough, somehow, he was elected and that is exactly what is happening. What is truly sad about this is that there were “public school teachers” who voted for him also. So, public school teachers in Florida………if you can retire by 2014, please do so. I never thought I would see our careers reduced to such an awful state. It’s happening all over the USA!

    Reply
  5. Jim S

    I’m sure my comments won’t make it in here but you people are pathological. The dreaded public sector hasn’t had a raises in 10 years. We actually contribute to social security not some “special” retirement program. We pay a boatload for our healthcare. What we wouldn’t give to have what you call a right or bargaining power. It’s nothing more than a shakedown and kickback scheme. Negotiate with the person you are paying to get elected. The public is not stupid and we know that in the end a public worker will have worked less and got a rediculous amount of benefits. Ahhh to retire in 25 years with a nice pension. We are done with it. We can’t afford it anymore. You people would choose to bankrupt a state to keep your precious deals. The solution you propose is to go back to the public and raise our taxes and not reform anything. It’s okay to shove health care down everyones throat but you run out of state to avoid a tough decision. It’s over for you. No longer can you suck the blood out of a public who has nothing left to give. Quit your whining and accept your fate which is the same as the dreaded public sector worker has been dealing with for years. Unions to some extent are good but with too much of a heavy hand have driven countless american industries to the brink and are now driving government over a cliff. Wake up. When you yell SHAME SHAME SHAME, maybe you should look in the mirror.

    Reply
    • D Erickson

      Jim,
      It’s time to quit bashing public servants. They’ve worked hard their entire lives for low pay, supporting their families on far less than corporate employees. The two perks they have going are group insurance rates and pension contributions (out of pocket) for old age. The Union has provided the discipline and motivation to promote savings for it’s members. I’m sorry if you didn’t plan for the future, but stop blaming the Unions for doing this for their workers. Enough sour grapes!

      Now you Republicans want to steal our pensions and gamble away our social security on Wall Street with no regulations!!! My husband left a good public position 10 years ago to take a higher paying job in private business. Guess what? They threw him out on the street during the lay off epidemic to stash the money.

      So if you think for one minute that public service should try to emulate what’s going on in private world, guess again! Rather you should be following our lead and do what’s right for the workers of America, not the billionaires! Rest assured, they’ll take care of themselves without your help.

      Reply
    • Heather

      I give you one week to attempt what teachers do through out their days. Our day does not just end because the final bell rang. But correcting, planning, meetings, helping students are all part of our “off hours”. There is not a night I do not go home at least an hour an a half past the regular work day lugging home more materials to correct. In addition this budget crisis and reduction of funding to education makes it difficult to obtain needed supplies and I spend hundreds of dollars to supplement what is not in the supply closet. As teacher prior to Walker “union busting bill” call it what it is, we did defer our salaries to contribute to our own health care and retirement. I am saddened by the public perception that we do not work, deserve our benefits, or the right to a union. No teacher has ever said, “Oh, I think I will go into this profession for the salary and benefits” or “gee whiz, I will just go to pursue a degree in teaching while my friends are becoming engineers, business professionals, or other professions that start the graduate off with much higher pay. That sounds like a great idea because I get the summers off.” If that was your next point for becoming a teacher, well we do not get 3 months off in a year. It is over statement to even say 2 1/2 months. But we do not get paid during the summer. So to make ends meet we often take on summer jobs. But the true heart of the matter is that teachers, real teachers who give their lives to this profession love what they do. However, we too have to make a living and deserve at least a middle class way of life because we are college graduates and do need to take course every five years to maintain our certification. I am sick of introducing myself to people and saying I am an English teacher and the first response is “oh, I hated my English teachers in high school.” The fruits of our labor come later in life and I run into a former student of my who tells me what he or she is doing in life that is truly meaningful. If people would stop scapegoating us and realize what else is going on in politics maybe some people would wake up and not try and take things away from others. Thank you to all of my former teachers for giving me the skills I need to become who I am today. Thank you mom for teaching me to respect teachers and not put them down because I am angry.

      Reply
    • Robert Thomas

      Jim,
      It’s obvious you need to be re-educated. Go down to your local school board and sign up as a substitute teacher before you get caught up in the Tea Party’s false agenda . It made me a beleiver real fast. The teachers are professionals who spent years in college to learn how to teach. Add those four years to a very stressful 25 years. Here’s the math… $40,000.00 salary divided by 200 school days equals $200.00 per day. Divide that $200.00 per day by 30 students and the cost for your teacher is only 6.67 per day per student per day. By the way, the subsitute teacher only makes about $25.00 – $30.00 per day… less than a dollar per student. In my real world, my costs went up just like yours and we don’t get a pay adjustment either. Go bark up an oil company’s tree and get off mine!

      Reply
    • Shannon D.

      Hi Jim. As a public high school school English teacher in CT, I was contracted to work 7 hours a day, plus evenings when there were open houses and conferences and approximately 5 after school meetings a week. However, as any public school teacher would be familiar with, the day does not end after 7 hours.Outside of the 7 hours, I also had to create daily lesson plans (which had to be changed yearly), read and critique approximately 100 5-page student essays four times a year and grade thousands of other student work yearly, create tests and relevant assignments, meet with students after school for extra help, write college recommendations, and contact and meet with parents after school. For me, this easily ended up in 9-hour work days plus 5 hours during the weekend of grading and coming up with assignments. I once figured out that if I earned overtime for the hours I worked beyond an 8-hour workday, I was getting paid about $13 an hour. I have been a teacher for six years and have a Master’s, which teachers in CT are required to have after 8 years of teaching. I have accepted step freezes and pay freezes. When I received a raise and step increase, which I greatly appreciated, it amounted to about an extra $500 a year. I don’t pay social security, but over those six years, I have paid approximately $12,000 of my salary into the pension plan as well as approximately $100 a week for health care. Teachers in CT must work 10 before they are partially vested in the pension plan. Many don’t make it to 10 years because it is a very demanding job. During the 7-hour day, I had a 30-minute lunch period and a 45-minute preparation period during which time I copied materials, met with students, attended meetings for students with disabilities or other issues, went to the bathroom, made phone calls. It is very challenging to keep 20-30 high school students of varying abilities interested and productive every day for the five 45 to 80-minute classes I teach, as well as be responsible for their test scores (no matter what their home lives are like), address disruptive behavior with the least amount of class time interruption. I have often said a week of volunteering as a high school teacher, doing all that is required of a high school teacher, should be mandatory, like jury duty. It would be a community service, save the taxpayers money if the schools don’t have to pay substitutes, and, most importantly let the public see just how “easy” it is to be a teacher these days. However, I’ve noticed that even in these difficult economic times, very few people sign on as paid substitutes (even when the teacher supplies complete lesson plans for the day).

      Reply
      • Bonnie Rosenfield

        You hit the nail on the head Shannon. For years I have often said that substitute teaching should be like jury duty.

        Reply
    • Valerie Pientka

      Jim S,
      Are you not able to see that the Koch Bros. plan is to pit middle class worker against middle class worker? Please read up on this topic. The issue is not unions, pensions, or health care. The issue is the redistribution of wealth into the top 2%. You deserve to have a decent salary, a pension, and health care just like everyone else.

      Reply
    • BJR

      Jim, I think you’ve had your head buried in the sand too long. I can only reiterate what the people before me have stated. But another thing to think about. We teachers also pay taxes which means we contribute to our own salaries. That is on top of contributing to our pensions, benefits, and social security.

      You should sign up to substitute. See what it’s like to teach a classroom of 35-50 students. Factor in the disruptive few that deprive the kids that are there to learn of an education. I am tired of teachers and other public employees being badmouthed and told how we are parasites feeding of the rest of society. It’s no wonder so many talented young teachers leave the profession in the first five years.

      Reply
  6. Peggy Wuenstel

    I need some help to understand a disturbing trend in Wisconsin. I am a veteran public school special education teacher. I have dedicated my professional life to helping children communicate, to understand what others are saying; and for the life of me, I can’t seem to do so myself in this time of turmoil. I work very hard, many more hours than I am contracted to work, both at home and at school. I supplement my school budget with my own funds and materials from home. I take and make phone calls to concerned parents in the evenings. I love my community’s children and I can honestly say that almost all the time I am working as hard as I possibly can.
    I take courses, read books, and develop materials to improve my teaching, often at my own expense. I try hard to be a resource to others, an example to my students, a mentor to fellow teachers, and a leader in my school. Help me to understand why I am the enemy. Why is your frustration, your anger, your hatred directed at me? Why was there minimal outrage when corporate CEOs received your tax money through the financial bailouts, because these multi-million dollars bonuses were previously agreed to? Wisconsin also had previously agreed to honor commitments to its public employees.
    Public employees have always been willing to take less in salary compensation to finance our health care and retirement benefits. That is the other half of the story that allies of Governor Walker forget to tell you. They also don’t mention the 13 years when teacher salaries and benefits were capped. Our raises never matched those of the private sector in the good times. A plan that strips us of our collective bargaining rights almost guarantees this will never happen in the future. We don’t get profit sharing, end of year bonuses, Christmas hams, or company picnics. Teaching awards, high-performing students or exceptional performance evaluations don’t supplement our salaries.
    I was delighted to be chosen this year to represent my co-workers and our district as a whole when I was selected as Wisconsin’s Special Services Teacher of the Year. More than anything else, it is evidence that wonderful education is occurring in this community. This city’s schools are filled with dedicated, talented, flexible, caring teachers who deserve your support. In the private sector, this recognition would earn me a promotion and a raise in salary. In Scott Walker’s Wisconsin it earns me a pay cut and a potential pink slip. I am nearing the end of my teaching career, and it will be a sad irony if the loss of my bargaining rights, the assurance of health care and pension benefits, increases in caseloads and the demands of the job and the heartbreak of being painted as a selfish, greedy individual drive me from the profession into the private sector in the year I am honored for my commitment to public education.
    What I would ask all of Wisconsin to do is to resist the attempts of influences outside our state to point the finger at each other. By dividing us from each other, they deflect the attention from the real problems. Public employees did not create this crisis. They never took more from the state than was part of agreements, that are part of Wisconsin tradition. They did not inflate or distort earnings statements, make bad loans, divert money from the rank and file to company executives or run the state into the ground and take a golden parachute separation bonus or stock option. They did take unpaid furlough days, did offer give backs on contracts that were negotiated in good faith, did stand together to support each other. They pay their taxes, spend their money in Wisconsin’s businesses and protest to support each other rather than threaten those who don’t agree. Wisconsin citizens who vote Republican are not our enemies. But, they are apparently far more willing to support an idea rather than people. They seem to willing to allow those that don’t value what so many of us believe makes Wisconsin great to divide us. Those of us who send our kids to public schools and State Universities, who enjoy the beauties of our parks and natural resources, who depend on public health nurses, immunization clinics, outstanding police and fire protection, and the competence and courtesy of those who staff our local, state and municipal offices, workshops and outreach centers know what makes Wisconsin great. Please don’t let those who would tell you that those people are a liability and not assets, win. Please remember that unregulated capitalism doesn’t have room for compassion, fairness, or generosity. Please acknowledge that one role of government is to assure that the many who have few resources are more important than the few who have amassed most of the chips on the table. This is not a change that Wisconsin can live with, Not Now, Not Here, Not Ever.

    Reply
    • Sue Gockel

      Thank you!
      You stated so eloquently what I and my hard working colleagues have been feeling since this diabolical Budget Repair Bill was introduced. We are not the evil, overpaid workers being portrayed by the Tea Party Republican minions. WE are hard working tax payers who give our all to our work everyday and who care about the people around us. I am thankful for people like yourself who can state what many of us feel but are too emotional and raw from being victimized to rationally put into words.
      Thank you again.

      Reply
    • Greg

      Peggy,

      What a well scripted, educated commentary. You must be a teacher. Well done. If your commentary was required reading, I believe you may change some minds. But unfortunately, those who listen to the tea party, Sarah P, Rush L, Glenn B, Bill O, Shawn H and Michael Savage are too deluded to ever recognize another point of view. They seem to thrive on anger, revenge and hate. They might try turning the radio and Fox news off, just for a little while each day and read the Bible. As they continue to beat us public employees and anyone else that may have something they do not, they help divide us, which will ultimately end in one hell of a party for Governor Scott Walker and David Koch down in Cali.

      Reply
  7. Sunrise49

    This is fascism at work. Read your history books and weep. The German people, too, believed their leaders would have their best interests at heart….Rise up Americans. Corporate fat cats (aka Oligarchs)demonstrated their patriotism by shipping jobs overseas after NAFTA was signed. Silly us…we thought they would look out for America. They only look out only for PROFIT. Put the brakes on, America. It is not the Union that is the enemy, it is the people who want to pay you last and fill their own pockets first. While they have been crying “Socialism” of the Obama policies, they have been plotting a fascist take-over of all that we hold dear. We need to have business interests as part of the government, not OWNERS of it.

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