WI teacher testifies against “right-to-work” amidst GOP walk-out

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By Dmitriy Synkov / image source: WBAY TV-2 

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Wisconsin teacher John Havlicek was among the dozens of public servants and union members eager to make their voices heard at the Wisconsin Senate Labor Committee last Tuesday—and he was one of the lucky ones who got a chance to speak.

Shortly before the scheduled finish of 7:00 p.m. (not nearly enough time for the 100+ people who came to speak out against ALEC-inspired “right to work” legislation) the meeting was shut down early when Republican committee members walked out of the room. Havlicek recalls the event:

I was planning to take a different approach, to say, “Look, we can try to find common ground if you guys are willing to listen.” It was about 6:20pm when they said there was a “credible threat” from protests and people started shouting, “Let us be heard! Let us speak!” My name had already been called, so then I tried to get Sen. Chris Larson’s attention and he said “come on out.” I went out and gave my two minutes while they were filing out.

 

The alleged “threat” was that the vote would be disrupted by SEIU protesters—despite the fact that protesters were merely speaking out against the 7:00 p.m. stop rather than the hearing itself, and there had already been an ongoing rally outside.

For Havlicek, the experience reinforced his commitment to open and inclusive discourse, a point he made in his own testimony as well as the rally earlier that day in the state Capitol. “I think that in the current political climate we tend to demonize the people we disagree with, but I don’t think that’s a natural response for most people, but rather a mentality fostered by those with a certain agenda who get to do so because they’re a majority,” he explained.

“When I spoke at the rally—and what I tried to address in my testimony—is that we need to find common ground with those we disagree with, especially since I think that we probably agree more than we disagree. We all want kids to be successful. We all want a strong education system. We all want the average person walking around the street to make it, to get healthcare, to get adequate housing—but what we’re seeing instead is a stifling of dissent, a curtailing of discussion.”

For Havlicek, the conversation is “a marathon, not a sprint” and educators need to stay the course and collaborate to be heard. “We need to change the narrative but we can only do that through calm, compassionate discourse, and not just with our natural allies. We need to have this discourse with people who disagree with us, and I think we’ll find they agree with us on many things too.”

Reader Comments

  1. Unions had their place decades ago but are now in a place where no one seems to know exactly how they ought to fit in. Certainly in pubic jobs such as teaching, there is a real opportunity for administrators and school committees to dismiss people simply because they make too much money. I do not know the answer for those types of problems, but I do know that when you need 68 pages of rules that define how teaching works in a town of 20,000 people, well, that is a problem in itself.
    Unrelated to teaching, but in the sense of quasi-public union discussions , it has just been discovered that the MTA had something like half its work force call in sick when the weather was bad a month ago. The end result being the shutdown of the entire Boston-metro area public transit system: a system that is essentially 80% funded by tax money. Who thinks episodes like that help unions’ causes?
    Problem is that people need to act for themselves, behave like mature individuals, respect the fact that their job is a privilege and contribute in an honest way. If you do not like your job, you are always welcome to go find another one.

  2. Has anyone considered what “Right to Work” (for less) laws will do for our consumer based economy? Downward pressure on an already stagnant worker’s wage will do nothing to spur consumer vitality that creates DEMAND for goods and services; the key to any consumer based economy. It is DEMAND that clears retail shelves and necessitates increased production.

    Our legislators were paid well by corporations and their leagues of lobbyists to enact Free Trade Agreements that traded jobs for higher profit margins for multinational corporations and Wall Street investors. These Free Trade Agreement were originally predicated on the conditions of standard human rights, wages/benefits, and environmental laws, but those notions went by the wayside in favor of unmitigated corporate profits. We are witnessing the end results of these treasonous FTAs in the budget deficits and crumbling infrastructures that have become a reality in practically every State in the Union.

    Republican Think Tanks care nothing about this, as their devotion is to ever-larger profits for Wall Street, big Banks, and the corporate business sector. Their answer is always for the American worker to capitulate to the downward pressure on wages, corporate monopolies, tax breaks, and deregulation regardless of its effects on our national interest. And when the unintended consequences of cutting the USA worker with a decent pay out of the equation hits home, instead of acknowledging the damage these policy decisions have had on America the Beautiful, they double down, claiming that budgets and taxes haven’t been cut ENOUGH! Then when a politician or economist calls them out, they rely on the very successful strategy of marginalizing them with red meat descriptors like, “free-market haters,” or “socialist malcontents,” “Enemies of Liberty and Freedom,” “Haters of the American Way,” “Communists that want to keep people addicted to government hand-outs and avoid working for their keep.” This strategy has been hugely effective because they wrap the deceptive rhetoric in God, Guns, and Red, White, and Blue Old Glory.
    Our goal should be one of getting jobs back through the use of Fair Trade Zones set up to lift the world’s working conditions and provide a level playing field for world labor, not the race to the bottom it is today with Communist China and Vietnam leading the world in a downward spiral that benefits nobody but the mega wealthy, Large Banks, and “multinational” corporation.

  3. Gov. Walker and his mafia are a bunch of
    freakin’ pinko-Nazi neanderthals and the
    Koch Bros. can go drop dead!!
    May they be haunted cursed a thousand curses by
    poltergeists and angry spirits!!!

  4. Ah, did you see what you just said, HIGHER PAID? When the union secures your wages and benefits, you believe you should enjoy this, without contributing? Unions are bullies for workers rights. Who else is going to stick up for you? When they are gone, you can get fired for anything, will be stuck with high priced health insurance, won’t have paid vacations, or sick days, your wages lowered, and you will have no voice, because you will be all alone in your battles. And you won’t be any different than the workers in China.
    If you have noticed, the Republican Party also shut down our Government, costing us BILLIONS of dollars! Who are the bullies? The party that refuses to listen to ALL of the people, not just a chosen few.

  5. Walker is scum. He is a Kochite and if you know anything about them, they want to make serfs and slaves out of us. He will not show his face when protests are going on as he is a coward. There is a sign hanging in the capitol that says the will of the people should be the law of the land. He should definitely be reminded of that. His agenda is ruining the state of Wisconsin There is a place for him but they haven’t dug the hole yet!

  6. We may assume that Republicans just don’t get it. I have arrived at a different conclusion about Republicans. And that is: they definitely do get it. They know going in, exactly what their policies are going to do.
    They advocate for policy that will shrink and imbalance the economy, cost jobs, depress wages, create deficits, and slow economic growth, while making the very rich a lot richer, the poor, and middle class workers a lot worse off, and ultimately, leave the largest banks, retailers, and manufactures with more of the market share, more control over wages, more deregulation, and lower corporate taxes. And they accomplish all this, with a simplistic little lie; “It’s not us, it’s the government.”
    This narrative, which none of the Governors presiding over their states initiated, was created, on a National basis, for right wing politicians across the nation by so called Conservative Think Tanks with the help of advertising, polling specialists, and professional wordsmiths like Frank Luntz. It is an opportunistic narrative based on the theorem; “Never let a crisis created by our slavish devotion to the mega rich go to waste.” And since the great recession, it has been a narrative that has served them well, and brought them political power beyond their wildest dreams. It has given them license to carry out their deepest, most ardent agendas in plain sight of the public, and the press, and has left the economists who call them out, either relegated to the pages of wonky investor magazines, filing reports to government agencies, or drowned out by sheer political purchase power in their dissemination of their message. These economists are cast in the same light as other “free market haters,” who would contradict their narrative. Scientists and educators alike are all labeled as socialist malcontents, “Trying to divide the Country along imaginary lines of race, and class.” Their claim, “Businesses are suffering under the same heavy yoke of “out of control government taxing and spending as everyone. And, if we just concentrate all our efforts on reducing the size of government, and weaning some people’s unnecessary dependence on it, we could be that Country our Forefathers always meant us to be.”
    Divisiveness at its best! But as someone once said, “Never tell a small lie, they won’t believe it!” When the numbers come in, and they will come in, and they refute the narrative, they’ll double down; claim budgets and taxes, just haven’t been cut enough, and that we’ve been obstructed by the devotees of big government- enemies of Liberty and Freedom, by Communists, by the trade unions, and other powerful forces on the Left that work to keep people addicted to government welfare instead of jobs. You know; the jobs they traded to sweatshops in exchange for higher Wall Street yields. Or perhaps they’ll push the old, “It’s the Kenyan born President’s fault who doesn’t actually love America the way “we” love America. Then, the lower the job numbers, the higher the deficits, and the bigger the failures of their corporate profit protecting policies become, they can just be used as deceptive props for their new sales pitch, and the Ponzi scheme to stay the course continues, ad infinitum.
    So the question is not whether or not this will all fall apart; Ponzi Schemes always do. The question is; when it does, how many regular working Americans will be terribly harmed by it all? I suspect, mainly because of the increased influence of money on the entire political process, and the rapidity with which a global economy is able to transfer huge sums of wealth, and millions of jobs across the planet, the damage here could be quite severe indeed. Will it be for certain? I couldn’t hazard a guess. How about you? And how bad do you believe it will need to get?

  7. To: Martin H. You just may see that day and I’m glad to say you will rue the day you wished it. Once the unions are gone, so will your pay, benefits and any rights the union has brought to the table. Any state that has allowed RTW can attest to it and if they argue it, they are lying. No company or corporation is willingly going to raise wages, improve benefits or see that you have a decent pension…Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it and rue the day you did…..

  8. We may assume that Republicans just don’t get it. I have arrived at a different conclusion about Republicans. And that is: they definitely do get it. They know going in, exactly what their policies are going to do.

    They advocate for policy that will shrink and imbalance the economy, cost jobs, depress wages, create deficits, and slow economic growth, while making the very rich a lot richer, the poor, and middle class workers a lot worse off, and ultimately, leave the largest banks, retailers, and manufactures with more of the market share, more control over wages, more deregulation, and lower corporate taxes. And they accomplish all this, with a simplistic little lie; “It’s not us, it’s the government.”

    This disingenuous narrative, which none of the Governors presiding over their states initiated, was created, on a National basis, for right wing politicians across the nation by so called Conservative Think Tanks like ALEC with the help of advertising, polling specialists, and professional wordsmiths like Frank Luntz. It is an opportunistic narrative based on the theorem; “Never let a crisis created by our slavish devotion to the mega rich go to waste.” And since the great recession, it has been a narrative that has served them well, and brought them political power beyond their wildest dreams. It has given them license to carry out their deepest, most ardent agendas in plain sight of the public, and the press, and has left the economists who call them out, either relegated to the pages of wonky investor magazines, filing reports to government agencies, or drowned out by sheer political purchase power in their dissemination of their message. These economists are cast in the same light as other “free market haters,” who would contradict their narrative. Scientists and educators alike are all labeled as socialist malcontents, “Trying to divide the Country along imaginary lines of race, and class.” Their claim, “Businesses are suffering under the same heavy yoke of “out of control government taxing and spending as everyone. And, if we just concentrate all our efforts on reducing the size of government, and weaning some people’s unnecessary dependence on it, we could be that Country our Forefathers always meant us to be.”

    What a divisive crock! But as someone once said, “Never tell a small lie, they won’t believe it!” When the numbers come in, and they will come in, and they refute the narrative, they’ll double down; claim budgets and taxes, just haven’t been cut enough, and that we’ve been obstructed by the devotees of big government- enemies of Liberty and Freedom, by Communists, by the trade unions, and other powerful forces on the Left that work to keep people addicted to government welfare instead of jobs. You know; the jobs they traded to sweatshops in exchange for higher Wall Street yields. Or perhaps they’ll push the old, “It’s the Kenyan born President’s fault who doesn’t actually love America the way “we” love America. Then, the lower the job numbers, the higher the deficits, and the bigger the failures of their corporate profit protecting policies become, they can just be used as deceptive props for their new sales pitch, and the Ponzi scheme to stay the course continues, ad infinitum.

    So the question is not whether or not this will all fall apart; Ponzi Schemes always do. The question is; when it does, how many regular working Americans will be terribly harmed by it all? I suspect, mainly because of the increased influence of money on the entire political process, and the rapidity with which a global economy is able to transfer huge sums of wealth, and millions of jobs across the planet, the damage here could be quite severe indeed. Will it be for certain? I couldn’t hazard a guess. How about you? And how bad do you believe it will need to get?

  9. Crybabies! Your headline makes much of the right wing walk out. How many times have Demoncrats used that tactic? Remember when the Dems walked out of Wisconsin’s state house and fled to Illinois rather than deal with tough issues? Jeez, Democrats are such whiny, stupid hypocrites.
    As to right-to-work: when I was younger I had a good job as a plumber on a construction site and I was really good at my job. I easily outperformed more experienced, higher paid union workers. My boss loved me. I was fast and accurate. Then one day I was called in and told he had to fire me unless I joined the union or the union employees would cause problems. This in a right-to-work state! I quit and have railed against union aggressiveness ever since. Unions are bullies and I hope to see the day when they are all gone!

    1. I live in a right to work state-yes a right to work for less. What this means is that we have a large uneducated workforce that basically do service type jobs or fast food. It is a vicious cycle with a Republican governor and legislature that keeps giving tax free incentives to businesses that take the money and run. Higher education is starved for money and they keep going up on tuition that is fast making it impossible for the middle class to afford. There are good people in this state but they are fed red meat issues like abortion and same sex marriages so that they have their minds on how God-forsaken the Democrats are. (Tongue in cheek) charter schools drain off the better students and leave the poor schools with all black student bodies. It isn’t any better here than it was pre-civil rights. it is depressing when Republicans have decided that they only know what is best for the other half of the country.

    2. Paid Rethuglican Troll Alert!!!

      Now everyone can see what Joe the Plumber is doing now days. Pathetic failed Republican sensation that didn’t even HAVE a plumber’s license. Oh, yes, I BET you were the BEST plumber on the job. Yeah, right. It’s guys like YOU that need a UNION to stay employed, the plumbers that can’t figure out that water flows downhill.

      It is YOU, the union-haters that are the crybaby-whiners, the moochers, and the parasites who want to freeload on all the great union benefits without paying union dues.

      People like YOU, Martin H (aka Joe the Plumber) make me SICK.

    3. It may be assumed that Republicans just don’t get it. I have arrived at a different conclusion. They absolutely get it. They know going in exactly what their policies are going to do. They advocate for policy that will shrink the economy and consolidate wealth to the top, cost jobs, depress worker wages, create deficits, and slow economic growth, while making the very rich a lot richer, the poor and middle class workers a lot worse off, and ultimately gift large banks and Wall Street, as well as multinational corporations a larger market share, more control over wages, more deregulation, and lower corporate tax rates. They accomplish all this with a simplistic little lie; “It’s not us, it’s the government.”

      This narrative, which none of the nation’s Governors initiated, was created for right wing politician across the nation by Conservative think tanks, aided by advertising firms, polling specialists, and professional word-smiths like Eric Heubeck and Frank Luntz. It is an opportunistic narrative based on the theorem: “Never let a crisis created by our slavish devotion to the mega rich go to waste.” And since the Great Recession, it has been a narrative that has served them exceedingly well and brought them political power beyond their wildest dreams. It has given them license to carry out their deepest, most ardent agendas in plain sight of the public and the press, and has left the economist who dare call them out, either relegated to the pages of wonky investor magazines, filing reports for government agencies, or drowned out and marginalized by the sheer political purchase power of their adversary. These economist are cast in the same light as other “free market haters.” Scientists and scholars are labeled “socialist malcontents trying to divide the nation along imaginary lines of race and class.” Their claim, “Businesses are suffering under the same heavy yoke of “out of control taxing and spending” as everyone else,” makes them appear to hold the answer to the national demise they’ve created. And if we just devote all of our efforts on reducing the size and reach of government, and weaning certain people’s unnecessary dependence on it, it will all go well for us and we could be that nation our forefathers intended for us to be… Divisiveness at its best!

      But as someone once said, “Never tell a small lie; they won’t believe it.” When the numbers come in, and they will come in, and they refute the narrative, they’ll double down, claim budgets and taxes just haven’t been cut ENOUGH and that they’ve been obstructed by devotees of Big Government- enemies of Liberty; label the trade unions and “other powerful forces on the left, Communists that want to keep people dependent on welfare and avoid work… Then, as more and more jobs are offshored to bolster Wall Street gains, while deficits climb, and their corporate profit protecting policies fail, they can be depended on to use a type of inverse reality deception of a sales pitch to stay the course, ad infinitum.

      So the question is not whether or not this will all fall apart; Ponzi schemes always do. The question is” When it does, how many working Americans will be terribly harmed by it all? I suspect, because of the increased influence of moneyed interest on the entire political process and the rapidity with which the global economy is able to transfer huge sums of wealth and millions of jobs across the planet, the damage to the USA could be quite severe. Will it be for certain? I wouldn’t hazard a guess. The USA has vast resources and Yankee ingenuity once she mobilized behind a cause. The question is who will sound an alarm that rings true, and how many will heed it?

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