The situation in Wisconsin is reaching a breaking point, and supporters from around the country and the world are making their voices heard. Below is a selection of the words of support that are streaming in from across the country and the international community.
“And I think it is very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends,” he said. “These are folks who are teachers and they’re firefighters and they’re social workers and they’re police officers. . . . They make a lot of sacrifices.” It is important, the president added, “not to vilify them or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees.”
Arne Duncan – Secretary of Education
Governors across the country are facing, you know, tough budget issues – as the president is here – but we have to support our hardworking teachers and make sure that we do everything we can to help them do the critically important work they do every single day in the classroom.
I’m troubled by the current climate and hope we can get to a good resolution as soon as possible. But the teachers in Wisconsin, across the nation, I think are often doing Herculean work in very, very challenging times.
Resolution Saluting America’s Working Families,
WHEREAS, America’s working families are the backbone of our communities and the foundation upon which our great nation was built; and
WHEREAS, working men and women exemplify the heroic patriotism that we aspire to — when our country came under attack on 9111, our first responders unhesitatingly rushed to the front lines where they saved countless lives with the sacrifice of so many of their own; it is the nurses and teachers and so many others who devote themselves every day to keeping our families and communities healthy and giving our children a shot at a brighter future; it is working men and women who build and maintain the infrastructure of our lives, from roads to bridges to broadband to green technology; it is the unsung service workers whom we rely upon to prepare and serve our food, mop the floors and maintain our hotels; it is working people in thousands of industries and occupations who make our economy work; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the DNC encourages Democratic candidates and officeholders at all levels of government to oppose, in active and visible ways, these attacks on working families and their unions; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the DNC encourages Democratic candidates and officeholders at all levels of government to actively support, in visible ways, workers’ local organizing campaigns and collective bargaining – while publicly challenging Governors, State Legislators or corporations that thwart workers’ freedom to form unions to improve their lives
We know that many states are facing tough budget decisions. We know that there’s room for shared sacrifice.
And we’ve seen our brothers and sisters in the public employees unions willing to give their share, and to negotiate in good faith to help their states get through tough times.
But the governors in Wisconsin and Ohio aren’t just asking workers to tighten their belts, they’re demanding that they give up their uniquely American rights as workers.
These are our neighbors, our friends, our family. They teach our kids and risk their lives to keep us safe. And all they’re asking is to be treated with respect.
All these workers want is the opportunity to sit down at the table, like grown ups, and work together to solve problems.
That’s what collective bargaining is all about.
We know that sitting down together and working through problems doesn’t cause budget problems. In fact, that’s how we solve budget problems.
In every family in America, that’s what they do when times are tough. They talk. They negotiate. And that’s what these Governors ought to do.
Dear Governor Walker:
The Congressional Black Caucus stands in solidarity with Wisconsin’s public workers in opposition to your legislation that cuts their employee benefits and strips unions of their collective bargaining rights. Your proposal is blatantly un-American by severely limiting workers’ say on hiring, firing, assignments, and overall worker protections. This union-busting legislation should also not be considered as it jeopardizes the viability of the people during these tough economic times.
While we respect your efforts to protect the state budget, your proposed anti-union legislation is both misguided and shortsighted. Wisconsin was the first state to give public sector workers the right to organize and unions continue to play an indispensable role in ensuring the health, safety, and security of the American workers and children. Unions have been critical in the effort to end child labor, establish a fair work day, create financial security, provide unemployment insurance, and establish just wages. It is their inalienable right to defend and protect themselves through collective bargaining. Your legislative proposal will hurt workers in the state, lead to stalled economic growth, and higher unemployment rates.
Emanuel Cleaver, II
The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, the nation’s only union of Asian Pacific American workers, stands with the workers under assault in Wisconsin and other states. One out of eight Asian Pacific Americans is a union member, and we call on Wisconsin Gov. Walker and other elected officials to create jobs for hardworking Americans, not to repay corporate donors by tearing down middle class jobs. We stand opposed to politicians’ efforts to deny teachers, nurses, and firefighters a voice at work by taking away their long-held right to organize and to bargain collectively.
On behalf of Education International, the Global Union Federation representing 30 million teachers and education workers through 402 member organisations in 173 countries and territories, I express our concern over Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget bill to strip 175,000 state employees, including teachers, of collective bargaining rights.
EI supports its affiliates in the United States, NEA and AFT, in their vigorous campaign to fight this regressive legislation in Wisconsin and in Ohio, Idaho, Indiana and elsewhere.
The proposal to restrict bargaining rights for teacher unions and eliminate dues check-off is an opportunistic frontal attack on workers’ rights. The new legislation would also require workers to cover more of their health care and pension plans, and would request unions to conduct costly annual votes to maintain certification.
UNSA Education – Ivry-sur-Seine, Paris, France
As a French teachers’ trade union, UNSA Education has been shocked to see the recent developments in the situation of U.S. teachers. UNSA Education would like to forcefully express our support for our American colleagues in their fight to maintain fundamental labor rights and decent treatment of workers.
UNSA Education is fully behind the NEA in this essential combat.
Yours in solidarity,
Danish Union of Teachers – Copenhagen, Denmark
Dear Governor Walker,
The Danish Union of Teachers represents 90,000 teachers of the public primary and lower secondary schools in Denmark. I’m writing to you on behalf of the Danish teachers to protest against the attempts to remove teachers’ collective bargaining rights, health and benefit rights in the state of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has till now been a leading state in the defence of workers’ rights. However, with the new legislation that you have proposed with the excuse to fix the state’s deficit, Wisconsin is breaking core labour standards as stated by the ILO Convention 98: “All public service workers should enjoy collective bargaining rights”.
The budget deficits faced by your state government and your national government were not caused by public sector workers. The recession is global and is the result of the greed of the few, not the wages of the many. The solution to budget deficits is not to make tax breaks for the mulitnationals and at the same time to fire thousands of public workers, who work for the welfare of the citizens of Wisconsin.
On behalf of the Danish teachers, I urge you to stop the plans to break a long democratic tradition in the state of Wisconsin and call on you to engage in social dialogue with the representatives of the public workers.
Anders Bondo Christensen
President of the Danish Union of Teachers
Japan Teachers’ Union – Tokyo, Japan
The Japan Teachers’ Union (JTU) also express our concern for Wisconsin governor’s budget bill to strip state employees of collective bargaining rights.
The JTU hereby message words of encouragement to colleagues of NEA and AFT struggle for defending the fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
The JTU also struggle for acquiring the right to strike and collective agreement conclusion.
The JTU always support fully the struggles of colleagues of NEA and AFT to secure the fundamental rights of teachers and other public employees in United States of America.
With best regards,
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation – Toronto, Canada
OSSTF/FEESO has been closely following the political environment in the United States since the November mid-term elections.
The escalating attack on the rights of workers, unions and free collective bargaining cannot be ignored. OSSTF admires and supports your members’ resolve and strength to fight back against this unprecedented assault. Your fight is our fight and we must stand together to protect workers’ fundamental rights in your country and ours.
The decline in the economy and its slow recovery cannot be blamed on public sector workers. Public sector workers are taxpayers too and we want the same things as our fellow citizens: good jobs; safe, vibrant communities to live in; strong public education systems to learn in and real opportunities to build secure futures. Public sector workers are not the enemy. We believe in working together to resolve issues. That is what we teach our students, and that is the lesson Governor Walker should remember.
On behalf of OSSTF/FEESO’s 68,000 members, I offer our support and solidarity and any assistance we can provide.
Sindikat Vzgoje, Izobraževanja, Znanosti In Kulture Slovenije – Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Education, Science and Culture Trade Union of Slovenia (ESTUS) strongly supports the teachers and education workers, not only in Wisconsin but all around USA, in their fight against the decision of the Governor of Wisconsin to unilaterally eliminate the right of teachers’ and other public sector unions to collective bargaining.
ESTUS strongly believes that the Governor must withdraw the budget bill which is likely to deny collective-bargaining rights to all public-sector workers, which is unacceptable for the American teachers. Teachers are not the cause of the financial crisis and dealing with the state’s fiscal problems (even though it has been proven that this attack on unions’ rights has nothing to do with the budget) cannot be done through repealing of the rights of workers. ESTUS would like to remind the authorities in Wisconsin and other states that education is a public good – it is a good not only meant for the individual but for the society as a whole and the attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis for the purpose of abolishing unions’ right to collective bargaining and for introducing privatization into the public sector is unacceptable.
We at ESTUS express our great solidarity with NEA and AFT in defending the right of all teachers and other public sector employees to have a voice in collective bargaining regarding employment-related benefits and to preserve education as a public right.
ESTUS General Secretary
Solidarność – Warsaw, Poland
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
On behalf of the 700,000 members of the Polish Trade Union NSZZ “Solidarnosc” (Solidarity) I wish to express our solidarity and support for your struggle against the recent assault on trade unions and trade union rights unleashed by Governor Scott Walker.
We are witnessing yet another attempt of transferring the costs of the economic crisis and of the failed financial policies to working people and their families. As much as some adjustments are necessary, we can not and must not agree that the austerity measures are synonymous with union-busting practices, the elimination of bargaining rights and the reduction of social benefits and wages.
Dear friends, please rest assured that our thoughts are with you during your protest, as we truly do hope that your just fight for decent working and living conditions, for the workers’ rights will be successful.
Your victory is our victory as well.
Australian Education Union – Southbank VIC, Australia
AEU members are closely following the developments in Wisconsin where teachers continue to demonstrate against the draconian announcements by the Governor. These policies represent an unprecedented attack not only on the working conditions of teachers, but also ultimately, the learning conditions of students.
Please extend our solidarity to teachers and other workers in Wisconsin and in other parts of your country where similar policies are being pursued and/or considered.
Your campaign against these policies is of international significance and therefore the AEU would like to feature the current campaign in a major article in our national publication. To that end we hope to be in contact with you in the near future so that you can contribute appropriately in exposing the agenda that you are confronting.
In response to the appeal by Education International the FNEC FP FO supports AFT and NEA, in their fight against retrogressive legislation that would deny teachers and state employees collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin and in Idaho, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana and elsewhere.
Wisconsin Governor’s budget bill would strip 175,000 state employees, including teachers, of collective bargaining rights and damage the health care, pension, salaries and job security.
As says it the EI, « teachers around the globe are deeply concerned about efforts to strip educators and other public employees of fundamental trade union rights. »
Canadian Teachers’ Federation – Ottawa, Canada
Dear Governor Scott Walker,
Labour rights are human rights. To deny them is to deny the fundamental concept of equality.
As representatives of Canada’s teachers, we recognize that it is the respect for and active involvement of teachers in labour and policy decisions that produce the success Canada enjoys in education. We implore you to reconsider the course of education decision making in Wisconsin, to engage in meaningful negotiations with your teacher organizations and to work with teachers in the improvement of education. This is the only sure route to improvement.
Fédération Nationale des Enseignantes et Enseignants du Québec – Montréal, Canada
We are 28,000 teachers, part of a wider federation of unions, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), with 300,000 members.
We are all behind you in your battle against the rollback of your working conditions and your very right to organize and bargain collectively. These are rights that your fathers and grandfathers obtained, over decades of sustained effort.
All over the world, workers and employees are being asked to pay for a financial crisis that they did not create. We are told to face the music while the pied pipers take off with the money. What happens in Wisconsin is important to all of us. You are not alone.
Yours in solidarity,
National Tertiary Education Union – Southbank VIC, Australia
I am writing to you on behalf of the National Tertiary Education Union of Australia (NTEU) which represents 26,000 academic and professional staff employed in Australian universities and is an affiliate of Education International and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
We are very concerned to learn that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker his introduced a Bill which would deny 175,000 public employees, including our colleagues in the AFT and NEA, their right to collectively bargain and would require them to cover more of their health care and pensioner plans. We are also deeply concerned about the anti-union pattern developing around the United States, with many more State Governors (including Indiana, Ohio and Idaho) adopting similar proposals as financial exigency measures.
University and College Union – Camden, UK
I am writing on behalf of the University and College Union, representing 120,000 university and college staff across the United Kingdom. We are deeply concerned by media reports that Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is driving a bill through the State legislature to remove collective bargaining rights from public sector employees in the State, including teachers and education workers at all levels. This short-sighted measure would not only damage the livelihoods and job security of thousands of workers and their families but undermine the quality and cohesion of public services. We note in particular Governor Walker’s attempted justification with a false dichotomy between the interests of workers and of taxpayers: all have a key interest in high quality services and in secure and well paid careers.
Please pass on our concern and support to your members in Wisconsin fighting this retrogressive legislation.
Senior National Official
Lärarförbundet – Stockholm, Sweden
Lärarförbundet (the Swedish Teachers’ Union), representing 230 000 teachers in Sweden, has been informed about the new piece of legislation proposed by the Governor of Wisconsin. We are appalled to learn that the Governor seeks to limit the collective bargaining rights of teachers and other public employees in Wisconsin.
In Sweden, many teachers and others have relatives in Wisconsin and we follow developments “over there” with interest. This bill seems to us to be an attack on teachers’ and other public employees’ trade union rights. If this legislation were to be passed, it would be detrimental for teachers and other education workers and harm the quality of education for all children and youth in the state.
Please inform your members in Wisconsin about our concern in this matter and our support to all of them in their struggle for high quality education for all, for their trade union rights and against this legislation.
Lärarförbundet (Swedish Teachers’ Union)
FECCOO (Federación de Enseñanza de CC.OO) – Madrid, Spain
I am writing on behalf of the FECCOO, the biggest teachers union in Spain and also the biggest social organization in around the country. We are deeply concerned by media reports that Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is driving a bill through the State legislature to remove collective bargaining rights from public sector employees in the State, including teachers and education workers at all levels. This short-sighted measure would not only damage the livelihoods and job security of thousands of workers and their families but undermine the quality and cohesion of public services. We note in particular Governor Walker’s attempted justification with a false dichotomy between the interests of workers and of taxpayers: all have a key interest in high quality services and in secure and well paid careers.
Please pass on our concern and support to your members in Wisconsin fighting this retrogressive legislation.
I want to send you a solidarity message as a unionist, as a public worker, a teacher and a citizen, becouse what is happening in Wisconsin with this new bill that the governor is promoting not only is a measure against public workers, but citizens in general and quality of education.
Colective bargaining is a guarantee of democracy and rights for workers and public services.
Adjunta a Secretaría General
Algemene Onderwijsbond (General Union of Education) – Netherlands
In my capacity of president of the Dutch teachers Union AOb I want you to know that we fully support your protest against these archaic and regentesque policies in Wisconsin and other states. Unfortunately the tendency to do away with peoples rights as workers and individuals is becoming a global phenomenon, and we need to stand up against it together in solidarity. Be assured of the support of the teachers in the Netherlands.
President of AOb, Netherlands
Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (German Education Union) – Frankfurt, Germany
Dear Governor Scott Walker,
My name is Ulrich Thöne and I’m the president of the German Education Union (GEW), representing 260.000 teacher and other education workers in Germany. I’m also a member of the executive board of Education International, as AFT president Randi Weingarten and NEA president Dennis van Roekel. I am writing you because I share WEAC, NEA and AFT concerns about the cuts of social benefits for public sector workers and the anti-union legislation that you are planning to introduce in Wisconsin.
Your proposal is an attack on workers’ rights, because it will make public sector workers pay for the crisis and restrict bargaining rights for teacher and other unions. This is not only damaging the livelihoods and job security of thousands of workers and their families. It is also undermining the quality and cohesion of education and other public services in Wisconsin.
I’m writing you to show my solidarity with your union and other public sector unions in Wisconsin and in the United States. I have written a letter to Governor Walker telling him that his new bill is going to violate international labour laws. What is happening now in Wisconsin affects all public workers in your country and us in Europe as well. We are aware that this is a double attack against the benefits of teachers and other public workers and against trade union right, which must be fight back. We have to protest internationally to make sure, that public sector workers don’t pay for the crisis of public budgets, which is an outcome of wrong policies and out of control finance markets. We stand on your side and we wish you strength and solidarity to win this fight.
President of the German Education Union (GEW)
Utdanningsforbundet (Union of Education Norway) – Oslo, Norway
Union of Education Norway, representing more than 150,000 teachers and early childhood educators, from early childhood education to university level express our concern over Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget bill to strip 175,000 state employees, including teachers, of collective bargaining rights.
Union of Education Norway supports our colleagues in the United States, NEA and AFT, in their vigorous campaign to fight this regressive legislation in Wisconsin and in Ohio, Idaho, Indiana and elsewhere.
Congresswoman Gwen Moore – WI-4
Milwaukee and Wisconsin became what they are today because of our strong and skilled workforce. We know better than most that when our workers thrive, our economy thrives. The facts tell the story clearly – a strong community fighting for workers’ rights goes hand in hand with strong middle class wages.
The Governor is cavalierly trying to eliminate rights that Wisconsin workers have historically fought and died for. Public workers are not the enemy. They are skilled and trained workers. They are taxpayers, volunteers, neighbors and friends. They should be invited to the table and treated with respect – just like they have been historically by Republican and Democratic governors alike.
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin – WI-2
Governor Walker’s effort to balance our state’s budget on the backs of hard-working public employees is both reckless and dangerous. For decades, unions have protected safety on the job and strengthened working families. If cuts must be made, and we all agree that they must, state employees deserve a voice and a show of respect from our governor and our state legislature.
The governor’s attack on public servants comes at the same time Republican leaders in the Congress are proposing cuts that will have serious consequences for some of our most vulnerable citizens: seniors needing emergency home-heating assistance, children needing immediate medical or dental care, and rural families needing safe drinking water, to name just a few.
Coalition of Present and Former Green Bay Packers
We know that it is teamwork on and off the field that makes the Packers and Wisconsin great. As a publicly owned team we wouldn’t have been able to win the Super Bowl without the support of our fans.It is the same dedication of our public workers every day that makes Wisconsin run. They are the teachers, nurses and child care workers who take care of us and our families. But now in an unprecedented political attack Governor Walker is trying to take away their right to have a voice and bargain at work.
Green Bay Packers Captain Charles Woodson
It is an honor for me to play for the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers and be a part of the Green Bay and Wisconsin communities. I am also honored as a member of the NFL Players Association to stand together with working families of Wisconsin and organized labor in their fight against this attempt to hurt them by targeting unions. I hope those leading the attack will sit down with Wisconsin’s public workers and discuss the problems Wisconsin faces, so that together they can truly move Wisconsin forward.
Want to help but don’t live in Wisconsin? Sign our national petition to support educator and worker rights!