By Delinda Lombardo on
The newly elected Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, has set his sights on forcing public workers to pay more for benefits, but the people of Wisconsin have gathered in throngs to protest what amounts to the elimination of most collective bargaining rights for public employees.
Protestors have been holding their ground at the states capital, Madison, where nearly 70,000 turned out for Saturday’s rallies for and against the bill.
Ed Schultz, host of The Ed Show on MSNBC TV, who is broadcasting live from the capital, explained the motivation behind the protests: “They’re fighting to hold what they have earned. They’re fighting to hold on to the American dream. The protesters just want fairness. They want the right to negotiate, the right to hang on to their hard-earned money.”
Perhaps Governor Walker – who has so far refused to change the pending policy – seems to have underestimated the power of the people, as 100,000 are expected to flood Madison on Monday.
Stepping up to join in the fervor and support hard working Americans are several celebrities.
Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine sent out a tweet February 19 which read: “The Battle of Madison, The Nightwatchman is on his way! Monday/100k expected. History in the streets. Be there, I will. It’s ON.”
Also lending their support are the 2011 Super Bowl Champions, the Green Bay Packers. Notably, players Brady Poppinga and Jason Spitz and former Packers Curtis Fuller, Chris Jacke, Charles Jordan, Bob Long and Steve Okoniewski, who issued the following statement:
“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. The right to negotiate wages and benefits is a fundamental underpinning of our middle class. When workers join together it serves as a check on corporate power and helps ALL workers by raising community standards. Wisconsin’s long standing tradition of allowing public sector workers to have a voice on the job has worked for the state since the 1930s. It has created greater consistency in the relationship between labor and management and a shared approach to public work. These public workers are Wisconsin’s champions every single day and we urge the Governor and the State Legislature to not take away their rights.”
Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation magazine and frequent guest on MSNBC, ESPN, and Democracy Now, spoke to Ed Garvey, the former head of the NFL Players Association, who told him:
“More Packers have now stood up for Wisconsin workers than DC democrats!”
But what Zirin, and most of the people of Wisconsin want, is the Packers union rep and star player, Aaron Rogers, to step up and lend his voice.
Zirin writes: “Rodgers is a graduate of Cal Berkeley, so he’s hardly unfamiliar with the power of protest. Also according to my sources at the NFLPA, he’s a fantastic union rep, so he’s hardly unfamiliar with the critical necessity of collective bargaining rights. The crowds in Madison are aware of this as well. I saw dozens of Rodgers jerseys and signs that read, ‘Aaron Rodgers is a union rep!’”
Protests inside and outside Wisconsin are continuing to gain momentum, for resources and up-to-date info on what’s happening on the ground, check out:
Teaching Assistants’ Association
Student Labor Action Coalition.
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