Archives for posts with tag: union protests

A couple of days ago I posted this video of Scott Walker telling the stirring tale of the recall effort that led to his successful campaign for Milwaukee County Executive. I said that with a few edits, this would be a wonderful campaign ad for Walker’s own recall in a few months.  Well, thanks to the giver of all things, the internet, a clever person has in fact edited the video for just that purpose.  It still includes the majority of Walker’s recall = people taking back the government speech, but instead of featuring Walker’s insufferable mug, his voice is recorded over scenes from the ongoing protests at the capitol. The result is truly inspiring.  (Hat tip, AV Club.)

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In perhaps the scariest article yet about Governor Walker’s budget proposals, Shawn Doherty with the Capital Times today drew attention to the fact that under Walker’s budget proposals, healthcare coverage for low-income people would take massive cuts.  This includes cuts to care for some life-threatening diseases such as End Stage Renal Disease and a rare disease called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei.  Without these treatments, Wisconsin residents with these diseases will die, which is probably why, as the Doherty pointedly illustrates, the Governor has requested a  $250,000 increase in funding for “funeral and cemetery aids” for low-income people.  That’s right, in Walker’s Wisconsin, the state will no longer pay for the healthcare that keeps you alive, but it will pay for your funeral, because that’s cheaper.  From the Capital Times:

The governor’s budget steps up payments for funerals for people on Medicaid even as it cuts nearly $500 million from the health programs that serve 1.2 million statewide.

Green, 45, is worried she could be one of them if she loses coverage through the state’s BadgerCare program.

The Manitowoc mom suffers from a rare disease called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei that requires surgeries every couple of years and regular monitoring with CAT scans. Last year, her medical costs totaled $140,000. Without help from the state’s public health programs, she says, she would have died. She still will die if she doesn’t get such help again, Green says. Her tumors are sure to return and require surgery in a year or so. After seven or eight of these operations, she says, the disease is usually terminal.

I am unemployed and have little money, but I am willing to pay more of what I do have if it means keeping people on healthcare that will save their lives.  I think it is wrong and disgusting for a government to prioritize any other spending over programs that protect our most vulnerable residents. Killing people is not a Medicaid efficiency.  Also interesting, according to the Capital Times, Governor Walker is not the only Republican governor to think it’s okay for a state to allow poor residents to die because of other funding priorities:

While kicking people off Medicaid who could die as a result may have once seemed unthinkable, it is happening in Arizona, where Republican Gov. Jan Brewer removed nearly 100 patients from organ transplant waiting lists late last year. (Interestingly, Brewer is now the subject of recall efforts for her defunding of Medicaid, which critics equate to “death panels of the poor.”) At least two of these patients have since died. Last December I wrote a blog post on this Arizona situation titled “Death by Budget Cut,” asking if our Medicaid patients in Wisconsin might face a similar fate.

This is the grimmest addition to what is now a clear pattern of Governor Walker targeting low-income people for budget cutting measures.  In addition to letting poor people die, Governor Walker’s budget proposals could force low-income seniors to lose drug coverage, it cuts family planning services for low-income people, and it puts talented, disabled adults at risk of being institutionalized because the state will no longer pay for the quality care that allows them to stay in their homes.  You may have heard Governor Walker say that his budget doesn’t raise taxes, but some Wisconsin residents will see tax increases under Walker’s budget proposal.  Guess who takes the hit? That’s right, the working poor.  And just yesterday we learned that Governor Walker’s education budget formula favors funding for wealthy districts, while cutting Milwaukee Public Schools (lots of poor kids go there) by 8%. For more details see this list by the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families.

Societies are often judged by how they treat their most vulnerable residents; under Governor Walker’s leadership we will deserve nothing but scorn.

In this amazing political ad from the 2010 republican primary for governor, then-candidate Scott Walker gives a pretty moving summation as to why he should be recalled later this year. In the ad, candidate Walker weaves us a tale about a people so shocked by one leader’s  poor stewardship and reckless cronyism that the people joined together to recall that leader.  As candidate Walker will tell you, it was not about anger, but about the people taking back their government so that it would once again reflect the wishes of its constituents.  Obviously, candidate Walker was referring to the recall election in Milwaukee County that led to his becoming County Executive, but as people on Twitter pointed out, with a few edits (we’d have to cut off the last minute as he starts spewing some confusing Walker logic) this really could be the first ad for the petition campaign to recall Governor Walker. Plus there’s Braveheart music and shadowy lighting:

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As always, for those of you trying to keep track of the State of Wisconsin’s grievances against Scott Walker and the republican leadership, please visit my “Save the State” page, which is regularly updated to help everyone stay informed about these crucial issues.


Residents protesting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union bill packed a Wauwatosa town hall meeting hosted by Republican U.S. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner this evening, which he adjourned early after repeated interruptions from attendees. The protesters took particular ire with the presence and presentation of Republican State Senator Leah Vukmir, who was arguing with protesters over her support of Walker’s bill.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Attendees packed a meeting room in the Wauwatosa Public Library while an adjacent hallway was filled with the meeting’s overflow. Budget bill opponents hoping to recall Vukmir gathered signatures in the lobby of the Wauwatosa Civic Center while outside about 75 protesters denounced the bill and called for Walker’s recall.

“I am very disappointed in Congressman Sensenbrenner tonight for shutting down the meeting strictly because people were here in opposition and he got uncomfortable with them,” said Milwaukee Public Schools teacher Andrew Reiser.

Here is footage of the town hall in which you can hear Sensenbrenner sternly order protesters to be quiet while Vukmir parrots the same talking points we have heard Governor Walker exhaust over the last couple days. Attendees become especially incensed as Vukmir uses a news story from Oshkosh (also referenced by Governor Walker yesterday) claiming their district may be able to come out even, they think, under Walker’s budget proposal. “What about Tosa?!” shouts one angry protester at the 1:30 minute mark. The meeting is adjourned shortly thereafter to loud boos and calls of “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

Fun facts: Wauwatosa is Governor Walker’s adopted hometown and he won Vukmir’s district by 54%.  And yes, petitions are being gathered for Vukmir’s recall. Thoughts? Speculation?

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Wauwatosa, Wisconsin Town Hall Meeting 3/7/11, posted with vodpod

Even though he’s no longer a Congressman, Dave Obey continues to fight for the regular people of Wisconsin, unlike Wisconsin’s current governor.  There are many great Dave Obey moments in the following video: “[The governor] is a temporary occupant of this building.” “It’s like they are doling out a little piece of Democracy a bit at a time. It’s a joke.” (Note, the last 7 minutes of this video are just black for some reason.)

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Congressman Obey Denied Access to Wisconsin Cap…, posted with vodpod

Here are some pictures from the goings-on today at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Tomorrow looks to be another active day with the legislature coming back to session.

The rumor mill at the Capitol has been buzzing about increased security measures surrounding the building.  I heard several times that there will be metal detectors.  In fact, there was already increased security today–interestingly enough it began right before Governor Walker’s latest press conference.  Around mid-day today, the entrance to the building had been limited to two entrances (this was also new). But by 5:00 pm, people were asked to now line up and wait to get into the building.  We were told that it was at capacity. However when we got into the building it was not nearly as crowded as it had been in the past (maybe at about 50-75% the amount of people).  Could this have anything to do with the fact that Governor was giving a press conference at 5:00 pm and has consistently been drowned out by protesters in the building during his press conference?

People getting approval to enter their capitol

People wait in line to enter their capitol

Despite the sense that Wisconsinites may soon no longer be welcome in their capitol because they don’t agree with the Governor, the atmosphere in the capitol was still as enthusiastic, united and hopeful as ever.  The best mood lifter was when the firefighters union (which is exempt from the Governor’s measures) announced that it would be bunking in the Capitol overnight with fellow protesters as a sign of solidarity.  Later the crowd roared as several dozen firefighters marched through the rotunda with backpacks and sleeping mats.  They then took up residence next to the bust of Fighting Bob La Follette–and I’m sure Fighting Bob would be in seventh heaven to be honored in such a way during this struggle.

Fighting Bob joins the Local 311

Here were some other choice images:

Walker is not a Hitler, he's just a douchebag

Why can't we be friends with benefits?

Notice to Teabaggers: If you work for a private company, you have the right to organize a union. For private-sector workers, these rights are enforced by a federal agency, the National Labor Relations Board (Milwaukee office: 414-297-3861). You may not have a union, and you may not like unions, but you have the right to have a union. Why deprive state, county, city and school-district employees of this same right? I don't get it.

Now that the protests over union rights in Wisconsin have gone on for a couple of days, we’re saturated with national media attention. Some of it from news outlets trying to present the facts and others from organizations that want to push people either to or away from our cause.  Here’s an example of some anti-union propaganda from the Heritage Institute (The music seems especially designed to make all union supporters look like incompetent bumpkins.) As someone who lives two blocks from the Capitol, keeps up with the news, and goes to the rallies every day I feel obligated to present some facts about what is actually going on to combat some of the misinformation circulating about these events.

Myth: Governor Walker’s proposals are modest concessions that will leave unions in tact.  (Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Governor Walker’s Twitter feed)

Fact: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article above does a good job of explaining why Governor Walker’s proposals regarding collective bargaining are not “modest” (didn’t this dude ever read Swift?) and will seriously cripple organized labor in Wisconsin.  In short, Governor Walker wants to end the unions’ ability to negotiate on anything but pay.  Being able to still negotiate pay might seem like an okay compromise, but it essentially removes all chips from the table. Say if a union negotiated a 3% pay increase–the employer could simply lower the amount they pay into employees’ healthcare to offset the costs of the wage increase.  The proposal leaves the unions with nothing to negotiate and seriously limits middle-class workers’ rights in the workplace.

Further, the measure that forces unions to certify every year will come at a huge cost (in time and money) to unions–leaving them with few resources to actually fight for the working conditions of their members.

Myth: Wisconsin unions are  unwilling to share sacrifices. (Source: People quoted in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article)

Fact: What seems to get confused in some of the news stories I’ve seen is that there are numerous proposals in the budget “repair” bill aimed at public employees.  The ones that are everyone is upset about are the ones that end collective bargaining and unions in Wisconsin (see above).

Other proposals ask employees to pay more for their health insurance and pension.  Often, these increased contributions are mentioned to show how reasonable Governor Walker is being without mentioning that he is also trying to end unions in Wisconsin. Here’s an example of what I mean. Here’s an example from Governor Walker. This makes it seem like people are protesting because they don’t want to pay more for their benefits and in turn demonizes protesters by making them look greedy.

In fact, key union leaders in Wisconsin agreed on Friday to the Governor’s request for benefit concessions so long as Governor Walker takes away his collective bargaining measures. Governor Walker refused.  In other words, unions are more than willing to share the sacrifice and negotiate, but Governor Walker is so committed to ending unions that he won’t even come to the table.

Myth: Wisconsin public employees make more than their private sector counterparts (Source: This video, among many, many others)

Fact: When you factor in pay, benefits and education, Wisconsin public employees make 4.8% less than their private counterparts.

Myth: Wisconsin is broke (Source: Governor Walker)

Fact: This one is a little harder because state budgeting is complicated.  First, what’s important to know is the current state budget (that ends June 30th of this year) is balanced.  For the next budget,  Wisconsin is estimated to have ~$3 billion deficit. Wisconsin’s state budget process starts by putting together all state agency requests for the next two years and comparing them to estimated revenue.  This comparison leads to estimated deficit number.  So that $3 billion–that’s a deficit that will likely happen if state agencies get all of their requests fully funded.  It’s not a number that is at all written in stone–it’s easily changeable by not funding all agency requests or delaying for a couple of years certain infrastructure projects (such as adding a lane to 40 miles of the interstate between Beloit and Madison).

Remember, the current budget had a $6.6 billion deficit and we are ending the year balanced.

Myth: Only affected union members and students are protesting (Source: Every reporter who refers to the protesters as state employees, teachers, union members, etc.)

Fact: This is an easy one. I’m not in a union. I’ve never been in a union. Also not a student. I support this. So do the Green Bay Packers and the Archbishop of Milwaukee. ‘Nuff said. But seriously, this is a community effort.

Myth: The rallies in Madison are riots

Fact: Seven days. Nine arrests total. Yesterday saw 60,000 people and zero arrests.  This is all happening in my neighborhood and I feel perfectly safe.

Myth: The silent majority of Wisconsin supports these measures (Numerous Republicans, but here’s an example.)

Fact: There have  been two polls conducted since Governor Walker’s anti-union measures were proposed–both showing that the majority of Wisconsin residents are against Governor Walker’s measures.  One, done by a liberal group, shows people in Wisconsin are against Governor Walker’s measures by a 2-to-1 ratio.  Another poll, done by a more conservative group shows that 52% disapprove of the collective bargaining measures and only 43% are in favor.

Myth: The Wisconsin Democratic state senators that fled the state to avoid voting on this measure are shirking their responsibilities

Fact: This is more of a “depends on who you ask” type answer.  My senator is one the 14 camped out in  Illinois and I think he did absolutely the right thing. This bill will dramatically change working conditions for hundreds of thousands of hard-working middle-class Wisconsinites in a matter of days.  These people are the fuel of our state economy. This isn’t some emergency increases to park licenses or a new zoning law or even .5% tax increase–this is about people’s’ entire livelihoods and maintaining our labor tradition.

Every day we learn of another huge item tucked into the Governor’s measures. Only today was there any decent press on proposals in Governor Walker’s budget bill that would dramatically impact some of most vulnerable residents on Medicaid. The only reason why we are hearing about these things before they’ve been passed into law is because the Senate Dems stalled the bill.  Otherwise, per the governor’s request, this would have all been law on Friday.

Forward--Vote No

Myth: Governor Walker is defending the Wisconsin taxpayers (Source: Governor Walker)

Fact: Governor Walker is only defending the taxpayers in Wisconsin who agree with his measures.  Union members and their supporters are also taxpayers .  Also state employees pay taxes, too.  I know, it’s a shock!

Myth: Unions aren’t  necessary anyway

Fact: Umm…you and 80,000 of your best friends fighting together to retain your rights to negotiate with your employer as opposed to you fighting all by yourself…I think Wisconsin has shown now more than ever why unions are still incredibly necessary.