Go Wisconsin Workers, Democrats!

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    As this diary points out, what’s going on in Wisconsin right now is about “much more than organized labor,” it’s also about “American ideals of democracy, equal representation, and popular sovereignty.” Here in Virginia, of course, we are a so-called “right-to-work” state, or as Leslie Byrne correctly called it, a “right-to-be-poor” state. When I see Democrats – the party that’s supposed to be for the working people of this country – not challenging “right to work,” or other assaults on labor in this country, it makes me very angry. And when I see Bob McDonnell pushing a plan which forces state employees to contribute 5% to their retirements, after McDonnell himself has raided their retirement system to produce his mythical – but largely unchallenged in its fundamental falsehood – “budget surplus,” it makes me angry as well. Anyway, I’m glad to see workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere standing up for themselves, and I would hope that all Virginia Democrats would support them in their efforts.

    Speaking of Virginia Democrats, I emailed a bunch of them this morning for comment on the Wisconsin protests. So far, I’ve received (only) two responses, from Del. David Englin and from Alexandria Council Member Rob Krupicka. According to Englin, “Wisconsin Republicans are engaged in the worst kind of labor bating, and I commend the Wisconsin Democrats who are using every parliamentary tool available to them as a minority caucus to fight back!” Rob Krupicka adds, “During these tough economic times, everybody understands that there will be sacrifices, but they must be fair to working people. The middle class has taken it on the chin in this recession, we need to be working with them, not against them.”

    I look forward to hearing from more Virginia Democrats on this. For now, thanks to Del. Englin and Council Member Krupicka for their statements.

    P.S. More video on the “flip.”

    UPDATE: Del. Charniele Herring says, “I believe this is democracy in action. We must stand together for our values-stand together for good wages, fair conditions, and ensuring that people are not exploited hard times or not.”

    UPDATE #2: Excellent coverage by The Uptake.

    UPDATE #3: Libby Garvey says, “It is outrageous that the Governor of Wisconsin is trying to use the fiscal difficulties that Wisconsin and many other states are facing as a pretext to destroy the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin’s public employee unions. The Governor should drop that effort immediately, and agree to sit down across the table with the union leadership and have an open discussion of the issues.”

    • Steve Vaughan

      …the product of a union household, I applaud Wisconsin workers for fighting the impostion of a “Right to Treat Your Employees Like Crap” law.

    • gg2landy

      I imagine every state worker in Wisconsin would be willing to sit at the table and negotiate w/ the Governor. The problem, as Rachel Maddow discussed it last night, is that 1) the bill was only introduced last Friday and is being hurried through 2) many people who came to speak against the bill were either not allowed to talk or Republicans left while they were speaking  3) this isn’t so much about pay ,tenure and benefits as it is about the right to collectively bargain and 4) the firefighters and police ( who supported Gov. Walker in the last election) are exempt from collective bargaining restrictions.

      As a retired VA teacher never once did we have much say in our salaries or pensions.

      When I first began teaching in 1973 I paid my share of my pension. The only reason we as VA teachers didn’t continue to do so was because the state decided to pay our share in lieu of raises. I am sure legislators thought they were getting a great deal out of it. Maybe we did too. Unfortunately now the present Governor has borrowed millions from the VRS and there is no paying back in site.

      SO go Wisconsin state employees…fight for your right to bargain. Don’t give in!

    • pontoon

      rights.  Am also fearful that we will see many more marches in states and perhaps our nation’s capitol if Republicans get their way.  Mr. Boehner has already said to cuts the Republicans are planning on the Federal level, if federal employees lose their jobs, “So be it.”

    • KathyinBlacksburg

      Walker just pushed through tax cuts for the rich.  And it is not “just” a 5% reduction in pensions or “just” more out-of-pocket payments for health care.  This is about intimidation.  He threatened to call out the national guard if people even peacefully protest.  

      Furthermore, this is about WAY more than the above (as if calling the national guard were not enough, or sending the police or national guard to round up Democratic Senators).  There is a clause in the proposed bill to throw out the entire wage scale.  This is about more than “shared sacrifice.”  It is intended to screw over workers by drastically cutting their pay, ratcheting down wages of thousands of workers.

      All of this when the rich are being cosseted AND the Koch brothers and the groups they fund are behind much of this.

      What would you expect of Bob McDonnell?  But Englin–well, to hell with him.

    • KathyinBlacksburg

      that Wisconsin’s budgetary issues are not a crisis.  If they stopped throwing money at the rich they would not have any shortfall at all.

    • KathyinBlacksburg
    • mechenvy

      That is a critical message to get across to people. The pictures in Wisconsin show what you get when you vote for today’s Republican party. Lying. Selfishness. Deliberate ignorance. Mean hypocrisy designed to do nothing more than crush dissent and hang onto power — all for the goal of transferring public money into the pockets of their rich friends. Period. (Remember Bruce Willis’s disgust in Die Hard when he finally realizes the “terrorists” with all their high-minded rhetoric and demands are just common thieves?) Republicans stand for nothing but a self-reinforcing, self-referencing, self-aggrandizing 24/7/365/30 gang mugging of the working and middle class in America. This is why no one should ever vote Republican at any level for any reason. Ever. That message needs to be nailed to these pictures with railroad spikes for the American public to remember.

    • Across the nation, right-wing Republican governors and legislators have declared war on teachers and state employees. They are seeking to destroy the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. This is no less than an effort to undermine and reverse more than 100 years of progress. The events unfolding in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker has created a false “budget crisis” to slash compensation and organizing rights of public school teachers and state employees, are just a harbinger of a coming national struggle.

      I applaud the teachers, state workers, parents and schoolchildren who have stood up against Gov. Walker’s assault on Wisconsin’s educators and state employees. I fully support the Wisconsin Democratic Senators who, having been excluded from the debate on this measure, have used the only tool left to them, denying the Republicans a quorum, to bring the true nature of Walker’s proposals to light.

      The controversy in Wisconsin reminds us that we can never take for granted the progress we’ve achieved on behalf of workers and others who too often do not have a voice. We must remain vigilant, both here in Virginia, and across the United States, against efforts by conservatives to undo all the good things liberals have done for this nation. This certainly underscores how essential it is that Virginia Democrats work together in a concerted, effective manner to retain our Senate majority this November.