Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: State Workers to Converge on Capitol to Rally Against Scott Walker’s Rescinding of Collective Bargaining
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee plans to hold a public hearing and then vote on Gov. Scott Walker‘s proposed changes to public workers’ benefits and union rights on Tuesday.
Walker’s proposal, which he unveiled on Friday, would strip state and local government employees, including teachers, custodians and game wardens, of their ability to collectively bargain everything except their wages. The bill also increases employees’ required pension and insurance contributions. Wages could be bargained for only if they don’t exceed the consumer price index. The plan wouldn’t include local police and fire departments and the Wisconsin State Patrol.
The hearing, set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, will allow the members of the public to tell lawmakers how they feel about the plan. The hearing will take place in the state Capitol, but seating is limited.
The committee that hears the bill is made up of 12 Republicans and four Democrats. It is chaired by state Rep. Robin Vos of Rochester and state Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills. They have both spoken in support of Walker’s plan.
Lawmakers at the Capitol have been flooded with phone calls from their constituents about Walker’s proposal, and a large turnout from the public is expected at Tuesday’s hearing.
“I think it (the hearing) will be jammed with people,” said Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona.
I’m going to observe for a few. Too bad I won’t be able to live blog across the street, but I felt that I had to be there. You could say that I am a “fellow traveler” as the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy used to call people who sympathized with human or labor rights advocates but weren’t card-carrying members of the Communist Party. And it’s a good day to rally for people’s rights. It’s sunny and 38 degrees right now. As the state superintendent of schools pointed out recently, Scott Walker, the Boy Blunder, has gone too far.
Wisconsin state superintendent Tony Evers said Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed elimination of collective bargaining rights for teachers and other public employees goes too far and is not necessary for balancing the budget.
Evers made the comment in a letter he sent Monday to the Republican co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. That panel is holding a public hearing on the bill Tuesday.
Evers said the bill will shatter relationships among educators and school leaders and have a chilling effect on teacher recruitment.
There has already been a lot of open talk on Twitter and Facebook and elsewhere about workers bailing out and retiring early, and that some teachers are accelerating their job hunts and looking at other options. I’ve heard at least one teacher talk about Wisconsin going the way of Mississippi–that’s how many view this controversy. From another, that is simply fanning the flames of class warfare. Families as a whole are weighing their options. It’s also looking like a possible brain drain of qualified instructors, researchers and professionals as well as clerks, janitors, and librarians who know what they are doing, like where they are, and have worked very hard for a number of years for the state. I doubt whether very many National Guard men and women really do know how to handle things long term in their absence.
I already feel that the scuttling of the high speed rail project was actually about Walker wishing to reward those who supported him financially or with endorsements. He wanted the money to get infrastructure built or redone? Really? And who and what would pocket that chunk of change? The stimulus bill was supposed to handle all that.
Likewise, this newest controversy is about lowering wages (thus shattering the middle class), destroying unions, and dividing Wisconsin labor against each other. Witness the fawning of some police, fire and state trooper unions (not all of them) around Governor Walker’s plan. Of course, they find themselves sitting pretty, so to speak. Their rights to collective bargaining stand, which will probably make them more likely to gladly and vigorously hit peaceful protesters with nightsticks, if it ever gets to that point.
I may be talking wild, but this is just the sort of thing that occurred during the early 1930s, during the height of the Great Depression.
I hope that it doesn’t get to that point. Ever.
As thousands marched to the steps of the state capitol, traffic near the center of Madison has been impacted.
Capitol police, who are working with Madison police, said that barricades are up at Wisconsin Avenue and Mifflin Street on the Capitol Square. They said barricades are ready to be added on East Washington Aveune and West Washington Avenue if needed.
Metro buses are currently detouring from the downtown area due to the rally. Buses are currently detouring one block from the Capitol Square and from East Johnson Street. Further street closures and detours may occur through the day as crowds warrant, Metro officials said.
Another contingent, this time from UW Madison, coming up State Street, is marching to the Capitol Building this minute.
Anyway, gotta go soon. I hear some cheering. I’ll let you know what’s up.