All eyes are now firmly fixed on the Wisconsin Senate after Republicans in the General Assembly used a parliamentary maneuver early this morning to cut off debate and push through a vote on the Governor’s union-busting bill.
It’s official: The Wisconsin State Police have been sent to round up the 14 State Senators who went on the lam to prevent State Senate Republicans from having a quorum with which to rush through the anti-union bill.
Andy Kroll at Mother Jones explored several possible scenarios for how the fight in Wisconsin could come to an end, while Kevin Drum charted the coincidence of the rise of U.S. income inequality with the decline of our labor movement.
Conservatives commissioned a Rasmussen Pulse poll of likely Wisconsin voters this week in the hopes of illustrating support for the Governor’s plan, but they ended up getting more than they bargained for:
There was a near-even split over the question of supporting recall efforts targeting the 14 Democratic Senators who fled the coup, but 56% supported collective bargaining rights for State employees (32% were opposed), and 53% thought that hundreds of teachers who participated in last week’s sick-out should keep their jobs (while 32% thought they should be fired).
As Derek pointed out in a recent comment, Madison’s top cop and mayor want to know more about the Governor’s admission that he considered using thugs to break up the protests in Wisconsin, which also prompted at least one State legislator to call for the Governor’s resignation.
Sports to the rescue – again!
The NBA player’s union has issued a strong statement in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. And The Nation’s Dave Zirin talked current events with Dr. John Carlos, one of the U.S. athletes famously photographed raising the Black Power salute from the Olympic podium in 1968. Here’s what Dr. Carlos told him:
“I don’t think Governor Walker realizes that workers are the people who built this country and workers are the people who keep the fabric of our communities together. Workers are the people of the grassroots. For him or any political figure to try and cut their wages, take their health care, crush their unions, or subjugate them in any way is just a travesty. And if he really, like I heard on that prank phone call, was thinking of sending disrupters and plants into the protesters, which could have caused people and even children serious harm…. Well that would be simply despicable. I read that the police might be investigating Scott Walker for those statements and I hope that this is in fact the case. I commend what the workers, students and all protesters are doing to stand up for their rights and I am with them 1000%. Every person from the world of sports with a heart or sense of humanity would say the same.”
CNN solicited this piece on the role of public sector unions from Daily Kos blogger Teacherken.
Yet another sign of the times:
Not to be outdone by WI Gov. Walker’s admission that he considered deploying thugs to disrupt pro-Union demonstrations, Indiana’s conservative Deputy AG Jeffrey Cox used Twitter to call for authorities to “use live ammunition” on pro-Union demonstrators in his own state. He later claimed that he was being satirical, but his tweets tell a different story. From Adam Weinstein, the Mother Jones reporter who broke that led to Cox’s being fired:
From my own Twitter account, I confronted the user, JCCentCom. He tweeted back that the demonstrators were “political enemies” and “thugs” who were “physically threatening legally elected officials.” In response to such behavior, he said, “You’re damned right I advocate deadly force.” He later called me a “typical leftist,” adding, “liberals hate police.”
Only later did we realize that JCCentCom was a deputy attorney general for the state of Indiana.
It’s clear that the effort to further weaken and destroy unions isn’t just limited to Wisconsin (or illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or New York…). In Idaho, where only 15% of public sector employees are unionized — compared with 52% in Wisconsin and 50% in Illinois — conservative attacks seem to be focused on the private sector building trades.
Give this a listen — you may find it chuckle-worthy. (Or don’t listen if you’re sensitive about Cheesehead accents being affectionately-mocked.)
Finally, one more dose of the frank-talk that’s sure to warm reactionary hearts (from Governor David Walker’s prank phone call from a blogger he believed to be right-wing benefactor David Koch):
IAN MURPHY: [as David Koch] Well, I’ll you what, Scott. Once you crush these bastards, I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Alright, that would be outstanding. Thanks for all the support and helping us move the cause forward, and we appreciate it. We’re doing it, the just and right thing, for the right reasons. And it’s all about getting our freedom back.
IAN MURPHY: [as David Koch] Absolutely. And, you know, we have a little bit of vested interest, as well.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Well, that’s just it. The bottom line is we’re going to get the world moving here, because it’s the right thing to do.
IAN MURPHY: [as David Koch] Alright, then.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Thanks a million.
Another great report. I am starting to wonder what is going to happen in IL: our state has the highest pension debt of all.
Thanks, Jimmy. And you’re right to worry; All of the state-wide public pension systems in illinois are under attack after being weakened by a combination of underfunding by the legislature (employees have always paid their share) and the economic crisis foisted on the nation by our financial sector.
Naomi Wolf’s Shock Doctrine theory is getting to be a familiar story: a major crisis, whether naturally occurring or manufactured, represents an opportunity to dismantle programs and institutions that promote social welfare and expand corporate power and control over our economy and politics.
There are currently two bills being considered in Springfield that would cut benefits for current participants in all of the state-wide public pension plans (TRS, SURS, SERS, IMRF, etc.), and I just read that additional legislation targeting our pensions may be forthcoming. (Here is an ominous report of Sen. Cullerton’s plans for the Teacher’s Retirement System in particular.)