On Saturday, coordinated demonstrations in support of public employees and their bargaining rights were organized in State capitols all over the country by Moveon.org and numerous Unions. The crowd in Madison was thought to be the biggest yet, with estimates of anywhere between 70,00 and 120,000 protesters turning out. I’m confidently-inclined to believe that 100,000 is a safe bet: I was in Madison two weekends in a row, and this past Saturday’s crowd appeared to be significantly larger than the previous Saturday’s (when police estimates put the crowd at 70,000).
Madison protesters were able to maintain their 24/7 occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol building when police refused to carry out the Governor’s order to remove them by a 4pm Sunday deadline. It’s hard to overstate the unprecedented nature of the solidarity being shown in this struggle:
It was also reported over the weekend, that one Republican State Senator has defected to the side of the workers and is now opposing the Governor’s bill.
In spite of an atmosphere of unprecedented anti-union hostility from Wisconsin’s Governor – or maybe because of it — faculty at the University of Wisconsin campuses in Stevens Point, River Falls, and Stout are taking steps to form their own unions.
The online activist group Anonymous launched a cyber attack that intermittently-disrupted the Koch Brothers’ Americans For Prosperity website on Sunday.
One Wisconsonite offered up a simple solution to that state’s budget crisis.
David K. Johnston at tax.com peels away several layers of myth surrounding the debate over public employee pensions in Wisconsin.
Joanna Weiss criticizes American Unions for handling their own PR poorly in a thoughtful Boston Globe editorial.
Here’s a letter from a High School teacher (and disgruntled Cubs fan) that the Chicago Tribune probably won’t publish this week:
I have to laugh when the Tribune authoritatively proclaims how Chicago Public School teachers should be evaluated. Wasn’t it Tribune Company executives who evaluated and signed Carlos Zambrano, Kosuke Fukedome, Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez to long term and extremely expensive contracts? How did they perform last year?
The Tribune mentions how $2 million could be saved by not giving teachers raises for earning advanced degrees, but this year the four above mentioned Cubs will be paid a combined $67 million. $67 million for four mediocre baseball players, but not $2 million for teachers earning advanced degrees from universities like DePaul and Northwestern.
How can the Tribune expect to be taken seriously?
Idaho update: I was wrong when I wrote in a previous post that the attack on Idaho unions is focused on the private sector. Planned cuts to education jobs, collective bargaining, and increased class sizes are being protested by both teachers and students in that state as well.
Good stuff. Keep the reports coming. I’ve already re-posted them. I am still wondering what the game plan is going to be. Could you offer some insights?
Thanks, Jimmy! Another one’s on its way.
As far as the game plan: I’m not privy to to the Union leaderships’ collective planning, but my impression is that the plan is simply to hold on and hope that more pressure for a compromise will build under the Governor the longer this thing drags out.
(It would be nice to see a certain prominent national leader follow through on some very specific campaign promises to come out and directly support collective bargaining rights when they’re threatened, but that now looks like pie-in-the-sky thinking!)
Even a victory for the workers at this point is going to be costly: a compromise that accepts the economic hits in the Governor’s bill in exchange for his backing off on bargaining rights — along the lines of what has been offered by the Unions and so far soundly rejected by the Gov. — is still going to hurt a lot of public employees and their families, and ultimately weaken the Unions.
This may sound like more pie-in-the-sky, but I’m nurturing a spark of hope that the fight-back growing in Wisconsin and spreading to so many other states will turn out to be the beginning of a much needed national push in the right direction, and that we’ll someday look back on this period as a postive turning point. (Please note: I avoided any references to rainbows and unicorns!)
I think more focus is being placed on efforts to recall some Repub Sens, which the unions could play a big role in (securing signatures).
From what I have heard, it looks like there are several different strategies in play at the same time: the unions seem willing to absorb the economic hits as long as they leave the basic rights to collective bargaining in place, and in case the governor digs in his heels, there will be campaigns for recall. My sense is that these are pretty good strategies. Losing the right to organize would be devastating for a democratic country.