Daily Archives: March 12, 2011

Truthout: The True Power Behind the Wisconsin Protests

March 12, 2011- The protests in Wisconsin have focused on whether the state of Wisconsin will take away the right of government workers to bargain collectively. However, government does not "give" workers the right to strike, nor the right to bargain collectively. That right is inherent in every human being's right to decide what he or she will, or will not, do. No power short of death can take away this inherent right. Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican Legislature may be able to rescind the rules that govern strikes and collective bargaining, but they cannot take away the right to strike or bargain collectively.

Workers have used strikes, walkouts, boycotts and even sabotage successfully to exert this inherent power. Our social contract is based on the consent of the governed and it does not take many to deny either an employer or the government that consent. The collective bargaining rules of the last century were developed by the government as a way to control, regulate and mitigate the power of organized working people. The rules have served us well and Wisconsin has benefited by avoiding crippling public and private strikes.

CMD PR Watch: WI Firefighters Spark “Move Your Money” Moment

March 12, 2011- On the day that the bill passed the Wisconsin Assembly effectively ending 50 years of collective bargaining in Wisconsin and eviscerating the ability of public unions to raise money through dues, a new front opened in the battle for the future of Wisconsin families.

Bagpipes blaring, hundreds of firefighters walked across the street from the Wisconsin Capitol building, stood outside the Marshall and Ilsley Bank (M&I Bank) and played a few tunes — loudly. Later, a group of firefighter and consumers stopped back in at the bank to make a few transactions. One by one they closed their accounts and withdrew their life savings, totaling approximately $190,000. See a video clip. After the last customer left, the bank quickly closed its doors, just in case the spontaneous "Move Your Money" moment caught fire.

Liberaland: Buried In Altered Wisconsin Bill: Sale Of Power Plants That Can Benefit Koch Bros

March 12, 2011- A couple of items found themselves inserted into the Wisconsin budget review bill between the time it left the Senate and arrived at the Assembly, reports Uppity Wisconsin.

The stripped-down union busting budget review bill was railroaded through the legislature so fast that no one, including the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, could accurately say what was in it.

When the Assembly Dem leader, Peter Barca, asked Wednesday night what was in the new version, State Sen GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald basically aid it was none of his — or the public’s business.

Thursday, the fiscal bureau was forced to correct its memo describing the bill, after unearthing some more buried treasure.

What are these items that needed “correcting”?

1. The March 10 document includes a provision of the substitute amendment on the Earned Income Tax Credit (page 3, #1).

2. The March 10 document includes a provision of the substitute amendment on the Sale and Contractual Operation of State-Owned Power Plants (page 20, #1).

Al Franken: This isn’t over

Posted on Al Franken's Blog– March 11, 2011

We were all shocked by what happened in Wisconsin Wednesday night.

Eighteen Republican state senators broke faith with the people who elected them. They broke their word. They may have even broken the law.

They wanted to bust public sector unions — the last line of defense for the rights of teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses, and other public servants — so badly that they were willing to cheat the system.

Let’s be clear: They did this in the hopes that, with the bill passed, the crowds would dissipate and we’d let this go.

But they were wrong. We’re not going to let this go. We’re going to help the people of Wisconsin fight this bill — and the illegal power grab it took to pass it — every step of the way. We’re going to help them hold accountable the elected officials who sold out workers and subverted democracy.

Talking Points Memo: Wisconsin GOPers To Huddle With Corporate Lobbyists In DC After Worker Rights Vote

March 10, 2011- More details on the upcoming fundraiser for members of the Wisconsin state Senate GOP in the headquarters of a prominent DC lobbying firm are coming to light.

In short, when members of the state Senate caucus that just voted to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights gather in the downtown DC offices of a lobbying firm founded in part by Haley Barbour, they'll be among friends.

The BGR Group, the lobbying firm Barbour helped to found in 1991, has long been known for its ties to the GOP. Among its executives are Bob Wood, a former aide to Tommy Thompson, the Republican governor of Wisconsin for 14 years. And on BGR's past client list is a large energy company – and that's raising eyebrows with watchdog groups.

On Thursday, the Public Campaign Action Fund, a nonprofit advocate for campaign finance reform, pointed out that WE Energies, an energy utility based in Milwaukee, has spent more than $300,000 on lobbying with BGR since 2009.

Washington Post: Wisconsin governor signs bill slashing union rights for public workers

March 11, 2011- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a highly contested bill Friday morning that takes collective bargaining rights away from most of the state's public employees. He also rescinded layoff notices for about 1,500 state workers.

The measure set off weeks of protests at the Capitol and sparked a walkout by Senate Democrats. It passed the state Assembly on Thursday, a day after the state Senate used a legislative maneuver to pass the bill without the 14 Democratic senators who fled the state in an effort to block it.

"While tough budget choices certainly still lie ahead, both state and local units of government will not have to do any mass layoffs or direct service reductions because of the reforms contained in the budget repair bill," Walker said in a statement. "The reforms contained in this legislation, which require modest health care and pension contributions from all public employees, will help put Wisconsin on a path to fiscal sustainability."

VIEW IN ORIGINAL CONTEXT:

Truthout: The Last Hurdle for Corporate Capitalism: Deunionizing America

March 11, 2011- The campaign to control private-sector union membership has been mostly successful as corporate US capitalism shifted its attention to the last hurdle to a union-free country: public-sector unions. Critical examination of the connection between money and politics is helpful to understand the explosive and sudden attacks on public-sector unions, especially teachers' unions. Public-sector workers and their unions put to shame private-sector compensation and benefits. They represent the last hurdle for the free rein of corporate capitalism over US politics. Workers in the public sector (both federal and state workers) are five times more likely to be unionized than private-sector workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one-third of public-sector workers are represented by unions (36.2 percent). The collective bargaining agreements in the public sector are not a threat per se to the private sector, but they are a threat to the power of corporate lobbying money. What is at stake is the total control by the corporate sector over the US legislative process, especially in the general election of 2012 and afterward. Labor groups are a major funding source in federal and state elections that offset the power of corporate lobbying money. Labor campaign contributions raise the cost of doing business for corporate lobby groups since they need to overbid labor groups' donations. Therefore, if collective bargaining rights, and with that over a 100 years of socioeconomic progress by the labor movement is undone, then the US capitol will be firmly in the pockets of corporate America. The money-politics nexus explains why politicians are in a rush to rein in public-sector unions.

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