March 10, 2011-
Contact: Wayne Ranick (412) 562-2444
(Pittsburgh) – This statement was released this morning by the United Steelworkers (USW) on actions taken last evening by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Republican Senators.
In a clear violation of Wisconsin’s open meeting law, Wisconsin conservative senators yesterday voted without a quorum to strip the state’s public sector workers – teachers, nurses, and librarians – of collective bargaining rights that the people of Wisconsin granted them a half century ago.
United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard said this attack on the rights of Wisconsin’s public sector workers is an attack on all working people. “Although Wisconsin law requires a quorum when Senators vote to spend the people’s money, these conservatives exploited a loophole to vote without a quorum on legislation to steal workers’ rights. This is not democracy,” Gerard said.
“As illustrated by the surging crowd of protesters who filled the capitol building in Wisconsin after the undemocratic sneak-vote Wednesday, workers everywhere, whether public sector or private sector, union or unrepresented, will unite to win back their rights with their feet at protests and their votes at ballot boxes,” said Gerard, who leads North America’s largest industrial union, with 850,000 members, including steelworkers, paper workers, oil workers, rubber workers and public sector workers in the U.S. and Canada.
The conservative attack on workers in Wisconsin is far from isolated, Gerard said: “This is a nation-wide campaign by billionaires and country-club conservatives, to terminate workers’ rights, giving unfettered power to corporations.” So far in Wisconsin, conservatives have granted only government workers the right to freeload – the ability to benefit from collective bargaining without paying union dues. In nine other states, from Maine to Missouri, conservatives are pushing right to freeload legislation to cripple all unions.
“All this legislation is an attack on the middle class, which blossomed in this country as a result of collective bargaining victories during the middle of the last century. Middle class workers, whether Republican or Democrat, know they must repel this assault on their right to collectively bargain or be reduced to insecurity and poverty,” Gerard said.