Update from Wisconsin

It has been a wild week in Madison. For those not searching the web let me give you a quick update.

On Friday, the Governor Scott Walker announced a “budget repair bill” that would do the following:

  • Deny collective bargaining rights to all public service workers (except cops and firefighters)
  • End “badger care” which is a State run health service for the working poor and children.
  • Roll back Wisconsin’s Family and Medical Leave to meet the Federal’s lower standards (essentially eliminating this protection for part-time workers)

By Sunday, the first protest began at the Governor’s Mansion and the State Capitol.

On Monday, the UW Teacher’s Assistant Association and others managed to get about 700 people to the Capitol Rotunda and presented “valentines” to the Governor.

On Tuesday, the Joint committee on Finance (12 Republicans, 4 Democrats) began their only public hearing at 11:30. They were still taking testimony at 9:00 p.m. with calls going out for poeple to show up and give their 2 minutes all night. The students at Madison high schools (and around the state) walked out. The students from East High (about 1,000) marched 2.5 miles attracted a police escort and joined about 10,000 citizens protesting at the capitol. Union Cab’s board of directors went on record supporting the right of collective bargaining and many of our members joined in the protest. The Mayor of Madison called a special council meeting to extend all union contracts by one year before the governor’s bill can get signed. In the primary, Scott McDonnell did not make it through, but Joe Parisi did. The combined votes of the Democrats in the non-partisan primary were about 3 x the total of the republican who managed to take second and move on to the general.

This morning, the school teachers of Madison decided to call in sick. This may be the last time that any public worker is allowed to call in sick without penalty. This forced the Madison schools to close. Even more people are expected at the capitol today.

The President of the Wisconsin Senate claims that the votes are there to pass this horrific bill. If you are not from Wisconsin, you can still help. Contact the State Legislature (especially the republican senators).Let them know that you wouldn’t think of moving your business to Wisconsin if this bill passes (or letting your trade organizations hold meetings in Wisconsin). If you already do business in Wisconsin (Coopeationworks!, Equal Exchange) let them know your group will have to reconsider Wisconsin as a viable state to do business. This interactive map will let you send emails to the Senators. Sen. Van Wanggaard is one of the Republicans still undecided (as is Luther Olson). We only need 2-3 Republican senators to kill this bill.

Sign this petition.

About John McNamara

John spent 26 years with Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and currently helps develop co-op in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a Masters in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary's University and hopes to finish his Ph.D. in Business Administration soon. He has served on the board of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and the Board of Governors for the Democracy at Work Network. He currently sits on the Co-op Circle and Mission Circle for Sociocracy for All. He teaches on worker co-operatives and democratic management in the summer at The Evergreen State College.
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