Wisconsin Round-Up -- Thousands Storm Capitol as GOP Takes
Action - Reports, Analysis and Actions to Take
1. Thousands Storm Capitol as GOP Takes Action (Wisconsin
2. "We Have Reached a Turning Point" - Protests Will Grow in
Response to WI Anti-Union Bill (Frank Emspak on Democracy
3. Solidarity events - today, tomorrow, over the next week -
map showing hundreds of events around the country
4. Watch Footage of Last Night's Shocking Wisconsin Senate
5. Turn Outrage to Action: Contact Your State Lawmakers NOW
(Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO)
6. Teachers, firefighters, cops target M&I with boycott
(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Thousands Storm Capitol as GOP Takes Action
by State Journal staff
Wisconsin State Journal
Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2011 8:45 am
Thousands of protesters rushed to the state Capitol
Wednesday night, forcing their way through doors, crawling
through windows and jamming corridors, as word spread of
hastily called votes on Gov. Scott Walker's controversial
bill limiting collective bargaining rights for public
The Capitol overnight crowd had gone mostly silent by 2:15
a.m. Thursday after a nearly continuous stream of protest
songs, drumming and the occasional bagpiping since about
7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Protesters on the ground floor of the
state Capitol rotunda led others in Woody Guthrie's "This
Land Is Our Land" just after 2 a.m. then joined about 200
others snoozing in sleeping bags along the Capitol walls.
Outside the Assembly chambers, about 50 protesters were
sleeping and planned to remain until the body takes up the
Senate's amended budget-repair bill, scheduled for 11 a.m.
Thursday. Police and protesters continued to get along, with
no incidents reported and no arrests.
Some union leaders interviewed at the Madison Labor Temple
said the abrupt passage could lead to strikes. Officials
with Madison Teachers Inc. and the Wisconsin Education
Association Council urged teachers to show up to work
Thursday, despite a call for a mass demonstration Thursday
"The Senate's improper and illegal action will be challenged
in court," predicted John Matthews, MTI's executive
Marty Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin State
Employees Union, declared that the governor and his Senate
"cronies" had "turned our proud state of Wisconsin into a
"Senate Republicans have exercised the nuclear option to ram
through their bill attacking Wisconsin's working families in
the dark of night," added Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. "Tonight's events have demonstrated
they will do or say anything to pass their extreme agenda
that attacks Wisconsin's working families."
Shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday, hundreds of protesters
gathered outside the locked King Street entrance to the
Capitol, chanting "Break down the door!" and "General
Moments later, police ceded control of the State Street
doors and allowed the crowd to surge inside, joining
thousands who had already gathered in the Capitol to protest
the votes. The area outside the Assembly, which is scheduled
to take the bill up at 11 a.m. today, was crowded with
protesters who chanted, "We're not leaving. Not this time."
Some said they planned to spend the night in the Capitol.
Last week, a Dane County Circuit Court judge ordered dozens
of protesters who occupied the Capitol for more than two
weeks to leave.
"I'm staying. I'm angry enough," said UW-Madison student,
Nathaniel Adragna, who stayed overnight during earlier
protests. "It feels good to be back."
Department of Administration spokesman Tim Donovan said
although protesters were being encouraged to leave, no one
would be forcibly removed. Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz
said he had instructed Madison Police Chief Noble Wray not
to allow his officers to participate in removing
demonstrators from the building.
At one point, officials estimated up to 7,000 people had
spilled into the Capitol, some coming through doors and
windows opened from the inside, including one legislative
office and several bathrooms. Some door knobs and door
handles were removed, Donovan said.
Officers eventually retrenched to the third floor, Donovan
said, adding, "it was felt by several law enforcement
officials that the best solution was to keep everybody safe"
and stop trying to keep the crowds out.
Rob Koening, who has been involved in Madison protests for
decades, exhorted protesters to remain peaceful.
"I ... encourage all my brothers and sisters to not make
keeping this house our priority," Koening said. "It's not
about maintaining this space. It's about building this
Cieslewicz joined the protest, calling the bill's stealth
passage "disgraceful." Former Mayor Paul Soglin, who is
challenging Cieslewicz in the April election, urged
protesters to boycott businesses whose executives supported
The budget repair bill was stalled in the Senate since the
body's 14 Democrats fled Wisconsin on Feb. 17 in a desperate
gambit to slow or stop passage of the measure, which affects
about 175,000 public employees.
Representatives of the union that represents blue-collar,
technical and safety officers at UW-Madison said the
possibility of a general strike has been discussed.
"Anything is possible," said Local 171 steward Carl Aniel.
Aniel said only locals can call a strike, and it would be up
to each one to do so individually.
Anne Habel, a steward with AFSCME Local 171, said
Wednesday's action will further inflame the unions, which
have staged repeated protests since Walker introduced his
budget repair bill in mid-February.
"Every time something happens, people become more militant,"
Jim Roberts, a retired Madison Fire Department lieutenant,
was among those who raced to the Capitol after hearing about
the impending vote. Wearing a fire helmet and carrying a
protest sign, Roberts said Wednesday's vote made it clear to
him that the real goal was busting unions, not balancing the
Ted Lewis, a union representative for Rock Valley Education
Professionals, led protesters in a cheer referring to the
effort to recall Walker, in office for two tumultuous
"Scott you don't remember me," Lewis chanted, "but I can
State Journal reporters Sandy Cullen, Steven Verburg, Ron
Seely, Dan Simmons, Devin Rose, Patricia Simms and Dee J.
Hall contributed to this report.
"We Have Reached a Turning Point": Journalist Frank Emspak
Says Protests Will Grow in Response to WI Anti-Union Bill
March 10, 2011
All eyes are on Wisconsin today to see how the state's labor
movement reacts to the surprise vote in the State Senate,
moving Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union bill one step closer
to becoming law. We speak with Frank Emspak of the Workers
Independent News in Madison. "We've had democracy by
deception here," Emspak says. "You're talking about
disenfranchising millions of people, not only in Wisconsin,
but also throughout the Midwest, and basically saying that
working people, in an organized fashion, have no right to
participate in the electoral process. That is what the
Republicans are doing."
Frank Emspak, founder and producer of Workers Independent
News. He is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Labor
Education, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
JUAN GONZALEZ: We're now joined by Frank Emspak of the
Workers Independent News Service and Professor Emeritus at
the Department of Labor Education, School for Workers,
University of Wisconsin.
Welcome, Frank. Your sense of what is going on now in terms
of the labor movement in Wisconsin?
FRANK EMSPAK: Well, you have the official statements, and
you have what I think is really going to happen. The
official statements last night around 10:30, 10:45, were, of
course, legal. The Wisconsin Education Association Council
President Mary Bell said that teachers should go to school
today, and the Wisconsin State Employees Union Executive
Director Marty Beil didn't make reference about people
working, but he said that people should gather in public
spaces at some point and make their positions clear. But
this whole uprising has really been characterized by
individuals taking action on their own, starting two or
three weeks ago when people just came in masses to the
Capitol, or last night, for that matter.
So I think we have the following. It's 7:45 in the morning
here, almost, which is the time that many state workers go
to work, and, of course, school opens in about a half an
hour. I don't think we know exactly what's going to happen
yet, except people are enraged. And I think there is a sense
that if we just depend on a two- or three-year legal process
or something else in six or seven months, it's not enough.
So, my guess is - and this is just a guess - is that we'll
first of all see thousands of high school students. They
announced last night - we got a leaflet at 8:00 - for people
to begin to gather and really fight for their education.
That's what's going on. And then, secondly, I think we will
see, as the day progresses, more and more workers exercising
their right of free assembly and free speech and demanding -
and demanding - that this kind of legislation be dumped.
Now, we know, of course, that if you just say, "Strike,"
that's illegal. But I think in any kind of protest of this
nature, it's impossible to, you know, repress everyone.
We've seen that all around the world. And my guess is that
Mike is absolutely right: we have reached a turning point
here and elsewhere.
One thing that strikes me - and, I suspect, other people -
we've had democracy by deception here. In neither Michigan
nor Wisconsin did the powers that be run on a basis of going
after collective bargaining and destroying rights. And yet,
we have this government-controlled - Republican-controlled
government basically eviscerating unions, but mostly
disenfranchising people at every single level - the state,
the city, the municipality - by these various laws. They
take away the ability of the average citizen to participate.
And I think that has enraged everybody. It certainly has
So, I think during the course of the day we're going to see
more and more people exercising their right to freedom of
speech and freedom of assembly. I think it will be a huge
thing here. You know, on Saturday - tomorrow is Saturday -
today is Thursday, wait. So, on Saturday, the farmers were
going to come here to Madison - we have a lot of farmers -
with tractors, because 11,000 of them, out of the 70,000 in
the state, may lose their health coverage, because they're
on BadgerCare. So they were coming to the capital anyway
with their tractors and farm equipment to make a statement.
I suspect we'll just see this massive, massive outpouring on
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Frank, we've covered it before on
Democracy Now!, but I don't think people really grasp the
full sense of what this legislation would mean to the union
movement. Could you go over some of the details of what the
Senate actually passed, the Republicans passed last night,
in terms of the direct impact on, in essence, democracy, or
some form of democracy in the workplace - the dues checkoff,
the situation with the one year - every year a new vote on
whether the union will represent you? Talk about some of the
details of this.
FRANK EMSPAK: Well, I think in both Michigan and Wisconsin,
there are similarities. What you're basically doing is
installing dictatorship in the workplace and getting rid of
50 years of activity. So, the legislation here, first of
all, says that no political entity can receive union dues,
meaning you cannot have a dues checkoff, which essentially,
under present circumstances, bankrupts the union. The second
thing it says is that in order for a union to be in place
anyway, you have to have an election every year, paid for by
the union, as a matter of fact, and that getting one vote is
not enough. You have to have 51 percent. And to continually
have these elections, of course, will also not only be
really disruptive, but of course means you don't have time
to do anything else. Thirdly, the actual legislation on
collective bargaining says that the only thing that can be
discussed in any kind of meaningful way is a wage increase,
as long as it's limited to whatever the cost of living is.
Arbitration, just cause, conditions of work, fairness in the
workplace, hours of work - all that is no longer subject to
JUAN GONZALEZ: Health and safety issues.
FRANK EMSPAK: And, of course, for the average - I beg your
JUAN GONZALEZ: And health and safety issues, as well?
FRANK EMSPAK: Health and safety, as well. So for the average
person - and I was a shop steward and elected union official
for many, many years at General Electric - it isn't these
massive things like wages - that's very important. But in
the workplace, to be able to have the supervisor say, "Do
this," and you have no recourse, all that does is bring back
the 19th century. And it is terribly destructive. It
destroys morale. It destroys service, the concept of
service. It is really bringing back a form of industrial
relations or labor relations that most people thought left
in 1900. And that's what happens. It's really dictatorship
at the workplace.
AMY GOODMAN: Frank Emspak, we just have a minute, but I
wanted to get your reaction to the comments of the Wisconsin
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - not to
be confused with his brother, who's the head of the
Assembly, Fitzgerald. Speaking on Fox News just hours before
Wednesday's vote, Fitzgerald openly admitted Republicans
have pushed the measure because weakening unions would hurt
the Democrats' electoral chances.
SEN. SCOTT FITZGERALD: Well, if they flip the State
Senate, which is obviously the goal with eight recalls
going on right now, they can take control of the labor
unions. If we win this battle and the money is not there
under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you're
going to find is President Obama is going to have a much
difficult - a much more difficult time getting elected
and winning the state of Wisconsin.
AMY GOODMAN: That's Wisconsin Republican Senate Majority
Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Frank Emspak, your response?
FRANK EMSPAK: Well, he's talking about Citizens United,
where the corporations can buy the election. Three out of
the 10 top contributors in the presidential elections last
time were unions. He is saying they're going to
disenfranchise those workers who voluntarily give their dues
money to accomplish something collectively for working
people. So you're talking about disenfranchising millions of
people, not only in Wisconsin, but also throughout the
Midwest, and basically saying that working people, in an
organized fashion, have no right to participate in the
electoral process. That is what the Republicans are doing.
And I think we need to say, fundamentally, that this is an
attack on the fundamental aspects of democracy - the idea of
peaceably assembling, expressing your opinion, getting
together, and doing something collectively. And these
attacks, very well thought out, are basically to undermine
the ability of working people to participate in the
AMY GOODMAN: Frank Emspak, I want to thank you for being
with us, of the Workers Independent News Service, Professor
Emeritus, the Department of Labor Education, School of
Workers, University of Wisconsin.
FRANK EMSPAK: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Of course, we'll continue to report on these
events through today at our website, democracynow.org, and
on tomorrow's show, as well.
Solidarity events - today, tomorrow, over the next week -
map showing hundreds of events around the country
Watch Footage of Last Night's Shocking Wisconsin Senate End-
Watch the scene within the Capitol legislative chambers last
night as Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, a Democrat,
was denied in his attempts motion during the last-minute
Senate meeting to push past the bill that would strip
collective bargaining rights.
Later, he explained to the cameras why he thought the move
by his opponents was illegal and immoral.
"They are so eager to take away the rights that people in
this state have enjoyed for 50 years that they've trampled
on democracy," Barca said.
Travesty of Justice.MP4
This is what happened tonight, when the Senate Republicans
conspired to steal rights from Wisconsin workers.
Wisconsin: Turn Outrage to Action: Contact Your State
[Wow. When AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka sent out an
email this morning about Wisconsin, our site got so
much traffic it was overwhelmed and people couldn't
get through to it for about an hour.
If you weren't able to take action earlier today, do
it now. Go here:
Since Senate Republicans rammed through a bill in
the dead of night last night, the response has been
overwhelming. Please, read President Trumka's email
below, and make your voice heard.
Brothers and sisters,
Last night in Madison, Wis., in the dead of night, Senate
Republicans rammed through a bill that strips Wisconsinites
of the collective bargaining rights their parents and
grandparents bargained for, marched for, went on strike for
and sometimes even died for.
This assault on workers' freedom will not stand.
As the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO said last night:
Scott Walker and the Republicans' ideological war on
the middle class and working families is now
indisputable, and their willingness to shred 50
years of labor peace, bipartisanship and Wisconsin's
democratic process to pass a bill that 74 percent of
Wisconsinites oppose is beyond reprehensible.
What we saw in the dead of night in Wisconsin wasn't
democracy. It was back-door deal-making, partisan politics
taken to the limit. That isn't worthy of America. And
working Americans simply won't stand for it. Not in
Wisconsin, and not anywhere.
Brothers and sisters, it's time to turn outrage into action.
Take action now: Tell your state or local lawmakers that
what happened in Wisconsin last night is unacceptable
Last night, Gov. Walker and his rubber-stamp Republican
senators showed us they will do just about anything to pay
back corporate donors by stripping workers of their right to
bargain for good, middle-class jobs.
First, they claimed Walker's bill was aimed at balancing
Wisconsin's budget. But that was exposed as an outright lie
last night. Their true motives were exposed when they robbed
hundreds of thousands of nurses, teachers, snowplow drivers
and EMTs of their collective bargaining rights - without
even a dime of savings to Wisconsin taxpayers. And they
thumbed their noses at their state's open meeting laws to do
This was the second time in a week that Republican state
legislators showed they are willing to sacrifice democracy
for their partisan political agenda. First it happened in
Ohio, where the Senate Republican leader threw a senator off
a committee to ensure the body would vote to end bargaining
rights. Now it's Wisconsin.
Act now: Tell your state or local lawmakers: Not in my
backyard! We won't allow attacks on collective bargaining to
This morning, tens of thousands of workers are gathering at
the Statehouse in Madison. Their fight is only beginning.
They're already getting organized, working tirelessly to
recall the politicians who did this and win back the
collective bargaining rights that were taken away in the
dead of night.
It's time for us all to follow their example in our own
states. We need to give it our all and show that like the
Wisconsonites who have inspired us all, we don't give up.
Start today: Stand with those at the Wisconsin state capitol
by e-mailing your state or local legislators now.
We've never seen the incredible solidarity that we're seeing
right now, and I have never been more proud of this movement
than I am today.
Last night's travesty in Wisconsin will not stand. Today's a
new day - and we're even stronger and more committed. It's
time for action and we are ready.
Richard L. Trumka
P.S. It's time for politicians to pay attention to the
people they represent. Workers in Wisconsin and in Ohio and
across America have had enough. If these attacks continue in
statehouses across America, we will be even stronger and
bigger, with more of the public - ordinary Americans who are
being attacked - joining us to balance out-of-control
Tell your state or local lawmakers to keep attacks on
collective bargaining out of your backyard - and that
politicians who ignore the will of the people will pay the
price at the ballot box.
Teachers, firefighters, cops target M&I with boycott
By Patrick Marley
All Politics Blog
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 10, 2011 2:54 p.m.
Madison -- Teachers, firefighters and police officers said
they would begin a boycott of M&I Bank if the bank does not
begin publicly opposing Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to
curtail collective bargaining for public workers.
Unions representing those groups said they would start other
boycotts of businesses that backed Walker in his campaign.
The letter to M&I President Tom Ellis said the boycott would
begin March 17 if the bank hasn't opposed Walker's efforts
"In the event that you cannot support this effort to save
collective bargaining, please be advised that the
undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the goods and
services provided by your company," the letter says.
"However, if you join us, we will do everything in our power
to publicly celebrate your partnership in the fight to
preserve the right of public employees to be heard at the
The letter was sent by the heads of the Wisconsin
Professional Police Association, the Professional Fire
Fighters of Wisconsin, the International Association of Fire
Fighters Local 311, Madison Teachers Inc., Green Bay
Education Association, Dane County Deputy Sheriffs
Association and the Madison Professional Police Officers
The Professional Police Association represents dozens of
municipal and county law enforcement agencies throughout the
Sara Schmitz, a spokeswoman for the bank, did not have an
immediate comment on the letter.
Earlier this week, the bank, reacting to showing up on a
Facebook-sponsored list of boycott targets around the state,
said that "Marshall & Ilsley Corporation and M&I Bank have
not made contributions to any political campaign in
Wisconsin. By law, corporations and businesses are not
permitted to make direct contributions to political
"Individual employees may choose, at their own discretion
and based on their political beliefs, to make contributions
to political campaigns. Donors are typically required to
identify their employer. Each campaign -- Scott Walker and
Tom Barrett -- received voluntary contributions from
individual M&I employees."
Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.
Submit via email: [log in to unmask]
Submit via the Web: http://portside.org/submittous3
Frequently asked questions: http://portside.org/faq
Search Portside archives: http://portside.org/archive
Contribute to Portside: https://portside.org/donate