Events in Wisconsin took a nasty turn March 9 when that state’s senate passed a bill stripping public employees of many collective bargaining rights. This was reportedly accomplished in a brief, surprise meeting which removed budgetary items from Governor Scott Walker’s “budget repair” bill, leaving only the collective bargaining restrictions. (Wisconsin law requires a quorum vote on any budgetary proposals. Fourteen Democrats took a principled stand and left the state to deny the Republican majority that quorum.)
[Update: The Wisconsin house passed the bill around 4:45 p.m. EST on March 10.]
Speaking from Illinois, one of the 14 Democrats, Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller said: "In thirty minutes, 18 State Senators undid fifty years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten. Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people.”
“Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers met in the dark of night, in a near-empty Capitol, and stretched their authority to the breaking point in an attempt to ram through legislation that the public does not support and that will harm thousands of the American working class,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Its legality is dubious. Its intent is mean spirited. It is perhaps the most grievous example of how democratic decision making should not take place. The Governor and his legislative minions should be ashamed of what they’ve done.”
Mary Bell, president of our sister association, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said: “I know this isn’t over. We are outraged, hurt and betrayed – but he will not break us.”
And we will not let our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin and other states under siege down.
You can show your support by signing up as a volunteer at NEA’s Education Votes site: http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/. Stay tuned to massteacher.org and on Facebook (http://facebook.com/massteacher) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/massteacher) to learn what further actions and activities are planned.
March 10 State House Rally for Wisconsin Worker's Rights by United Minority Neighborhoods
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