RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Some call it labor's swan song, others call it labor's wake-up call. Right now it's a grassfire spreading across the upper Midwest, and RSN is staying on it.

The Wisconsin board that oversees elections gave the final approval to recall petitions targeting three GOP Senators, 05/11/11 (photo: AP)
The Wisconsin board that oversees elections gave the final approval to recall petitions targeting three GOP Senators, 05/11/11 (photo: AP)

Stand in Solidarity With the Workers of Wisconsin

Recall Walker? It's Up to Feingold

By Mary Bottari, PR Watch

12 August 11

For the first time in the state's history, Wisconsin recalled two sitting state senators simultaneously. While it was a difficult and historic achievement in two districts that voted for Scott Walker in 2010, it fell short of the three seats needed to flip the Senate from Republican to Democratic control and put the brakes on Governor Scott Walker's radical agenda.

While Walker's collective bargaining bill sparked the recalls, voters were also worried about the state budgetary moves which cut $800 million from local schools while giving out $200 million in tax breaks for big corporations. No jobs plan (other than tax breaks) has been proposed and, contrary to spin from the Governor, joblessness is growing in this state at twice the rate of the federal level.

Democratic Defense Will Take Priority

The recall task was enormous from the get-go. There have been only 20 legislative recalls in U.S. history. Recalling six Republicans simultaneously was an unprecedented effort. Democrats ambitiously attempted to recall a number of senators in solidly Republican districts, including one district that has been held by Republicans since Calvin Coolidge was President. The incredibly uphill nature of this fight was not well understood by many enthusiastic activists.

The Democrats make the point that "barely scraping by" on their own turf is a sign of weakness for the GOP, and they are right. Senate Republican leader Scott Fitzgerald actually predicted that Republicans would gain not lose seats. The two new Democratic senators may combine with the vote of Senator Dale Shultz -- the only Republican who voted against Walkers collective bargaining bill -- to check some of Fitzgerald's more extreme proposals.

But these gains may be short lived. On the day of the recall election, Walker signed one of the most gerrymandered redistricting maps ever conceived. Although the map will land in court and may be tweaked, it is clear the 2012 elections will be a battle royale for current Democrats just to hold onto their seats.

All Eyes on Feingold READ MORE


High Teen Unemployment Molding 'Lost Generation'

By Hansi Lo Wang

10 August 11

The Labor Department's latest unemployment report offered a small sign of hope, with the nation's jobless rate dipping to 9.1 percent in July. But the new numbers also showed that teen unemployment is still on the rise, now at 25 percent.

Across the country, 16- to 19-year-olds are facing the end of the third summer in a row of unemployment rates above 20 percent. Economists warn that if the trend continues, a generation of young people could face a bleak future in the workforce. READ MORE


Debt Deal Could Hurt The Wisconsin Recalls

By One Wisconsin NowEvan McMorris-Santoro, TPMDC

03 August 11

Even as Democrats in Washington struggle with what many progressives see as one of the biggest losses their side has suffered in years, liberals in the Midwest are preparing to hand the left one of the biggest wins it has had in ages. But the perceived progressive failure in DC over the debt ceiling deal could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the wild and crazy Wisconsin recalls, leading to the kind of political domino effect left-leaning critics of the debt deal fear most. READ MORE


Walker Surrenders Wisconsin to Wall Street

By One Wisconsin Now

25 June 11

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross released the following statements regarding Gov. Scott Walker's planned signing of the 2011 - 13 Wisconsin state budget on Sunday. Walker's budget includes tax breaks for corporations and the rich that will cost the state of Wisconsin taxpayers $2.3 billion over the next decade. At the same time, they are raising taxes on the working poor by $70 million, dismantling public education by $1.6 billion and slashing the University of Wisconsin by $250 million. READ MORE


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to Cut Medicaid Without Public Hearings

By Igor Volsky, ThinkProgress

25 June 11

Republicans argue that states are the "laboratories of democracy" that should be charged with developing new, innovative ways for delivering quality health care more efficiently. But that point is far harder to make in the face of Gov. Scott Walker's (R-WI) effort to shut the public out of a debate about Medicaid cuts and shield legislators from having to weigh in on cutting benefits and services for the neediest Americans:

The new state budget bill grants broader power to Gov. Scott Walker's administration to remake BadgerCare Plus and other state health programs with little legislative oversight, a situation that worries advocates for the roughly 1 million people covered by those programs. READ MORE


New Jersey Lawmakers Cut Benefits for Public Workers

By Richard Perez-Pena, The New York Times

17 June 11

New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday approved a broad rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees, the deepest cut in state and local costs in memory, in a major victory for Gov. Chris Christie and a once-unthinkable setback for the state's powerful public employee unions.

The Assembly passed the bill 46 to 32, as Republicans and a few Democrats defied raucous protests by thousands of people whose chants, vowing electoral revenge, shook the State House. Leaders in the State Senate said their chamber, which had already passed a slightly different version of the bill, would approve the Assembly version on Monday. Mr. Christie, a Republican, was expected to sign the measure into law quickly.

In a statement released after the vote, Mr. Christie said, "We are putting the people first and daring to touch the third rail of politics in order to bring reform to an unsustainable system." READ MORE


Wisconsin, GOP's Own Privatized Idaho?

By Roger Bybee, In These Times

17 June 11

To borrow a phrase from an old B-52’s song, Wisconsin’s out-of-touch Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his legislative allies hope to be living in their own privatized Idaho (or perhaps Mississippi).

By 3 a.m. yesterday morning, the Republicans had rammed through the State Assembly a budget plan that is aimed at radically re-configuring Wisconsin as a Southern-style state where corporate CEO "job creators" are enthroned and enriched with new tax breaks, workers are reduced to near-sharecropper status, and public services like education and health suffer massive cuts and privatization.

Late Tuesday, the Republicans tasted an early victory when Walker’s draconian law severely restricting public-employee union rights was upheld on a 4-3 vote reflecting the Supreme Court’s conservative majority. READ MORE


Senate Sends Budget to Walker

By Mary Spicuzza and Clay Barbour, Wisconsin State Journal

17 June 11

Gov. Scott Walker's aggressively austere budget is one step from becoming law, but state officials say its effects are already being felt across Wisconsin.

The state Senate on Thursday night passed the $66 billion plan, which uses a combination of budget cuts and corporate tax breaks in an attempt to close an estimated $3 billion budget hole while trying to spur the economy and promote business growth.

The measure passed at about 10 p.m. on Thursday on a 19-14 party line vote, and Walker said he will sign it before June 30. READ MORE


Labor Groups File Suit to Block Parts of Collective Bargaining Law

By Sandy Cullen, Wisconsin State Journal

16 June 11

One day after the state Supreme Court cleared the way for Gov. Scott Walker's controversial bill limiting collective bargaining to become law, several labor organizations filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in an effort to prevent some of its provisions from taking effect in federal court.

The groups are challenging the constitutionality of the bill they say would destroy collective bargaining rights for all but a select group of public sector workers deemed "public safety" employees, including certain firefighters and law enforcement officers.

"Scott Walker has created two classes of public sector workers, and that is unconstitutional," Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt said in a statement. "When a legislature discriminates among classes of workers, especially when doing so has more to do with political payback than with any legitimate reasoning, the law has been violated." READ MORE


FOCUS: Robert Reich | The Republican War on Workers' Rights

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

15 June 11

The battle has resumed in Wisconsin. The state supreme court has allowed Governor Scott Walker to strip bargaining rights from state workers.

Meanwhile, governors and legislators in New Hampshire and Missouri are attacking private unions, seeking to make the states so-called "open shop" where workers can get all the benefits of being union members without paying union dues. Needless to say this ploy undermines the capacity of unions to do much of anything. Other Republican governors and legislatures are following suit.

Republicans in Congress are taking aim at the National Labor Relations Board, which issued a relatively minor proposed rule change allowing workers to vote on whether to unionize soon after a union has been proposed, rather than allowing employers to delay the vote for years. Many employers have used the delaying tactics to retaliate against workers who try to organize, and intimidate others into rejecting a union. READ MORE


Wisconsin High Court Sides With Walker on Anti-Union Law

By Ed Treleven, Wisconsin State Journal

15 June 11

A Dane County judge overstepped her authority when she voided Gov. Scott Walker's measure limiting public sector collective bargaining, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a fractious 4-3 decision.

In a nine-page decision - followed by about 60 pages of concurring and dissenting opinions - the court's conservative majority said Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi "usurped the legislative power which the Wisconsin constitution grants exclusively to the Legislature" when she voided the law.

Sumi ruled that a legislative conference committee violated the state's open meetings law when it hastily met in March to amend the bill, allowing the Republican-controlled Senate to get around a boycott by Senate Democrats. READ MORE


National Days of Action: June 25th - July 2nd!

By US Uncut

15 June 11

No action scheduled for where you are? Then be bold and organize one yourself!


Walkerville Tent City Grows in Madison as Budget Protests Continue

By Jay Kernis, In the Arena Blog/CNN

11 June 11

Four months after tens of thousands descended on the Wisconsin state capitol, progressives have a new home in what they're calling Walkerville. The Madison tent city is named in honor - or, more accurately, in defiance - of Gov. Scott Walker, who became an icon for conservatives and lightning rod for liberals after he pushed through a controversial new collective bargaining law earlier this year.

David Boetcher, one of Walkerville's coordinators, said the aim is to recapture the spirit of Hoovervilles, the shanty towns that popped up and were named to tweak President Herbert Hoover's perceived inaction in the Great Depression's early years. Since Saturday night's kick - off, about 80 tents have sprung up in and around State Street in Madison, with a handful of people sticking it out throughout, but mostly fresh rounds of activists rotating through on a daily basis.

The budget is expected to be debated by the full Legislature soon, and the tent city occupants expect their numbers to swell into the thousands this weekend. READ MORE


Wisconsin GOP to Run Fake Democrats in Recall Elections

By Daniel Bice, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

07 June 11

The season of dirty political tricks is now officially under way.

In letters obtained by No Quarter, local Republican Party officials are encouraging their GOP colleagues to collect enough signatures to get a fake Democratic candidate on the ballot in each of two upcoming recall elections.

The spoiler Democrats, who are identified by name in the letters, would run in the Democratic primaries for the seats now held by Republican Sens. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olsen of Ripon. READ MORE


Teachers Union Fights Massive Layoffs in Philadelphia

By Ben Simmoneau, CBS Philly

07 June 11

A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge Monday granted a temporary restraining order against the School District of Philadelphia, putting a halt for now the school district's plan to lay off 1,500 teachers.

Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman confirmed on Monday that the district was sending out layoff notices to 3,024 employees, including the teachers. She said teachers at the district's worst - performing schools (dubbed "promise academies" by the district) would not be subject to the layoffs because she wanted to minimize disruptions at those failing schools.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers went to court on Monday afternoon, asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the school district from moving forward with the layoffs, which the union says must done according to seniority - including "promise academy" teachers - according to its collective bargaining agreement. READ MORE


Wis. Lawmakers Target Police, Firefighter Benefits

By Scott Bauer, Associated Press

03 June 11

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin's Republican lawmakers re-opened the fight over collective bargaining rights Friday, proposing new police and firefighters pay more for their health insurance and pension benefits.

The change, approved by the Republican-controlled budget committee on an 11-4 party line vote, would force some police and firefighters to make the same contributions toward their benefits as other public workers under a bill pushed by Gov. Scott Walker and passed by the Legislature in March.

Police and firefighters were exempt from that bill, which is now tied up in the courts. READ MORE


Wis. GOP Seeking Democratic Spoiler Candidate in Recall Election

By Chris Hubbuch, LaCrosse Tribune

01 June 11

La Crosse County Republicans discussed running a spoiler candidate against Democrat Jennifer Shilling in an effort to delay the recall election of Sen. Dan Kapanke, according to a secret recording of the party's general membership meeting last week.

On the recording obtained by the Tribune, party vice chairman Julian Bradley says he just spoke with Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state GOP, and "we are actively keeping our ears to the ground and if anybody knows anybody for a candidate that would be interested on the Democratic side in running in the primary against Jennifer Shilling.... So if anybody knows any Democrats who would be interested, please let us know."

Kapanke, a second-term Republican, is expected to face a recall election July 12, unless more than one challenger comes forward. Shilling, a five-term state representative from La Crosse, is the only candidate to declare her intention to run.

Should a primary be necessary, the general election would be pushed back, according to scenarios proposed by the Government Accountability Board. READ MORE


Panel OKs Recall Elections Against 3 More Republicans

By Patrick Marley, Emma Roller, Journal Sentinel

01 June 11

Madison - State election officials on Tuesday approved recall elections against three Republican senators but put off decisions on certifying recall petitions against three Democrats. That decision by the Government Accountability Board drew cries of partisanship from Republicans and set up the possibility that two sets of recall elections would be held a week apart, rather than all on the same day. READ MORE


GOP Would Cut Health Insurance for 1.7 Million Kids

By Sen. Harry Reid, Reader Supported News

01 June 11

National Tax Cheat Day of Action - June 4

No action scheduled for where you are? Then be bold and organize one yourself! READ MORE


Walker Revising "Giveaway" Bill to Insurance Companies Amid Bipartisan Scorn

By Kathleen Gallagher and Mark Johnson, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

30 May 11

Having grown up in a family that could not afford health care, I know how difficult it can be to go to a doctor when you need one.

That's one of the reasons I worked on health insurance reform. No person in the United States should go without care when they need it.

I remember an afternoon in October 1951 when my 10-year-old brother Larry fell off his bike and broke his leg. There was no money for a doctor. His leg was never set, and it eventually healed crooked. READ MORE


US Uncut: June 4 - Sept 5

By US Uncut

01 June 11

National Tax Cheat Day of Action - June 4

No action scheduled for where you are? Then be bold and organize one yourself! READ MORE


Walker Revising "Giveaway" Bill to Insurance Companies Amid Bipartisan Scorn

By Kathleen Gallagher and Mark Johnson, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

30 May 11

Gov. Scott Walker is planning substantial changes to a bill derided by some lawmakers as a "dubious giveaway" and "crony capitalism" benefiting insurance companies and other special interests, a Walker spokesman said. And a Department of Revenue estimate says that the $400 million bill, intended to jump-start job creation, would cost the state up to $590 million over 17 years. The final cost could be higher because the state would have to borrow part of the initial sum.

The portion of the bill that has drawn intense bipartisan criticism is the Jobs Now Fund, which would provide $200 million in state tax breaks to insurance companies in exchange for $250 million of their own capital. Out-of-state financial management firms known as certified capital companies, or CAPCOs, would use the money from the insurance companies to invest in or lend to Wisconsin businesses.

At the end of the fund's life, the capital companies would be allowed to keep 75% to 80% of the profits. And the companies would not have to reimburse the state for the tax credits. READ MORE


Wis. DOJ Asks Court to Lift Ban on Anti-Union Law

By Todd Richmond, Associated Press

28 May 11

State attorneys asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday to immediately vacate a Madison judge's decision striking down Republican Gov. Scott Walker's contentious collective bargaining law.

Judge Maryann Sumi invalidated the law on Thursday after finding Republican legislators violated Wisconsin's open records law during the run-up to passage in March. The decision came in a lawsuit Democratic Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed challenging the law.

The state Justice Department is representing the Republicans. The agency's attorneys asked the state Supreme Court to take the case and the court set oral arguments on whether it should make a move for June 6. Deputy Attorney General Kevin St. John said in a letter to the justices late Friday they need to act now. READ MORE


Judge Voids Wisconsin Anti-Union Bill

By Scott Bauer and Todd Richmond, Associated Press

26 May 11

Wisconsin's law taking away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most public workers was struck down Thursday by a circuit court judge but the ruling will not be the final say in the union fight that brought tens of thousands of protesters to the Capitol earlier this year.

The state Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for June 6 to decide whether it will take the case. Republicans who control the Legislature also could pass the law a second time to avoid the open meeting violations that led to the judge's voiding the law Thursday. READ MORE


WI School Districts Asked to Name Teachers Who Protested

By Matthew DeFour, Wisconsin State Journal

26 May 11

School districts across the state are being asked to release the names of teachers who called in sick during protests in February at the Capitol, a move that led to closures for a day or more in many districts.

It's unclear how many of the state's 424 districts received requests, but several conservative groups have made public records requests for teacher names. Most districts have released them.

But the Madison School District denied several requests, saying the release could risk the safety of teachers and students, and disrupt morale and the learning environment in schools. READ MORE


US Uncut Actions: May 28 - Sept 5

By US Uncut

25 May 11

No action scheduled for where you are? Then be bold and organize one yourself! READ MORE


Recall Election Date Set for Three
Wisconsin Republicans

By Scott Bauer, Associated Press

24 May 11

The Wisconsin board that oversees elections gave the final approval to three recall petitions targeting three GOP senators, making it all but certain that those senators will face recall elections this summer.

The Government Accountability Board rejected the challenges made to recall petitions targeting Republican Sens. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse, Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olsen of Ripon. They also voted to file paperwork by June 3 that will allow elections to be called for July 12.

Eric McLeod, the attorney for the senators, had argued that there was no proof that the people who filed the initial paperwork for the recall efforts were actually members of the recall committees that registered with the state. The GAB requires those who wish to file a recall petition to file campaign finance registration forms with the board and file a statement of intent to circulate the petitions. READ MORE


Ohio Gov. Kasich: Extra Money
Not for Local Governments

By Aaron Marshall, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

24 May 11

The bucks stop here. That was the message from Gov. John Kasich Monday as he responded to the pleas of dozens of local government types, including Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, for more money in the state budget to help stave off deep service cuts.

"There will be a few more dollars I'm sure in the budget by the time this is all done, but not a lot," the Republican governor told reporters after a press event at an ice cream shop in Dublin, a Columbus suburb. "That's the end of it. Embrace the tools. Support the budget. Help us work together here to control your costs."

Ohio's tax revenues are up enough over projections that it's likely that lawmakers will have $1 billion or more left to spend just as budget deliberations are wrapping up in June. Pressed on where he thinks any extra money should be used in the budget, Kasich mentioned restoring some funds to Ohio's drained rainy day savings fund and tax cuts. "... ultimately I've always been a tax cut advocate," Kasich said. READ MORE


Michigan Unions Urge Cuts in
State Managers, Contractors

By Associated Press

24 May 11

Labor unions representing some state employees called Monday for state government to reduce management staffing levels and find savings from contractors.

Unions including the United Auto Workers and the Service Employees International Union released a report calling for the changes as lawmakers prepare to take key votes related to the state budget year that begins in October.

Unions say Michigan's state government work force is more top-heavy with supervisors and managers than some other states. They said changing the staff-to-manager ratio - which the report said is now roughly 6 to 1 in the state classified work force - would help the state focus on front-line services. READ MORE


Firefighters' Union Boss Acts Like an Insider

By Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

23 May 11

If you want to know what's happening at the Statehouse, you may want to skip the talk-radio guys and the bloggers - and go straight to David Seager, head of the Milwaukee firefighters union. Because nobody seems to know more about the budget-repair bill and the Milwaukee residency legislation than Seager does.

In a recent internal note to his members, Seager - who starred in an often-played TV ad for Gov. Scott Walker's campaign - said the governor, his chief of staff, Keith Gilkes, and GOP legislative leaders have assured him that a new alternative to the budget-repair bill is "dead on arrival." Unlike Walker's measure, the new bill - introduced by Rep. Robert Ziegelbauer, an independent from Manitowoc - would not exempt local police and firefighters from key restrictions on collective bargaining.

Mayor Tom Barrett's chief of staff, Patrick Curley, said it showed Seager cutting "backdoor deals" with the Walker administration and Republican legislative leaders in exchange for his union's political support last fall. "He's bragging that he's going to cash in on these political favors at the expense of Milwaukee residents and taxpayers," said Curley, whose boss is vigorously fighting the residency bill. READ MORE


AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at the
National Press Club - Full Speech


Abandon Candidates Who Abandon Labor

Richard L. Trumka, Reader Supported News

21 May 11

Friends, how can we make sense of the spectacle that's been unfolding across the American political landscape? Politicians in Wisconsin, Ohio and a dozen other states are trying to take away workers' right to organize and bargain for a better life.

But that's not all. In state after state, politicians are attacking voting rights by imposing ID requirements, shortening early voting periods, blocking young people from voting because they're too "liberal" and even levying criminal penalties and fines for breaking arbitrary rules in the voter registration process. Budget proposals unveiled in Washington and state capitals across our country this year revealed a despicable canvas of cruelty.

It doesn't matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside - the outcome is the same either way. If leaders aren't blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families' interests, working people will not support them. This is where our focus will be - now, in 2012 and beyond. READ MORE


Poll: Ohio Voters Say New Collective Bargaining Law Should Be Repealed

By Mark Naymik, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

20 May 11

A majority of Ohio voters say the state's new collective bargaining law, known as Senate Bill 5, should be dumped, a new survey shows.

Fifty-four percent of registered voters polled by Quinnipiac University said they favor repealing the law, which restricts collective bargaining for public employees, while 36 percent said the law should stand. Opponents of the law have launched an effort to place it before voters in November and are gathering voter signatures, the first step in such a campaign.

Republican Gov. John Kasich has promoted the bill - which was backed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly - as a critical tool that will allow state and local governments to save money, especially in a time of budget crisis."Although it is a long way until November when opponents of SB 5 hope to ask voters to overturn it, at this point there is strong support for repealing Gov. Kasich's signature plan," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. READ MORE


Cuyahoga County Exec. Asks for Help With Gov's Budget Damage

By Aaron Marshall, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

20 May 11

With tax revenues rolling in ahead of pace for fiscal 2011, making a $1 billion surplus look likely come July, Northeast Ohio local government leaders pitched state lawmakers Thursday on the need to send more dollars back home.

Without help in dampening the effects of the cuts to local governments in the state budget, Fitzgerald said services for low-income residents in Cuyahoga County such as health clinics, child care and food assistance would undoubtedly suffer. He said the cuts would cost Cuyahoga County $40 million annually once the full impact was felt in 2013.

Dramatic cuts to the state's Local Government Fund totaling $555 million are in the budget drawn up by Gov. John Kasich and approved by House Republicans. The budget also lowers the boom on local governments and schools by taking away about $1.3 billion worth of payments from changes made years ago to various business taxes. READ MORE


Doctor: Walker Budget Cuts Will
Increase Cancer Deaths

By Judith Davidoff, The Capital Times

19 May 11

The medical director of the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene says women will likely die of cervical cancer if Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal eliminating $266,400 for cervical cancer screening prevails.

"I see at least 1-2 high-grade lesions every day during cytologic evaluations," Dr. Daniel Kurtycz says in prepared remarks to be given Wednesday to the Joint Finance Committee, which will consider Walker's budget request. "Without follow-up, there is no doubt that some of these lesions will become invasive. Because cervical cancer takes at least two years to run its course, sometime after 2015, we will have women dying of cervical cancer as a predictable consequence of the funding reduction for testing in this budget."

The $266,400 cut is part of Walker's elimination of $3.8 million in state funding for family planning services. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the funding for cervical cancer screenings covers laboratory tests for uninsured patients receiving care at community-based clinics. READ MORE


US Uncut Actions: May 18 - Sept 5

By US Uncut

18 May 11

No action scheduled for where you are? Then be bold and organize one yourself! READ MORE


Boeing vs. NLRB

By James Sanderson, USW Local 7898 President

15 May 11

The National Labor Relations Board, (NLRB) complaint against Boeing has caused quite a stir and SPIN here in South Carolina. According to the NLRB charge, Boeing chose to set up its second 787 production line in North Charleston, S.C., in retaliation against the Machinists' Union because of repeated strikes against the company and the possibility the union could go on strike again.

Since the NLRB filed the complaint against Boeing, The South Carolina print media has editorialized against the NLRB action. The media is spinning out of control. It is very obvious that the media isn't interested in presenting the facts or laws that pertain to this specific incident. Instead of printing facts the media is reporting bold face lies from our elected leaders. READ MORE


Locked-Out Steelworkers Bring Fight to Honeywell

By Danya Abt, GRITtv

14 May 11

We first met the steelworkers from Metropolis, Illinois in Madison, Wisconsin early this spring, where workers from all over the country gathered to defend the right to collectively bargain. Until their lockout in June of last summer, these workers ran Honeywell's uranium conversion plant, the only one of its kind in the country, and they depended on their collectively bargaining rights to defend the health and safety of themselves and their small community.

A few weeks back, United Steelworkers Local 7-669 came to Morris New Jersey to exercise another right - their rights as shareholders of the very company that has locked them out. Our own Danya Abt traveled there to get the story with cinematographer Zac Halberd. WATCH HERE


Child Labor: Back to the 19th Century?

By Dick Meister

14 May 11

But now come business trade associations, employer groups, reactionary Republican politicians and Tea Party activists to urge severe weakening of the state laws, and, ultimately, of the federal law. They agree with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that the child labor laws are unconstitutional for a variety of obscure legal reasons. They've begun their legal attacks on state laws with the laws in Maine and Missouri.

In Maine, which was among the first states to enact child labor laws, they've been pushing a bill that would allow employers to pay anyone under 20 a six-month "training wage" that would be more than $2 an hour below the minimum wage. They'd also eliminate rules setting a maximum number of hours kids 16 and older can work during school days and allow those under 16 to work up to four hours on school days and up to 11 p.m.

The Missouri bill is even worse. It would lift provisions in the current state law that bar children under 14 from employment, They'd be allowed to work all hours of the day and no longer need work permits from their schools. What's more, businesses that employ children would no longer be subject to inspections by the federal agency that enforces the child labor laws. READ MORE


Wisconsin Assembly Passes GOP-Backed Voter ID Bill

By Reporting by Jeff Mayers, Reuters

12 May 11

The Wisconsin state Assembly passed a Republican-backed bill on Wednesday that will stiffen requirements for voter identification at polling places and was decried by Democrats as targeting their constituents. The Assembly passed the bill by a vote of 60-35 and sent it on to the Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans. Democrats introduced more than 50 amendments, all of which failed.

The measure was expected to further split the partisan divisions in the state after the recent bruising battle over newly elected Republican governor Scott Walker's successful campaign to weaken public sector union bargaining rights.

Democrats said the new measure, which will require voters to show an approved photo ID before receiving their ballot, was aimed at discouraging many of their constituents, especially college students, rather than addressing vote fraud, which they said was not a serious problem in the state. READ MORE


Michigan Town Bristles Under Governor-Appointed Manager

By Chris McCarus, NPR

11 May 11

Michigan is increasingly using what some consider a drastic method for dealing with cash-strapped cities. New laws give emergency financial managers the authority to fire local government officials.

Residents of Benton Harbor, Mich., know this option well. A year ago, former Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) sent emergency financial manager Joe Harris to Benton Harbor last year.

Now the town of 10,000 - which sits on the other side of Lake Michigan from Chicago - has just 6 firefighters and about 20 police officers. READ MORE


Ohio Budget Is Full of Political 'Extras'

By Thomas Suddes, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

09 May 11

Everyone has a "junk drawer" in the kitchen - a place to stow scissors and other odds and ends that you just don't know what else to do with.

The Ohio House of Representatives has a junk drawer, too - House Bill 153. You think that's Ohio's next budget. But tucked between the 4,000-page budget's dollar amounts and Revised Code bafflegab is a slew of ideas that, on their own, might never pass.

And make no mistake, even HB 153's purported austerity is plenty sweet for the army of spenders that swarms the Statehouse like an 11th Plague of Egypt. READ MORE


Wisconsin Republicans Rush Legislative Agenda Before Recall Elections

By Scott Bauer, Associated Press

08 May 11

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP leaders have launched a push to ram several years' worth of conservative agenda items through the Legislature this spring before recall elections threaten to end the party's control of state government.

Republicans, in a rapid sequence of votes over the next eight weeks, plan to legalize concealed weapons, deregulate the telephone industry, require voters to show photo identification at the polls, expand school vouchers and undo an early release for prisoners.

Lawmakers may also act again on Walker's controversial plan stripping public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights. An earlier version, which led to massive protest demonstrations at the Capitol, has been left in limbo by legal challenges. READ MORE


Walker Ally's Actions Show Wisconsin Isn't Broke

By The Capital Times | Editorial

07 May 11

Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, is one of Gov. Scott Walker's closest legislative allies.

A prime mover of the budget repair bill that claims Wisconsin must break unions in order to balance budgets, Suder says that Wisconsin faces tough fiscal challenges. But not too tough for him to support hundreds of millions in additional spending on tax breaks for corporations.

And now, Suder wants to go on an even bigger spending spree with a plan to end the state's early release program. The program, which was approved as part of then Gov. Jim Doyle's 2009 two-year-budget, allows low-risk criminals to leave prison and be watched under probation programs. The Doyle approach, modeled on successful programs in other states, was set to save Wisconsin tens of millions of dollars. READ MORE


Michigan House Approves Massive Education Funding Cut

By Peter Luje, MI Live

07 May 11

House Republicans approved a $13.8 billion education budget that slices a minimum of $430 per student in K-12 districts, reduces state aid to universities and community colleges by 15 percent.

The House, 57-53, with all Democrats opposed, approved the education budget that has been roundly criticized by school groups since Gov. Rick Snyder proposed it back in February.

The budget is $908 million less than the current year despite estimates the school aid fund, established in the Proposal A school finance changes, has a surplus of about $650 million. READ MORE


Ohio House Slashes Education, Elderly Services Despite Budget Surplus

By Aaron Marshall, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

07 May 11

As the Ohio House approved a budget Thursday that makes gouging cuts to schools, local governments and other programs, good news arrived that may ease some of the pain.

It came in the form of robust tax revenues for April that put Ohio on pace to have nearly $1 billion more than expected when fiscal 2011 wraps up June 30. As the budget deliberations move to the Senate, the extra money could soften the punishment meted out by the two-year spending plan.

The 59-to-40 vote means cuts of up to 20 percent in basic aid for Ohio school districts, a raid on the Local Government Fund, a chopping of overall higher-education funding and $470 million in nursing home cuts. READ MORE


The International Assault on Labor

By Noam Chomsky, The New Significance

04 May 11

In most of the world, May Day is an international workers’ holiday, bound up with the bitter 19th-century struggle of American workers for an eight-hour day. The May Day just past leads to somber reflection.

A decade ago, a useful word was coined in honor of May Day by radical Italian labor activists: “precarity.” It referred at first to the increasingly precarious existence of working people “at the margins”—women, youth, migrants. Then it expanded to apply to the growing “precariat” of the core labor force, the “precarious proletariat” suffering from the programs of deunionization, flexibilization and deregulation that are part of the assault on labor throughout the world.

By that time, even in Europe there was mounting concern about what labor historian Ronaldo Munck, citing Ulrich Beck, calls the “Brazilianization of the West—the spread of temporary and insecure employment, discontinuity and loose informality into Western societies that have hitherto been the bastions of full employment.” READ MORE


US Uncut Actions: May 4 - Sept. 5

By US Uncut

04 May 11

No action scheduled for where you are? Then be bold and organize one yourself! READ MORE


Wisconsin Counties Work to Meet Recount Deadline


02 May 11

As of noon Sunday, the Government Accountability Board says only about one third of the state's reporting units have completed their recount of the Wisconsin Supreme Court election. The recount information is due to the state in just eight days.

Before the process began Wednesday, Justice David Prosser held a more than 7,000 vote lead over challenger Joanne Kloppenburg. In Brown County, the clerk's office was busy all weekend working on the recount, as others watched. READ MORE


Workers Demand Better Jobs, Pay on May Day

By Christopher Torchia and Selcan Hacaoglu, Associated Press

01 May 11

Activists flooded a central plaza in Turkey's largest city Sunday and marked international workers' day around the world with marches demanding more jobs, better working conditions and higher wages.

About 200,000 workers gathered in Istanbul's Taksim Square in the largest May Day rally there since 1977, when 34 people after shooting triggered a stampede. Turkish unions weren't allowed back until last year. In South Korea, police said 50,000 rallied in Seoul for better labor protections. They also urged the government to contain rising inflation, a growing concern across much of Asia, where food and oil prices have been spiking and threatening to push millions into poverty.

Thousands of workers also marched in Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines to vent their anger over the rising cost of living and growing disparities between the rich and poor. READ MORE


Effort to Recall Michigan Governor Clears First Hurdle

By David Bailey, Reuters

30 April 11

Michigan Citizens United would have to amass more than 800,000 signatures, or 25 percent of the votes cast in Republican Snyder's election in November, within a 90 day period to put the question to a vote at the next election.

Voters in Michigan can file a recall petition six months after Snyder's term began under Michigan law, unlike Wisconsin where petitioners must wait at least a year into new Republican Governor Scott Walker's term to start a recall bid. READ MORE


Fire Fighters Turn Off the Spigot

By Mary Bottari, PR Watch

28 April 11

Remember when the fight broke out in Wisconsin over the right to collectively bargain and President Obama and a phalanx of national democratic leaders spread out across the country fighting for the rights of American workers? Right, we don't remember that either.

As unions battled for their very existence, the thunderous silence from Washington, DC, did not go unnoticed by working families fighting for their livelihoods or by powerful political players. At least one organization has decided to hold a few of their former friends accountable.

The International Association of Fire Fighters, announced yesterday it would no longer be giving money to federal candidates. Rather, the 300,000-member union said it would put its energy and resources into the fight at the state level over collective bargaining. READ MORE


Mass. Democrats Passes Law Curbing Union Rghts

By Jordan Fabian, The Hill

28 April 11

The Democratic-controlled Massachusetts House on Wednesday passed a law that would curb some public-sector union rights, similar to GOP initiatives in other states.

The measure, which passed 111-42, would prevent police officers, teachers and other public employees from collectively bargaining over their health benefits, according to The Boston Globe. Supporters billed the measure as a way to save towns and municipalities millions of dollars. READ MORE


WI Senate at Stake in Recall Bids

By David Bailey, Reuters

27 April 11

Wisconsin has had four recall elections in its history, never more than one in any year, but eight state senators could be forced back to the polls in 2011 under petitions already filed with the state's Government Accountability Board.

The recall efforts are the latest phase in a heated battle between pro-union Democrats and newly elected Republican Governor Scott Walker over his efforts to roll back the powers of state public sector unions this year.

So far, challengers have filed petitions with thousands of signatures seeking to force recall elections on eight state senators: five Republicans and three Democrats. Democrats need to pick up three seats to take control of the state Senate and put up barriers to Walker's agenda. READ MORE


Tea Party vs. Affordable Health Care

By Frank Micciche, Politico

26 April 11

What does the tea party have against helping small businesses find affordable health insurance for their employees?

Tea party - linked groups have recently spiked legislation in three states that would have authorized federally funded planning to create health insurance exchanges. Activists successfully blocked the efforts of these GOP governors to explore market - based alternatives that would address the stubbornly high ranks of the uninsured in their states. In doing so, they blanketed Republican supporters of this exchange legislation with claims of complicity in the enforcement of "Obamacare." READ MORE


No, Half of All Workers Aren't Freeloaders

By Jonathan Chait, The New Republic

24 April 11

Now, conservatives think the main problem in American public policy is that this system takes too much from the rich. So they want to paint it as soaking the high earners and coddling workers at the bottom. Thus you will see the endlessly circulated right - wing talking point that nearly half of all Americans pay no income taxes. Here, for instance, are Veronique de Rugy and Jason Fichtner:

The top earning 1% of Americans (or 1.4 million returns) paid 38% of taxes while the Americans at the lower half of the income spectrum (or 70.0 million returns) paid 2.7% of total federal personal income taxes. READ MORE


WI Senate Recall Campaigns Move to Next Phase

By Tom Tolan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

24 April 11

With recall signatures filed against six Wisconsin state senators last week - making eight in all this month - those campaigns now shift in earnest to their next phase: vetting thousands of signatures, preparing objections to them and responding to objections.

That's the next battleground for the recall campaigns before the state Government Accountability Board decides whether to schedule recall elections for any of the eight. And while the soldiers on the first battlefield - gathering signatures in the Senate districts - were grass-roots volunteers and paid organizers and circulators, this round is directed by lawyers.

The first shots in this new battlefield already have been fired in the two campaigns that submitted their signatures earlier in April, the ones to recall Republicans Dan Kapanke of La Crosse and Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac. Lawyers for those two focused on what they say is a flaw in the way campaigns filed their registrations in March. It seems likely the lawyers will take the same tack to counter campaigns against the other Republican senators, because all those campaigns were launched in the same way. READ MORE


Save Democracy in Michigan

By David Green, In These Times

23 April 11

Though Wisconsin has received more media coverage for its new law banning collective bargaining for public unions, Michigan's new Emergency Manager law is more insidious and potentially destructive of public goods like education and corrections, and public services such as road repair and snow plowing.

The rationale behind the law, which was passed by the Republican-dominated state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder on March 16, is deficit reduction. It allows the governor to appoint an emergency manager for any municipality (city, township, county or school district) in a financial emergency as determined by the state treasurer.

The emergency manager may dismiss elected boards. He may abrogate any contract that the municipality has negotiated. He may issue bonds to pay the municipality's expenses for which the residents of the community are responsible - without a vote by the community or the community's elected representatives. READ MORE


Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Calls for Voter Recount

By Andrew Averill, The Badger Herald

21 April 11

Wisconsin Supreme Court challenger candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg formally called Wednesday for a statewide recount done by hand and also asked for another formal investigation of the discovered votes in Waukesha County.

“There are legitimate and widespread anomalies and legitimate questions about the conduct of this election, most visibly in Waukesha County, but also in counties around the state,” Kloppenburg told a gathering of supporters at the Werner Park Community Recreation Center on Madison’s north side.

Her decision to request a statewide recount came out of concerns that vote discrepancies reported in other counties meant problems occurred throughout the state, including issues discovered in the cities of Milwaukee and Racine, and Fond du Lac and Winnebago counties, Kloppenburg said.

She said she hoped a recount would shine some light on an election that seemed suspect to so many people. READ MORE


US Uncut Actions: Apr 21 - Sept 5

By US Uncut

21 April 11

No action scheduled for where you are? Then be bold and organize one yourself! READ MORE


WI Supreme Court Challenger Will Seek Statewide Recount

By Todd Richmond, Associated Press

20 April 11

Refusing to concede defeat, Wisconsin Supreme Court challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg asked election officials Wednesday for a statewide recount in her flagging upset bid against Justice David Prosser.

Final county tallies compiled last week showed Prosser held a 7,316-vote lead over the little-known state attorney. The margin is within one-half of 1 percent of the total votes cast, entitling Kloppenburg to a statewide recount at local governments' expense.

"Wisconsin residents must have full confidence that these election results are legitimate and that this election was fair," Kloppenburg said at a news conference. READ MORE


Sarah Palin: The Koch Brothers' Union Maid

By Mary Bottari, PR Watch

19 April 11

Tax Day was approaching and the righties were out to denigrate government workers and government spending. Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska who quit her job in 2009, headlined a rally in Madison, Wisconsin, bought and paid for by the front - group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), but billed as a "grassroots" Tea Party event.

The Koch-funded AFP set up the stage and programmed 13 buses into Madison, but only six were labeled "full" on their website on Saturday. AFP also likely paid the airfare and fees of the national speakers. Braving the sleet, snow and raucous counter - protesters, Palin earned her money. READ MORE


Scott Walker and the Koch Brothers

By James P. Hoffa, Reader Supported News

17 April 11

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will be among friends today when he testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Nearly half the Republican committee members receive funding from the notorious union-busters, Charles and David Koch. Three of the witnesses - including Walker - are supported by the Kochs. READ MORE


Wisconsin Investigates Vote Irregularities Going Back Five Years

By Mary Spicuzza, Wisconsin State Journal

15 April 11

The state's investigation into vote irregularities in Waukesha County will stretch back at least five years, the head of the Government Accountability Board said Thursday. Questions over vote totals in Waukesha have lingered over the past week after County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced she failed to report more than 14,000 votes from the city of Brookfield in initial vote totals.

The new total gave incumbent Supreme Court Justice David Prosser a lead of about 7,000 votes over challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg in the hotly contested state Supreme Court race. Official results in that race have not yet been announced.

Now questions have emerged over Nickolaus' published vote counts from as far back as the fall of 2006, when there were key statewide elections including races for governor and attorney general. READ MORE



Uncertain About Future Benefits,
Many Veteran Teachers Are Retiring Early

By Erin Richards and Amy Hetzner, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

15 April 11

"I am totally not ready," Scharrer-Erickson, a literacy coach at the Academy of Accelerated Learning, said this week. "I never thought about retiring until the (Gov.) Scott Walker situation, because this school is so special and I am working with the most incredibly caring teachers I have ever known."

At a time when the governor's plan to eliminate most collective bargaining for teachers and increase state employees' payments for health care and pension costs looms overhead, some school districts are seeing record numbers of senior teachers such as Scharrer-Erickson turn in their retirement paperwork.

Although their pensions are beyond the reach of lawmakers and local officials, many teachers fear that changes could mean they soon could lose early retirement benefits such as health insurance that helps support them until they are eligible for Medicare. READ MORE


Anti-Union Hearings, Kucinich Grills Walker

By Zaid Jilani, Think Progress

14 April 11

Scott Walker Admits Union-Busting Provision 'Doesn't Save Any' Money for the State of Wisconsin

Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform called Govs. Scott Walker (R-WI) and Peter Shumlin (D-VT) to testify in a hearing titled "State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead." Much of the hearing was spent probing Wisconsin's spate of anti-union restrictions it recently passed.

At one point, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) confronted Walker about his crackdown on public employee unions. The congressman referenced a provision Walker signed into law that would require union members to vote every year to continue their membership. Kucinich asked the governor how much money the state would save from the provision. Walker repeatedly dodged the question and eventually admitted that it actually wouldn't save anything at all. READ MORE


More Twists and Turns In Wisconsin

By Lisa Pease, Consortium News

12 April 11

I’m still mulling over the recent Wisconsin election in general and the actions of Waukesha County’s County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus in particular.

She was the one who forgot to record votes that would have made her former boss, Justice David Prosser, the winner in a hotly contested election. After my first report on this strange set of circumstances, data surfaced to show that the missing city’s data had been reported earlier by the city itself. The numbers Nickolaus reported were an exact match.

So it doesn’t look like anyone made up the numbers for the missing town’s results in Brookfield. And then there was the stamp of approval from Democratic Party member Ramona Kitzinger who said the numbers “jived” with what she had been shown. READ MORE


US Uncut Actions: April 14 - Sept. 5

13 April 11

No action scheduled for where you are? Then be bold and organize one yourself! READ MORE


Waukesha County Vote Panel Dem. "Shocked" at Not Being Told of Major Error

By Laurel Walker and Larry Sandler, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

12 April 11

The Democrat on the Waukesha County Board of Canvassers who was widely quoted as endorsing the county clerk's official ballot count that flipped the state Supreme Court winner last week said Monday that she was never told about more than 14,000 missing votes from the city of Brookfield until shortly before a Thursday news conference.

By then, the three-member board had finished its canvass, which had started midday Wednesday. The Waukesha County Democratic Party released a statement Monday ascribed to Ramona Kitzinger, 80, a member of the canvassing board since 2004.

In the statement, Kitzinger said that even during the canvass of Brookfield's votes during the day Thursday, no mention was made of the big mistake, something in retrospect she called "shocking and somewhat appalling." READ MORE


The GOP Is in Trouble in Wisconsin

By Steve Singiser, AlterNet

11 April 11

One has to imagine that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his Republican acolytes are breathing a sigh of relief after this week. On Wednesday, it looked to all the world as if his advocate-on-the-bench, state Supreme Court justice David Prosser, had been narrowly defeated in an enormous upset by JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Walker was already scrambling, with an absurd statement about how Madison voted one way, but the rest of the state voted the other way. It was a time of high crisis for the GOP, to be sure.

But then came the Waukesha miracle. A Republican county clerk, and a former employee of Prosser's, found the mother of all tabulation errors. READ MORE


Wisconsin Supreme Court Election Heads for Heated Ballot Review

By Robert Dougherty, Yahoo! Contributor Network

10 April 11

The Wisconsin Supreme Court election was always set to be under review. However, the election may become the biggest political lightning rod in Wisconsin yet, if that's even possible.

The Supreme Court results between Justice David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg seemed destined to go to a normal recount, with Kloppenburg as the stunning leader. But as per usual in this state, nothing is going to be normal in the next several weeks.

After Prosser gained a 6,700 - plus vote lead, when 14,000 - plus ballots were discovered from Waukesha County on Thursday, the floodgates reopened. READ MORE


Right-Wing Bullies Hold Nation Hostage

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

09 April 11

When I was a small boy I was bullied more than most, mainly because I was a foot shorter than than everyone else. They demanded the cupcake my mother had packed in my lunchbox, or, they said, they'd beat me up. After a close call in the boy's room, I paid up. Weeks later, they demanded half my sandwich as well. I gave in to that one, too. But I could see what was coming next. They'd demand everything else. Somewhere along the line I decided I'd have a take a stand. The fight wasn't pleasant. But the bullies stopped their bullying.

I hope the President decides he has to take a stand, and the sooner the better. READ MORE


US Uncut Actions: April 9 - Sept. 5

By US Uncut

07 April 11

No action scheduled for where you are? Then be bold and organize one yourself!
Next National Days of Action: Tax Weekend, April 15-18th! READ MORE


Kathy Nickolaus in Waukesha Forgot to Save? Really?

ColdFusion04, Daily Kos

07 April 11

It was with great interest that I watched the press conference of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. You see, my "day job" is in the field of information technology, and I was tuned in to her every word regarding her use of Microsoft Access to tabulate the county wide vote totals. So I decided to make a little voting database in Microsoft Access 2010 and 2007, to test her story.

Results after the jump... READ MORE


Fueled by Protests, Angry Wisconsin Voters
Show Up to Fight

By Monica Davey, The New York Times

07 April 11

Union supporters and Democrats unleashed their fury over Scott Walker, the Republican governor, and his efforts to diminish collective bargaining rights at the ballot box on Tuesday.

Angry voters managed a task some had said was impossible: they locked a veteran State Supreme Court justice, who is considered conservative, in a razor-thin race with an opponent who is much less well known. (The opponent declared victory on Wednesday.) And voters rejected a Republican lawmaker for Milwaukee County executive - yet another contest that had been transformed, at least by some infuriated voters, into a referendum over the state's new Republican leadership.

Democrats here trumpeted the outcome as the beginning of the end for Mr. Walker and the Republicans who swept into control of the state in November. "What the vote showed is that people really woke up to Walker's agenda," State Senator Chris Larson, a Democrat, said on Wednesday. "And I'd say they're only getting warmed up." READ MORE


Unions Win Big in Wisconsin Election

By Greg Sargent, The Washington Post

06 April 11

In the nationally-watched Wisconsin state Supreme Court race, liberal challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg has edged ahead of conservative sitting justice David Prosser by just over 200 votes.

We still don't know who is going to win, and we may not know for some time to come. But even if Kloppenburg loses, labor strategists argue, this will have constituted a victory for unions and Dems - proof of Scott Walker's continuing toxicity, and of the staying power of the grassroots energy he unleashed. They're right.

The emerging GOP spin on this race, according to Ben Smith, is that the razor-thin closeness of the contest constitutes vindication for Walker, and proof that the right can stand up to the labor goons....

UPDATE: With all precincts counted, Kloppenburg leads by 204 votes, and she has now declared victory. What remains to be seen is whether Prosser will demand a recount. READ MORE


Hopper Recall Committee Could File Signatures After Rallies on Thursday

Tom Tolan, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

06 April 11

Will organizers of the recall effort against state Sen. Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) be filing their signatures in Madison on Thursday? Looks like it.

One of the Facebook pages associated with the Recall Randy Hopper organization is announcing what it calls the "biggest Recall Randy Hopper events yet" in the campaign. The rallies - set for Oshkosh, Fond du Lac and Waupun on Thursday - are similar to the one staged in La Crosse last Friday before signatures to recall Sen. Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse) were filed in Madison.

The recall efforts were launched in the bitter fight over Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill. The deadline for the Hopper recall effort - and the other recalls of Republicans - to submit their signatures is May 2. READ MORE


The Peasants Need Pitchforks

By Robert Scheer, Truthdig

06 April 11

A "working class hero," John Lennon told us in his song of that title, "is something to be/ Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV/ And you think you’re so clever and classless and free/ But you’re still f***ing peasants as far as I can see."

The delusion of a classless America in which opportunity is equally distributed is the most effective deception perpetrated by the moneyed elite that controls all the key levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is a myth blown away by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz in the current issue of Vanity Fair. In an article titled "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%" Stiglitz states that the top thin layer of the superwealthy controls 40 percent of all wealth in what is now the most sharply class-divided of all developed nations: "Americans have been watching protests against repressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet, in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nations income - an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret." READ MORE


Workers' Rights Are Under Threat
Across the World

By Keith Ewing, Guardian UK

05 April 11

Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis on this day in 1968. He was there to support striking sanitation workers, fighting for the right to have their union recognised by their employer; fighting for the right to collective bargaining.

Today is also a day of international solidarity with the public service workers of Wisconsin, whose right to bargain collectively has been stripped away by legislation sponsored by state governor Scott Walker, a man who has led the great state of Wisconsin to pariah status.

But as we stand in solidarity with brothers and sisters in Wisconsin, we do so in the knowledge that theirs is not a struggle confined to a single US state. Nor - as the neoliberal strategy of Governor Walker stretches to other states - is it a uniquely US problem. It is a global problem, demanding a global response.  READ MORE


National Media Ignored Union Rallies

By Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America

05 April 11

Activists claimed to have hosted "more than 1,200 events - teach-ins, vigils, faith services and town halls" yesterday, but most national news media outlets ignored the story.

Union members and their progressive supporters staged rallies and events across the country on Monday to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis, where the civil rights leader was helping local union workers organize. READ MORE


They Only Have 400 Votes

By Michael Moore, Open Mike Blog

05 April 11

I want to thank you for turning out today to make your voices heard - and they ARE heard, even across ocean and land. Today, hundreds of thousands of Americans are joining with you to honor Dr. King by standing up for working people all over America. It was what he was doing in Memphis when he was killed 43 years ago today, supporting sanitation workers on strike.

Today everywhere is Memphis, and it's not just sanitation workers being attacked. It's teachers and firefighters and social workers - yes, all those greedy public workers who caused the Great Recession we are in! It was the greedy teachers who caused the crash on Wall Street! It was the greedy firefighters who sent millions of jobs overseas! It was the greedy social workers who insisted that GE pay no taxes and that CEOs should make 500 times what the average employee makes!

No, my friends, it wasn't! It was the top 1% of the country who did this. THEY brought on the mortgage crisis. THEY made off with billions of dollars from our economy. THEY have systematically destroyed the middle class. And THEY have bought and sold the very people elected to represent us! READ MORE


Civil Courage in Wisconsin

By Anthony Grafton, The New Yorker

04 April 11

Universities don't seem to breed much civil courage these days. But the University of Wisconsin is a glorious exception to the rule. When the Republican Party of Wisconsin demanded e-mails sent by and to William Cronon, it was the university - which serves as the official "record holder" for this purpose - rather than the individual professor that had to answer the request. It has now done so, with two lucid documents that show scrupulous concern for the rights of all involved.

John Dowling, senior legal counsel for the university, has now formally replied to Stephan Thompson, the Republican operative who invoked Wisconsin's Public Records law. He has some lawyerly fun showing how badly the original request was drafted (in asking for all mails that contained the word "recall," for example, the Republicans failed to state whether or not they wanted "e-mails containing the word 'recall' in the sense of recalling a past event [e.g., "I recall from our meeting last week ..."]"). But that's only the prelude to the serious business. READ MORE


Darrell Issa to Open House Probe of Union Contract

By Erik Wasson, The Hill

03 April 11

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) will probe into the deeply troubled finances of the U.S. Postal Service Tuesday and will grill the postmaster general about a new tentative contract with the postal workers union that increases wages and limits layoffs.

The new three - year contract announced March 14 disappointed House Republicans, who think it is overly generous to mail carriers.

"They have had big financial trouble for a number of years. We think the postmaster has gone a long way in the contract negotiations to where they need to be. It's no surprise that if the numbers don't pencil out, we think they should go a little further," Issa told The Hill Friday. READ MORE


Dennis Kucinich: Democrats Seek Public Referendum on Ohio Anti-Union Bill

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

01 April 11

Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill that strips collective bargaining rights for more than 360,000 state workers and bars them from striking. Democrats have announced plans to collect some 230,000 signatures in the next 90 days to block immediate implementation of the law and put it to a public referendum on the November ballot. “This idea of government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations has actually taken hold,” says our guest, Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who represents Ohio’s 10th District. “Unions are one of the last lines of defense against a corporate plutocracy.” [includes rush transcript] READ MORE


Ohio Police, Firefighters Decry Bargaining Limits

By Associated Press

01 April 11

CLEVELAND (AP) — Unlike Wisconsin's high-profile effort to limit collective bargaining rights for public workers, Ohio's new law includes police officers and firefighters — who say it threatens the safety of them and the people they protect.

Opponents have vowed to put the issue on the November ballot, giving voters a chance to strike down the law. The firefighters' union in Cleveland plans to hit the streets and help gather signatures.

Patrolman Michael Cox, a 15-year veteran of Cleveland's police force, said Ohio overlooked the inherent risks of police and firefighting work when lawmakers included them in the bill, which passed the Legislature on Wednesday and was signed into law by Republican Gov. John Kasich on Thursday.

"We don't run from the house fire; we don't run from the gunshot," Cox said. "We're the guys that got to say, 'OK, we're going to go fix this problem real fast.'"

Under the Ohio plan, police and firefighters won't be able to bargain with cities over the number of people required to be on duty. That means they can't negotiate the number of staff in fire trucks or police cars, for instance. READ MORE


Ohio Governor Signs Anti-Union Bill

By Jim Lekrone, Reuters

01 April 11

Republican Kasich signed the controversial measure at a ceremony in Columbus one day after it received final approval from the legislature.

"(The bill) gives local governments and schools powerful tools to reduce their costs so they can refocus resources on key priorities like public safety and classroom instruction," Kasich said in a statement.

While massive protests in Wisconsin earlier this year grabbed national attention, Ohio is far more important to the union movement. It has the nation's sixth largest number of public sector union members, which is twice as many as Wisconsin. READ MORE


UAW Sees Rise in Lansing-Area, National Membership

By Barbara Wieland, Lansing State Journal

01 April 11

United Auto Workers union membership is on the rise nationally for the first time in six years. And numbers the Detroit-based union filed with the Labor Department show local numbers are up, as well.

The UAW's annual report, released Thursday by the department, showed its membership grew 6 percent in 2010 to 376,612 workers - the first gain since 2005. ...

The UAW report showed it had 20,946 members in the Lansing area last year, excluding UAW Local 6000, which represents state workers. That's a 15.6 percent surge between 2006 and 2010. READ MORE


Ohio Gov. Kasich Using Anti-Union Bill as Fundraising Tool Even Before He Signs It

By Reginald Fields, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

31 March 11

Gov. John Kasich is already trying to turn his Senate Bill 5 victory into a cash cow, even before he has had a chance to sign the controversial collective bargaining measure.

Kasich today emailed a letter to his supporters touting the passage of SB5, vowing to sign the bill today and asking them to support his "ongoing efforts to fight for Ohio taxpayers" by donating $5, $10, or $20. The email arrived at 10:30 a.m., about 13 hours after the Ohio Senate passed the bill, the final step needed for the bill to be sent to Kasich for his signature. READ MORE


US Uncut Actions: Thu Mar 31st - Mon Sep 5th

No action scheduled for where you are? Then be bold and organize one yourself! READ MORE


BREAKING: Wisconsin Judge Declares
Union Law Not In Effect

By Associated Press

31 March 11

The two houses of the Ohio Legislature approved a far-reaching bill on Wednesday that would hobble the ability of public-employee unions to bargain collectively and undercut their political clout. They sent the bill to Gov. John R. Kasich, a Republican, who lawmakers said would sign it in the next few days.

A Wisconsin judge on Thursday did what thousands of pro-union protesters and boycotting Democratic lawmakers couldn't, forcing Republican Gov. Scott Walker to halt plans to implement a law that would strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights and cut their pay.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi, who had issued an order intended to block implementation of the law while she considered a challenge to its legitimacy and warned of sanctions for noncompliance, amended her order Thursday to clarify that the law had not taken effect, as Republican leaders argued it had.

The governor's top aide, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, later issued a statement saying Walker would comply with Sumi's order and halt preparations that were under way to begin deducting money from most public workers' paychecks, but that the governor's administration still believes the law took effect after a state office unexpectedly published online. READ MORE


Sen. DeMint Wants to Strip All Federal Employees' Collective Bargaining Rights

By Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times

31 March 11

The two houses of the Ohio Legislature approved a far-reaching bill on Wednesday that would hobble the ability of public-employee unions to bargain collectively and undercut their political clout. They sent the bill to Gov. John R. Kasich, a Republican, who lawmakers said would sign it in the next few days.

The Republican-dominated Senate voted 17 to 16 in favor of the bill Wednesday evening, hours after the House passed it, 53 to 44, with 5 Republicans joining 39 Democrats in opposition.

Republicans applauded the bill, saying Ohio's deficit-plagued state and local governments could no longer afford the costs that public-sector unions extracted in collective bargaining. But Democrats criticized the legislation, saying it effectively eviscerated public employees' bargaining rights and would make it harder for them to stay in the middle class.. READ MORE

By ThinkProgress

31 March 11

The defining political story three months into 2011 is the spread of anti-union legislation in the states. Now, a leading senator on the right wants to eliminate collective bargaining rights at a federal level.

During an interview with ThinkProgress in Des Moines this weekend, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), a leader of the Tea Party movement and veritable kingmaker for conservative candidates, made no bones about his desire to diminish the power of public employees. DeMint told ThinkProgress that he "Doesn't believe collective bargaining has any place in government ... including at the federal level." The South Carolina senator then went on to call public employees' unions an "unelected third party" that enjoyed "monopoly power" in negotiations. "It just doesn't make any sense," DeMint quipped. READ MORE


"We Are a Progressive Nation"

By Keith Olbermann, FOK News Channel

30 March 11

This is the script I wrote as the centerpiece for my "Evening" at Cornell, so the thirty minutes of hilarious recaps of every second of my Cornell life – plus my observation that while Karl Rove will be speaking at this University, he will be speaking in the Agriculture quad and thus by Ann Coulter's definition won't be speaking at the "real" Cornell – and the question and answer session that followed will have to wait until we edit and post the video, probably Thursday afternoon.

But here are those serious remarks, more or less as delivered:

Let me start in the MOST exciting way possible, by reading you part of a bill proposed in our United States House of Representatives. This is HR 1135, introduced by Mr. Jordan of Ohio, Mr. Scott of South Carolina, Mr. Garrett of New Jersey, Mr. Burton of Indiana, and Mr. Gohmert of Texas. There's a lot of interesting stuff in here but nothing more interesting than paragraph three, which is titled, with amazing straightforwardness and the kind of gall that would make a cat burglar flinch, "STRIKING WORKERS INELIGIBLE." READ MORE


Jon Stewart:
Greedy, Parasitic Public Union Workers



GE Rakes In Profits but Pays No Taxes

By New Jersey Star-Ledger | Editorial

30 March 11

The wealthy real estate magnate Leona Helmsley once said, "Only the little people pay taxes." She was dubbed "the Queen of Mean" and went to prison for tax evasion.

What a coincidence. Turns out General Electric, which had $14.2 billion in profits last year, pays no taxes, either, according to a news report. But no one is calling CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt names. And he won’t be doing time in a cell: President Obama made him a liaison to the business community and appointed him to lead the president’s council on jobs and competitiveness.

How’d that happen? As always, it’s who you know and what you know. And GE has excelled at drawing the best and brightest to protect its profits: A million-dollar lobbying team that includes former Treasury and IRS officials, and the savviest ex-Congressional staffers around. READ MORE


House Votes to Kill Main Obama Foreclosure Aid

By Corbett B. Daly, Reuters

30 March 11

The US House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to kill President Barack Obama's signature program to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure.

A bill to terminate the program was approved on a 252-170 vote. But the bill is unlikely to clear the Senate.

It was the last in series of four measures brought forward by newly empowered House Republicans to end government assistance for homeowners hurt by the housing crisis. READ MORE


Email to Walker Suggested Faking Violence

By Kate Golden, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

27 March 11

The email came to Gov. Scott Walker from the personal account of a deputy prosecutor and Republican activist in Indiana.

After praise for Walker, the email - sent Feb. 19, during union demonstrations against Walker’s budget repair bill - then took a darker turn. It suggested that the situation in Wisconsin presented "a good opportunity for what's called a 'false flag' operation."

"If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions' cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the unions," the email said. READ MORE


A Minimum Wage Increase

By The New York Times | Editorial

27 March 11

As the nation grapples with a jobs crisis and unemployment hovers near 9 percent, it is easy for policy makers to forget the plight of those who work but earn very little. There are about 4.4 million workers earning the minimum wage or less, according to government statistics. This amounts to about 6 percent of workers paid by the hour. They need a raise.

Today, a worker laboring 40 hours a week nonstop throughout the year for the federal minimum wage could barely keep a family of two above the federal poverty line. Though it rose to $7.25 an hour in 2009, up $2.10 since 2006, the minimum wage is still lower than it was 30 years ago, after accounting for inflation. It amounts to about $1.50 an hour less, in today's money, than it did in 1968, when Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were killed, Richard Nixon was elected president and the economy was less than a third of its present size. READ MORE


Ohio Anti-Union Law Sparks Referendum,
May Affect 2012 Elections

By Reginald Fields, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

27 March 11

The Ohio House could vote this week on a controversial collective bargaining bill that will set up a politically charged voter referendum that could linger into next year's presidential election.

Senate Bill 5 sharply restricts collective bargaining rights, ends binding arbitration and bans worker strikes for all state and local public employees - including safety forces - and is backed by Republican Gov. John Kasich and most of the GOP-controlled state legislature. The bill narrowly cleared the Senate earlier this month, and on Tuesday, a House committee has scheduled a vote to send the measure to the floor.

The outnumbered Democrats have countered by threatening to team up with labor organizations to place a referendum on the ballot as early as this November to allow voters to decide whether to stick with the Republican proposal or overturn it. The pitched battle could energize Democrats as they gear up for next year's major general election. Or, as Republicans see it, the referendum - which could cost unions as much as $20 million - could sap resources that otherwise would go toward promoting Democrats and indirectly help the GOP slate.


UW History Prof. Blogs About ALEC's Influence on Walker, Attacked by GOP

By Susan Troller, The Capital Times

27 March 11

The Wisconsin Republican Party, apparently stung by a blog post written by UW-Madison history professor William Cronon, has responded by asking the University of Wisconsin-Madison for copies of all of Cronon's office e-mails that mention prominent Republicans or public employee unions.

Cronon revealed the GOP's Freedom of Information Act request in his Scholar as Citizen blog post late Thursday evening along with a lengthy, and typically scholarly, defense. He requested that the GOP withdraw its request in that post. On Friday, the Republican Party angrily denounced that request and denied it.

In his inaugural blog post on March 15, Cronon, one of the UW's academic stars, had sketched the apparent influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shadow conservative policy group that works with Republican state legislators, on Gov. Scott Walker's legislative agenda. It was the first time the respected professor had used a blog format and he was, to put it mildly, surprised by the response. The blog generated more than half a million hits. For many of his readers, it was the first time they were aware of the organization and its involvement with conservative legislators around the country. READ MORE


Lobbyists Raising 'Unlimited and Undisclosed' Donations to Buy Supreme Court Seat

By Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress

26 March 11

Last year, Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and Gov. Scott Walker ally David Prosser cast the key vote in favor of a "justice - for-sale" ethics rule written by two corporate lobbying groups. Thanks to Justice Prosser, his colleagues are not required to recuse themselves from cases involving one of their major campaign donors. Now, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), one of the lobbying groups that wrote the rule Prosser made into law, is rewarding him by raising "unlimited and undisclosed" funds to keep Prosser on the state supreme court: READ MORE


WI GOP Ignoring Court Order,
Publish Anti-Union Law

By Eric Kleefeld, TPMDC

26 March 11

Yet another shoe has dropped in the battle over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) anti-public employee union law - with state Republican leaders now apparently defying or attempting to circumvent a court order that temporarily blocked implementation of the law.

Last week, a judge in Dane County (Madison) blocked the law on procedural grounds, ruling that a key conference committee used to advance the bill - and to get around the state Senate Dems' walkout from the state - had violated the state open-meetings law by failing to give proper 24-hours notice....

But now, state Republicans have had the bill published through a different office - the Legislative Reference Bureau, which handles drafting and research for the legislature - according to the LRB's statutory requirement to publish legislation within ten days of enactment. Interestingly, the LRB itself says that this publication does not constitute action that would put the law into effect. But the state's Republican leaders disagree. Senate Majority Scott Fitzgerald (R) says the LRB publication constitutes official publication and the insists the law will take effect Saturday. READ MORE


Vermont House Passes
Single-Payer Healthcare Bill

By Cris Garofolo, Brattleboro Reformer

25 March 11

The Vermont House of Representatives passed a bill calling for a single-payer system Thursday afternoon, putting the state on a path to become the first in the nation to adopt universal access to health care.

Lawmakers voted 92 to 49 after nearly two days of debate, including discussion on the floor until the early morning hours on Thursday.

Advocates hail the measure as the solution to control costs by reducing administrative overhead. However, critics said it leaves too much financial uncertainty and could hurt the economic growth in Vermont. READ MORE


Prosecutor Who Recommended Walker Stage Attack Resigns

By Vic Ryckaert and Kevin O'Neal, The Indianapolis Star

25 March 11

For the second time, an Indiana public official has lost his job because of provocative comments made about the political brouhaha in Wisconsin.

Carlos F. Lam, a Johnson County deputy prosecutor, resigned Thursday after acknowledging he sent an email last month urging Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to discredit labor union protests by orchestrating a fake assault on himself. Possibly, Lam suggested, the pretend assailant might even use a firearm.

Lam's boss, Prosecutor Bradley D. Cooper, accepted the resignation. He called Lam's Feb. 19 email to Walker a "foolish suggestion." On Feb. 23, the Indiana Attorney General's office fired deputy Atty. Gen. Jeff Cox after he suggested in blog posts and on Twitter that police use live ammunition on protesters who had poured into Wisconsin's Capitol. READ MORE


Wisconsin Appeals Court Sends Anti-Union Law to Top Court

By Associated Press

25 March 11

A state appeals court declined to rule Thursday on whether to allow a law stripping public employee unions of nearly all their collective bargaining powers to take effect, saying the issue should be decided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

It's appropriate for the state’s highest court to take the case because of the significant issues presented and the likelihood that it would end up there anyhow, the 4th District Court of Appeals said.

It opted not to rule on whether a lower court judge properly issued an order last week temporarily blocking the law from taking effect. The law remains on hold while the legal fight continues. READ MORE


Why We Need a Fighter in the White House

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

24 March 11

Pro-business goals are breaking out all over. Governors across America are slashing corporate taxes as they slash state budgets. House and Senate Republicans are intent on deregulating, privatizing, and cutting spending and taxes so their corporate and Wall Street patrons will do even better.

But most Americans are still in desperate trouble. Few if any of the economic gains are trickling down. That's why the current Republican assault on workers - on their right to form unions, on unemployment insurance and Social Security, on public employees, and even (courtesy of Governor LePage) on our common memory - is so despicable.

And it's why we need a President who will fight for workers and fight against this assault - just as Perkins and FDR did. READ MORE


Wisconsin DA Shows Sham of GOP
Anti-Union Law

By Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Daily Kos

24 March 11

Wisconsin District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed a legal brief today in response to the Attorney General's legal action seeking to lift the TRO granted by a judge last week to stop the Secretary of State from publishing the anti-union law. The DA's legal brief adds some context to the complaint he filed recently to hold GOP lawmakers accountable for violating a law designed to enable citizens to participate in their government affairs.

The upshot is that the AG seeks to quickly make this anti-union law effective before the courts address violations of law. While the AG argues that there will be irreparable harm if the law is not made effective now, this TRO only remains effective until a hearing for a temporary injunction that is scheduled for March 29 and April 1.

The reason for this rush is clear: The GOP lawmakers are angry that their plan to create a new legislative process has hit this legal obstacle. READ MORE


Emails Show Steps Considered to Punish "Wisconsin 14"

By Scott Bauer, Associated Press

23 March 11

Everything from taking away computers to denying a year of service in the state retirement system was considered to punish the 14 Wisconsin Senate Democrats who fled to Illinois for three weeks to block passage of a bill taking away union bargaining rights, newly released emails show.

Members of Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's staff bounced ideas off one another and the Legislature's attorneys for days about how to pressure the Democrats to return and penalize them, according to records released Wednesday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. READ MORE


Ohio Gov. John Kasich's Disapproval Doubles

By Reginald Fields, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

23 March 11

The number of Ohio voters who disapprove of Gov. John Kasich's performance has more than doubled since he took office in mid-January, according to a survey released today.

Forty-six percent of Ohio voters, compared with just 22 percent on Jan. 19, now disapprove of the job Kasich has done thus far as governor, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. READ MORE


Poll Finds Michigan Gov. Snyder's Numbers Slipping

By Dawson Bell, Detroit Free Press

23 March 11

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has quickly fallen out of favor with the citizens who elected him, reaching levels of unpopularity lower than first term Republican governors in neighboring states and almost as low as the end-of-term numbers reached by his Democratic predecessor, according to a new poll.

The poll by Public Policy Polling found 50 percent of Michiganders disapprove of Snyder's job performance, compared with 33 percent who approve, and would prefer to have elected Snyder's opponent last fall, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, by a 47 percent 45 percent margin. READ MORE


Obama, Stop Letting GOP Lie About Jobs

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

23 March 11

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was in town yesterday (specifically, at Stanford's Hoover Institute where he could surround himself with sympathetic Republicans) to tell this whopper: "Cutting the federal deficit will create jobs."

It's not true. Cutting the deficit will creates fewer jobs. Less government spending reduces overall demand. This is particularly worrisome when, as now, consumers and businesses are still holding back. Fewer government workers have paychecks to buy stuff from other Americans, some of whom in turn will lose their jobs without enough customers.

But truth doesn't seem to matter. Republicans figure if their big lies are repeated often enough, people will start to believe them. READ MORE


US Uncut Actions

23 March 11

No action scheduled for where you are? Then be bold and organize one yourself!

Friday March 25 - Monday April 18 READ MORE


Wisconsin's Radical Break

By William Cronon, The New York Times

22 March 11

Now that a Wisconsin judge has temporarily blocked a state law that would strip public employee unions of most collective bargaining rights, it's worth stepping back to place these events in larger historical context.

Republicans in Wisconsin are seeking to reverse civic traditions that for more than a century have been among the most celebrated achievements not just of their state, but of their own party as well. READ MORE


WI Secretary of State Says He Wasn't Consulted
Before AG Petitioned on His Behalf

By John Nichols, The Capital Times

22 March 11

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's Department of Justice is attempting to appeal Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi's order blocking implementation of Governor's Scott Walker's budget-repair bill.

Specifically, according to the paperwork filed Monday, state lawyers say they are representing Secretary of State Doug La Follette, who is identified as the "petitioner" seeking to have the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Sumi lifted so that the law - which eliminates nearly all collective bargaining rights for public workers - can be published and implemented.

But the Department of Justice attorneys did not consult La Follette about whether he has any objection to Judge Sumi's order. The secretary of state says he has not complained about the judge's order.

Indeed, he says, he has already acted in accordance with it, in a move that he says allows him to "fulfill the public trust in my office." READ MORE


Wisconsin Attorney General Appeals Restraining
Order on Labor Law

By Jason Stein and Lee Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

22 March 11

In a case that appears bound for the state Supreme Court, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Monday asked the state appeals court to lift a Dane County judge's hold on a law sharply curtailing public union bargaining.

The Court of Appeals panel in Madison quickly responded Monday by asking for information from the prosecutor on the other side of the case by the end of Tuesday, but didn't explicitly say it would take the appeal.

Justice Department lawyers argued that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi's ruling was an overreach against the Legislature as a separate branch of government. "In the interests of the administration of justice, it is necessary - nay, it is imperative - that this court step forward and undo this inappropriate action," the request reads. READ MORE


Ohio Gov. John Kasich Counts on Drinkers to Bring Jobs

By Reginald Fields, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

22 March 11

Kasich last week unveiled his state budget proposal, which includes a plan to lease the state's liquor distribution operation - which of late has drawn record profits - and use the cash to fund his private economic development machine.

Since floating the idea earlier this year, the Republican governor says there have been plenty of potential takers. In fact, Ohioans' propensity to consume more than ever, according to recent figures, has influenced the governor's idea most...

But the governor says he isn't making the liquor sales operation available to the open market. Instead, he's keeping it in-house. Kasich has created JobsOhio, a private economic development corporation that will eventually replace the Ohio Department of Development and take over that agency's main role of job recruitment and retention. READ MORE


Quick Fix Would Help Michigan's Jobless

By Detroit Free Press

22 March 11

No legislator in his or her right mind should want to turn down hundreds of millions of dollars of federal aid to some of Michigan's most distressed families - money that would also boost Michigan's struggling economy. But that could happen if politicians don't get off the dime and make minor amendments to Michigan's unemployment insurance laws that would enable long-term jobless workers to get up to 20 more weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits. Other states, including Ohio, Minnesota, Maine and Washington, have already made the change, joining 30 other states.

Legislators must conform state law to recent federal changes that enabled states to continue offering federally funded extended benefits if their jobless rates were at least 6.5% and 10% higher than they were three years ago. Prior to December, federal law required states, based on a three-month average, to exceed jobless rates, by 10%, from one or two years ago. That would have disqualified Michigan for extended benefits, with a current jobless rate of about 11%. Michigan would be eligible under the new three-year guidelines - but only if the state enacts conforming legislation. READ MORE


Cut the Unions, Hire the Girlfriends

By Keith Olbermann, FOK News Channel

21 March 11

The ham - handed self - serving greediness playing out in the background of Governor Scott Walker's attempt to make Wisconsin into the central battle zone in the Koch Brothers' attempt to end collective bargaining in this country, roared to the forefront Sunday night when the Milwaukee Journal - Sentinel reported that the supposedly financially imperiled state had enough money to hire State Senator Randy Hopper's mistress.

Valerie Cass, a former Republican legislative staffer, was hired Feb. 7 as a communications specialist with the state Department of Regulation and Licensing. She is being paid $20.35 per hour. The job is considered a temporary post. READ MORE


Rachel Maddow: Michigan's Dystopian (Corporate Republican) Future

By Rachel Maddow, MSNBC

Rachel Maddow, with guest Naomi Klein, looks at Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's plans for Michigan that make what happened in Wisconsin look tame.



Michigan Gov. Snyder to Local Governments:
Cut Costs or Lose State Aid

By Chris Christoff, Detroit Free Press

21 March 11

Gov. Rick Snyder wants local governments to curb pension and health care costs as a condition of receiving some of their state revenue sharing aid. That would mean requiring employees to pay at least 20% of their health insurance premiums, and placing new hires on less expensive defined contribution retirement plans, such as a 401(k) savings plan or a hybrid that includes a partial traditional pension.

Under Snyder's plan, communities would be asked to achieve the 20% employee contribution to health care costs to qualify for a full revenue-sharing allotment when their employee contracts expire and new contracts are negotiated. Employers would pay no more than 10% of employees' salaries toward their retirement plans. READ MORE


Madison Veterans' Protest Brings Small but Devoted Group

By Gayle Worlans, The Capital Times

21 March 11

Though their numbers were dwarfed by the estimated 100,000 people who gathered there a week earlier, more than 1,000 demonstrators against Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget and his efforts to end most collective bargaining rights for public workers returned to Capitol Square on Saturday, unified by what they said they had in common: Staying power.

"I think people are settling into the resolve and they're here for the long haul," said Cindy Murphy, a detective in computer forensics for the Madison Police Department who marched with the group Cops for Labor.

The group Iraq Veterans Against the War, or IVAW, held center-stage at a noon rally, which took place on the eighth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War and featured two hours of speeches by both veterans and labor union representatives. READ MORE


Study: Walker's Budget Could Hurt WI's Economy

By Steven Verburg, The Capital Times

21 March 11

Gov. Scott Walker's plans to balance the state budget by cutting spending and public workers' take-home pay will slow the state's economic recovery, according to projections by a UW-Madison economist.

An estimated 21,843 jobs will be lost over the next year or two as public agencies and workers are able to spend less in their communities, said Steven Deller, a professor of applied economics who studied the ripple effects of Walker's budget-repair bill and two-year budget proposal.

"That's not just a bump in the road," Deller said. "That's a speed bump." READ MORE


Lansing Students May Face Suspension for Capitol Protest

By Scott Davis, The Lansing State Journal

20 March 11

Rachel Jackson is a rookie at playing hooky. But the Eastern High School junior had enough fluency in truancy to lead hundreds of students to skip school Friday and send state lawmakers a message: Don't cut education funding. ...

"We're fighting for our teachers. That's worth a suspension," said Jackson, 17, who organized the protest on Facebook. Carrying signs that said "Nerds against the Nerd" and "Don't Take Our Money 4 Your Deficit," the students rallied outside the Capitol for about 45 minutes Friday morning before putting down their signs, filling three floors of the Capitol rotunda and chanting "Save our schools!" READ MORE


VIDEO: Walkout!

By George Slefo and Carrie Porter, MortonGrovePatch

19 March 11

Almost 300 students gathered outside of Niles West High School to protest Wisconsin's anti-union legislation on Thursday. Fearing the bill may have a domino effect and ultimately hit their hometown, the teens walked out of class in support of collective bargaining.

"This is obviously something that the government and big businesses are pushing, but the people don't want it at all and I know Illinois doesn't want it," said Alex Knorr, 18, a senior at Niles West and an organizer of the event. READ MORE


Idaho Teacher's Union May Ask Voters to Overturn Curbs

By Reuters

19 March 11

The Idaho state teachers union said on Friday it may ask voters to overturn a just-passed law that curtails public school teachers' collective bargaining rights. The law ends tenure and removes issues like workload and class size from contract negotiations between school administrators and the 12,000 teachers represented by the Idaho Education Association.

The association on Friday filed petitions with the Idaho elections office in an early move to take to the 2012 ballot the question of whether the law should be repealed. It is one of two laws, both signed Thursday by Idaho's Republican governor, affecting school teachers in public schools for kindergarten through high school. READ MORE


National Veterans Group Hosts Madison Worker Solidarity March

By Judith Davidoff, The Capital Times

19 March 11

The morning the state Assembly was debating Gov. Scott Walker's controversial bill to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights for public workers, protesters and police got into a brief tussle at the Martin Luther King Boulevard entrance to the Capitol because nobody, including Rep. David Cullen, D-Milwaukee, was being allowed into the building. At one point, a man yelled out to the police officers guarding the doors: "This is what we get for fighting for democracy in Iraq?"

Todd Dennis, a Navy veteran and member of the Madison chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, wasn't the one who shouted at police, but he says he understands why the protester was frustrated by not being able to exercise his right to free speech or peaceful assembly.

"We swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States," says Dennis. "Every service member does that. It was probably very shocking for him to see such a response from folks back in his own country." Dennis says he has been up to the Capitol plenty of times to protest since Walker announced his budget repair bill on Feb. 11. And on Saturday he'll be back with other veterans from around the Midwest to march and rally with union members in a show of solidarity for Wisconsin's public workers. READ MORE


Judge Temporarily Blocks Wisconsin's
Anti-Union Law

Jeff Mayers, Reuters

18 March 11

Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi granted a restraining order stopping official publication of the bill, which was passed by the Midwestern state's Republican-controlled legislature and signed by its Republican Governor Scott Walker last week.

Her ruling did not overturn the law but effectively blocked it while she considered a lawsuit filed by the Dane County district attorney, who has argued Republican lawmakers violated state open meetings laws by failing to give adequate notice of the vote.

Sumi still has to rule on the merit of the lawsuit, which asked that the law be voided. Even if it were overturned, Republicans could return to the legislature, where they control both houses, and pass it again in compliance with the open meetings laws. READ MORE


Palm Trees Come to Cleveland:
FreedomWorks Uses Discredited Footage in New Ohio Anti-Union Ad

Judd Legum, ThinkProgress

18 March 11

FreedomWorks, a right-wing group bankrolling the Tea Party, has a new advertisement it is planning to run in Ohio supporting Gov. John Kasich's union-busting efforts. The advertisement tries to paint union protesters in Ohio as violent thugs. One problem: the ad uses footage from an old union protest in California.

How do we know? This is the same footage from California, which features palm trees, that was used by Bill O'Reilly just days ago. He used it to argue that the protesters in Wisconsin were violent thugs. Here's the video evidence produced by TP's Jeff Spross: READ MORE


Michigan Gov. to Cut Taxes for Corporations
While Cutting Services for Poor and Middle Class

By E.D. Kain, Forbes

18 March 11

It looks like Rick Snyder, the Republican governor of Michigan whose legislation will give "Emergency Managers" carte blanche over Michigan municipalities in the event of a 'financial crisis' is lowering taxes on businesses by raising taxes on the poor and working class:

Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) has proposed ending his state's Earned Income Tax Credit, cutting a $600 per child tax credit, and reducing credits for seniors, while also cutting funding for school districts by eight to ten percent. At the same time, as the Michigan League for Human Services found, the state's business taxes would be reduced by nearly $2 billion, or 86 percent, under Snyder's plan.

Snyder wants to cut business taxes by 86 percent, lowering revenue from those taxes from $2.1 billion to approximately $293 million - a drop of $1.8 billion, all during a recession that has Michigan, like so many other states, strapped for cash. To close that gap, personal income taxes would go up from $5.75 billion to $7.5 billion - and rates on the lowest earners would go up more than rates on the top 1%. READ MORE


War on The Poor: Minnesota Republicans Want
to Bust Poor People Who Carry Cash

By Susie Madrak, Crooks and Liars

18 March 11

They're not just crazy, they're evil - and un-Christian, should they have the audacity to claim otherwise. If only we could force them to live like this, they wouldn't last a week:

Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all. READ MORE


Debt, Austerity and How to Fight Back

By Frances Fox Piven and Cornel West, The Nation

18 March 11

Wall Street Banks, American corporations and their political allies have declared a one-sided war on the American people. This war is being waged at our schools and colleges, the workplace and in our communities.

Today, Americans are working harder and earning less while corporate profits soar. As homeowners, consumers and students we see our wealth being stripped away by banks. Our government plunges into debt waging trillion-dollar wars. Meanwhile, our infrastructure erodes and climate change proceeds unchecked. Schools, daycare centers, senior citizen facilities, clinics, parks and firehouses are starved for funds so that corporations and the rich can get billions in tax breaks! READ MORE


Hundreds of Lansing High School Students
Protest Cuts

By Scott Davis, Lansing State Journal

18 March 11

More than 300 Lansing high school students have descended on the Capitol this morning, mainly to protest cuts to K-12 education proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder. The largest group of students - about 200 from Eastern High School - marched about 11 blocks from the school's parking lot along the sidewalks to the Capitol, where they congregated on the building's steps with other students from Everett and Sexton high schools.

Many waved picket signs that read "No Cuts to Education" and "We're walking out because we're not giving in!" before the group moved into the Capitol rotunda, filling all three floors and chanting "Save our Schools!" and "No More Cuts!" READ MORE


ACLU: Michigan Ban on Capitol Signs
Unfairly Enforced

By Kevin Grasha, Lansing State Journal

18 March 11

The American Civil Liberties Union says the agency that oversees the state Capitol has been unfairly enforcing a ban on protest signs inside the building.

The enforcement started right around the time protests erupted over Gov. Rick Snyder's recent proposals to tax pensions and expand the powers of state-appointed emergency financial managers, said Michael Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan. Previously - despite a written policy banning all signs - handheld signs were allowed inside the Capitol, officials said.

"It's a fact that the rules were not enforced until there were large protests against Gov. Snyder's policies," Steinberg said Thursday. "It's a fundamental democratic principle that the government can't pick and choose when to enforce rules regarding speech. "They're picking and choosing when to enforce the ban on hand-carried signs." READ MORE


In States Without Collective Bargaining Workers Get a Raw Deal

By Leah Fried, Open Mike Blog

17 March 11

As northern states like Wisconsin seek to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public service workers we should examine what it's like to work in states that don't have this basic human right. While right wing pundits declare how great it is to work without collective bargaining, the reality is workers and working class communities are getting a raw deal.

You Can't Fight City Hall - Unless You Have a Union

With states looking to balance their budgets in the wake of a Wall Street triggered recession, the path of least resistance is take aways from regular working folk and the services we depend on like schools, hospitals and road maintenance. Its the second round of taxpayer bailout for business. Corporate America is well unionized with Chamber of Commerce and Industry Associations lobbying hard and cutting deals in their interest. Yet those public employees without collective bargaining rights are completely alone - by law! READ MORE


Crushing the Democrats' Base

By Paul Waldman, The American Prospect

17 March 11

Both Democrats and Republicans tend to believe that their opponents are more efficient, organized, and ruthless than their own side is. This may partly be a result of each side's belief that, in a fair fight, they wouldn't lose - the American people must surely vote for their opponents only when manipulated into doing so. But the fact that the left and the right are each envious of the other side's skills doesn't mean that both sides are, in fact, equally skilled. The unending battle between the two parties isn't only a matter of who can devise a clever argument or air the most memorable ads. It's also about conflicts that take years or even decades to play out, ones more lasting and fundamental than the outcome of today's legislative debate. And on that score, it's clear that even as they fight over the budget and health care, Republicans are taking a longer view. The presidential race of three years ago was the first in many years in which Democrats showed themselves superior at all the disciplines that make up modern campaigning, from fundraising to messaging. But that extraordinary campaign (seems a long time ago, doesn't it?) didn't change at least one fundamental fact: Conservatives know how to go on offense. And when, after victories at the state and local level in 2010, they got their chance to strike back, they took it. With a vengeance. READ MORE


Union Chief Urges 'Consumer Activism'
in Collective Bargaining Fight

By Don Walker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

16 March 11

James Palmer, the executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, said Wednesday that he is encouraging his members to engage in "voluntary consumer activism" against companies that do not support collective bargaining for public-sector employees. "It would make a difference to me, in terms of which business I patronize, to know that a business doesn't support the basic right of a public employee to have a voice at the bargaining table. I think that would matter to people," Palmer said. His group represents 11,000 current and retired officers in approximately 380 locals around the state.

Palmer's group, as well as 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 Association sent letters to M&I Bank and, later, Kwik Trip Inc., asking the companies to oppose Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill. Specifically, the groups were concerned about language that would eliminate most collective bargaining for public-sector unions.

M&I, which has borne the brunt of much of the early talk of boycotts, said Friday that it would not take a position for or against the law. The bank also said that it did not directly contribute to any gubernatorial candidate but that its employees have the right to contribute to the candidate of their choice. Kwik Trip declined to comment. READ MORE


Proposed Cuts to Ohio Public Utilities Consumer Watchdog Group Citicized

By John Funk, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

16 March 11

The office charged with protecting Ohio's consumers in utility cases could face substantial cuts in Gov. John Kasich's new state budget, a move that is drawing criticism nationwide. Ohio Consumers' Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander says the attempt to cut her budget by more than half would force significant staff cuts and sap her ability to represent the state's 4.5 million consumers.

The office's staff of attorneys scrutinizes rate increases proposed by utilities to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which decides whether to approve them. The OCC invariably objects. The office is funded entirely from fees levied on the state's utilities, not tax dollars.

"Cutting this agency's budget will not in any way resolve the budget deficit," Migden-Ostrander said. "The money will be returned to the utilities." READ MORE


Fox News' Union-Busting Crusade

By Media Matters for America

16 March 11

Fox News' coverage of the recent protests in Wisconsin was rife with falsehoods about unions and attacks on the pro-union protesters. This continues a long pattern of smears and fabrications that characterizes Fox News' campaign to scapegoat and vilify labor unions.

Beck Cites Wisconsin Protests To Claim That "Evil [Is] Spreading Around The Globe." Glenn Beck claimed that protests in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as in the Middle East and Mexico are part of "evil spreading around the globe." [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/16/11]

Fox Nation Calls Protesters "Rabid Leftists." Fox Nation described pro-union protesters in Wisconsin as "Rabid Leftists." [Media Matters, 3/9/11] READ MORE


Wisconsin 14 Won't be Sanctioned by GOP Senate

By Reuters

15 March 11

Republicans in the Wisconsin state Senate dropped a threat on Tuesday to deny 14 Democratic counterparts the right to vote in the chamber because they fled to Illinois last month.

In an e-mail sent late Monday to his 18 Republican colleagues, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald claimed the 14 Democrats were still technically in contempt and that any votes they made in standing committees would not be counted.

"They are free to attend hearings, listen to testimony, debate legislation, introduce amendments, and cast votes to signal their support/opposition," Fitzgerald wrote, "but those votes will not count, and will not be recorded." READ MORE


Next up for Wisconsin: The Mother of All Recall Drives

By Mark Guarino, The Christian Science Monitor

15 March 11

The partisan fight over collective - bargaining rights in Wisconsin is moving from the streets of Madison toward the ballot box.

A recall drive of unprecedented scale is underway, with 32 efforts targeting 16 state senators involved in the three - week budget standoff between Senate Republicans and Democrats. In the 103 years since Oregon first adopted the recall process, only 13 state legislators have been recalled nationwide.

The campaigns - against eight Republicans and eight Democrats - have been infused with money and energy from outside the state, making the movement "a national event" that could drive momentum for similar efforts in other states, says Joshua Spivak, an expert on recall history at the Hugh Carey Institute for Government Reform in New York. READ MORE


Democrats' Votes Won't Count, WI Senate Leader Says

By Lee Bergquist and Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

14 March 11

In a sign GOP lawmakers are still smarting from the recent exodus of Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) told his caucus Monday that Democrats can't vote in committee because they remain in contempt of the Senate.

"They are free to attend hearings, listen to testimony, debate legislation, introduce amendments, and cast votes to signal their support/opposition, but those votes will not count, and will not be recorded," Fitzgerald wrote his colleagues. READ MORE


USUncut Action: Lansing, MI, Wed. March 16

15 March 11

Michigan is the new Wisconsin ... and this time, it's even worse.

As opposed to just attacking one essential plank of democracy (labor unions), the politicians in Michigan are going after democracy itself. They are disbanding local governments and appointing "Emergency Managers" to take over the responsibilities of duly elected public officials.

Join fellow Democracy-loving citizens for a Public Protest in at the Michigan Statehouse in Lansing this Wednesday March 16 at Noon! READ MORE


State Mental Health Services Hit Hard by
Budget Cuts

By Associated Press

15 March 11

At the Ohio Department of Mental Health, Christy Murphy's days are filled with calls from people seeking help she can't seem to give. They plead with her, but budget cuts have trimmed services so much - more than $1 billion in the current state budget, approved under the tenure of former Gov. Ted Strickland - that she is unsure where to send them.

The desperation on the other end of the line hits painfully close to home for Murphy. Her 19-year-old son, Christopher, suffers from a range of mental problems, including one that's linked to a short-tempered, hostile attitude. Although he has coverage through Medicaid, he can't get the services he needs. His mother says he has no psychiatrist, no case manager and no medication. "I think it's 100 percent about money," said Murphy, who lives in Columbus with her son.

An onslaught of budget cuts has hit mental health services in states struggling to weather economic woes. Even in better times, help could be hard to find. Now, just as demand is soaring, billions of dollars in cuts have shuttered facilities, prolonged waiting times to get services and purged countless patients from the rolls. READ MORE


VIDEO: Dennis Kucinich Speaking at
Workers' Rights Rally in Madison, WI

Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) addressed thousands at the 'Speak Up For Workers' Rights' rally after a massive protest at Wisconsin's state capitol. WATCH HERE


Letter to My Fellow Michiganders

By Michael Moore, Reader Supported News

14 March 11

The call has gone out and I'm asking everyone who can to take Wednesday off and head to the State Capitol in Lansing to protest the cruel and downright frightening legislation currently being jammed down our throats.

What is most shocking to many is that the new governor, who ran against the Tea Party and defeated the right wing of his party in the primaries - and then ran in the general election as "just a nerd from Ann Arbor" who was a moderate, not an ideologue - has pulled off one of the biggest Jekyll and Hyde ruses I've ever seen in electoral politics.

Governor Snyder, once elected, yanked off his nice - guy mask to reveal that he is in fact a multi - millionaire hell- bent on destroying our state and turning it over to his buddies from Wall Street. READ MORE


Wisconsin School Districs Could Drop Union Insurance

By Amy Hetzner, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

13 March 11

In freeing school boards from bargaining with employees over anything but inflation-capped wage increases, Wisconsin lawmakers might have opened the floodgates for districts seeking to drop coverage by the state's dominant - and highly controversial - health insurance provider for teachers.

WEA Trust, the nonprofit company started 40 years ago by the state's largest teachers union, currently insures employees in about two-thirds of Wisconsin school districts. The company's market dominance has dropped in recent years, although not as much as some school officials who complain about the company's costs would like.

After switching the district's nonunion employees to a different health insurance carrier, Cedarburg School Board President Kevin Kennedy said his school system is likely to look at cost savings by doing the same for its unionized teachers after unsuccessful attempts in previous years. READ MORE


'Wisconsin 14' Get Heroes' Welcome as Crowds Swarm Capitol

By Judith Davidoff, The Capital Times

13 March 11

By 1:30 p.m. you could hear the crowd at the Capitol five blocks away along the Lake Mendota shoreline. By 2:30, protesters on the Square were moving no faster than a shuffle. By 3 people could not move. And at 3:05, "Wisconsin's 14" got a heroes' welcome on the steps of the state Capitol.

"You go away for a couple of weeks and look at what happens," said Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, who, along with his smiling colleagues, kept surveying the crowd, seemingly awed by the turnout. "It's so nice to be home in Wisconsin."

Saturday's crowd, estimated by Madison Police to be between 85,000 and 100,000, surrounded the podium on the State Street side of the Capitol and showered the senators with shouts of "Thank you! Thank you!" READ MORE


Democratic Senators Return to Madison, Say Fight Isn't Over

By Bill Glauber and Tom Held, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

12 March 11

Unbowed and unrepentant, 14 Democratic state senators returned to the Capitol on Saturday and received a tumultuous welcome from tens of thousands of pro-labor demonstrators.

Despite last week's passage of Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill, the senators said they did the right thing by fleeing to Illinois last month in an unsuccessful bid to block the legislation. And they vowed to fight the law in the courts and at the ballot box in a longer struggle to restore the collective bargaining that was eliminated for most public employees.

As they made their way up the steps of the Capitol, they heard the roars of a crowd that clogged Capitol Square, and listened as chants of "thank you, thank you" rained down. READ MORE


The Future of Education in Ohio?
Governor's Speech Offers Clues

By Edith Starzyk, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

12 March 11

Gov. John Kasich didn't say a lot about K-12 education in his State of the State speech last week. But two things he praised give a good indication of his thinking as he prepares to release his budget on Tuesday:

• "Waiting for Superman," the documentary in which charter schools star as the heroes and teacher unions are the villains.

• Teach for America, the corps of elite and eager college grads who are doing two-year stints in some of the nation's worst schools - without traditional teacher training. READ MORE


Providence Mayor Fires City's Teachers


Next Step for Protesters: Recall Republicans

By Jessica Vanegeren, The Capital Times

13 March 11

For nearly a month, protesters at the Wisconsin Capitol held signs and chatted "kill the bill, kill the bill" in support of union workers' rights. They changed their tune Friday once Gov. Scott Walker signed an amended version of his budget repair bill. "Recall" is their message now.

"These crowds aren't going away," said Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, at the first joint news conference held by the returning 14 senate Democrats Saturday in Madison. "They will be trading in those rallying signs for clipboards to gather signatures."

Larson and other senators admitted that although they had lost the battle to prevent Walker and the GOP-controlled Legislature from stripping collective bargaining rights from public employees, they had not lost the war. Many of the senators said the next battle would be waged at the polls. READ MORE


Pro-Worker Movement Power in Wisconsin: What's Next?

By John Nichols, The Nation

12 March 11

Now that a series of crude power plays - violations of open meetings laws, restricted debates, denial of access to dissenting legislators, snap votes - have given Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker a momentary victory in his fight to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights, the governor and his allies are claiming that they are implementing the will of people of Wisconsin.

Referencing last November's election results, which gave him the governorship and control of the legislature, Walker has repeatedly said through the month - long fight in Wisconsin that "the "people have spoken" and "the voters have spoken." READ MORE


Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy Targeted for Ties to Walker, Koch Brothers

By Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

12 March 11

US Rep. Sean Duffy has escaped the debate over Gov. Scott Walker's controversial measure to take away many of the collective bargaining rights of public employees. But that's about to change.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is releasing an online ad targeting the first-term Wisconsin congressman for his ties to Walker and conservative businessmen David and Charles Koch.

Last month, Duffy's former chief of staff left to become state director of Americans for Prosperity, which helped organize tea party events in Wisconsin. The organization is financed by the billionaire Koch brothers. READ MORE


Michigan Governor's Tax Plan Can't be Repealed

By Chris Christoff, Detroit Free Press

11 March 11

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's plan to cut business taxes and increase taxes on individuals - including a new state tax on pensions - may be unpopular with many, but it could not be repealed by voters.

The 183-page tax overhaul bill, introduced by House Republicans, includes a $100 appropriation that makes it legally immune to a citizens' referendum. House Democrats charged Thursday that the provision is an attempt to subvert the right of voters to challenge laws they don't like...

Democrats said the bill amounts to a $2.5 billion tax hike on individuals and a $1.8 billion tax cut for businesses statewide. READ MORE


Koch Brothers and US Chamber:
Polluting Our Earth and Our Democracies

By Bill McKibben, Common Dreams

11 March 11

Among other truths made completely clear by the showdown in Wisconsin: the outsized role of the Koch brothers in American politics. Charles and David, the third and fourth richest men in America, first gained notoriety in the fall, when a remarkable expose by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker showed how they'd funded not only the Tea Party but also the hydra-headed campaign to undermine the science of global warming, all in the service of even more profit for their oil and gas business.

But it was in Wisconsin that the down-and-dirty details of their operation began to emerge - they'd not only funded the election campaigns of the governor and the new GOP legislature, but also an advertising effort attacking the state's teachers. They'd helped pay for buses to ferry in counter-protesters. We were even treated to the sight of new Governor Scott Walker fawning over them in what turned out to be a hoax phone call. The Kochs are right up there now with the great plutocrats of American history, a 21st century version of the robber barons.

The trouble is, they don't care. And they don't really have to care. Their business is privately held and answers to no one. Last week their spokesman said they would "not step back at all ... This is a big part of our life's work. We are not going to stop." So those of us who care about things like the climate will need to go on tracking them. But we'll also need to pay attention to their ideological twin, the Pepsi to their Koch. It's the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. READ MORE


Walker Signs Anti-Union Bill

By Patrick Marley, Don Walker and Jason Stein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

11 March 11

Gov. Scott Walker signed his bill Friday repealing most collective bargaining by public employee unions, dealing a blow to the labor movement that turned out massive demonstrations in an effort to kill the proposal.

But a lawsuit filed Friday by Dane County officials immediately sought to block the signed bill from being published and taking the force of law, arguing that the bill had not been properly passed.

Dane County Circuit Judge Amy Smith on Friday denied the request to grant a temporary restraining order that would have blocked the bill from taking effect. But Smith, however, ordered the county and the state to come back to court on March 16. READ MORE


Boycott of Businesses Supporting Walker Gains Steam on Facebook

By Karen Rivedal, Wisconsin State Journal

11 March 11

With more than 9,600 followers by Wednesday afternoon, Hokin's Facebook page, titled "Boycott Scott Walker Contributors," is a central clearinghouse for information feeding this next wave of opposition to Walker's controversial budget repair bill and spending plan for the next biennium.

It gives those opposed to Walker's plans for deep spending cuts and the virtual elimination of public unions a place to focus their outrage, Hokin said - by letting people know which company's leaders and political action committees made big campaign donations to Walker.

"Basically the only thing corporations care about is money," Hokin said in an interview. "We can't really affect them by saying things or flashing (protest signs). The thing to do on a day-to-day basis is to try to reduce their revenues." READ MORE


Wisconsin Firefighters Shut Down Bank That Funded Walker

By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, 358

11 March 11

Everybody knows the GOP's biggest weakness is money, so why not hit 'em in the sweet spot? That's what many amazing Wisconsin firefighters did yesterday when they collectively began withdrawing their funds from Madison's M&I Bank - whose executives and board members were among the highest donors to Governor Scott Walker's campaign.

Heeding a call by Firefighters Local 311 President Joe Conway to 'Move your money,' union members withdrew over $100,000 from the bank, with some reports stating that number is as high as $192,000. Either way, it was a hefty enough chunk of change that M&I shut its doors and closed for the day at 3PM. READ MORE


Lansing, MI, Sat. March 12th, 10am
USUncut Action

Join us in front of the Capitol on Saturday afternoon! We will be there at 10am! NO tax breaks for corporations while raising taxes on the Poor, Seniors, and the Middle Class! No city "takeovers" by corporate "persons"!! MORE INFO


Madison, WI, Sat. March 12th, 10am
USUncut Action

Join the Coffee Party and USUncut at 10am at the steps of the Madison Capital on the King Street entrance at Statue. Bring your signs, costumes, dogs, bullhorns and spirit of solidarity and join us as we march around the capital. MORE INFO


It's Not Over in Wisconsin

By The New York Times | Editorial

11 March 11

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have reversed half-a-century's middle-class progress in the state by erasing collective-bargaining rights for public employees. Union members, caught off guard and infuriated by the Senate vote on Wednesday and the Assembly vote on Thursday, immediately talked of legal challenges and general strikes, but the outcome was probably inevitable given the Republican success in the 2010 elections. Now union members have to make sure they do not stay away from the polls again when their rights are at stake.

The vote, pushed by Gov. Scott Walker, would have happened weeks ago if Democratic state senators had not fled to Illinois to deprive the Senate of the supermajority it needs to pass bills that are considered fiscal matters. Republicans then moved the bargaining rights from a larger budget bill to a separate bill that they could pass by proclaiming that the rights were not a fiscal issue.

And, in doing so, they reluctantly exposed the real truth behind the maneuver: stripping the unions of their rights was never about the budget, especially once the unions had agreed to significant concessions on pensions and health care. It was always about politics. Governor Walker had hoped to hide behind a cooked-up budget crisis, but the fleeing Democrats at least succeeded in pulling away that facade. READ MORE


Dane County Sues State to Block Budget Bill

By Bill Novak, The Capital Times and Ed Treleven, Milwaukee State Journal

11 March 11

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk is suing legislative leaders and the state in an attempt to block the enactment of the budget repair bill passed Thursday night and signed by Gov. Scott Walker Friday morning. The lawsuit was filed by Corporation Counsel Marcia MacKenzie in Dane County Circuit Court.

Dane County Circuit Judge Amy Smith is expected to rule on a temporary restraining order sought by Dane County that would bar Secretary of State Douglas LaFollette from publishing the bill until the legality of a meeting of the legislative conference committee can be determined.

The county also wants the bill to be declared unconstitutional. READ MORE


Demonstrators Dragged From Wisconsin Capitol

By Mischa Gaus, Labor Notes

11 March 11

Police dragged a hundred demonstrators from the Wisconsin statehouse Thursday to break a blockade trying to prevent state representatives from passing the governor’s anti-union bill.

Several thousand bellowed their disapproval outside, joined by more than 1,000 high school and middle school students who walked out of class again to march together to the Capitol.

None of the protesters were arrested, and state representatives spent the afternoon with police blocking Capitol entrances while they debated inside. Republicans have a clear majority in the Assembly and are expected to pass the bill. READ MORE


Detroit Workers, Residents Rally Against 'Takeovers and Giveaways'

By Joe Rossiter, Detroit Free Press

11 March 11

About 100 city workers and Detroit residents concerned about recent government proposals, including those involving Detroit's pension funds and emergency financial managers, marched around the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on Thursday to protest what they say are "takeovers and giveaways" of Detroit assets.

"This is about takeovers and giveaways, and Detroiters aren't going to idly stand by and watch. They demand action," said D avid Stephen, the event organizer and spokesman for Detroiters for Better Government. "We want to make sure our representatives in government do what's in the best interest of the people, and if they don't, then they need to go."

Amid shouts of "Fire Zajac," "Dave Bing must go," and signs proclaiming "Hands off our pension and water," the protesters said they plan on being heard by elected officials. READ MORE


Indiana Union Workers Come Together - Dems, GOP Still Split

By Mary Beth Schneider and Heather Gillers,

11 March 11

After the last protesters boarded their buses to go home, after the last chant of "Union!" no longer echoed, the legislative battle that had brought thousands of Hoosiers to the Statehouse remained unresolved.

Democratic lawmakers, who had fled to Illinois to stop votes on the labor union and education bills that provoked Thursday's protest, said they had no plans to return Monday - and figured Tuesday was unlikely, too.

House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, a South Bend Democrat who stayed in Illinois during the rally, said whether this protest changes the debate is "up to the Republicans, whether they are moved." But, he said, the rally "shows the public the strong, wide and deep support working people have" for the Democrats' stand. READ MORE


This Is a Class War

By Michael Moore, Democracy Now!

10 March 11

As Wisconsin Republicans passed Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union bill in the State Senate, a bill in Michigan goes even further. In the measure, emergency financial managers would be allowed to break union contracts, dismiss elected officials, and even disincorporate entire municipalities. Michigan Senate Republicans approved the bill yesterday, and protests are expected in the Lansing State Capitol building today. We speak to filmmaker Michael Moore. "[This] is a class war on the people," Moore says. "I think that the whole world has been inspired by what happened in Tunisia and in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. And while their problems are different than ours, the spirit is the same. And we need a pro-democracy movement in this country, badly, right now." READ MORE


This Isn't Over

By Sen. Al Franken, Reader Supported News

10 March 11

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. READ MORE


Wisconsin Assembly Approves Limits on Union Bargaining

By Monica Davey, The New York Times

10 March 11

After weeks of debate over legislation to sharply curtail bargaining rights for government workers, the state Assembly here voted 53-42 Thursday to pass the measure, sending the bill to Gov. Scott Walker who promised to sign it as soon as possible.

The legislation passed following hours of debate. As the vote was taken, Democrats stood and jeered, "No," and people watching from the gallery began a chant of "shame!" as the Republicans filed out.

The minority leader, Peter Barca, said he believes the vote will not stand. "Even though we are very disappointed, we do have recourse in the courts," he said. READ MORE


The Suicide of the Republican Party

By Keith Olbermann, FOK News Channel

10 March 11

Still having never learned to be calm, retract their claws, and sit around and act rationally in a situation that calls for panic, Wisconsin’s Republicans and their Corporate Puppeteers tonight guaranteed themselves an unprecedented and disastrous recall next January.

More over, they also guaranteed themselves that any cloak of stealth under which they have operated in their attacks on teachers, firefighters, policemen, unions, and the settled law of collective bargaining, has been stripped away. If you pass a supposedly urgent “budget repair” bill with key budget components cut from it, you forfeit the fiction that you are doing anything remedial, anything essential, anything except a naked power grab on behalf of corporations who will get the money stolen from organized labor – civic or private. READ MORE


Governor Walker's Coup D'Etat

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

10 March 11

Governor Scott Walker and his Wisconsin senate Republicans have laid bare the motives for their coup d'etat. By severing the financial part of the bill (which couldn't be passed without absent Democrats) from the part eliminating the collective bargaining rights of public employees (which could be), and then doing the latter, Wisconsin Republicans have made it crystal clear that their goal has had nothing whatever to do with the state budget. It's been to bust the unions.

That's no surprise to most people who have watched this conflict from the start, but like any coup its ultimate outcome will depend on the public. If most citizens of Wisconsin are now convinced that Walker and his cohorts are extremists willing to go to any lengths for their big-business patrons (including the billionaire Koch brothers), those citizens will recall enough Republican senators to right this wrong.. READ MORE


Thousands Storm Wisconsin Capitol

By Wisconsin State Journal Staff

10 March 11

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 workers.

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. READ MORE


Idaho Passes GOP Bill to Strip Union Rights

By Mary Wisniewski, Reuters

09 March 11

The Idaho bill, which excludes issues like class size and workloads from negotiations for the state's 12,000 unionized teachers, was given final approval by the Republican-led House and is expected to be signed by Republican Governor Butch Otter.

The bill also eliminates teacher tenure, limits the duration of teacher labor contracts to one year and removes seniority as a factor in determining the order of layoffs.

Idaho is one of several states to take up Republican plans for sweeping restrictions on public sector unions in what has become a growing national debate over labor union power. Republicans say the proposals are needed to rescue recession-battered budgets from deficits, but Democrats and union supporters say they are an attack on organized labor that could linger as an issue into the 2012 presidential elections. READ MORE


BREAKING: Wisconsin GOP Rams Anti-Union Bill Through

By Scott Bauer, Associated Press

09 March 11

Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday night to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers after discovering a way to bypass the chamber's missing Democrats.

All 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois nearly three weeks ago, preventing the chamber from having enough members present to consider Gov. Scott Walker's so-called "budget repair bill" - a proposal introduced to plug a $137 million budget shortfall.

The Senate requires a quorum to take up any measures that spend money. But Republicans on Wednesday split from the legislation the proposal to curtail union rights, which spends no money, and a special conference committee of state lawmakers approved the bill a short time later. READ MORE


Teachers, Businesses "Getting Screwed" By Gov Walker


School Board Makes Sweeping Changes to Employee Contracts in Ohio

By Gloria Eadeh, Sun News

09 March 11

With the passage of Senate Bill 5, the school board jumped at the chance to rewrite employee contracts, making sweeping changes in the Rocky River Teachers’ Association and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees Chapter 381 contracts.

The new two-year contracts, which take effect July 1, run through June 30, 2013. They call for a zero percent increase on the base salary of publicly employed teachers for both years, with the step increases remaining in effect. Employee contributions to health care premiums will jump from 3 percent to 11 percent. Prescription drugs will increase as well, but it was not specified how much. READ MORE


90-Year-Old Protester Continues Family Tradition

By Jim Stingl, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

08 March 11

At age 90, retired teacher Margret Klessig had to be one of the oldest demonstrators at the Capitol in the fight over the state budget.

But it would be tough to top her late husband, Edward, who got lots of attention in 1976 when he brought his cows to the Capitol square for 30 days to protest a freeway project.

Speaking up runs in their farm family. READ MORE


Emails Reveal Possible Walker Concessions on Union Bill

By Jason Stein and Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

09 March 11

Gov. Scott Walker's office released documents Tuesday showing he's willing to give on some points of his union bargaining bill to break the Capitol standoff and bring Senate Democrats back from Illinois.

The e-mails showed ideas and counteroffers - panned Tuesday by state labor leaders and some Democrats - that were made by the Republican governor's aides and two Democrats as they sought some resolution that would allow Democrats to come back to Wisconsin. Senate Democrats have been holed up in Illinois since Feb. 17, when they left the state to block a vote on Walker's budget-repair bill.

The bill as proposed by Walker and approved by the Assembly last month would repeal bargaining by public employee unions over their benefits and work conditions, leaving only bargaining over wages with a cap based on the rate of inflation, barring a referendum. The measure has sparked massive protests in recent weeks. READ MORE


Recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker?

(image: MSNBC)


The Birth of the People's Party

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

08 March

Look at the outrage in Madison, Wisconsin. Look at the crowds in DesMoines, Iowa. Look at the demonstrations in Indiana and Ohio and elsewhere around America.

Hear what they're saying: Stop attacking unions. Stop making scapegoats out of public employees. Stop protecting the super-rich from paying their fair share of the taxes needed to keep our schools running.

Stop gutting the working middle class. READ MORE


Gov. Walker Does 'Something Big'

By Stanley Kutler, Truthdig

08 March 11

The tea-party-enabled Wisconsin Legislature is working overtime to protect its governor. On the same day that the US Supreme Court ruled that protests at military funerals are protected speech, two of the more benighted majority Republican state legislators offered their version of protected speech. They introduced a bill to prohibit telephone callers from lying about their identity as well as giving a false number, subject to a $10,000 fine. The Wisconsin legislators said that "while the use of spoofing is said to have some legitimate uses, it could also be used to frighten, harass and potentially defraud."

The bill's authors predictably insisted the proposal was unrelated to last week's now-viral prank call to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in which the governor, believing he was talking to David Koch, the prominent moneyman for conservative causes, bragged about his unwillingness to budge in his stand against public employees. "I would be willing to sit down and talk to the [Democratic and Republican legislative] leaders.... [T]alk, not negotiate," he emphasized. The governor is not reticent about his anti-union credentials. He thanked "Koch" - "one of us" - for "all the support," and added that "it's all about getting our freedoms back." There we have Scott Walker unplugged, defrocked just as the Wizard of Oz. READ MORE


How I Got to Madison, Wisconsin

By Michael Moore, Reader Supported News

07 March 11

Friends, early yesterday morning, around 1:00 AM, I had finished work for the day on my current "project" (top secret for now - sorry, no spoiler alerts!). Someone had sent me a link to a discussion Bill O'Reilly had had with Sarah Palin a few hours earlier about my belief that the money the 21st Century rich have absconded with really isn't theirs - and that a vast chunk of it should be taken away from them.

They were referring to comments I had made earlier in the week on a small cable show called GRITtv (Part 1 and Part 2). I honestly didn't know this was going to air that night (I had been asked to stop by and say a few words of support for a nurses union video), but I spoke from my heart about the millions of our fellow Americans who have had their homes and jobs stolen from them by a criminal class of millionaires and billionaires. It was the morning after the Oscars, at which the winner of Best Documentary for "Inside Job" stood at the microphone and declared, "I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail. And that's wrong." And he was applauded for saying this. (When did they stop booing Oscar speeches? Damn!) READ MORE


Gov. Walker Does ‘Something Big’

Stanley Kutler, truthdig

08 March 2011

The Koch brothers have assumed that very mantle and that fight, and Walker is their willing, useful instrument. He has not crossed the Rubicon to some new land, as Charles Krauthammer has lamely argued; instead, Walker is solidly tethered to an old, tattered, repudiated page of his state’s history. READ MORE


Poll: Majority Want Walker to Negotiate

By Doug Erickson,

07 March 11

A strong majority of Wisconsin residents want Republican Gov. Scott Walker to negotiate with Democrats and public sector unions to find a compromise in the current budget standoff, according to a new poll by the conservative-leaning Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

Sixty-five percent of survey respondents said Walker "should compromise," while 33 percent said he should "stand strong."

While the percentage of people with a somewhat or strongly favorable opinion of Walker has dropped only slightly since last November, from 45 percent to 43 percent, opposition to him has solidified and increased. Fifty-three percent now have a somewhat or strongly unfavorable opinion of him, up from 35 percent in November. READ MORE


No "Camping" at Madison Capitol;
Permit Rule for Rallies, Marches to Be Enforced

By Bill Novak, The Capital Times

07 March 11

There will be no more sleeping on the state Capitol grounds by protesters, and the organizers of any new march or rally at the Capitol will need to get a permit. The Capitol Police issued a statement Monday saying the administrative code prohibits camping on the state Capitol grounds, so effective Monday, March 7, camping will not be permitted.

"Camp" or "camping" means the use of a shelter such as a tent, trailer, motor vehicle, tarpaulin, bedroll or sleeping bag for temporary residence or sleeping purposes, the statement said. "Anyone found camping on the state Capitol grounds in violation of this rule will be cited and removed," the statement said.

Protesters had been staying overnight inside the Capitol until March 4 when police stopped the practice. Several dozen protesters took their sleeping bags outside and were still camping out overnight on the Capitol grounds. The Wisconsin Department of Administration is also reminding users of the Capitol or the Capitol Square that a "state facility use permit" is required for rallies, marches, parades, races, or other events, both inside and outside the Capitol. READ MORE


Racketeer Rabbit Republicans

By Keith Olbermann, FOK News

07 March 11

All of human existence may divide equally into only two distinct and important times: those times when reality reminds you slightly of something you once saw in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and those times when reality reminds you a lot of something you saw once in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

In the 1946 Looney Tune "Racketeer Rabbit," Bugs interrupts an Edward G. Robinson character dividing up loot with a Peter Lorre character. As ever, the rabbit knows how to get all the dough. READ MORE


Recall Drives Could Make History

By Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

06 March 11

As improbable as the last three weeks have been in state politics, Wisconsin is about to embark on another wild ride into the political unknown - a series of legislative recall campaigns on a scale the nation has rarely, if ever, seen.

"I don't think there's a precedent for what's going on in Wisconsin," said Gary Moncrief of Boise State University, an expert on legislative politics. "I don't think there's ever been a case where pretty much everyone has been subject to a recall attempt at one time on both sides. That's really amazing."

Formal recall campaigns have now been launched against 16 state senators - eight Republicans and eight Democrats. That's everyone in the 33-member Wisconsin Senate who is legally eligible to be recalled this year. READ MORE


America Is NOT Broke

By Michael Moore, Open Mike Blog

06 March 11

America is not broke.

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. READ MORE


Walker Donor Wins Tax Break in Budget

By Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

06 March 11

Things are tight at the statehouse, but not so tight that Gov. Scott Walker couldn't find room in his proposed state budget to insert a tax break for some in Wisconsin's prefab home industry. And it's a tax break that would benefit one of his biggest contributors - Wausau Homes in Rothschild....

It is true that the firm's co-owners and the co-founder's wife donated a total of $25,000 to Walker's campaign fund last election. The trio has also been active with the tea party movement and Americans for Prosperity, which helped organize tea party events.

Also, the head of the association that represents the prefabricated home industry said Friday that Wausau Homes would benefit from the Walker budget provision, which proposes exempting certain prefabricated homes made in Wisconsin from the sales tax if they are to be shipped to and located in another state. The state estimates that this would cut state revenue by more than $500,000 over the next two years. READ MORE


Walker's Plan to Privatize Assistance Programs Will Hurt Poor Families

By Pat Sshneider, The Capital Times

07 March 11

Will Gov. Scott Walker's budget make it harder for poor families in Wisconsin to get medical care and put food on the table? Some people think so.

The governor is proposing to move the responsibility for determining eligibility for aid programs - including the heavily used food stamp and medical assistance programs – from the counties with their accessible satellite offices to the state.

Even more troubling to some, the governor's budget also sets the stage to hand over basic administrative functions of the food stamp and medical assistance programs statewide to private vendors, a move the state has already tried on a small scale with troubling results.

"This budget would make it tougher for moms and dads and kids to get basic needs met," says Dane County spokesperson Joshua Wescott. "It's based on a model that's had real challenges." READ MORE


Don't Believe the (Union-Busting) Hype

By Joe Conason, Truthdig

06 March 11

If you are a normal, trusting consumer of American journalism, you might well have gotten the impression by now that the current attempt to break public-sector unions - with its epicenter in Wisconsin - is overwhelmingly supported by the nation's voters.

You need not be a devotee of Fox News Channel or Rush Limbaugh to believe that Americans despise the unions that represent cops, teachers (especially teachers!) and firefighters. You might reasonably believe that simply because far more authoritative news sources have repeatedly suggested it.

You might think so, for example, because the New York Times Sunday magazine told you so in a cover story written by one of the newspaper of record's top political analysts last week, or because the Wall Street Journal editorial page said the same thing a few days ago. READ MORE


The Wisconsin 14

By Richard Trumka, Reader Supported News

06 March 11

For anyone who still thinks the inspiring actions in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana are just about public employees in those states, here's a moving dose of reality.

People in every walk of life and every part of the country - even other countries - are expressing heartfelt gratitude to the 14 Democratic state senators who left Wisconsin Feb. 17 rather than allow Gov. Scott Walker to pass a sham budget bill taking from state and local workers the right to bargain for good middle-class jobs.

Gov. Walker and state Republicans may be sending them $100-a-day fines and arrest warrants, but take a look at some Facebook and phone messages real people are sending the brave Wisconsin 14: READ MORE


Both Sides Begin Efforts for Recalls in Wisconsin

By Monica Davey, The New York Times

05 March 11

The fight over collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in Wisconsin remained at an impasse this weekend, even as its political fallout - in recall efforts of state legislators and dueling television commercials - grew larger.

Fourteen Senate Democrats, who left the state on Feb. 17 to prevent a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's plan to curtail bargaining and benefits for public workers, were said to have taken part in recent days in discussions with Republicans, but no progress was announced Saturday. Even as they remained in Illinois (in order to avoid being returned by Wisconsin law enforcement officials to the Capitol), some of the Senate Democrats, who make up a minority in Madison, found themselves the focus of recall efforts, as did some Senate Republicans by forces opposed to Mr. Walker's bill.

All told, more than a dozen senators were being singled out, chosen in part because of Wisconsin’s rules for recalls, which require selected lawmakers to have been in office for at least a year and call for thousands of voters’ signatures to be gathered in a matter of 60 days - a process that was under way with canvassing all weekend. READ MORE


The Lawyers' Committee Reflects on Wisconsin and the Effect on Civil Rights Progress

By Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

04 March 11

WASHINGTON, DC - Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Executive Director Barbara Arnwine released the following statement:

As we mark the 43rd anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike which led to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s intervention and his assassination, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law wants to remind the American public of the historic role of protecting and maintaining workers' rights as part of civil rights progress. We all can continue learning from Dr. King's leadership and teachings. As he stated on March 18, 1968, in the midst of a strike of 1,200 black sanitation workers, "all labor has dignity."

In contrast to Dr. King's ideals, recent efforts not only by Governor Scott Walker, but also governors in other states to eliminate the gains obtained by public sector workers will have devastating consequences for racial minorities and civil rights progress. At the core of the civil and human rights movement is economic equality which is based upon civil rights enforcement and strong protections for working Americans. Indeed, the impact upon state and local government job cuts would be particularly devastating to minorities, including women, as they account for a substantial segment of unionized public employment. READ MORE


Anonymous Takes Down Koch's Americans for Prosperity Website

By Ben Smith, Politico

27 February 11

The online activist group "anonymous," which has used coordinated denial of service attacks - a crude but effective Internet weapon - to temporary disable sites belonging to foes ranging from Scientology to WikiLeaks foes - has turned its firepower on the Koch-backed conservative group Americans for Prosperity, making the group's site intermittently unavailable tonight.

From the typically immodest press release, which begins, "Dear Citizens of the United States of America":

It has come to our attention that the brothers, David and Charles Koch--the billionaire owners of Koch Industries - have long attempted to usurp American Democracy. Their actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin are the final straw. Starting today we fight back. READ MORE


Walker Losing Support From Senate Republicans in Wisconsin?

By David Dayen, FireDogLake

04 March 11

Scott Walker is boxed in. He missed his chance to claim victory when public employee unions agreed to his health care and pension concessions, essentially agreeing to a 7% pay cut. But Walker wanted it all. He wanted the destruction of public unions by eliminating collective bargaining. Nothing less would do.

We know what happened next (though if you want an excellent explainer of how it all transpired, Andy Kroll has you covered). The outcome will either be decided by Senate Democrats, or Senate Republicans. Walker will not move. But it appears his colleagues on the GOP side in the Senate may. Stephen Moore sent out an alarm call today:

Conservatives in Wisconsin are getting nervous that three Republican state senators may defect on the collective-bargaining reform vote. It's still anyone's guess as to when that vote will take place because Democrats remain in exile to prevent the necessary quorum. But Republicans in the Senate hold a 19-14 majority, so GOP Gov. Scott Walker can afford to lose no more than two Republican senators on this pivotal vote. READ MORE


Gov. Scott Walker, Power Plants, and a Fake Budget "Crisis"

By Mike Maneval, Williamsport Sun-Gazette

04 March 11

The assault on public-sector earnings in Wisconsin continues to be portrayed by right-wing pundits as a necessity due to the state's "bankruptcy." Officials have to require that prison guards and teachers spend the money they would otherwise spend in the private sector's stores and restaurants on health care and retirement plans, the argument goes, because the state simply doesn't have the revenues to fulfill the obligations to which it had agreed in past contracts.

However, Gov. Scott Walker's budget plan, as detailed by financial analyst, blogger and fellow at the Roosevelt Institute Mike Konczal, also allows the state to sell power plants at public institutions, including colleges, without a bidding process. If Wisconsin was truly in such dire financial straits, shouldn't the state seek to maximize the price for these facilities owned by all the state's taxpayers - including the maligned teachers and prison guards? READ MORE


GOP Senator Yanked Off Committee 30 Minutes Before Anti-Union Vote

By Alex Seitz-Wald, Think Progress

04 March 11

On Wednesday, just moments before a key committee in the Ohio State Senate was to vote on a GOP bill that would effectively dismantle public employees' right to collectively bargain, the Senate's Republican leader replaced a GOP committee member who opposed the bill with someone who supported it to ensure the measure passed. It was a brazen and nearly unprecedented move, and even more so considering that State Sen. Bill Seitz (R) told ThinkProgress that he is good friends with, and has been roommates for ten years with State Senate President Tom Niehaus, who yanked Seitz off the committee. Indeed, they were sworn in to the state House on the same day and eventually followed each other to the Senate, sharing an apartment in the capital throughout.

In a telephone interview with ThinkProgress yesterday afternoon, Seitz recounted how he was informed of the move by his good friend Niehaus just a half hour before the vote. Seitz, a conservative Republican who proudly noted that he works for a "management-side" law firm founded by the namesake of the very pro-management Taft-Hartley Act, said he supports "85 percent" of Senate Bill 5, but ultimately opposed it because it "goes to far." READ MORE


Walker Notifies Unions of Layoffs, Gives Democrats 15 Day Deadline

By Patrick Marley and Jason Stein, Milwaukee Journal SentinelR

04 March 11

Gov. Scott Walker notified unions Friday of impending layoffs if a budget-repair bill isn't passed in the next 15 days, even as both Republicans and Democrats showed signs of moving from their entrenched positions as they try to break a stalemate that has lasted nearly three weeks.

Walker warned Thursday that he would issue the notices on Friday that would affect up to 1,500 state employees. The actual notices, however, did not spell out how many people could be laid off, and a spokesman for the governor said the layoffs could be reduced by employee retirements.

According to GOP sources familiar with talks on the bill, the discussions with Democratic senators holed up in Illinois include removing or changing a provision from Walker's budget-repair bill that would limit unions' bargaining over wages to the rate of inflation. The talks have also touched on the possibility of removing or changing a provision that would require workers to vote every year on whether their union would remain active or be decertified, the sources said. READ MORE


Michael Moore: People Still Have the Power

Laura Flanders, GRITtv

04 March 11

"This is a movement that is not going to stop," says filmmaker Michael Moore of the uprising in Madison, Wisconsin (and across the country--all 50 states held solidarity rallies this weekend). "I knew sooner or later people would say they've had enough." Michael joins Laura in studio for part one of a two-part conversation about the war on working people in America. He notes that it started in 1981 with Reagan's attack on the air traffic controllers, and it's mostly targeted the poor, as with Clinton's welfare reform. But the attacks on middle class families have finally reached a point where people aren't going to take it anymore. WATCH


Wisconsin Protesters Upbeat As They Leave Capital


Wisconsin Protesters Vacate Capitol


04 March 11

About 50 protesters vacated the Wisconsin Capitol late Thursday about two hours after a judge ordered the building to be cleared at night. Also Thursday, Gov. Scott Walker said he would issue layoff notices to 1,500 state workers Friday if a proposal that would cripple public unions isn't approved. The judge's order led to a sometimes tense two hours as police and the attorney who presented the unions who fought the policy to restrict access to the building urged them to leave peacefully. Police did not say whether there were stragglers but noted there were no arrests. READ MORE


The Spirit of Wisconsin

John Nichols, The Nation

04 March 11

But it’s not just the labor leaders who are inspired, and that’s the most important lesson. “Something about this has struck a chord of fairness and humanity that runs deep in all of us,” Sarah Roberts told me as she waited for her mom. "We’ve been pushed around for so long, told we didn’t have any power for so long. But I think our grandparents and our parents, they planted something in us, some values. And if we get pushed too far, we are going to push back. I think it started here, and I am so excited to see where we take it." READ MORE


Republican War on Working Families


As Union Membership Declined, Income Inequality Has Skyrocketed (With Graphic)

By Zaid Jilani, Think Progress

03 March 11

Across the country, right-wing legislators continue their attack on labor unions, claiming that they are saving their states money. Yet in waging these anti-labor campaigns, these politicians are ignoring one very simple fact: unions were a major force in building and sustaining the great American middle class, and as they declined, so has the middle class.

As CAP's Karla Waters and David Madland showed in a report they first published this past January, as union membership has steadily declined since 1967, so too has the middle class's share of national income, as the super-rich have taken a larger share of national income than any time since the 1920s.

This is not to say that declining union membership is the only factor that led to the growth of income inequality over the past 35 years. Yet, the correlation does show that the presence of strong labor unions tends to co-exist with a strong and vibrant middle class. That is why a Main Street Movement all over the country is fighting to protect collective bargaining and the middle class wages, benefits, and protections it promotes. READ MORE


National Right-Wing Spin Machine Gears Up in Wisconsin

By PRWatch

03 March 11

National Republican Donors, Apparatchiks, and Strategists Come to the Defense of Embattled Governor Scott Walker

Shadowy "issue ad" groups that do not disclose their funders as well as heavy hitter political action committees are rushing to the aid of embattled Wisconsin Senator Scott Walker, whose poll number are dropping like a rock. The list of outside big money attacking Wisconsin state workers and teachers read like a "who's who" of the Republican donor and special interest group apparatus.

The Koch-Funded Group Americans for Prosperity: "Who Decides Wisconsin's Future?"

"Americans for Prosperity" is chaired by oil billionaire David Koch. It has two arms, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF), a 501(c)(3) public charity that received over $10 million in financial contributions in 2009 (a nearly 50% increase over the preceding year), and Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a 501(c)(4), that received over $16 million in financial contributions that year (a more than 100% increase over the year before). The tax forms for AFPF and AFP for their funding and expenses during last year, a mid-term election year, are not yet available. The groups do not disclose their donors. AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and climate (cap-and-trade) legislation. They launched a major ad campaign in Wisconsin shortly after news of the prank phone call between Governor Scott Walker and a fake David Koch made national news. READ MORE


Republican Union-Busting Advances in Ohio

By Mira Oberman, Agence Frence-Presse

03 March 11

Republican attempts to push labor unions out of the government sector in several US states advanced Wednesday when Ohio's state senate passed a bill that would strip public workers of collective bargaining rights.

Unions are the biggest sources of financial and grass roots, get-out-the-vote organizational support for Democrats and have long been a target of business-backed Republicans.

President Barack Obama on Monday criticized the moves by his Republican foes to bust public sector unions and slash wages and benefits "while the wealthiest among us get to keep or get more tax breaks." READ MORE


At the Capitol, Witnesses to History

By Don Walker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

03 March 11

With issues of free speech and assembly on the line, the hearing this week before Dane County Circuit Court Judge John Albert on organized labor's effort to force the state to provide more access to the State Capitol is an important one.

The state Department of Administration, represented by Asst. Atty. Gen. Steven Means, has argued that the state has been more than reasonable and accommodating in allowing thousands of people to demonstrate inside and outside the building against Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill.

The Wisconsin State Employees Union, AFSCME Council 24, AFL-CIO, lead by former Atty. Gen. Peggy Lautenschlager, went to court in the first place because the organization said access to the Capitol was being denied to people who wanted their voices heard. READ MORE


Ohio Social Security Workers Protest Proposed Budget Cuts

By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun

02 March 11

Social Security Administration employees rallied outside the agency's Woodlawn headquarters and offices across the country Wednesday in a union-organized protest against proposed budget cuts.

Workers shouted "furlough Congress" after hearing an American Federation of Government Employees leader say cuts in a House-approved budget would be the equivalent of workers taking off an entire month without pay.

Congress is five months into the current fiscal year but has yet to pass a budget. The version passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would reduce total spending on all agencies by $61 billion compared with last fiscal year. READ MORE


"Fox News Lies" in Wisconsin


More Wisconsin GOP Bills:
What Else Are Republicans Up To?

By Steve Elbow, The Capital Times

01 March 11

Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to effectively end collective bargaining by public workers has sparked massive protests and riveted the nation. But what else have state Republicans been up to? Bills have been coming down the pike that would add to union woes, make it harder to vote at the polls and allow charter schools to proliferate. And Republicans haven't even gotten to the social issues yet.

Perhaps the most controversial bills introduced during the regular legislative session have been proposals in the Assembly and the Senate to require voters to produce a photo ID from the state Department of Transportation when arriving at the polls, a move that critics say will stifle tens of thousands of votes, mostly those of Democratic-leaning groups like students, the elderly and the poor.

Here's a partial rundown of other GOP legislation introduced in recent days: READ MORE


Absent Senate Democrats to Be Fined

By Jason Stein, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

02 March 11

In an effort Wednesday to step up the pressure on the Democrats, the state Senate unanimously adopted a resolution that would fine senators $100 each time they miss a session day without a valid excuse.

The rule -- approved with only Republicans present -- would apply to senators who have missed two or more unexcused session days.



Wisconsin Sheriff Refuses to Serve as
"Palace Guard”

John Nichols, The Nation

02 March 2011

No one has worked harder - and smarter - to keep the peace in Madison during the dispute over Governor Scott Walker's attempt to crush public employee unions than Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney. A veteran lawman who came up through the ranks of the sheriff's department in the state’s second largest county before being elected sheriff in 2006, he's hugely popular in the capital county - winning reelection in 2010 with 71 percent of the vote. READ MORE


Dane County Sheriff:
Restricting Capitol Access "Unsafe"

By Steven Elbow, The Capital Times

01 March 11

A visibly indignant Sheriff Dave Mahoney on Tuesday said the Walker administration's continuing restriction on access to the Capitol "jeopardizes public safety."

"It's crucial that individuals have a voice," he said at a press conference with Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne. Otherwise, he said, people could resort to "desperate actions."

Mahoney praised the law enforcement officers from the Capitol Police and from areas around the state called to provide security over the past two weeks ... But he said the officers blocking access to the Capitol were being put "in the position of being palace guards." READ MORE

City Aldermen Call for Defeat of Walker's Budget-Repair Bill

By Larry Sandler, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

01 March 11

Milwaukee aldermen called Tuesday for the defeat of the entire state budget-repair bill, including its controversial restrictions on collective bargaining for most public employees.

But if the bill is approved, as expected, the Common Council said, the state should require the same pension and health care contributions for police officers and firefighters as for other state and local government workers.

The state legislation, officially aimed at closing a $137 million budget gap in the fiscal year ending June 30, would require most state and local government and school district employees to pay more for their pensions and health care, and would prevent their unions from bargaining on anything except wages, within strict limits. None of those changes, however, would apply to police, firefighters, sheriff's deputies or state troopers. READ MORE


Middle Class Keeps Up the Fight

(image: MSNBC)


Beautiful Wisconsin

By John Cory, Reader Supported News

28 February 11

When he began the book, he wrote: "I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this."

It started three years earlier as a series of articles for the San Francisco News. He investigated camp life, and even drove Route 66 so he would know the terrain. He walked and talked with the people, capturing language and lives, and then put ink to paper. READ MORE


Wisconsin "Budget Repair Bill" Protest


Wisconsin "Budget Repair Bill" Protest Pt 2


State Rep. Turned Away From Capitol, Lobbyists Enter "Without Difficulty"

By Steve Elbow, The Capital Times

28 February 11

State Rep Kelda Helen Roys, D-Madison, says she was denied access to the Capitol at several entrances this morning because she refused to show her Capitol ID card.

"I said I'm a representative, but I don't feel you have any legal basis for restricting my access whether I have a Capitol ID or not," she says. "And they said, 'Our orders are that no one gets in this building unless they have a Capitol ID.'" She eventually got in by tagging along with a member of the media.

She says several lobbyists were able to get in "without difficulty."

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, says he tried to bring in firefighters to a meeting today, but at first was denied. He was subsequently allowed to bring in a limited number. READ MORE


Police Union Declares Solidarity With Madison Protests


Capitol Closed to Public; New Rules Tighten Access

By Jason Stein and Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

28 February 11

The Capitol is shut down to visitors from the public Monday morning, with only staff and media being allowed inside. The state Department of Administration tightened rules on access to the statehouse Monday morning after deciding the night before not to force out hundreds of demonstrators who were camped out in the rotunda. Some of those protesters from the weekend are still in the building.

Protesters lined up outside the King St. entrance to the Capitol Monday morning, waiting to be let in, while others began to march around the building. "We are going to let people in in a measured way, but we have to get this building cleaned up," Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said Monday.

On Tuesday, Gov. Scott Walker will deliver his budget address in the state Capitol's Assembly chambers to a joint session of the Legislature and the Walker administration said Monday that part of the restrictions on public access were in preparation for that. READ MORE

600 Defy Order to Leave Wisconsin Capitol

By Patricia Simms and Gena Kittner, Wisconsin State Journal

28 February 11

What we are witnessing in Wisconsin is the power of unity and solidarity. The 600 protesters who stood their ground and refused to leave the Wisconsin State Capitol are examples of what a group of committed people can do if they stand up for a just cause. We are not only witnessing it in Madison, but throughout the Middle East as well. -- SMG/RSN READ MORE


When Glenn Beck Attacks, Someone Could Get Hurt

By NPR Staff

27 February 11

Glenn Beck calls her one of the most dangerous people in the world.

"I'm about 5-foot-6," Frances Fox Piven tells Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. "I'm 78 years old. My hair is partly grey. I'm quite thin."

Piven is a professor at the City College of New York. In 1966, she and her late husband, Richard Cloward, wrote an article for The Nation outlining a plan to help the poor of New York and other big cities to get on welfare. READ MORE


Police Allow Capitol Protesters to Stay Overnight

By Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

27 February 11 - 7:21pm CST

Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said Sunday night that protesters can remain inside the state Capitol. "The people who are in the building will be allowed to stay,"Tubbs said. "There will be no arrests unless people violate the law."

Several hundred protesters refused to leave the building when the doors were shut at 4 p.m. as authorities attempted to get the state Capitol back to normal working hours.

"I think this is the best policy,"Tubbs said. "Lock the doors. If you want to leave you can but you cannot return." READ MORE


Hundreds Defy Order to Vacate Wisconsin Capitol

By WISC-TV / Channel, Staff

27 February 11 - 5:22pm CST

The Wisconsin Capitol police chief said officers are trying to persuade the protesters who haven't left the Capitol to leave voluntarily Sunday.

Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said officers have not arrested any of the protesters who remained in the building in defiance of a 4pm Sunday deadline.

When asked whether those who refused would be arrested, Tubbs repeated that authorities want people to leave voluntarily. READ MORE


Police Hoping for Protesters to Voluntarily Leave Capitol

By Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Staff

27 February 11 - 4:49pm CST

More than 45 minutes after its official close, hundreds of people remain in the state Capitol to protest. It does not appear they will be forced out any time soon.

"The desire is that this is voluntary compliance with people leaving," said Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney. He said the building needs to be closed so it can be given a thorough cleaning after being open around the clock for nearly two weeks.

He noted few incidents have occurred during that time, saying he knew of only one arrest since protests began. Fewer than a dozen people have been issued citations, he said. READ MORE


Hundreds Risk "Peaceful Arrest" at Capitol

By Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Staff

27 February 11 - 4:12pm CST

As the 4 p.m. deadline to close the state Capitol approached Sunday, several protesters made preparations for what they termed a peaceful arrest. They said if they are asked to leave the building, they will refuse.

t 3:30 p.m. a general announcement went out over the loudspeaker system saying that the building will close at 4 p.m. "The Capitol police have been very cooperative with us," said Peter Rickman, 28, of Neenah. "This dispute here is between the working folks of Wisconsin and Governor (Scott) Walker."

Alex Hanna, 25, a teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the protesters "feel strongly about this issue of worker rights." "Some people will walk out, (when the building is closed)," Hanna said. "Some will be carried out." Hanna said closing the building "was a politically-motivated decision." READ MORE


Wisconsin Supporters Rally in Chicago

By Dan Rozek, Chicago Sun-Times

27 February 11

Union workers and supporters ignored wintry weather Saturday as they rallied downtown to protest efforts by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to strip most public employees in that state of their collective bargaining rights.

The rally came as one of the 14 runaway Wisconsin senators said in an appearance at Operation PUSH Headquarters on the South Side that she and the other Democratic legislators won't return home until the GOP governor agrees to negotiate on his plan to end collective bargaining for public workers. "His agenda is wrong for Wisconsin, and we're standing our ground," Wisconsin State Sen. Lena Taylor said.

Organizers estimated about 2,000 people braved snow and cold winds to attend the rally outside the James R. Thompson Center. There were no arrests, police said. READ MORE


Special Report: Anatomy of a Protest:
From a Simple March to a National Fight

By Dan Simmons, Wisconsin State Journal

27 February 11

On Feb. 7, with Wisconsin united in the afterglow of a Green Bay Packers victory in the Super Bowl, brand-new Gov. Scott Walker convened a dinner meeting of his Cabinet at the Governor's Mansion.

Walker held up a photo of President Ronald Reagan, who had famously fired striking air-traffic controllers, and said his plan to sweep away decades of protections for state public employees in a stop-gap budget bill represented "our time to change the course of history."

"It was kind of the last hurrah before we dropped the bomb," he said.

The budget-repair bill, which would strip most collective-bargaining rights from 175,000 public-sector workers while imposing immediate benefits concessions, went public four days later. Walker, a Republican, called for passage in the GOP-controlled Legislature within a week. READ MORE

In Madison, Week Ends in Gridlock, Frustration

By Patrick Marley, Jason Stein and Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

25 February 11

Only two months into his term, Republican Gov. Scott Walker is facing the bane of all elected leaders: Political gridlock.

Both Republicans and Democrats have dug in on the issue of union rights for public workers, which has riven the state Capitol for two weeks. One of the only ideas for compromise has received so little support that the proponent of the plan declined to introduce it Friday on the floor of the Senate.

The proposal by Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) would require deeper concessions from public employees than Walker's budget-repair plan, but preserve more of workers' collective bargaining rights. Walker and legislative leaders have dismissed the plan and said they are unwilling to concede on any point. READ MORE


Wisconsin Capitol Protesters Must Leave Sunday

By Cary Spivak and Don Walker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

26 February 11

Thousands of demonstrators who have occupied the Capitol for nearly two weeks will have to leave by 4 p.m. Sunday, state Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said Friday.

In a statement, Tubbs said the building will reopen on Monday at 8 a.m. The Capitol police will then more closely monitor the number of people in the building.

The statement said protest organizers agreed to remove items from the building, which has been cluttered with sleeping bags and mattresses as well as hundreds of signs and posters. Walls throughout the building have been plastered with signs denouncing Gov. Scott Walker and his budget-repair plan that on some days has drawn tens of thousands of protesters and counterdemonstrators to the Capitol. READ MORE


Volunteers Leading Wis. Protest Efforts

By Jason Smathers, Associated Press

26 February 11

Harriet Rowan was among the first to join the Wisconsin Capitol protest village. That was on Valentine's Day, and it was only the next day when thousands of others began camping out with her in the rotunda that the rumor mill, misinformation and confusion took off as fast as the crowd size.

"I came back on Tuesday night and there was absolutely no organization," Rowan said. "People needed people to go up upstairs and testify all night to keep the building open ... people were going around just waking people up ... it was chaotic."

The University of Wisconsin senior made a snap decision to coordinate protest efforts, producing signs with media talking points and starting a Twitter feed detailing legislative meeting times, union rally locations and details on day-to-day life in the Capitol. READ MORE


Democrats Shouting "Shame!" on Wisconsin Assembly Floor


Our Community. Our Resource. Our Canada.

"To people down here in the US, Thompson, Canada, and its fight with
the Brazilian mining giant Vale may seem very far away. It's not."
- Michael Moore


We Are Public Employees Too!

Iraq Veterans Against the War

25 February 2011

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) calls on all U.S. military service members to refuse and resist any mobilization against workers organizing to protect their basic rights. IVAW stands in solidarity with the multitude gathered in Madison, Wisconsin and many other cities to defend their unions. READ MORE


All Providence, RI, Teachers to Get Termination Letters

By Los Angeles Times

24 February 11

The school board of Rhode Island's financially troubled capital city has voted to send termination letters to all of its nearly 2,000 teachers after city officials said the move would give them "maximum flexibility" to make budget cuts.

State law requires school departments to notify teachers by March 1 if they'll be laid off the following school year.

Providence teachers received notices of potential layoffs before the board met Thursday night and voted 4-3 on sending termination letters. The notices don't mean the teachers will lose their jobs, but the vote means some of them could at the end of the year. READ MORE


Take Action This Saturday: Pro-Union Rallies Being Held at Every State Capitol

By Lauren Kelley, AlterNet

24 February 2011

Are you frustrated by Scott Walker's efforts to quash the collective bargaining rights of union workers in Wisconsin? Well you should be, because his success could have implications for workers - union and non-union alike - across the country.

This weekend, you can channel that frustration, and show support for your pro-labor brothers and sisters in Wisconsin, by participating in a 50-state plan to rally at every American state capitol building. Organized by and other progressive groups and unions, the rallies will take place at noon on Saturday, February 26. Here's how the action is described by READ MORE


Wisconsin GOP to Kick Protesters Out of Capitol

By David Weigel, Slate

24 February 2011

Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, the GOP's leader in the upper house, said today that access to parts of the Capitol will be closed off to the public starting 6 p.m.

A little background. The occupation of the capitol is, in some ways, a fluke. Citizens are allowed to stay overnight in the Capitol if there is a hearing going on and people are giving testimony. Democrats have had a quasi-official hearing going since the start of this impasse, which has allowed hundreds of people to sleep in the Capitol every night. But since the start of this week, the Assembly and Senate wings of the Capitol have been closed off by police tape, restricting movement. At his presser today and in a short scrum afterward, Fitzgerald explained that the Senate would start limiting access to those areas after 6 p.m. Saturday, restricting the sleepover. READ MORE

Wisconsin State Senator Tim Carpenter Asks Gov. Walker to Resign

By twolf1, FireDogLake

24 February 2011

Dear Governor Walker,

I am informed that a tape recording has been released in which you apparently held an extensive discussion with someone you believed to be your campaign supporter, David Koch. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel states that the caller was actually a reporter, pretending to be David Koch, and it has posted a transcript of the recording. It appears that you admit the call occurred, and have not contested the authenticity of transcript.

David Koch is the billionaire businessman who reportedly contributed thousands to your campaign and who the media claims is a key source of funding for shadowy political groups that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars attacking your political adversaries in our state. READ MORE

Main Street Movement Erupts as Thousands Across Country Protest War on the Middle Class

By Zaid Jilani, Think Progress

24 February 2011

Last week, 14 Wisconsin Senate Democrats inspired the nation when they decided to flee the state rather than allow quorum for a vote on a bill that would have decimated the state's public employee unions and dealt a crippling blow to the state’s hard-working teachers, sanitation employees, and other middle class union members. Since then, tens of thousands of Wisconsinites have taken to the streets in even greater number than before the walkout in support of the fleeing legislators and in opposition to Gov. Scott Walker's (R) anti-middle class agenda.

Inspired by the events in Wisconsin, thousands of Americans all over the country are taking action to battle legislation that would attack their labor rights, defund their schools, threaten their health and safety, and decimate the American middle class. Here are just some of the places across the nation that are taking part in this new "Main Street Movement" to defend and rebuild the American middle class: READ MORE


Wisconsin Governor May Have Violated Labor Law in Koch Call

John Nichols, The Nation

24 February 2011

When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker discussed strategies to lay off state employees for political purposes, to coordinate supposedly "independent" political expenditures to aid legislatures who support his budget repair bill and to place agent provocateurs on the streets of Madison in order to disrupt peaceful demonstrations, he committed what the former attorney general of Wisconsin says could turn out to be serious ethics, election law and labor violations.

While much of the attention to the "prank" call that the governor took from a blogger who identified himself as billionaire David Koch has focused on the bizarre, at times comic, character of the discussion between a blogger posing as a powerful political player on the right and a governor whose budget repaid bill has sparked mass demonstrations in Wisconsin communities and a national outcry, the state's former chief law-enforcement officer described the governor's statements as "deeply troubling" and suggested that they would require inquiry and investigation by watchdog agencies. READ MORE


Indiana Deputy AG Fired Over "Use Live Ammo" Tweet

By The Daily Mail UK

24 February 11

A deputy attorney general in Indiana has been sacked after calling for the use of live ammunition against union protesters in Wisconsin.

Jeffrey Cox made the inflammatory statement via his Twitter account.

He was responding to a posting by liberal magazine Mother Jones that said riot police could sweep demonstrators out of the Wisconsin Capitol building where they were protesting labour legislation. READ MORE


Hiding in the Land of Lincoln

By Natasha Lennard

24 February 11

They move from motel to motel almost every night. They check in with fake names, and they pay in cash. For the 14 Democratic state senators from Wisconsin, the past week has felt a lot like life on the lam.

Much has been said about the whys and wherefores of the lawmakers’ ongoing hideout in neighboring Illinois. POLITICO caught up with two of the wandering 14 to ask about the hows - because even politicians taking a stand need cash and clean underwear after a while. READ MORE


What Wealth Buys In Politics:
A Crank Call to Gov. Scott Walker

By Ian Murphy, The Buffalo BEAST

23 February 11

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got a call from someone identifying themselves as 'David Koch.' Walker was more than happy to talk, and talk he did for 20 minutes: To a Prankster! Here's the audio ...

Part 1

Part 2

Busting the Unions

By Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times

23 February 11

The bloodiest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere essentially happened by mistake in the summer of 1863, when Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia - maneuvering blind into southern Pennsylvania - blundered into elements of George Meade's Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg. Once engaged, neither commander could back away.

In political terms, something similar seems to be happening in Wisconsin, where newly installed Republican Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to roll back public employees' pensions and benefits, while stripping most of them of their right to collective bargaining, is beginning to look like a national struggle over the future of organized labor itself. READ MORE


Assault on Unions Is Attack on Civil Rights

Jesse Jackson, Reader Supported News

It looks like "Cairo has moved to Madison," said conservative Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, as 50,000 citizens took over the state's Capitol building. He got the spirit right, but the location wrong. In Madison, folks wearing Packers jerseys stand together with folks wearing Bears colors. Madison is this generation's Selma, the epicenter for the modern battle for basic human rights.

In 1965, the drive for basic voting rights was stalled in the U.S. Senate. President Johnson pushed Martin Luther King to stop demonstrating. Instead, Dr. King went to Selma. Selma was not a big city, but it held a mirror to the nation. There, on Bloody Sunday, peaceful demonstrators were met with dogs, clubs and hoses, and touched the conscience of a nation. Two days later, Johnson, invoking the famous words, "We shall overcome," introduced the Voting Rights Act. Five months later it was signed into law.

Today, the assault on basic rights is accelerating. The economic collapse caused by the gambols of Wall Street destabilizes public budgets at every level, as tax receipts plummet and expenses caused by unemployment rise. Yet Wall Street gets bailed out, and working and poor people are squeezed to pay to clean up their mess. READ MORE



Uprisings: From the Middle East to the Midwest

Amy Goodman, Truthdig

The workers of Egypt were instrumental in bringing down the regime there, in a remarkable coalition with Egypt's youth. In the streets of Madison, under the Capitol dome, another demonstration of solidarity is taking place. Wisconsin's workers have agreed to pay and pension concessions, but will not give up their right to collective bargaining. At this point, Walker would be wise to negotiate. It is not a good season to be a tyrant. READ MORE


Inside Capitol, Wisconsin Protesters Create a City

James Kelleher, Reuters

For more than a week now, several hundred protesters have spent the night sleeping inside the Capitol building, a vigil that has turned the rotunda into an indoor campground. Like the people thousands of miles away in Egypt who set up the tent city in Cairo's Tahrir Square and vowed not to leave until their demands were met, the protesters participating in the state capitol sleep-in here have quickly set up a little organized society - complete with its own simple rules. READ MORE


Democratic Lawmakers Flee Indiana, as Protests Spread There

Stephanie Condon, CBS News

Taking a page from the Democratic playbook in Wisconsin, Indiana Democrats fled to Illinois today to thwart Republican efforts to pass anti-union legislation.

Only two of 40 Democrats were present for today's Indiana House session, the Indianapolis Star reports, depriving the legislative body of the 67 lawmakers needed to call a quorum and conduct official business. The two Democrats present were there in the event they needed to make a motion and second a motion, to ensure Republicans did not conduct any business without a quorum, according to the Star.

An unnamed source told the newspaper that the Democrats likely fled to Illinois, where Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn would likely help the lawmakers avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana. When asked whether he would call Indiana State Police to round up the lawmakers, Republican Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma said, "We'll see how the day goes." READ MORE


Koch Brothers' Money Fuels Wisconsin Fight

Eric Lipton, The New York Times

Among the thousands of demonstrators who jammed the Wisconsin State Capitol grounds this weekend was a well-financed advocate from Washington who was there to voice praise for cutting state spending by slashing union benefits and bargaining rights.

The visitor, Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, told a large group of counterprotesters who had gathered Saturday at one edge of what otherwise was a mostly union crowd that the cuts were not only necessary, but they also represented the start of a much-needed nationwide move to slash public-sector union benefits. "We are going to bring fiscal sanity back to this great nation," he said.

What Mr. Phillips did not mention was that his Virginia-based nonprofit group, whose budget surged to $40 million in 2010 from $7 million three years ago, was created and financed in part by the secretive billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch. State records also show that Koch Industries, their energy and consumer products conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., was one of the biggest contributors to the election campaign of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican who has championed the proposed cuts. READ MORE

Five Tweets From Michael Moore About the Madison Movement

By Michael Moore

(Abbreviations are authentic to Moore's tweets.)

Living here in the Midwest I can tell u this: People HAVE HAD IT. They've been pushed 2 the limit & they've got nothing 2 lose at this pt.

The pundits should understand this: the 10s of 1000s u've seen this week in JUST ONE STATE is bigger than anything the "tea party" has done.

This movement - we'll call it the "Madison Movement" (after both the town where it was born & the president who wrote our BillofRights)...

...Is exploding across the Midwest. It will be unlike anything you've seen in recent U.S. history. It is built on this 1 truth:

Corporations have taken over our country & we know this is our LAST chance 2 wrestle America away from the grubby hands of the greedy rich.

U know us as Midwest. We r fightingback. We will risk everything we have if that's what it takes. We-will-shut-the-machine-down. Pls b w/us

Follow Michael Moore on Twitter at @mmflint.


Koch Brothers Quietly Open Lobbying Office in Downtown Madison

Judith Davidoff, The Madison Capital Times

The billionaire brothers whose political action committee gave Gov. Scott Walker $43,000 and helped fund a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against his opponent during the 2010 gubernatorial election have quietly opened a lobbying office in Madison just off the Capitol Square.

Charles and David Koch, who co-own Koch Industries Inc. and whose combined worth is estimated at $43 billion, have been recently tied with Walker's push to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers. The two have long backed conservative causes and groups including Americans for Prosperity, which organized the Tea Party rally Saturday in support of Walker's plan to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights and recently launched the Stand with Scott Walker website.

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, acknowledged in a New York Times story Tuesday that he had encouraged Walker even before the election to mount a showdown with labor groups.READ MORE


Labor Group Calls for General Strike If Budget Bill Is Approved

Steven Verburg, Wisconsin State Journal

The 97-union South Central Federation of Labor of Wisconsin is laying groundwork for a general strike if Gov. Scott Walker succeeds in enacting legislation that would strip most bargaining rights from most public employee unions.

Federation president Jim Cavanaugh said Tuesday that he couldn't predict how many unions might take part in a strike, but opposition to Walker has grown rapidly.

"Two weeks ago who would have thought there would have been 70,000 people on the Capitol Square demonstrating on behalf of worker rights?" Cavanaugh said. "We have had an awful lot of statements of support from around the country." READ MORE


Fighting the Five Fascisms in Wisconsin and Ohio

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, The Free Press

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman begin: "The escalating confrontations in Wisconsin and Ohio are ultimately about preventing the United States from becoming a full-on fascist state.

The stakes could not be higher - or more clear."

As defined by its inventor, Benito Mussolini, fascism is "corporate control of the state." There are ways to beat around the Bush - Paul Krugman has recently written about "oligarchy" - but it's time to end all illusions and call what we now confront by its true name. READ MORE


Cairo to Madison: Hope and Solidarity

Medea Benjamin, Common Dreams

Here in Madison, Wisconsin, where protesters have occupied the State Capitol Building to stop the pending bill that would eliminate workers' right to collective bargaining, echoes of Cairo are everywhere. Protesters here were elated by the photo of an Egyptian engineer named Muhammad Saladin Nusair holding a sign in Tahrir Square saying 'Egypt Supports Wisconsin Workers - One World, One Pain.'

My travels from Cairo to Madison seem like one seamless web. After camping out with the students and workers in the Capitol Building, I gave an early morning seminar on what it was like to be an eyewitness to the Egyptian revolution, and the struggles that are taking place right now in places like Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. Folks told me all day how inspiring it was to hear about the uprisings in the Arab world. READ MORE your social media marketing partner
Email This Page


THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.