Guide to Supporting Public Employees and Their Unions in Wisconsin and Beyond

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

The video above (h/t to Dorothy Rissman, a commenter at The People’s View) is of firefighters entering the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison to join the tens of thousands of people who have been rallying in support of public employees and their unions.  As we’ve discussed previously, conservatives have launched a nationwide attack on public employees and their unions, primarily as a way to undermine one of the main organized sources of support for the progressive movement.

Now is the time for all of us progressives to get involved in fighting back against this conservative assault on one of the primary backbones of the progressive movement.  We can do so by attending rallies, writing letters to newspaper editors, and contacting our state elected officials to express our support for public employees and their unions.

Below is a list of rallies and links for raising your voice on this critical issue.  Please let us know at the Winning Progressive Facebook Page if you know of rallies, etc. to add to this list.


WISCONSIN

* Call, e-mail, or visit your state legislator – contact information available here

* Contact Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker – contact information available here

* Write a letter to your local newspaper - links available here

* Sign up to help Organizing for America’s Wisconsin chapter organize supporters of public employees and their unions

* Attend a rally:

Wisconsin – Throughout the State

Here is a list of rallies occurring throughout Wisconsin on Monday and Tuesday

Wisconsin – Racine

Monday, February 21 – 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Racine Labor Center, 2100 Layard Ave

(262) 770-5098 or e-mail: RacineLabor@gmail.com

Wisconsin – Madison

Monday, February 21 and Tuesday, February 22 – Noon and 5 p.m.

State Capitol

If you live elsewhere in Wisconsin and need a bus ride to the Madison rallies, click here

OHIO

Senate Bill 5 would eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in the state

* Contact Ohio state legislators

* Contact Governor John Kasich – (614) 466-3555

* Write a letter to your local newspaper editor – links to newspapers available here

* Attend a rally:

Ohio – Canton

Tuesday, February 22 – 5:00 p.m.

Canton Memorial Civic Center  – 1101 Market Ave N

Ohio – Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati Students Rally Against SB5:

Monday, February 21st at 3PM

McMicken Commons

Ohio – Columbus

Monday, February 21 – 11 a.m.

President’s Day Rally at the Statehouse

Ohio – Columbus

Tuesday, February 22 – 1:00 p.m.

Ohio Statehouse (1 Capitol Square)

Click here for a schedule of buses to the rally departing from Akron, Cleveland, Canton, Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton, and Youngstown

If you live near Sandusky, meet in the UAW Local 913 parking lot at 10 a.m.

Ohio – Columbus

Rally for workers w/Jesse Jackson

Wednesday, February 23 – 11:00 a.m.

Teamsters Hall – 555 E. Rich St.

For more info, contact 614-441-9145 or brian@progressohio.org

Ohio – Dayton

Monday, February 21 – 9:15 a.m.

Dayton Convention Center downtown

Ohio – Sandusky

Tuesday, February 22 – 4 p.m.

Washington Park gazebo in downtown

INDIANA

A string of bills targeting public employees, including limits on teachers’ ability to collectively bargain and a permanent ban on the ability of future governors to allow for collective bargaining with state employees.

* Contact Indiana state legislators

* Contact Governor Mitch Daniels – 317-232-4567

* Attend a rally:

Indiana – Indianapolis

Monday, February 21 at 9am

Statehouse – Room 156A

Questions? Call Allison at 317-450-4019

MINNESOTA

Legislation is pending that would eliminate vital portions of the state’s Public Employment Labor Relations Act, and freeze wages of state employees

* Contact Minnesota state legislators

* Contact Governor Mark Dayton – 651-201-3400

* Write a letter to your local newspaper editor – links available here

* Attend a rally:

Minnesota – St. Paul

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 – 4:00pm – 5:00pm

State Capitol

COLORADO

Legislation to reverse former Democratic Governor Bill Ritter’s executive order allowing collective bargaining has been stopped so far.  Ultimately, however, the issue is expected to come down to how hard new Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper is willing to fight for public employees and their unions.

* Contact Colorado state legislators

* Contact Governor John Hickenlooper – (303) 866-2471

* Write a letter to your local newspaper editor – links available here

* Attend a rally:

Colorado – Denver

Tuesday, February 22 – noon-1pm

West Steps of the State Capitol


OTHER STATES

* Write a letter to your local newspaper editor -

Here are links for submitting letters to the editor for national papers, and to newspapers in Connecticut, DelawareIllinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

* Contact your state legislators and Governors

* Attend a rally:

Arizona – Phoenix

Tuesday, February 22 – noon

State Capitol

         call the AZ AFSCME office to confirm your attendance at 602-252-6501

Arkansas – Little Rock

Wednesday, February 23 – 11:30 a.m.

State Capitol Building – 425 W. Capitol Ave.

Connecticut – Hartford

Wednesday, February 23 – noon

West Steps of State Capitol Building – 210 Capitol Ave.

Iowa – Des Moines

Tuesday, February 22 – 1:00 p.m.
West Steps of the Iowa State Capitol

Maryland – Annapolis

Tuesday, February 22 – noon

Maryland State House – Lawyers’ Mall – 100 State Circle

Massachusetts – Boston

Tuesday, February 22 – 4-6pm

State House

For more information call 617-524-8778

Massachusetts – Springfield

Tuesday, February 22 – 4-6pm

City Hall

Michigan – Lansing

Tuesday February 22, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Meet at Central United Methodist Church 215 N. Capitol (Corner of Ottawa & Capitol)

Montana – Helena

Monday, February 21 – 2 p.m.

Montana State Capitol – 1301 E. 6th Ave.

Nevada – Carson City

Monday, February 21 – noon

Front steps of Legislative Building – 401 S. Carson St.

Nevada – Las Vegas

Monday, February 21 – noon

Grant Sawyer Building, 555 E. Washington Ave.

New Jersey – Trenton

Friday, February 25 – noon – 3 p.m.

Statehouse – 125 W. State Street

New Mexico – Santa Fe

Tuesday, February 22 – 12:15 p.m.

East Side of the Roundhouse

New York – New York

Tuesday, February 22 – 5 p.m.

Outside Fox “News” studios – 1211 6th Ave (6th Ave and 48th St.) 

North Carolina – Raleigh

Monday, February 21 · 12:00pm – 3:00pm

State Capitol – 1 East Edenton St.

Oregon – Salem

Monday, February 21 – noon

State Capitol – 900 Court St. NE

Pennsylvania – Philadelphia

Thursday, February 24 – 11:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m.

Tom Paine Plaza – Across from City Hall

Pennsylvania – Scranton

Wednesday, February 23 · 12:00pm – 3:00pm

Lackawanna Court House – 200 Adams Ave.

Rhode Island – Providence

Tuesday February 22 – 4:30 pm

State House

For more information call 401-338-1665

Vermont – Montpelier

Tuesday, February 22 – noon

Steps of the Statehouse

Washington D.C.

Wednesday, February 23 – 12:30-1:30 p.m.

          444 N. Capitol Street NW (between Louisiana and E Streets)

There will also be a feeder march starting in DuPont Circle at 11:30 a.m.

Washington State- Olympia

Monday, February 21 – noon-1p.m.
Capitol Steps in Olympia
Driving directions and parking information: http://www.ga.wa.gov/visitor/direction-park.htm

West Virginia – Charleston

Monday, February 21 – 10am

Lower Rotunda of the Capitol

It is Not Just Wisconsin – We Need to Fight For Public Sector Employees in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, and Elsewhere

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

As we discussed yesterday, Wisconsin is the epicenter of the fight by progressives to halt right wing attacks on public employees and their labor unions.  Winning this fight is critical, because such public sector union jobs are some of the last stable middle class jobs left in our country, and because public sector unions are some of the few remaining organized groups fighting for the middle class and working class in America.

Wisconsin is far from the only state where the battle to support public employees and their unions is occurring.  Below is a guide to seven other states where we need to engage the battle, and links to help you to do so.   If you don’t live in one of these states, you can still help win this fight by contacting your own state legislators and writing a letter to the editor of the your local newspaper in support of the rights of public employees to collectively bargain over their wages, benefits, and working conditions.

If you know of any other states where there are attacks on public employee unions occurring, please let us know at our Facebook page, and we will update this list.

Ohio: Senate Bill 5 would eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in the state

Contact Ohio state legislators

Contact Governor John Kasich – (614) 466-3555

Write a letter to your local newspaper editor – links to newspapers available here

Indiana: A string of bills targeting public employees, including limits on teachers’ ability to collectively bargain and a permanent ban on the ability of future governors to allow for collective bargaining with state employees.

Contact Indiana state legislators

Contact Governor Mitch Daniels – 317-232-4567

Write a letter to your local newspaper editor

Minnesota: Legislation is pending that would eliminate vital portions of the state’s Public Employment Labor Relations Act, and freeze wages of state employees

Contact Minnesota state legislators

Contact Governor Mark Dayton – 651-201-3400

Write a letter to your local newspaper editor – links available here

Tennessee: Legislation to abolish the rights of teachers to collectively bargain has passed a state Senate committee and could be voted on in the full state Senate as early as February 23.

Contact Tennessee state legislators

Contact Governor Bill Haslam – (615) 741-2001

Write a letter to your local newspaper editor -

Colorado: Legislation to reverse former Democratic Governor Bill Ritter’s executive order allowing collective bargaining has been stopped so far.  Ultimately, however, the issue is expected to come down to how hard new Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper is willing to fight for public employees and their unions.

Contact Colorado state legislators

Contact Governor John Hickenlooper – (303) 866-2471

Write a letter to your local newspaper editor – links available here

South Dakota: Republican legislators are considering introducing legislation that would bar local government from negotiating collective bargaining agreements, which would effectively prevent teachers and other public employees from collectively bargaining.

Contact South Dakota state legislators

Contact Governor Dennis Daugaard – (605) 773-3212

Write a letter to your local newspaper editor

Nebraska: A bill pending in Nebraska’s legislature would ban the state from collectively bargaining with public employee unions, and would abolish the state Commission on Industrial Relations, which oversees such collective bargaining.  A second bill would ask state voters to pass a constitutional amendment barring collective bargaining by state employees.

Contact Nebraska state legislators

Contact Governor Dave Heineman – (402) 471-2244

Write a letter to your local newspaper editor

Support Wisconsin’s Public Sector Employees

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

As we explained earlier this week, Republicans throughout the country have launched an effort to destroy public employee unions in states throughout the country.  While Republicans claim to be doing this to address budget deficits, their real goal is to undermine organizations that strongly support progressive change.  The Republican attacks on public employees and their unions would also undermine some of the last stable middle class jobs in America.

The biggest fight over public employee unions is occurring in Wisconsin, where newly elected Republican Governor Scott Walker has ginned up a fake fiscal imbalance as a cover to try to void union bargaining rights for most public employees in the state.  The proposal has led to a large public outcry, with tens of thousands of people showing up at the state capitol in Madison to protest Governor Walker’s proposal.  A progressive Wisconsin blog known as Blogging Blue is providing good up to date coverage of the battle.

It is critical that progressives stand up for middle class jobs and public employees and their unions, and defeat Governor Walker’s proposal.   If you are a resident of Wisconsin, help out by:

* Calling, e-mailing, or visiting your state legislator – contact information available here

* Contacting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker – contact information available here

* Writing a letter to your local newspaper - links available here

* Signing up to help Organizing for America’s Wisconsin chapter organize supporters of public employees and their unions

And if you live in another state, write a letter to your local newspaper and contact your state legislator to make it clear that you oppose the type of attacks on public employees that are occurring in Wisconsin.

Attacking Public Sector Unions Hurts All of Us

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

(By Mark McCutchan)

Today we’ll cover the flip-side of Friday’s column on the shrinking corporate jobs market – the shrinking of public sector jobs at the state level. After the corporate job out-sourcing and cutting that has occurred over the last 3 decades, the public sector provides some of the last stable middle-income jobs available.  The GOP’s attack on public unions is to the detriment of our economy, the Democratic Party and the progressive movement.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated last month that 44 states are projecting deficits of $125 billion for the budget year that begins July 1. Legislatures across the country are looking for ways to shrink their expenses in the face of falling income tax revenues.

In Ohio, Governor John Kasich is proposing to balance the budget on the backs of the working people of Ohio – those public employees under his direct control, anyway.  He supports a union “reform” bill that would reverse years of gains earned by local unions.  It would:

  • Eliminate collective bargaining for all state workers, including those at institutions of higher education.
  • Eliminate more binding arbitration for local police officers and firefighters, who also cannot strike.
  • Take health insurance off the bargaining table, and requires government workers to pay at least 20 percent of the cost.
  • Strip automatic pay increases and mandatory sick days for teachers from state law.

More than 800 public-employee unionists, including police and firefighters, packed statehouse rooms as the bill hearings began, signaling an all-out campaign to stop what many of them view as a GOP assault on the very existence of their unions.

Bruce Wyngaard, associate executive director of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association noted, “These lower wages and benefits are going to have an impact on our communities. In order to have a healthy community, you’ve got to have good jobs.”

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin proposed a similar plan on Friday to cut benefits and bargaining rights of public employee unions. Union members and progressives responded vigorously with well-framed TV and radio ads in the state, calling on legislators to stop “this radical move to take away the rights of Wisconsin workers.”

Elsewhere around the country, some conservatives, such as Newt Gingrich, have suggested letting states declare bankruptcy to help balance their budgets.  Former Minnesota governor (and 2012 presidential contender) Tim Pawlenty told a group of New Hampshire Republicans last week that the idea is worth considering as a way to avoid costly pension liabilities for public employees.  Pensions are just 3.8 percent of the average state’s budget, however, and workers are legally entitled to their retirement money.  Bankruptcy would also allow renegotiations with public unions on other parts of their contracts, potentially reducing employees’ wages and power to protect their members’ interests in the workplace; it would also lower the state’s credit rating, and increase the cost of borrowing.

Republicans have done a thorough analysis of this strategy of attacking the public employee unions, and it works in their favor politically:

1.      It helps balance state budgets by hurting a small proportion of workers (6% of 124 million total US workers are members of public employee unions) even after many unions have given up pay raises and other concessions over the last few years.  Lawmakers should instead strive to spread the responsibility to pay for the cost of our government services to all taxpayers, rather than laying it solely on one sector.

2.      The workers it hurts tend to vote Democratic, and unions have supported Democratic candidates steadfastly since FDR.  Cutting union membership and wages reduces dues going to the unions, and weakens their ability to make donations to Democratic candidates.  On the other side, the conservative-led Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case in January 2010 cleared the way for America’s biggest corporations and pro-corporate organizations to contribute untold millions directly or indirectly to Republican campaigns.

3.      It garners the support of the Tea Partiers (and their shadow supporters), who want to cut $100 billion out of the federal budget this year no matter who it hurts.

4.      Attacking public unions hurts all workers, because strong unions set a standard of pay and benefits that nonunion employers follow.  Unions also reduce wage inequality because they raise wages more for low- and middle-wage workers than for higher-wage workers, and more for those less-educated workers. The GOP’s corporate masters want to keep their workers’ wages and benefits low to maximize their profits and bonuses.

The Republican strategy has laid the groundwork for a weaker opposing party and a weaker economy for 2012 and beyond.

Some of the same solutions that help grow American private sector jobs will help public employees by increasing incomes and income tax revenue, and relieving pressure on state budgets – repeal or renegotiation of free trade agreements, and tariffs on goods produced in China and other countries with low wages and poor working conditions.

Please call, email or write to President Obama, and your state and federal representatives, and tell them that we want the responsibility for paying for our government services covered by everyone, not on the backs of public sector union workers.  And letters to your local newspaper editors can help turn back this conservative effort to scapegoat public sector employees and undermine progressives by, instead, focusing on some of the ways (mentioned above and Friday) that we can turn our economy around to the benefit of all Americans.  Here are links for submitting letters to the editor for national papers, and to newspapers in Colorado, Connecticut, DelawareIllinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Finally, if you have any comments or feedback, let us know at the Winning Progressive Facebook page.