Walker ducks D.C. protesters
By Mark Gruenberg 27 February 2011
|WASHINGTON - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose inflexible demand to strip 200,000 state and local workers of their collective bargaining rights has drawn nationwide protests against the GOP’s anti-worker agenda, ducked a confrontation with protesters in D.C. on Sunday.
|Walker was scheduled to attend the National Governors Association meeting in D.C., starting that evening. He didn’t show up.
But the several hundred marching unionists, parading in front of a non-union downtown D.C. hotel where the governors met, got an impromptu pro-worker speech instead from Vermont Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin.
The unionists came for the third D.C. demonstration in five days against Walker’s policies, which produced mass protests and sit-ins at the Wisconsin state capitol and elsewhere. Other GOP governors, notably Ohio’s John Kasich, are also taking the same anti-worker, anti-collective bargaining attitude.
Though Walker and Kasich are attacking public workers – principally members of AFSCME, the Teachers, the National Education Association and SEIU – a wide range of public and private unions were represented at the latest D.C. protest.
Besides those unions, others at Sunday’s demonstration came from the Office and Professional Employees, the Laborers, the Operating Engineers, the Sheet Metal Workers, the Amalgamated Transit Union, NATCA, UFCW, The Newspaper Guild, CWA, the National Writers Union, and the Masters, Mates & Pilots.
Walker wants to trash collective bargaining, cut workers’ pay and raise their pension contributions, to help close a budget shortfall. The departure of all 14 Democratic Wisconsin state senators out of state prevents him from pushing the package through, because it deprives the senate of a quorum.
Shumlin said governors attacking workers pick on the wrong people for the wrong reasons. “What’s lost in this debate is that it’s not labor and the middle class that got us in this mess,” of state deficits and federal red ink. “It’s corporate greed.
He also said he gave that message to his gubernatorial colleagues inside the hotel – a majority of whom are Republicans, but not all of whom follow Walker.
“Not all governors are the same,” Shumlin said, to huge applause. “We rely on you, on labor, on the ability to collectively bargain, which is a basic human right in a democracy. Keep on keeping on.”
Mark Gruenberg writes for Press Associates, Inc., news service. Used by permission.
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