More than 500 Texas union members and their supporters chanted “What’s disgusting? Union busting,” in front of the state Capitol gates Monday night at the” Texas Unions in Solidarity with Wisconsin” rally in Austin. Speakers denounced Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker’s so-called “budget repair” bill for being a thinly veiled disguise to bust public worker unions.
Linda Bridges, President of the Texas Federation of Teachers, said that Gov Scott’s contention that public worker collective bargaining rights is the cause of Wisconsin’s budget deficit is ridiculous. “Texas has a $26 billion state budget deficit,” she said. “And we have that deficit despite the fact that state law prohibits collective bargaining for our teachers and most other public workers.”
Becky Moeller, President of the Texas AFL-CIO, which organized the rally, said that the Wisconsin governor’s attack on public worker collective bargaining rights was part of a concerted effort meant to lower living standards for middle-class people throughout the US. She also said that the budget-cutting plan being considered by the Texas Legislature is part of that concerted effort and that if the budget cuts go through, 100,000 Texas public school teachers and education workers and another 10,000 state workers will lose their jobs.
“The loss of so many jobs will be devastating not just to those who lose their jobs, but to communities throughout the state,” Moeller said. She urged those at the rally to support Texas public workers and teachers at their lobby days this spring: Texas State Employees Union’s “Protect State Services, Support Public Workers” Lobby Day will be April 6, teachers will hold two lobby days one on March 7, the other on March 14, and AFSCME’s Lobby Day will be March 24.
The Texas rally to support Wisconsin public workers was one of a number taking place throughout the US. On Monday, solidarity rallies were held in Chicago; Helena, Montana; Raleigh, North Carolina; Carson City, Nevada; Las Vegas; Salem, Oregon; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Olympia, Washington; and Charleston, West Virginia.
In Olympia, a rally planned to protest state budget cuts expanded into a show of support for Wisconsin public workers and others worldwide. “We’re here today to join in solidarity for all the young people and trade unionists around the world who are struggling for democracy, whether that’s in Egypt, whether in Yemen, or Tunisia, or Bahrain, or Madison, Wisconsin,” said Jeff Johnson, Washington State Labor Council president.
Speaking from a place near Tahir Square, the center of the Egyptian revolution in Cairo, Kamal Abbas, General Coordinator of the Center for Trade Union and Worker Services, told Wisconsin workers, “From this place, I want you to know we stand with you as you stood with us. . . . Stand up, don’t waver. Don’t give up your rights. Victory always belongs to those who stand firm and demand their rights.”
More support rallies will be held throughout this week. Jobs with Justice has a list of where and when these rallies will be taking place.
Meanwhile, back in Wisconsin an automated telephone poll conducted by We Ask America found that 52 percent of Wisconsin residents polled disapproved of Gov Walker’s plan to strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights while 43 percent approved.
Charles Woodson, a key player on the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl Champion football team, said that hard-working people including teachers and nurses are “under an unprecedented attack” and that as a member of the National Football Players Association, he is proud to stand with them.
On Tuesday in Madison rallies and protests against Gov Walker’s union busting bill continued for the eighth straight day. If you want to know what it’s like at ground zero, here’s a great video of events taking place through last weekend.