Texas AFL-CIO plans to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s visit to Austin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will be visiting Texas to address the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s annual policy orientation for Texas legislators. The Texas AFL-CIO is urging union members in the Austin-area to protest Gov. Walker’s anti-worker policies by joining a demonstration at the hotel where he will be speaking.

“We plan to greet him and other conference attendees with a Texas-style protest, at high noon on Thursday, January 12 at the Hilton Austin downtown, 500 E. 4th,” wrote Rene Lara of the Texas AFL-CIO in an e-mail to union members. Lara said that demonstrators will rally at 11:30 A.M. at Brush Square, between the Austin convention center and the Hilton at 4th and Neches.

Last year, Walker with support of some Wisconsin lawmakers was able to pass a new law that among other things took away public sector workers right to bargain collectively. He also cut taxes for corporations and raised state workers’ contributions to their health care and retirement benefits, which effectively reduced their take-home pay.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) is a right-wing policy organization that tries to influence lawmakers to reduce and privatize public services and cut pay and benefits for public workers. It also supports Texas’ right-to-work-for-less law. “Their philosophy is one of taxing working people while giving breaks to the rich,” said a Texas State Employee Union broadcast to members urging them to attend the rally.

Gov. Walker and TPPF will likely be urging lawmakers to support a proposal by Houston millionaire Bill King to eliminate pension benefits for public employees both at the state and local level.

Gov. Walker comes to Texas at a time when he faces strong opposition from a movement that is trying to gather signatures on a petition to put Gov. Walker’s recall on the ballot. The Wisconsin AFL-CIO announced on January 3 that the recall campaign had gathered 508,240 signatures on the recall petition, enough to put the question of whether Gov. Walker stays or goes on the ballot.

The deadline for submitting the signatures on the petition to the government accountability board is still two weeks away, so the campaign is urging volunteers to continue to collect signatures, so that when they are finally submitted for review, there will be a cushion to compensate for any signatures that might be disallowed.

“Wow!” the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO said on its blog. “If everyone pitches in we will have the grassroots people power to combat Walker’s big moneyed corporate backers like the Koch Brothers.

“A new report released by the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future shows the ripple effects of Walker’s policies will cost Wisconsin over 18,000 full-time, private sector jobs a year. This report is a stark reminder of why we must recall Walker. In Wisconsin, we need jobs, not a governor who puts corporate special interests above the 99 percent.”

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