From New York’s Capitol to Wisconsin’s

“We support Wisconsin!” shouted crowds of unionists gathered outside the CSEA building in downtown Albany, hoisting signs from their various unions.

Warm spirits for Wisconsin’s struggling brothers and sisters were in full force  at the rally late Friday afternoon, supported by members of unions from throughout the Capital Region, including NYSUT, CSEA, PEF, SEIU 1199, and Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 7. The Capital District Area Labor Federation hosted the rally to defend the right to collective bargaining being threatened by the state of Wisconsin.

“Everyone across the country has been asked to send a video to boost the spirits of the Wisconsin workers,” said Mary Sullivan, president of the Capital District Area Labor Federation and executive vice-president of CSEA.

As union video cameras rolled to get footage to send to Wisconsin, so did those of numerous TV stations on hand to record the event.

Wayne Mcmahon of Local 7 Plumbers and Steamfitters said colllective bargaining protects workers on the job. Without it, he said,  ”If you’re the boss’s friend you’ll get a raise; if not you’re laid off.”

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16 Comments

  1. Cindy Pauldine February 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    Any plans for other rallies around the state?

    • Kelly Denig February 19, 2011 at 10:15 am #

      Why aren’t we organizing and heading to Wisconsin?

    • Betsy Sandberg February 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      For those living near the Vermont border, (or if you have Presidents week off and are skiing in Vermont) activists are planning to rally Tuesday at noon at the statehouse in Montpelier.
      Vermont Democratic Party Chairwoman Judy Bevans says she’s hoping members of her party in the state, as well as Democrats elsewhere in the country, will show their counterparts in Wisconsin they’re not alone as they fight what Bevans calls “one of the worst union-busting bills in modern history.”

      Bevans is asking Vermont activists to e-mail the Wisconsin Democratic Party at saveourstate(at)wisdems.org and get involved in a phone bank calling residents there.

      I’ve heard the Syracuse and Buffalo areas are planning something but I haven’t any details yet. Will update!

    • Beth B February 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

      Here’s a rally in NYC on Tuesday.

      http://jobparty.us/cheesehead_rally_nyc_2

      Here are some rallies planned across the country:

      http://workinglife.org/blogs/view_post.php?content_id=15109

  2. Tara Molloy-Grocki February 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    What can we do here to help WIsconsin?

    • Julie February 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      how about what can unions do to help the situation, like getting rid of tenure?

      • Betsy Sandberg February 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

        Julie,

        The protections of tenure are a basic right enjoyed by all Americans. It includes the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and the right to a fair hearing. Tenure is also not unique to the teaching profession. State and municipal workers – including police officers and firefighters, as well as union members in the private sector – also have due process protections very similar to tenure. And, they earn those protections in less time than teachers.

        I also think tenure helps to ensure stability in the classroom: What would happen to teachers without tenure? Teachers could – and would – be fired for virtually any reason or no reason at all. It’s not at all hard to imagine teachers being dismissed because they failed the daughter of an influential businessman, or because the school board president’s nephew needed a job. What would stop a school board from dismissing a veteran teacher at the top of the pay scale – and replacing that teacher with a first-year teacher – simply to save money?

        Tenure helps to protect academic freedom: Tenure protects academic freedom the way the First Amendment protects freedom of the press. It is born out of the basic realization that teachers can engage their students in a free exchange of ideas only if they are protected from arbitrary dismissal for doing so. Without the protections of tenure, teacher could face dismissal for supporting the “wrong” political candidate or for legitimate lessons on controversial subjects in the news.

        For another person’s views please check out Phil Steck at http://blog.timesunion.com/steck/in-defense-of-teacher-tenure/75/

        • Julie February 23, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

          Betsy,

          You talk about unions protecting freedom. How do unions rationalize forcing me to join the union in order to get hired? Where is my freedom? How do they defend their position on this?

          To address your reasons (based on the fears of “what ifs”) about someone being wrongly fired or dismissed (i.e. for supporting the wrong political candidate) there are laws in place for that–how do you think the rest of the world is protected. Don’t fool yourself that unions are protecting you. You are much more capable than they want you to believe.

    • Betsy Sandberg February 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

      Tara,
      Go to http://www.aflcio.org. They have an online petitions and some directions if you are on Facebook. I have calls in to some other organizations to find out. But today is the hugest rally yet! Will let you know what I find out.

  3. bill schultz February 20, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    The issue in Wisconsin is not about benefit reductions, which the union members of that state have already agreed to discuss. It is about the fundamental right of American workers to negotiate the terms of their employment and as such it is a watershed battle that we cannot lose. But, helpful as they may be, it will not be won with emails and local meetings. The public sector employees in Wisconsin are the front line troops in this battle and they must be given our resources in time, money and personnel, with which to win it.

    What is NYSUT going to do to organize the effort we must make in solidarity with our Wisconsin brothers and sisters???????????????????

    • BMarshall February 20, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

      Very well said Bill Schultz. I for one have contributed money to the cause through two different venues. I have been checking the NYSUT site periodically over the last couple of days to see what our state union is doing to support the teachers in Wisconsin. Wisconsin teachers are at the forefront of the struggle for the survival of the middle class in this country and they deserve our full support.

  4. Neil Hannon February 20, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Barring a miracle the only way the unions can wage this war is with a massive strike to shut down all of the State of Wisconsin’s public services. It is the last thing anyone who has given their life to public service wants, but the hardened hearts of the right will not listen to reason or be moved by empathy. They know only force and and they must be broken.
    Whatever we can do , we must do to support our brothers and sisters of Wisconsin in this struggle.
    http://www.truth-out.org/what-conservatives-really-want67907

  5. BMarshall February 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    Here is a good analysis that links the Supreme Court decision on “Citizens United” to the current attack on the American right to stand together as a union of voices and negotiate fair agreements for economic justice.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/20/947391/-Why-Citizens-United-and-The-Attack-on-Unions-Are-Linked

  6. Don Carlisto February 21, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    The NY Times’ Paul Krugman argues it’s about power and union busting, not balancing a budget: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/opinion/21krugman.html?_r=1&src=tptw

  7. Mary Patroulis February 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    Ohio is next! NY teachers need to be organizing to show support for teachers and other public workers in danger of losing their collective bargaining rights everywhere. Badgers and Buckeyes both wear red. One way to support public workers under siege in those states is to get teachers at your schools to wear red in solidarity.

  8. Catherine Quick February 22, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    I would strongly support NYSUT in doing something to support the union people in Wisconsin.
    If Walker and his cronies get away with this, it is the beginning of the end for public employees
    everywhere. I have made donations through ACTBLUE. We need to show strong support!

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