Thursday, February 24, 2011

When you say Wisconsin...'ve said it all!

This week, more than any other, my heart is in my old home town, Madison.  It is with all the teachers and friends I used to work with, with my friend Emily and her family of police officers, who have been down at the Capitol, my old neighbours, and all the other people I knew.  Actually, it's with everyone who has spent the last nine days supporting the protests against the proposed budget repair bill. 

The nuts and bolts of this issue are this:  
In an attempt to address the deficit facing Wisconsin, the governor has proposed a bill that will cut funding to schools, double employee contributions for healthcare and other benefits for teachers (many of whom already take a hit when they pay for school supplies out of their own pockets), and would limit the teachers' unions collective bargaining rights for anything other than wages.  

The 14 Democratic senators have fled the state in order to stall a vote to pass this bill as the state assembly cannot hold a quorum without them there.  There are tens of thousands of protesters (around 70,000 on Saturday alone) who have turned out to the Capitol to voice their opposition.  And while this bill only targets teachers' and other city/state employees' bargaining rights, other union groups (cops, fire fighters, steel workers, etc) have shown up to stand in solidarity with the teachers and state/UW employees.

I've been watching the development of this protest in the town I used to call my home, along with the protests in other countries, and I find myself invigorated with the energy of knowing that one person does have the power to make an impact.  People DO have voices, and we can hear them!  

I found these two videos taken by a person right there in the middle of it.  Not only are they well filmed and edited, but the choice of music and the scenes they capture have moved me.  I feel very homesick when I watch them.   

In these clips (though I can't really see them) are people I know.  
My friends.  
My neighbours.  
My colleagues.  

And, I know just where I'd be if I were there.


Diane said...

History shows that what has been common for middle class:40 hr. work week with breaks, sick leave, paid vacation time, safe workplace, etc. most workers enjoy today because of what previous generations won by bargining collectively. Competitive powers are working to erode these benefits for ALL,whether unionized OR NOT. Read "the Jungle" by Upton Sinclair. Learn what working people used to endure.

emily said...

thank you, friend.
and, fyi, the bill not only includes teachers but all city/state workers with the exemption of police officers and fire fighters not employed by the state/uw system.
while i ALWAYS wish that you were here, right now i equally miss you and am thankful that you are far, far away from this god forsaken mess.

Norbyah said...

oh em, physically, i'm far away. but, i'm always with you. and thanks for clarifying....i edited the post a little.

love you.

Shan said...

Fuck! - why is education and health care one of the first portfolios that ministers make a cut in. Do they not understand that good education and good health care are fundamental basic human rights? They are inalienable.

It's about time the CEOs of multimillion dollar businesses that pay minimum wage in Asia and steal the minerals in Africa for Western wealth take a cut.

All for the common voice, Shan xo

brummygem said...

hey norbyah,

we are facing similar issues here in the uk as councils across the country are being forced to make cuts. this is allegedly to address budget deficits, but there are other alternatives, and this approach - which will devastate the provision of many crucial services (with, of course, the poorest most marginalised communities taking the biggest hits) and result in extensive job losses - is part of the current government's ideological project to privatise our public sector services. there are huge demonstrations planned across the country today and when i go to show my support for birmingham's public sector i will also be thinking of teachers and other state workers in wisconsin.


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