Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thousands Occupy Wisconsin Capitol Building; Rev. Jesse Jackson Marches in Madison

“Today is a Serious Showdown”: Thousands Occupy Wisconsin Capitol Building Ahead of Anti-Union Vote

The Wisconsin Assembly is set to begin debate today on Republican Governor Scott Walker’s plan to cut pay and eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees. The unions have agreed to accept all of Walker’s proposed cuts, which would see them pay 12 percent of their health benefits and half their pension costs. But they have refused to relinquish their right to collective bargaining. We speak to Peter Rickman, an activist in the Teaching Assistants’ Association at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who has helped occupy the Capitol building in Madison for the past week to protest the bill. “People understand that this is a fundamental attack on basic worker rights,” Rickman says. “So, people like ... the firefighters, steelworkers and other folks—nurses, home care workers—who are joining us are doing this because this is a struggle for all working folks.”

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Rev. Jesse Jackson Marches in Madison as Thousands Defend Public Employees and Unions

We speak to the famed civil rights leader as he walks a group of Madison students back to school as they reopen following a week of teacher protests, who joined tens of thousands of others to oppose the state’s efforts to pass anti-union legislation targeting public employees. “It’s no longer about workers making economic concessions,” Jackson says. “It’s about the Governor wanting to deny workers the right to collective bargaining.”

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