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Wisconsin Subterfuge Violates American Democratic Values

8:10 am in Uncategorized by Leo W. Gerard

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his crew of country club conservatives this week brutalized the nation’s democratic traditions to secure legislation demanded by big corporations and billionaire conservative financiers like the Koch brothers – legislation stripping workers of collective bargaining rights.

Walker & Crew succeeded in terminating workers’ rights – but they achieved that only by violating traditional American democratic values. They positioned themselves with dictators who act against the will of the people, deny free speech rights and suppress protests.

They violated the state’s open meetings law, breached the right of Wisconsin residents to rally in their own state capitol building, and contravened conventional standards of fairness by voting to deny workers their rights without assembling a quorum of senators.

Free speech and free access to government protect America’s democracy. Walker & Crew disregarded First Amendment rights repeatedly.

Just this week, Walker & Crew locked protesters out of their own capitol building in Madison. They locked the few protesters already in the building out of the meeting rooms where senate and house members voted. They denied access even to progressive Wisconsin Assembly members, one of whom climbed through a colleague’s window to gain access to his workplace.

In the weeks since Wisconsin’s 14 progressive senators fled to Illinois to prevent the chamber from achieving the quorum needed to vote on a measure spending the people’s money, Walker & Crew also shut down access from the capitol to a web site posted by protesters. And they severely restricted protesters’ access to the capitol where a sit-in and sleep-in began in mid-February.

Protesters, who peacefully gathered in Madison in the tens of thousands, began chanting, “Whose house is it?” referring to the capitol. “It’s our house,” they responded.

That’s not the way Walker & Crew saw it. They said voters gave them control of the people’s house in last fall’s elections. That, apparently, means to them that they don’t have to listen to the will of the people anymore. Polls show a large majority – more than 60 percent – of Wisconsinites oppose stripping workers of collective bargaining rights.

Walker & Crew didn’t listen to the people. And they repeatedly attempted to shut the people up. The First Amendment was written and adopted to protect the people from that kind of oppression by political leaders.
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In a Democracy, Freedom of Assembly Trumps “Free Enterprise”

8:01 am in Economy, Labor by Leo W. Gerard

Sign at pro-workers rally, Madison WI. (photo: WxMom via Flickr)

It’s illegal in America now to buy or sell a human being, but a recorded telephone conversation between a Republican governor and a guy he thought was a billionaire benefactor shows that it’s still possible to own a politician.

Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker didn’t have time to talk to Democratic leaders or union officials about his anti-union legislation – a proposal that has incited protests by tens of thousands for more than a week in Madison. But he jumped on the phone for 20 minutes this week when told the caller was billionaire David Koch, who was Walker’s second largest campaign contributor, who provided $1 million to a GOP fund to attack Walker’s opponent and who bankrolls radical libertarian organizations and the Tea Party.

Republicans like Walker, owned by billionaires like Koch, are fulfilling demands from corporate interests that government “free” enterprise by slashing corporate taxes and regulation. Over the past three years, America has suffered the consequences of a government under-funded after tax breaks to the rich and under-performing after years of lax regulation. The result: a growing federal deficit, the Wall Street collapse, the BP oil spill and the deaths of 29 Upper Big Branch miners. Still, Republicans want more government atrophy. That would leave only one restraint on corporate control of the economy, environment and government.

That one restraint is labor unions. A union is workers using their constitutionally-guaranteed freedom to assemble, the right to get together as a group, in this case a labor organization, to negotiate collectively with employers for better wages, benefits and working conditions.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →