Recall votes keep focus on anti-union aggression
MADISON, WIS., THE epicenter of the far-right’s strategy to blame unions for the nation’s economic woes, while slashing the collective bargaining rights of public workers, has held national media attention for months. And the state’s capital city continues to be a lightning rod for union solidarity.
One event in particular captured attention around the world — the Feb. 17 departure of 14 resolute Democratic state senators who left the state in order to interrupt the vote on an anti-union budget. Republican Gov. Scott Walker and a GOP-dominated state legislature backed the budget bill, which eventually passed along party lines. The measure stripped away the right of most public workers to bargain collectively over anything but wages.
The Democratic senators finally returned on March 12 to a hero’s welcome from supporters, and for three of them, a recall election. Six Republicans also face recall elections.
The first recall vote ended in a victory for Democrat Steve Hansen. All six Republican recall elections will be held August 9, and the remaining two Democratic recall elections will follow on August 16. Many voters and unions have vowed to recall Gov. Scott Walker when his office becomes eligible. State law requires that the governor can only be recalled after serving a minimum of one year, which Walker won't do until January 2012.
To show their support for the 14 Democratic senators, Milwaukee Local 107 leaders asked them to sign a commemorative flag. L-107 and other Boilermaker lodges from Wisconsin and nearby states have been very active in what has become an historic struggle to preserve union collective bargaining rights.
L-107 Pres. Marvin Cartwright praised the activism and solidarity of his members and other lodges throughout the state’s budget debate. “Boilermakers from Local 107 stood tall and were heard proudly,” he said. “The International’s organizing bus was on display for nearly a month, as Local 107 members and sister locals marched daily to show their disapproval of the events taking place.”