Friday, February 18, 2011

Day of Rage Building In America?

Wisconsin Labor Unrest Could Go National
Democrats and Unions Badger GOP in Wisconsin

“I've said all along the thousands of people who are storming the capitol have every right to be heard, but I'm not going to let them overshadow the voices of the millions of taxpayers in the state of Wisconsin who deserve to be heard, as well.”

-- Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren”

Union protesters and Democrat lawmakers will attempt to prevent for a second day a vote in the Wisconsin Senate that would increase public employees’ contributions to retirement and health benefits and strip unions of the power to bargain for higher salaries.

The battle in Madison has become the epicenter of a national fight between newly empowered small-government conservatives and Democrats backed by government worker unions.

The grassroots political operation of President Obama, who on Wednesday denounced the austerity legislation as an “attack on unions,” has swung in behind the government workers. Organizing for America, the activist organizing wing of the Democratic National Committee is helping keep the pressure on Republican lawmakers who plan to pass the legislation today.

...While the increased contributions are a sore spot, the greatest anger among demonstrators is over the portion of the bill that would strip public workers of the right to bargain for higher wages, benefits and changes to job duties. Pay raises for public workers would be subject to voter approval. Under the law, the state would also stop withholding union dues from government paychecks and make due payments strictly voluntary.

Walk Like an Egyptian
Demonstrations in Greece, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, though less tense and shorter in duration, were products of the same deficiencies present in governments throughout the globe and across the political spectrum.

Yesterday, the unrest has shown up in, of all places, Madison, Wisconsin. Thousands of state employees marched on the capitol on Tuesday to protest austerity measures imposed by new Republican Governor, Scott Walker, which include slashing benefits and busting the public employee unions. Governor Walker called in the National Guard fearing union members' outrage and threatening to replace them with National Guardsmen. The plan calls for sacrifice from all public employees as reported by Jeff Mayers for Reuters, despite the $100 million in concessions state employees have already given to help the state's budgetary shortcomings.

As states like Wisconsin and Illinois attempt to balance government shortfalls through raising taxes, reducing pay, and vacating promises of retirement and healthcare on the backs of the middle-class, these demonstrations will increase and accelerate.

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