Mad in Madison

February 19th, 2011

Inspired by Wisc. Governor Makes a Cold-Blooded Threat to Sic the National Guard on Union Workers (AlterNet 2/16/11), Wisconsin Is a Battleground Against the Billionaire Kochs’ Plan to Break Labor’s Back (AlterNet 2/18/11), For Anyone Who Thinks Wisconsin State Workers Are Overpaid… (Business Insider 2/17/11), Unions aren’t to blame for Wisconsin’s budget (Ezra Klein, 2/18/11),  12 Things You Need to Know About the Uprising in Wisconsin (Alternet 2/19/11), Wisconsin budget impasse deepens (Washington Post 2/19/11), What Conservatives Really Want (Huffington Post 2/19/11), and MSNBC’s reports below (Rachel’s report from last night is the best one).  (Update 2/21/11: Eugene Robinson makes a similar point to the one I make below in this excellent article.)

“This so-called budget repair bill has nothing to do with repairing the budget… This is to break the unions, to destroy the middle class, so that the rich get richer and the corporations have more power. We need to stand up and fight back against this action, and that’s what we’ve been doing in Wisconsin.” – Wisconsin Steelworkers union director Michael Bolton on Hardball 2/18/11
“Walker is carrying out the wishes of his corporate master, David Koch, who calls the tune these days for Wisconsin Republicans. Walker is just one among many Wisconsin Republicans supported by Koch Industries — run by David Koch and his brother, Charles — and Americans For Prosperity, the astroturf group founded and funded by David Koch. The Koch brothers are hell-bent on destroying the labor movement once and for all.” — AlterNet 2/18/11
“That workers can still negotiate from a position of strength somewhere in the US is simply unacceptable to the right, and that’s what this is about… The Right has made great political progress getting Americans to ask the question: ‘How come that guy’s getting what I don’t have?’ It’s the crux of the politics of grievance. Progressives need to get Americans to ask a different question: ‘What’s keeping me from getting what that guy has?’ At least part of the answer is the Right’s decades-long assault on private sector workers’ ability to organize, and the latest battle is being waged in Wisconsin.” — Alternet 2/19/11
“The bill that we have now is already a compromise because we allow unions to exist.” – Wisconsin Republican Robin Vos on Hardball 2/18/11, in answer to whether Republicans are willing to compromise on collective bargaining if the unions give in to all of Gov. Walker’s budget demands

Tens of thousands took to the streets to protest a cruel dictatorship

(I’m talking about Madison, Wisconsin, not Cairo, Egypt).

When he cries crisis, Gov. Scott Walker is faking:

Wisconsin’s fiscal problems are of his own making.

Wisconsin was on track to finish 2011 $120 million in the black,

Until Walker began his pro-Big Business, anti-union attack.

He gave tax breaks to business, reducing the tax base

(Something that for supposed “fiscal conservatives” is commonplace).

He turned that surplus into a $130 million debt.

(Does that remind you of anyone else yet?)

Wisconsin’s budget can’t and shouldn’t be balanced on state workers’ backs,

But that’s not the real reason for Walker’s attacks.

His self-made budget crisis is just an excuse

Union-busting legislation to introduce.

Walker’s wealthy corporate masters have spoken:

Wisconsin’s remaining unions must be broken.

For Big Business, Walker’s move is a double win:

They get tax breaks, and unions take it on the chin.

Having already almost eliminated unions in the private sector,

Big Business now wants to eliminate public workers’ protector.

Wisconsin’s state workers have already had sacrifices imposed

With no pay increases for the past two years and unpaid furloughs.

And notice how it’s always others who have to be “willing to sacrifice”?

If Repubs and their base did so every so often, that would be nice.

Whether private or public, union employees tend to make more,

A fact that Big Business and it’s political lackeys abhor.

In reality, comparable Wisconsin state workers are paid 5.1% less,

But that’s not enough lower for Walker, I guess.

Rising state employee’s healthcare costs

Are what’s driving up employee benefit costs.

But even that growth is lower than the rate that’s applied

On Wisconsin’s private sector side.

The unions have already agreed to Walker’s financial demands,

Just not eliminating their right to bargain collectively, as Walker commands.

Is Governor Walker’s role just to rubber-stamp the decrees

Of his Big Business masters and Koch Industries?

And no, Mr. Vos, it’s no compromise to take away the union’s bargaining right

Just because you don’t eliminate them outright.


Here’s your theme music, the union classic Which Side Are You On by Pete Seeger.


Here’s Hardball’s 2/17/11 panel discussion about the Wisconsin situtation.

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Here’s The Last Word’s 2/17/11 report.

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Here’s Hardball’s 2/18/11 panel discussion. Republican Robin Vos’s comment about the unions being allowed to survive is at about the 9.5 minute mark.

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Here’s Rachel’s 2/18/11 comment on what America owes Wisconsin and the union movement. And as Rachel points out, in trying to bust unions, Republicans aren’t just serving their corporate masters by hating on government workers, they’re also helping themselves politically, since unions are the only institutions that somewhat counter-balance the GOP’s corporate campaign finance advantage. Rachel also interviews State Senator Jon Erpenbach, who with other State Senators is in hiding out of state in order to deny Republicans a quorum to pass the governor’s union-busting bill.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Here’s The Last Word’s 2/18/11 report, including interviews with Republican and Democrat state senators. As Lawrence points out, Gov. Walker’s press statement completely ducked the question about why he’s still pushing to bust the unions since they’ve agreed to his budgetary demands.


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6 Responses to “Mad in Madison”

  1. Tweets that mention Newsericks » Blog Archive » Mad in Madison -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Newsericks, Newsericks. Newsericks said: When he cries crisis, Gov #Walker is faking/#Wisconsin’s fiscal problems are of his own making #wiunion […]

  2. Newsericks » Blog Archive » So Be It (or: Jobs lost? Don’t Know, Don’t Care) Says:

    […] Here’s Rachel’s 2/16/11 report on why the GOP likes the idea of government workers losing their jobs, showing the link between Boehner’s statement and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting. […]

  3. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Workers of Wisconsin, Unite Says:

    […] follow-up to Mad in Madison, inspired by 12 Things You Need to Know About the Uprising in Wisconsin (Alternet 2/19/11) and […]

  4. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Liars and Goons Says:

    […] The unions quickly conceded to his budgetary diktat, […]

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    […] The measure goes further than Wisconsin’s, which exempted firefighters and police: […]

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