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Leo W Gerard: Kimberly-Clark Uses GOP Tax Break to Sucker Punch Wisconsin Workers

David Breckheimer

Early Wednesday morning, David Breckheimer, a United Steelworkers local union president at a Neenah, Wis., paper factory, was gathering the last of his gear for a snowmobiling vacation.

At 7:45 a.m., less than two hours before he planned to leave, he got a call. It felt like a punch to the gut, he told me later that day.

Kimberly-Clark was closing its Cold Springs facility in Fox Crossing where David had worked 37 years, where 500 men and women earned a good living. Kimberly-Clark also was shuttering its Nonwovens factory in Neenah, costing another 100 workers their jobs.

The closures mean the virtual disappearance of Kimberly-Clark production in Neenah, the town along Lake Winnebago where the company was founded by John Kimberly and Charles Clark 146 years ago. It moved its corporate headquarters to Texas in 1985.

The terminations are part of a life-shattering pattern in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley, where Neenah and other paper mill towns are located. Once dotted with dozens of paper plants providing good jobs and middle class livelihoods, the valley had been devastated over the past decade and a half as paper companies failed or fled, one after another.

The rise of digital communications is partly to blame. But more significant is government policy. The corporate tax breaks that Congressional Republicans said would create jobs are being used by some, like Kimberly-Clark, to kill jobs. And the government’s failure to enforce international trade law bankrupted many of the Fox Valley plants as China plastered the U.S. market with underpriced, illegally subsidized paper.

The result is pain for blue-collar workers in blue states like Wisconsin that went red in 2016 to give Donald Trump the presidency. Workers who voted for Trump believed his promises to crack down on Chinese currency manipulation and impose 45 percent tariffs on unfairly traded imports from China.

None of that has happened, however. The most those workers got from Trump in his first State of the Union address on Tuesday was more vague pledges to ensure fair and reciprocal trade.

Voters in the Fox Valley had good reason to hope for the bold change that candidate Trump proposed. Between 2000 and 2013, Wisconsin lost more than 90,000 factory jobs, including 17,000 paper mill positions as 34 paper factories closed. In that time, Wisconsin experienced the largest in the country decline in the percent of households making a middle class income, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

In Fox Valley, the demise continues. In 2016, Graphic Packaging closed its Menasha factory, putting 228 workers on the street.

Last September, Appleton Coated closed in a bankruptcy, rendering 600 out of work. Appleton Coated sold the factory to Industrial Assets Corp., which allowed 38 workers to remain to maintain the machines. Also, in December, Industrial Assets recalled 50 to run one paper line.

In October, another paper company, Appvion, also in the town of Appleton, filed for bankrupcy. In November, it announced 200 of the company’s 800 workers in Fox Valley would lose their jobs. Also in October, U.S. Paper Converters, another Fox Valley paper company, announced it would close its factory in Grand Chute, eliminating 52 jobs.

Kimberly-Clark, maker of paper-based products such as Kleenex, Viva paper towels, Cottonelle bathroom tissue and Huggies disposable diapers, announced earlier this month that the corporation would use its tax cut windfall to pay the costs of closing 10 factories and dumping as many as 5,500 workers worldwide.

It wasn’t that Kimberly-Clark was insolvent. Just the opposite. Last year, its profit was $2.28 billion or $6.40 a share. For 2018, the corporation is shooting for more, at least $6.90 a share, by “reorganizing,” that is, ditching factories and workers.

The USW workers at the Cold Springs factory thought they would be spared. Their plant was profitable and over the past several years, workers had collaborated with managers to reduce costs. Just a few weeks ago, corporate officials told the Cold Springs plant that it achieved the best overall cost reduction.

Also, the Cold Springs plant had been hiring, 53 last year and eight in January. It had given job offers to workers who were supposed to start this month.

The bad news caught the plant manager off guard too, David said. On Wednesday, as that shell-shocked supervisor notified workers of the corporate decision, he suffered a tongue-lashing. Workers were frustrated, upset and angry.

Some Cold Springs workers have been through this trauma before. They had worked at other Fox Valley paper plants that shut down. One told David on Wednesday that the Cold Springs shut down would be the fourth time that his life was turned upside down by a plant closure.

In 2016, another Neenah mill, Clearwater Paper, silenced two paper machines and laid off 85 workers. Some of them got jobs at Cold Springs. Now they’re out in the cold again.

David is worried about his co-workers, especially the young ones, those just recently married, who have big mortgages and little children. He’s concerned for the couples at the plant who had two good incomes and soon will have none.

With so many factories closed in the area, getting a good job is tough, he said. Walmart and fast food wages won’t support a family.

And then there are the older guys like David, with 25, 30, 35 years at Cold Springs. David is 57, an age at which getting a new job is particularly difficult. Cold Springs workers who are 55 or older and have 30 years in the factory can retire early, but they forfeit a quarter of their pension.

David and other local union officers began talking to Kimberly-Clark officials on Thursday about what the corporation will provide to the workers whose jobs it is eliminating, for example, whether it would offer them positions at other Kimberly-Clark factories in the United States.

David said he thinks the workers in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley who voted for Trump want to see some follow through on his promises to create jobs, raise incomes and establish fair trade.

None of that is accomplished by the GOP tax scam that promoted off-shoring by granting corporations lower tax rates for overseas factories and that gave massive breaks to job-cutting corporations like Kimberly-Clark.

None of Trump’s promises are accomplished by speeches about fair and reciprocal trade when no action follows.


Photo is of 2013 razing of KimberlyClark pulp and tissue plant in Everett, Wash.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDvDGAjO1dw

Why Tomorrow’s Supreme Court Case is So Important

Here’s where we are, as a country: only 20% of us trust our government to do what is right.

Pew Research Center: Public Trust in Government 2017

Pew Research Center: Public Trust in Government 2017

And tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case testing the limits of partisan gerrymandering.

Not sure what “gerrymandering” is?  It’s when lines for legislative districts are drawn in a way that influences election outcomes.  Depending on who’s drawing the lines, gerrymandering can help ensure that Republicans win, or that Democrats win.  It causes a whole lot of “wasted votes.”

Gerrymandering lets politicians pick their voters, rather than voters picking their choice of politicians.

In Wisconsin, the districting plan at issue in Gill v. Whitford allowed the political party that drew electoral boundaries to gain 60% of the seats in the state Legislature, despite only getting 49% of the statewide vote.

Last year, those electoral maps were struck down by a federal district court, which found that

“Act 43 was intended to burden the representational rights of …voters throughout the decennial period by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats. Moreover, as demonstrated by the results of the 2012 and 2014 elections, among other evidence, we conclude that Act 43 has had its intended effect.”

Here’s why tomorrow’s case is so important.  Right now, American citizens trust the courts more than any other branch of government. According to Gallup, that may be because the Judicial Branch is seen as “above the political fray” compared to the White House or Congress.

But if the Supreme Court overrules the District Court decision in Gill v. Whitford, that’s going to put our Court system squarely in the middle of that “political fray.”

And at a time when

  • 72 percent of voters agree “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful”
  • 68 percent agree that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me” and
  • 57 percent feel that “more and more, I don’t identify with what America has become”

the last thing our country needs is for the Supreme Court to give citizens a reason to lose faith in the judicial system.

 

If you’re a union member who might vote for Donald Trump…

Donald trump 5 (Gage skidmore Flikr)…please consider this:

Buried in this week’s document leak to the UK-based Guardian, there is a check from Donald Trump for $15,000 – made payable to Wisconsin Club for Growth – and dated April 3, 2012, the same day that Trump met with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in New York.

Remember what was going on in Wisconsin, back then?  Remember there was a recall election after most of the state’s public employees had their bargaining rights stripped away?

The Wisconsin Club for Growth was one of the “dark money” organizations that supported Walker during that recall attempt.  But because it calls itself a “non-profit” – rather than a political organization – it doesn’t disclose its donors or adhere to contribution limits.

Because of the leaked documents, we now know that Donald Trump was one of the donors who helped Scott Walker stay in office.

Remember what happened next?  In February 2015, Scott Walker pushed “Right to Work” through the Wisconsin Legislature in just days – and then said his experience taking on unions made him qualified to take on ISIS.  (Yep, he said that.)

Photo by Lacrossewi from Wikimedia Commons

Thousands fill the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda in protest of Gov. Scott Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill.” Photo by Lacrossewi from Wikimedia Commons

Remember the old adage, if you want to know where a man’s heart is, just look how he spends his money?  This “dark money” contribution came from Donald Trump personally — not from the Trump Foundation, or the Trump Organization.

Yes, that’s right.  According to the check image that was leaked to the Guardian, Donald Trump actually spent his own money

to help protect Scott Walker, after Walker stripped union rights away from public-sector employees; and
to help preserve Scott Walker until Walker could strip rights away from private-sector employees.

So, if you’re angry about the economy and just looking for some sort of radical change… well, I get that.  There’s lots to be angry about.

But before you decide who to vote for…

…please consider how Donald Trump spends his money.

Wisconsin Loses 10,000 More Jobs After Passing Right To Work

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is in deep trouble as his state is losing jobs at record rates.  Last year Walker promised that if the they passed Right To Work they would create tens of thousands of new jobs, once again proving that Right to Work is not a job creator.

Gov. Walker’s administration quietly acknowledged over the busy holiday season that Wisconsin surpassed 10,000 layoffs last year as a result of plant closings and economic challenges. The dismal news confirms that 2015 was Wisconsin’s worst year for job losses since Gov. Walker took office – far exceeding the 6,186 workers affected by mass layoffs and plant closings in 2014. The dramatic spike in layoffs have surprised many given the strong economic growth in neighboring Midwestern states.

“I’m concerned these mass layoffs aren’t setting off any alarm bells among Republican leaders in our state,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “We are in the midst of an economic crisis. Wisconsin is hemorrhaging jobs at a rate we haven’t seen since the Great Recession and our middle class is shrinking faster than any other state in the nation. Thousands of families are struggling to find a job because the policies being pushed by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans simply aren’t working.”

Instead of focusing on economic development, Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans have prioritized bills to dismantle the Government Accountability Board, limit investigations of political corruption and increase special interest campaign influence. Additionally, deep budget cuts to local schools, public infrastructure and economic development programs have resulted in widespread layoffs and contributed to Wisconsin’s poor economic climate.

“We need to get serious about turning things around and expanding economic opportunities in our state,” added Shilling. “From early childhood education and student loan debt relief to strengthening retirement security and investing in infrastructure, Senate Democrats continue to call for action to help hardworking Wisconsin families. Rather than addressing these challenges, Republican leaders have allowed Gov. Walker’s presidential campaign and special interest groups to drive their political agenda. With more layoffs on the horizon, I hope that we can recognize the gravity of this situation and begin to turn things around in Wisconsin.”

Rand Wilson SEIU 888: A Smart Strategy to Defeat ‘Right to Work’

Without aggressive action, the right-to-work tsunami will sweep more states. "Just Cause for All" campaigns should be part of the strategy. Photo: Glenn Schmidt.

 Photo: Glenn Schmidt.

By Rand Wilson

Without aggressive action, the right-to-work tsunami will sweep more states.
“Just Cause for All” campaigns should be part of the strategy.

Wisconsin is now the 25th state to adopt a so-called “right-to-work” law, which allows workers to benefit from collective bargaining without having to pay for it.

It joins Michigan and Indiana, which both adopted right to work in 2012. Similar initiatives, or variants, are spreading to Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and West Virginia—and the National Right to Work Committee and the American Legislative Exchange Council probably have a well-developed list of additional targets.

Without aggressive action, the right-to-work tsunami will sweep more states. To defeat it, the first step is committing to fight back, rather than resigning ourselves to what some say is inevitable.

Everyone’s Interests

Rand Wilson speaking at Local 888 convention 2014

Rand Wilson speaking at Local 888 convention 2014

We’ll have to go beyond what we’ve mostly been saying so far, which is that right to work is “unfair” or “wrong.”

That argument certainly works for most union households and many of our community allies. But the real challenge is to convince a much broader public that a strong (and fairly-funded) labor movement is in their interest and worth preserving. Clearly most Americans aren’t yet convinced.

Many unions over the last few years have undertaken important campaigns along these lines. For example, teachers unions have positioned themselves as defenders of quality public education. Refinery workers have struck for public safety.

Nurses and health care unions have fought for safe staffing to improve the quality of care. And most notably, the Service Employees (SEIU) and others have waged the “Fight for $15” for fast food and other low-wage workers.

In its own way, each union is working hard to be a champion of the entire working class. Yet with the exception of SEIU’s Fight for $15, each is essentially focused on the issues of its core constituency at work. This still limits the public’s perception of labor.

Supporters of right to work cynically play on the resentment many workers feel about their declining standard of living. Absent a union contract, the vast majority have few, if any, ways to address it. To most, organizing looks impossible and politics looks broken.

Workers’ understandable frustration is fertile ground for the far right, which promises to improve the business climate and create more jobs by stripping union members of their power.

Thus, when we anticipate right to work’s next targets, the best defense should be a good offense—one that clearly positions labor as a force for the good of all workers.

‘Just Cause for All’

Here’s one approach that would put labor on the offensive: an initiative for a new law providing all workers with due process rights to challenge unjust discipline and discharge, “Just Cause for All.”

Such a law would take aim at the “at-will” employment standard covering most non-union workers in the U.S. At-will employees can be fired for any reason and at any time—without just cause.

While such a major expansion of workers’ rights as Just Cause for All would be unlikely to pass in most state legislatures—Montana did it in 1987, but it’s still the only one—it could become law in states that allow ballot initiatives.

A well-orchestrated attack on the at-will employment standard would force the extreme, anti-worker, and big business interests who back right to work to respond. If nothing else, imagine how competing initiatives would force a debate. On one side, extending due process protections and increased job security to all workers: a real right-to-work bill. On the other side, taking away fair share contributions for collective bargaining.

This strategy isn’t untested. When the Coors beer dynasty backed a right-to-work ballot initiative in Colorado in 2008, labor collected signatures for a counter-initiative, “Allowable Reasons for Employee Discharge or Suspension,” which would have overturned at-will employment. (Labor also supported a proposal that would have provided affordable health insurance to all employees and a measure to allow workers injured on the job to sue for damages in state courts.)

Fearing that the just cause proposal might pass, centrist business people offered a deal. In exchange for labor withdrawing its proposal, they provided financial support and manpower that helped labor defeat right to work in Colorado. (For more on this story, read “The 2008 Defeat of Right to Work in Colorado: Is it the End of Section 14(b)?” Raymond L. Hogler, Labor Law Journal, Spring 2009.)

While it’s unfortunate that the labor initiative didn’t go before Colorado voters, the result was still encouraging—and instructive. By championing the interests of all workers, labor split business and blunted the right-to-work effort.

To win back “fair-share” participation in the three new right-to-work states and stop further attacks, we’ll need well-planned campaigns that include grassroots mobilization, direct action, paid and earned media, and focused electoral work.

Just Cause for All campaigns should be part of the strategy. Even if we lose, campaigns for due process and job security for all will help shift the debate on right to work, leave the labor movement stronger—and make labor and its allies once again the champions of the “99%.”

Rand Wilson is policy and communications director at SEIU Local 888 in Boston.

This story was also published on LaborNotes.

USW President Leo W. Gerard: The GOP’s Big Squeeze

Editor’s note: Beginning this week, the NH Labor News will also be posting a weekly editorial from United Steelworkers President Leo W Gerard. 

(Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

(Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation last week to lower the wages of Wisconsin’s middle class workers. He wants pay cuts for hard working Wisconsinites.

It’s part of a pattern established by Wisconsin’s Republican governor and the Republicans who control the state legislature. Earlier, they slashed the paychecks ofteachers and government workers by 8 to 10 percent. Wisconsin Republicans refused to raise the minimum wage for workers who haven’t seen an increase in six years, even as 29 states gave raises to the lowest paid. Meanwhile, Walker and his GOP gang butchered state funding for public schools and propose the same fate for the state’s public universities – the colleges that, until now, the middle class could afford.

For putting the squeeze on workers, Walker is the darling of the GOP. In some polls,the college dropout is their leading candidate for the presidential nomination. His Mitt Romney-like hatred of the 47 percent, the working poor and organized labor is so GOP-revered that freshmen Republican governors like Bruce Rauner of Illinois are aping his efforts to shove workers down.

 

2015-03-15-1426441394-4673975-GOPSqueezegraphic.jpg

Photo by Rob Chandanals on Flickr.

 

The legislation Walker signed last week is called right-to-work-for-less. That’s because workers in states with these laws are paid $1,500 a year less. Wherever Republicans control a house of a state legislature, they propose it.

After Republicans won majorities in both houses in West Virginia for the first time in eight decades, the GOP immediately introduced right-to-work-for-less legislation. GOP Gov. Rauner, a billionaire, tried to circumvent Illinois’ Democrat-controlled legislature by imposing right-to-work-for-less on government workers by executive fiat.

Every adult American, of course, has the right to work. What this legislation does is help corporations and state governments cut workers’ pay. Its intent is regressive. Republicans want to return America to the days when robber barons controlled workers’ lives completely. This was a time of grotesque income inequality, of child labor, of tragically unsafe workplaces, of bosses compelling workers to remain on the job 50, 60 even 80 hours a week with no overtime pay.

American workers already are suffering the worst income inequality since the Great Depression. Right-to-work-for-less laws worsen that. These statutes forbid employers and labor organizations from negotiating collective bargaining agreements requiring all workers to pay either fair share fees or union dues.

At workplaces where employees have chosen union representation, federal law requires the labor organization to act on behalf of all of the workers, whether or not they join and pay dues. Fair share fees, which are less than dues, cover costs such as bargaining contracts that benefit all workers and representing workers who haven’t joined the union but want it to file grievances for them against the company.

Right-to-work-for-less laws are intended to bankrupt unions. And they do.

In Wisconsin four years ago, before passage of right-to-work-for-less legislation for government workers, Council 40 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), representing county and municipal workers, received dues or fair share payments from 32,000 workers. Now, Council 40 gets dues from 13,000. That cut nearly in half the funds it has to represent all 32,000 workers. As reduced income diminishes the AFSCME Council’s ability to do that well, more workers may quit and stop paying dues. That’s the death spiral Republicans are seeking.

Wisconsin unions representing workers at private companies face that same fate as a result of the new right-to-work-for-less legislation that Gov. Walker signed last week.

Right-to-work-for-less laws take from workers the tool they used for decades to secure better wages and working conditions. Right-to-work-for-less sends workers back to the desperate days before 1935. That’s the year Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act encouraging collective bargaining.

For nearly four decades after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the act, union membership grew, America’s middle class blossomed and income inequality shriveled. For the past three decades, as Republicans attacked workers’ right to collectively bargain for better lives, union membership shrank and workers’ wages stagnated. Now, income inequality is back to robber baron levels.

While the GOP attacked unions, Republicans like Walker and Rauner wounded the working poor and middle class in other ways as well. They cut funding for public transit, day care and unemployment insurance. They slashed spending for public education from Florida to Oklahoma to Arizona.

Now, GOP governors are demanding hundreds of millions in cuts to the public universities attended by the children of America’s middle class. Rauner wants to take $400 million from the University of Illinois. Walker wants to slash $300 million from the University of Wisconsin system. Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey wants to carve $75 million out of his state’s universities.

The result is that while workers get paid less, they’re shelling out more to buy bus tickets to their jobs, to ensure that while they work their toddlers are safe and to give their kids a college education.

This is the GOP’s big squeeze. It means the death of opportunity for the working poor to climb into the middle class. It means more of the middle class dragged down into poverty as workers scramble to pay ever-climbing bills with ever-smaller paychecks.

Unions and progressive groups are fighting back. Unions, including the United Steelworkers, have filed lawsuits in Wisconsin and Illinois to try to reverse right-to-work-for-less in those states. And a coalition of progressive groups and social welfare organizations staged protests last week across the country under the banner: “We Rise.”  They’re demanding politicians put people and the planet first – that is, before the greed interests and ecological disinterest of Republicans and big corporations.

They refuse to be strangled by the GOP.

The Rest of the Story on Scott Walker’s Visit to Concord

By Paul Brochu, Lead Organizer, New Hampshire for The Stamp Stampede

According to someone who was there Saturday morning:

2015-03-14 Walker protest 1More people were outside protesting against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker than were inside the building, attending the event.

Inside, what was billed as the NH-GOP’s “2016 Kickoff Grassroots Training” quickly devolved into an exercise in political fundraising.  Party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn kept reminding the “Grassroots” participants to donate, donate, donate.  She also encouraged them to volunteer for Americans For Prosperity. (Which is somewhat odd… wouldn’t the Party want its “Grassroots” volunteers to support Republican candidates, not a 501(c)(4) “social welfare organization” founded by the Koch brothers ??)

Inside, party officials were touting Scott Walker as “the only candidate willing to fight the special interests.” (Which is an odd characterization, while there’s an ongoing investigation into “whether Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups illegally worked together in recall elections” including “the involvement of Walker’s campaign in raising money” for the Wisconsin Club for Growth.)

Inside, party officials were discussing who would – and wouldn’t – be allowed into the event.  Among those left outside in the cold?  Any and all Republicans from Massachusetts.   Apparently, NH GOP officials thought Massachusetts Republicans had struck some sort of “deal” with labor unions… and because of that, any Republican from Massachusetts was turned away at the door.  Among those left outside the event?  A gray-suited man who described himself as a “Lifetime Member of the National Republican Inner Circle” who happened to be from Massachusetts.

2015-03-14 Walker protest 2(And, yes, there were Republican union members outside the event, too.  Party officials keep forgetting that, in New Hampshire, a large chunk of union members are registered Republicans.  And Republican union members weren’t any happier with Scott Walker than Democratic union members were.)

And also outside the event?  Gov. Walker’s fundraising machine, which reportedly is going full-steam all around the country. Here’s how CNN reported it:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is on an ambitious mission this spring to scoop up major GOP donors ahead of a likely presidential run … Walker’s PAC, Our American Revival, provided CNN with a list of names of reliable Republican donors who have already committed to bundle funds for him or contribute significantly to a Super PAC that would be developed to support him should he run. And Republican fundraisers have told CNN donors are lining up to meet with him as he’s rocketing up in the polls.

New Hampshire used to pride itself on the “First in the Nation” primary.  Only now, we’ve been beaten to the punch by a bunch of billionaires holding their own “interviews” and trying to pre-select which candidates will be able to run for President.

2015-03-14 Walker protest 3That’s why the Stamp Stampede was outside the event, too, Saturday morning.

We remember back in 2011, when Gov. Walker thought he was talking with David Koch. (Frankly, it was kind of embarrassing; governors should be dignified, not fawning.  You can read the transcript here.)

And even before that: the videotape of a billionaire asking him whether he could make Wisconsin a “completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work” state.  And Walker replied that his “first step” would be “to divide and conquer” the unions through his “budget-adjustment bill.”

That was after the 2010 elections, in which Walker won the support of Operating Engineers Local 139.

Terry McGowan, the union’s business manager, said the union gave its 2010 endorsement only after getting assurances Walker would not pursue right-to-work legislation. [McGowan said] he was continuing to take Walker at his word given his public statements and conversations he has had with him.  “You don’t hear him say, ‘Yes, I’m going to go after right-to-work legislation,’ ” McGowan said of the video.

But he added that divide and conquer is a phrase that is anathema to those in the labor movement. 

“It means turning worker against worker,” he said.

The billionaire gave Walker a $500,000 donation.

And last week, just before he came to New Hampshire, Scott Walker signed “Right-to-Work.”  Apparently, it’s good for getting donations.  “Even before the Legislature passed the measure on Friday in a fast-track process, Mr. Walker’s political backers were raising money on the issue.”

Let’s be clear: the ability “to scoop up major donors” should not be the #1 qualification to become President.

It’s not something to be proud of.

The willingness to say one thing publicly, and something else to mega-donors – that’s not something to be proud of, either.

Eagerness to embrace divide-and-conquer as a political strategy?  That’s beyond the pale.

Stamp_Stampede
The Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

GOP Presidential Candidate Scott Walker Is Destroying Wisconsin To Prove Just How Conservative He Is

After it was announced that Governor Scott Walker would be testing his GOP Primary status with a trip to New Hampshire, my inbox was flooded with friends and fans from Wisconsin telling me how the people of New Hampshire need to know how bad Gov. Walker really is.

Mark Anderson is a blogger on the Daily Kos who lives in Wisconsin and is not shy about how bad Gov. Walker really is.  Below is his piece on Walker and what he has done to Wisconsin to make himself look better to GOP Primary voters.

Scott Walker

By Mark Anderson

There was a time when I would travel out of state and people would ask me where I was from, and I would say Wisconsin. Back then, people would ask if I had any cheese (No, I do not carry cheese around in my pocket), if I was a Packer fan (YES!), did I live on a dairy farm (no, I do not, but my dad grew up on one), and did I drink beer (an enthusiastic YES!).

These days if I travel out of state, I get asked what in the hell happened in Wisconsin. To be honest, I don’t really understand what happened. I do not know how or when teachers, police, firefighters, librarians, iron workers, operating engineers, and, well, anyone who could be your next-door neighbor became the enemy.

Scott Walker and his pursuit of the presidency is wreaking havoc upon the good people of Wisconsin. In the current budget, we have seen him attack education—all but gutting theUniversity of Wisconsin System—and giving a green light to for-profit education statewide.

And then there’s the lie of right-to-work, and cutting funding for our beautiful state parks. Those of us on the left did everything we could do to warn our fellow citizens what would happen if Walker were allowed to win a second term. Sadly, we were drowned out by right-wing noise machine and the grip it has on Wisconsin media as well as the millions upon millions of dollars spent to ensure a Walker victory.

My fellow citizens will come to regret their decision, much like they regret electing Sen. Joe McCarthy. Their first regrets will come when they pull into Harley-Davidson State Park (formerly known as Devil’s Lake State Park), or maybe when they find out that Briggs and Stratton State Park (formerly known as Peninsula State Park) is closed for a corporate event. Yes, that is right, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources—specifically, unqualified Walker crony Cathy Stepp—has told lawmakers that:

Wisconsin will consider selling naming rights to state parks to help them operate without tax support as proposed under Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget

So instead of going to Governor Dodge State Park, and Cox Hollow Beach, you will be going to Miller Brewing State Park and you will swim at Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs Beach.

Of course, if you are a domestic abuser, Wisconsin is the place to be. No more of that pesky48-hour waiting period to purchase a handgun. Nope, now you can get pissed off at your loved one, go out while you are still angry, purchase a .357 magnum, come home, and blow your family away in a fit a blind rage. Who needs a cooling-off period anyway?

But that is not all. Walker and his GOP cabal will continue to attack women’s rights with a 20-week abortion ban. The only reason this ban is coming up now is to burnish Walker’s conservative resume.

To top all this off, a simple law, AB8, to make women safer in Wisconsin, is being held up in the Wisconsin Senate. Making “upskirting” a felony is considered too controversial to bring up for a vote.

In the Wisconsin I grew up in, a bill like this would be looked upon as a nonpartisan issue. The lack of a sense of urgency here is alarming. Upskirting is creepy, and it’s happening every day on buses, in grocery stores, and while standing in line at the gas station. If someone taking pictures up another person’s skirt in line at the grocery store isn’t enough to motivate our legislators to act and do what’s right, then I don’t know what is. The people of Wisconsin should be outraged.

Via Facebook chat, Assemblywoman Melissa Sargent had this to say about what is happening in Wisconsin:

“In Wisconsin we have a culture of taking care of each other – from building barns and plowing fields with and for our neighbors to cooking casseroles and watching each others children – we reach out embrace our friends and neighbors as our family. We should expect nothing less from our elected officials – rather what we are seeing this legislative session are decisions being made with, for and by out of state corporate special interest groups rather than with the Wisconsin values that we grew up with.

As I have said in many posts before, this is not the Wisconsin that Assemblywoman Sargent and I grew up in. We both attended Madison East High School, just a couple years apart, in view of the state capitol. I don’t think either of us ever foresaw what is happening in Wisconsin today.

UFCW President Perrone and UFCW Local 1473 (WI) Speak Out Against Governo Walker And Right To Work Legislation

“By standing against hard-working families,
Governor Walker should be ashamed, but we know he is not.”

Marc Perrone, International President of the 1.3 million member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to the adoption of right to work in Wisconsin.

“Every elected leader has a sacred responsibility to stand up for America’s hard-working families and to help them achieve a better life. Higher wages, better benefits, equal pay for equal work, protection from discrimination and exploitation; those are the rights that unions offer and which we fight for every single day. These are the true rights that Governor Scott Walker wants to take away from the union men and women who work hard, sacrifice, and help make Wisconsin and America a better place.

The truth is by standing against hard-working families, Governor Scott Walker should be ashamed, but we know he is not. He has chosen to pursue a radical agenda that willingly ignores that this law will devastate countless workers and their families. Make no mistake, this law gives irresponsible corporations, let alone politicians, the right to exploit and mistreat countless men and women all across Wisconsin.

Let me be clear, this fight is not over. We will stand up and fight for the right to protect our hard-working union family and the rights of countless families in Wisconsin and all across America who earn and deserve a better life.”

UFCW Protesting Right To Work

UFCW Local 1473 (Milwaukee,WI) Statement on
Passage of Right to Work in Wisconsin

“Just days after comparing union members to foreign terrorists and four years after limiting the collective bargaining rights of public employees, Governor Scott Walker today signed legislation that will lower wages and standards for workers across the State of Wisconsin.

“This is a sad day for our state. Right to Work is a ploy to take away the voice of workers. From refusing to expand BadgerCare for the sick, to enacting tax cuts for the rich, gutting education, slashing funding for State parks, stripping the Natural Resources Board’s authority and consolidating control over the environment into the hands of a few hand-picked politicians and eroding collective bargaining rights for working people – Gov. Walker has shown a true disregard for Wisconsin families. It does nothing to create jobs, attract businesses, or grow the economy. In fact, when it comes to overall quality of life, Right to Work states rank among the worst.

“This is a transparent attempt to gut private sector unions in the State of Wisconsin. But we at UFCW Local 1473 remain optimistic. By signing Right to Work, Gov. Walker continues to tip the scales against working class families in favor of his out of state millionaire and billionaire buddies who fund his campaign. Gov. Walker’s political stock amongst the campaign funding elite may be rising, but it is the people of Wisconsin who are paying the price of his unchecked political ambition. UFCW Local 1473 members understand that workers in unions earn higher wages, receive better benefits, and have more job security. In addition, women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBT workers all have far more protections in a union. In other words, our members know from experience the inherent value of their union contract.

“Wisconsin citizens should ask the Governor, who called for this Right to Work law? Not workers and not our State’s employers who went on record to acknowledge the value unions bring to their companies. It’s time Scott Walker wakes up from his dream of higher office long enough to remember who he took an oath to serve – the working families of Wisconsin not extremist out-of-state donors.

“Today Governor Walker placed himself on the wrong side of history. Collective action is on the rise. From retail stores to meatpacking plants to public schools and ports, workers are standing together and demanding respect on the job. This law will only embolden our movement to organize more workers, bargain better contracts, and hold the corporations and politicians that seek to destroy us accountable. UFCW Local 1473 and all of labor will emerge from this stronger and more united than ever.”

SEIU’s Henry: Anti-Worker Bill Proves Scott Walker Thinks Wisconsin Families Are The Enemy

SEIU LogoWASHINGTON- In response to today’s signing of anti-worker legislation by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement:

“It’s never been clearer that Scott Walker perceives Wisconsin’s working families to be the enemy. Working people want the freedom to join together to fight for better wages and working conditions–but Scott Walker has acted to curtail that freedom.

“Scott Walker encouraged his out-of-touch legislative allies to rush this bill through despite thousands of working women and men protesting and pleading to be heard.

“This legislation not only demonizes working people–union and nonunion alike–it will hit everyone in the pocketbook with lower wages and an economy that’s thrown out of balance.

“The working people of Wisconsin are going to keep fighting, and you’re either with them or you’re not. We’ll continue to stand with Wisconsin families. Scott Walker is on the other side, with the greedy CEOs, the special interests and the wealthy few.

“For 40 years, right-wing politicians like Scott Walker have led an attack on working people in this country. What do regular people have to show for all of these anti-union, trickle-down schemes? Low wages and layoffs. In fact, the company where Scott Walker signed this legislation shifted jobs from Wisconsin to Mexico.

“Just a few days ago, Scott Walker compared working people in Wisconsin to ISIS terrorists and Vladimir Putin, comments for which he should apologize. But at least we got an honest take from him: he thinks Wisconsin families are the enemy. It’s no wonder that he has signed this horrible bill.”

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