"...some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally seems like more of an assault on unions... it's very important for us to understand that public employees, they're our neighbors, they're our friends... They make a lot of sacrifices and make a big contribution. And I think it's important not to vilify them or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees."
— President Barack Obama, February 16, 2011
Dear AFSCME Sisters and Brothers,
"We are doing all we can to stop this radical and extreme bill from becoming law. If we don’t stop it, the results will be devastating for our communities and for our union.
"Your support means a lot to us: Wisconsin AFSCME members will know that we are not in this fight alone."
— Kory Small, Therapy Assistant
Southern WI Center, Council 24
Watch this video of AFSCME members as they file into the state Capitol to stand up for their rights here.
Wisconsin and Ohio are now the front line in the fight to save public services, and if their governors have their way, the consequences for AFSCME members and the entire labor movement would be devastating.
Late last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker introduced radical legislation that would deny nearly 200,000 union members their full collective bargaining rights. Public employee contracts will be limited to one year. Pay for members of our three Wisconsin councils will be cut and capped. Home health care and child care workers will be denied all collective bargaining rights, as will many employees working in the state universities and hospitals. He has even threatened to mobilize the Wisconsin National Guard if needed to stop protests, intimidate workers, and break unions.
Wisconsin is the birthplace of AFSCME. We have a long and proud history in the state. In a matter of days, all we have built there over the past 75 years could be profoundly jeopardized. But more importantly, the very existence of public employee unionism is now on the line across the country.
As you have no doubt seen and heard in the news and on the web, we are fighting back. Tens of thousands of AFSCME members, other public service workers, students, and our fellow citizens have taken over the Capitol in Madison this week. We both had the honor of being there on Tuesday, standing in solidarity with our members in Wisconsin. It was amazing and inspiring. Please join us in standing with them: http://afsc.me/ec8w9G.
Ohio public workers jam the Statehouse to protest SB 5, a bill that would eliminate collective bargaining for state employees.
A vote was planned for today, but Democratic Senate members are boycotting the vote to keep this bill from passing at least for another day.
In Ohio, our members have been rallying and packing hearing rooms to stop Gov. John Kasich from passing a similar bill to eliminate public service unions.
We know that this is just the beginning. In Indiana, the governor wiped away collective bargaining rights with a few strokes of his pen, cancelling an executive order that had been in place for years. We are under no illusions. It is only a matter of time before these actions spread to your state.
All Americans will suffer if we fail to stop these politicians from taking away our right to have a union and collectively bargain. We must stop these governors right now. We must stand with our sisters and brothers.