Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wisconsin right-to-work battle: A bitter pill, and gratitude

Yesterday inside the Wisconsin Statehouse. Photo by Local 695 Business
Agent Rob Moss.
Despite thousands of protesters inside and outside the Statehouse in Madison yesterday, the Senate passed SB44, a right-to-work bill. The legislation was sent to the Assembly, where it is expected to pass easily next week. Job-killer Gov. Scott Walker said he will sign it (no surprise there).
The Huffington Post reports:
Debate over the bill drew an estimated 2,000 protesters to the state Capitol on both Tuesday and Wednesday, reminiscent of the passionate labor demonstrations surrounding Act 10 in 2011, though vastly smaller in scope. As with that earlier legislation, which stripped most collective bargaining rights from public-sector employees, vocal opposition from the state's unions wasn't enough to stop the right-to-work bill in its tracks... 
The fight in Madison is just the latest indication of how state Republican leaders, often controlling both the statehouse and the governor's mansion in their respective states, are managing to enact laws that weaken the clout of organized labor. If the Wisconsin measure is approved, the Badger State will become the 25th right-to-work state in the country, following two other Midwestern states, Michigan and Indiana, that passed such laws in 2012.
Local 200 members: Roundys employee Tom Lindert, Business Agent Wes Gable, President Tom Bennett and Roundys employee Freddy Steinbach at the Capitol yesterday protesting the damaging right-to-work legislation. Photo by Local 200 Secretary-Treasurer Tom Millonzi. 
We can't say it any better than Teamsters Local 200 President Tom Bennett does here:
It was a very disappointing defeat tonight in the Senate with the passing of SB44, now going to the Assembly, but I feel the need to express my gratitude to Sen. Dave Hansen from Green Bay and Sen. JanetBewley from Ashland. I watched from the upper seating area for the last five hours of the session to hear the Teamsters mentioned in very positive ways when the Democratic senators spoke to support organized labor, but these two stood out. 
These two Democrats from Wisconsin tonight expressed their compassion and thankfulness for having a strong union bond with the Teamsters. Both gave compelling arguments why right to work is bad for the people of Wisconsin, and that was based on how the Teamsters impacted their lives. Sen. Hansen worked a Teamster job that provided him a good living. Sen. Bewley talked about her father being a Teamster that instilled great values in their family life. Senator Bewley went on to talk about the pension that provided security for her parents until their death. She also talked about how her father's Teamster job provided her college education. 
In the closing moments, prior to the final roll call vote on SB44, this Teamster was proud to know that our own brothers and sisters were proudly represented by senators that value the International Brotherhood ofTeamsters.
For some great photos of yesterday's happenings in Madison, click here.