The public employees of Wisconsin offered to take serious cuts in their wages and benefits, but Governor Scott Walker was obsessed with taking away their right to bargain! As the unions and their friends from across the state staged major protest rallies inside and outside their capitol, other unionists across the nation started to respond. The AFL-CIO, the UAW, and several other international unions called for demonstrations in solidarity, and they got them!
The Texas AFL-CIO led a rally of 500 or more in Austin on February 21. They chanted, "What's disgusting? Union busting!" They marched from the AFL-CIO offices, 1106 LaVaca, to the gates of the state capitol. Gerardo Contreras played an important role in leading the chant, "The people united will never be defeated!" He and J.R. Flores, President of UAW 276 at General Motors, held the UAW banner at the front of the crowd. Both are leaders of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
At least three State Representatives joined Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller in congratulating the fearless crowd and urging them to further actions. One of several top union leaders to take the microphone was Linda Bridges, President of the Texas Federation of Teachers. She pointed out that the Governor of Wisconsin blamed public workers' bargaining rights for causing their state deficit. But Texas has a worse deficit, Bridges pointed out, and "Public workers here don't have any bargaining rights! So what's the deal?" Bridges and dozens of teacher leafleters in the crowd were encouraging everyone to build an even bigger statewide rally on the Teachers' Lobby Day, March 14. Dozens of buses have already been chartered to go to Austin that day. If they are not successful, the Governor and Legislature are said to plan 100,000 layoffs of school employees! The crowd responded to Linda Bridges: "Save our schools... save our schools!"
Jobs with Justice is helping the teachers with their March 14 buses to Austin. They leave at 6 AM from 334 W Centre in Dallas.
The Texas State Employees Union, affiliated with the Communications Workers, also leafleted the crowd on behalf of their own lobby day and state rally on April 6th. "Texas Forward," a coalition which includes the state workers, the teachers, the Texas AFL-CIO, and a dozen or so other progressive organizations is joining the April 6 event. The growing coalition demands that Texas spend the giant "Rainy Day" fund and take all the federal help they can get before they start any layoffs. Governor Perry opposes both as he tries to build his demagogical anti-Washington and anti-people pro-corporate campaign for further political power.
On February 26, the MoveOn organization called for public protests in all 50 states, and they oranized one in Dallas. About 250 protestors gathered at the Beckley Courthouse, just south of downtown, at noon. Not everyone agreed with the student radicals who dominated the speakers' list, but everyone did agree with the basic message: "Save our teachers, public employees, and the services they provide."
Prior to MoveOn's Dallas protest, the Workers Rights Board, part of Jobs with Justice, held a public hearing. Speakers were:
Cumberbatch said that the coming cuts in state services are a "life or death issue" for abused children, disabled Texans, and others. Teacher Hukill said, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!" Professor Rieger summarized the ongoing situation in Wisconsin and Texas, "This is not just a natural disaster. Someone is profitting!"
North Texas Jobs with Justice calls for solidarity with the teachers and public employees. Please plan to attend all three of the major rallies in Austin. We are not forgetting our main focus on the unemployed. Our main slogan is this:
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