Posts Tagged ‘Madison Workers Rights’

Madison Rotunda Report From March 18

Another guest blog post by my Uncle Brad! This one covers some of the personal stories of people he’s encountered during his activism. It also shares some interesting tidbits about Karl Rove and some behind the scenes Republican scrambling. As always, thanks so much to Brad Palmer for his passion, great storytelling and general good humor in this microcosm of what’s taking place or due to take place around the country:

Hello, Fellow Truth Seekers (borrowed that from Mike Malloy)–In short, the capitol area turnout was sparse tonight, less than 100 people. I’ve found that Fridays are lightly attended, because people are planning on demonstrating on Saturday. Also, I didn’t arrive there until 7:30 PM. We’ll see what occurs tomorrow. Many of the small towns and cities in Wisconsin are holding their own demonstrations, and working tirelessly on recall efforts of the Republican senators. I’m also going to include some periphery stories that have occurred, some to inform in-staters, some to inform out-of-staters.

I walked the square three times, encountering some fellow marchers. I overheard one of them saying to another, “OK, then, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I’m hoping that means a march, and we’re represented by several thousand. One man had his two small children with him. I thanked him for getting the children involved. He replied, “It’s important.” I then walked up to the capitol building itself, talked briefly with two police officers who didn’t know what Saturday would bring to the square. I re-met the man and his children, made two cycles around the capitol to see many of the window displaying signs like, “Walker, your pink slip is coming,” I purchased a “Stand With Wisconsin” sign from a vendor for $2. I wished him well, hoped that he was making some money. We both mentioned how nice it was that merchants were seeing increased business from this.

The area around the capitol is very clean except for people minding their signs. I stood at one of the stoplights for about 15 minutes with my signs, got some “Democracy” honks, some regular honks, some cheers, some solidarity fists in the air. A large city metro bus came up from State Street and made a circle around the capitol, honking support all the way. Think he’s union?

Kathie and I went to the recall office, which was again busy. I noticed one staffer manning the counter, one in back with papers, two at computers, one assisting as a “go-fer.” I mentioned to Kathie, “This is ALSO what democracy looks like.” The office was fairly busy. We canvassed some apartment buildings that cater to the elderly. A number of the residents there were disabled or retired. We knocked on perhaps 25 doors, half of whom were out. Of the rest, we got eleven signatures. Important stuff coming here….a woman answered the door, and after Kathie stated our purpose, she said she would absolutely sign the petition, yes….and did we have one for Walker? Kathie explained that would be coming in November.

The woman said, “He ruined my life.” She is disabled. She receives $777 per month and doesn’t work. Her daughter is a nursing assistant for a public school. (I did that for two years before graduating as an RN–it is VERY hard physical work, and the average pay right now is around $11/hour). Her daughter was told her health insurance was going to increase by $250 per month because of the “budget repair bill” Walker is trying to force feed us. As tears welled up in the woman’s eyes, she said she had her cable TV disconnected. I looked at the TV, the cords were wound up and dangling. She said she did that to help her daughter pay the insurance, and that she would find a way somehow to pay for her daughter’s insurance out of her $777.

We don’t know her daughter’s circumstances. But this story will play out all over this country if WE don’t stop it. She thanked us for “doing what you’re doing.” I told her she could do more than we could ever do by just sharing her story with everyone she can. She asked if she could hug us. We did, and my heart cracked a little. This kind of thing happens while Koch Industries makes millions at her expense, and Walker gets to be a lobbyist when he leaves office–which WILL BE SOON!

Another couple who were disabled said, “Thank you for doing this. Without you, we don’t have a voice.” We told them they have one now, and they’d have another when we bring Walker’s recall petition around in November.

Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi ruled today that Walker’s union-busting bill was enacted illegally. So that “legislation” ( a term I use VERY loosely) has been at least temporarily stopped. Dane County executive Falk has also filed a legal complaint against the Republican fiasco.

We heard an interesting comment from John Nichols (“The Nation” magazine) on Madison Progressive Radio. An organization (Democracy Now, I think) has been monitoring Walker’s visitors to the capitol daily since the first 50 protesters were out. After week one, Karl Rove sent in his point man, who spent the day with Walker. Apparently, the public face the Republicans put on was VERY different from the private face–that is, according to Nichols, Walker’s administration was in “crisis mode” from the start. Obviously, this has now blown up on him, and the hearts, minds, souls, feet, and VOTES are against him. On Wednesday there was a rally in NYC with signs proclaiming, “I Stand With Wisconsin,” “We are ALL Wisconsin,” and, “We Are

In Washington DC, the Hall of States (where Walker also has an office) had a demonstration, characterized by many, many signs saying, “Stand With Wisconsin.” I am SO proud to be among these people, these hard working Wisconsin residents who, prior to Walker’s regime, we’re pretty much unrelated and uninterested in any common way to each other. Now we are one solidarity movement, growing, organizing, working outside of jobs to right this wrong. Please, my neighbors, keep fighting, we have 40 days left to get all the signatures, and failure is NOT an option here.

In this same regard, Walker has opted NOT to simply re-convene the legislature, modify the court’s objections, and vote again, this time with a quorum, to presumably pass again the end of collective bargaining. Why? Conjecture is that with the massive and continual demonstrations, and the seemingly well-run recall efforts against the Republicans in office, there is a fear that some of the Republicans may break from Walker and actually vote against the bill. Is there dissension in the ranks of the “emperor with no clothes?”

If anyone is interested in seeing the video of Kathie’s interview with channel 3, albeit very short, go to , go to the video section, then search, then type in “Portage protest.” I don’t know how long it will be on, but it’s there tonight; a previously dormant group of Portage citizens awakened to the common cause of fairness and freedom from corporate domination as dictated by Walker. Rallies all over America are starting to happen, all peaceful, all firm, all with some homage to Wisconsin, where I’m proud to be a resident.

Keep working, talking, reading, watching. Sheri is sending out emails regarding hour to hour information in our progress here, elsewhere, and background on Walker and his gang of thieves. Wisconsin is leading the way, the cause is growing everywhere. Hear this–Wisconsin remains STRONG, and is getting stronger daily.

One day longer, one day stronger, my friends. Solidarity.


Madison Rotunda Report 2/25/2011

I’m not sure how many people realize that the Capitol Building in Madison, WI features the second largest dome in the United States — second only to the one in Washington, DC. In a quite physical sense, the rallies in Madison’s Rotunda really do form a microcosm of the rest of the US right now. Today we have a follow-up report from guest blogger and passionate advocate, Brad Palmer. Many thanks, Brad!

Rotunda February 24, 2011

Hello, All — I was afraid after the gestapo-like passage in the Wisconsin Assembly last night that enthusiasm would wane at the capital. I was wrong. The crowd in the Rotunda tonight was louder. The marchers on the square were more numerous.

I’ll paraphrase my little speech….I don’t plan on speaking until the spirit moves me, so there are occasional poorly expressed thoughts I make, which I’ll point out in parentheses. Again, the moderators allowed anyone to speak who wanted, so that’s how I got my minute. And so I said:

“I’ll be brief. First, Wisconsin Fourteen–HOLD FAST! (loud cheers). Second, I heard the governor’s threats tonight (ref. his “press conference’ in which he said it was time for the fourteen Democrats to return.) I know the captial building is resuming hours, and will be closed from Sunday at 4 PM until Monday morning. We will respect that. But Governor, this building doesn’t belong to you. IT BELONGS TO US! (louder cheers….but I wish I’d said it belongs to the people of Wisconsin, never meant to imply it belonged only to the protesters.) Third, tomorrow my grandchildren will be marching. My children will be marching. My in-laws will be marching. My wife and I will be marching. Bring your children, bring you families. If the children don’t understand, explain it to them. Tomorrow at noon, I want to see 100,000!” Loud cheers.

The Madison Police department, which sent round 25 officers on Wednesday, had about 60 there tonight. They were supported by the Dane County Deputies union, around 20 deputies carrying signs supporting the protest. I noticed a few more minorities tonight. I noticed more union people–IWW, Teamsters, UAW, the Madison Firefighters union….the gathering was peaceful, and LOUD!

A sixteen year old girl spoke of her admiration for her teachers. A college student spoke of her special-needs sister (Down’s Syndrome AND autism) who is cared for via medicaide, will the student is studying health care to tend to her sister. A woman held up photographs of the Republicans who acted
inappropriately and likely illegally in last night’s session, refusing to let 28 representatives vote. “Remember these faces,” she said.

The highlight of the evening came at 7 PM. One of the moderators had a letter to the governor from the head of the Madison Police union. He read it, and I wish I’d recorded it, perhaps it’s on the net somewhere. He said in essence: “The current stance of the Assembly and the Governor to dispel the state workers union and eliminate collective bargaining is wrong. During the police co-occupation with the protesters, the protesters were polite, peaceful, and cleaned the capital after themselves. The police, he declared, have decided to sleep in the capital with the protesters TONIGHT!” Thunderous cheers.

Two new words were repeated by several thousand of us over and over…..”Solidarity.” “Undivided.” And the very loud chant of, “We will not be divided!”

The enthusiasm is higher tonight than Wednesday. Walker and his bullies exposed themselves last night with the fallicious passage of the bill. This, my friends, is not subsiding, but growing into steadfast resolve. We
were not “a bunch of out of towners” tonight. We were not “that State Street bunch” tonight. We were and will remain Wisconsin. We of Madison have become the peaceful battle ground and inspiriation to the
Americans who believe in fairness.

Representative Barca took a compromise to Walker on Wednesday. Walker has refused to respond.

I think Walker and his cronies are painting themselves into a corner, politically. Walker’s approval ratings have taken a hit this last two weeks. Many of the protesters stated they will remain united and carry this
fight for weeks…months…years.

It continues to inspire me. I thanked every cop and speaker I could, we shook hands with everyone we passed. Kathie and I went into businesses off the square with signs in their windows supporting working families and thanked them. We thanked people on the street carrying signs in support. We saw NO tea baggers or anti-union people tonight. Despite the apathy in Portage, we will cointinue to carry the message, bolstered by Madison. Because it’s the right thing to do.

Please learn more about the issue, find the names of the Wisconsin corporations delinquent in their fair share of taxes….the numbers are staggering.

THIS is what democracy looks like!


The Spirit of Madison

This is a guest blog post from my Aunt Gail’s half-brother, or my mom’s step-brother, depending on how you look at it. As synchronicity would have it, he and his family just happen to live near Madison. So many people have commented about my having just gotten settled in Madison right before Madtown took the national stage. What can I say? Always in the right place at the right time. 😉 Anyway, it’s a fantastic time to be on this planet, and an especially exciting time to live in Madison, WI. I’m supplying a few photos from my walk to and around the Capitol last Saturday, but this inspiring report comes to us courtesy of my sorta-uncle, the passionate and articulate, Brad Palmer. Thanks, Brad!

Creative Signs and Costumes from Madison's Walker Protest

Hi All — Kathie [Brad’s wife] has been attending the rallies in Madison’s capital rotunda every night since Saturday’s big one. She and I went there tonight. There are perhaps a hundred outside in the cold evening, but the capital itself is wall to wall people every night…I’d guess 3000-4000, since every tier and the main floor is full. Signs are everywhere, the people have taken over the building. They are picking up litter daily. It is peaceful and enthusiastic. NO ONE is willing to give up the fight.

Tonight there were union and NON union people from Los Angeles and Oklahoma, Chicago, northern and Eastern Wisconsin. They came, they said, in support of Wisconsin workers, because they know what happens here affects everyone. Whoever had something to say was allowed to speak. I was able to publicly thank my home state of Illinois for sheltering the Wisconsin 14, which drew rousing cheers. I also said we were all part of a 68,000 person march last Saturday, and I looked forward to being part of 100,000 person march this Saturday…again, rousing cheers.

Madison's Capitol Building on February 19, 2011

There were people there from all ages; 15, 40, 65, 71. Some of us drummed. Pizza joints are sending free pizza to the protesters, with money donated from 50 states. Saturday, capitals all over the country are trying to organize marches at noon on their capital buildings. America is watching Madison, becoming known as “Ground Zero.” The movement is not giving in.

"I Feel a Disturbance in the Force"

The largest cheers came when the Madison Police (about a dozen) came through with signs saying, “Cops for Labor.” One of the police officers spoke, stating Walker has not threatened the police union, but that the police would not fall into his trap of complacency. “We are with you,” he said, “and this will not stand!” Thunderous applause. There is strength of resolve in this ever-growing grassroots nation.

A temporary emcee (they rotate through a half dozen or so) led the rotunda in singing the national anthem. He encouraged everyone to remain peaceful, resolved, and consciencous about keeping the capital clean. Native Americans, Asians, African Americans, caucasians, all spoke. One 60-ish guy said he’s never been part of a protest like this, certainly not one where Bear fans and Packer fans embrace, most certainly not one in which the police are on the same side. A woman stated that women did not attain the right to vote by sitting down. The out of towners thanked Madison for leading this on-going struggle.

Indiana, Florida, Ohio….all taking the lead from us. It feels good to stand together and care about something so important….it feels good to not only be actively engaged in it, but to see young people actively engaged in the political process for the first time in their lives.

The country is indeed watching Madison. Some parts of the world are watching us. I want them to see what democracy looks like.


PS–Check out Scott Walker’s relationship with the Koch Brothers’ companies, and his plans for the privatization of Wisconsin utilities on the net. Check reliable sources and deduce what you may.

Peace and Love from Madison, Wisconsin!