Wisconsin Legislative Council 11

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On July 31, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a series of recent state laws, including Gov. Scott Walker's disastrous Act 10.  There was nothing surprising about the court's disappointing decision.  And nothing in the decision changes AFSCME's determination to carry on its long tradition of fighting for quality public services and Wisconsin's working families. Please read on for a statement from AFSCME Wisconsin in response to the court decision.   Read more >>>

Watch AFSCME member Maricruz Manzanarez's powerful story on why we need immigration reform.

Wisconsin AFSCME Members Keep the Faith

In a rousing keynote address at AFSCME's 41st International Convention in Chicago, Secretary-Treasurer Laura Reyes told the assembled delegates that unions do make a difference. Click through to watch the video highlights.


 

We kicked off the 41st International Convention in Chicago with some big news: our union is 92,155 members stronger today than it was just a few months ago. Watch highlights of Pres. Saunders' speech by clicking through.


 

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that home care and child care providers members were not required to pay fair share dues.


 

Home care and child care workers will continue to stand up for quality care in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn.


 

EMTs and paramedics suffer three times as many workplace injuries as the national average.


 

Tax Cuts Hollow Out Services While Wisconsin Slips Further Behind Nation in Job Growth

A new study shows that Wisconsin lawmakers have cut taxes 43 times since 2011, reducing revenue by $1.9 billion over that period and limiting investments in Wisconsin’s schools, workforce, and transportation networks. Despite – or because of – the substantial tax cuts, private sector job growth in Wisconsin has been slower than the national average.  Learn more about the Wisconsin Budget Project study by clicking here.

PayWatch Raises Awareness about Income Inequality Read more >>>

New AFSCME campaign will grow the union by 50,000 members before the 2014 Convention in July. Read more >>>

After a collaborative and democratic process involving workers and leaders across the state, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO on April 2 announced it has made an endorsement in this year’s race for governor. Read more >>>

In mid March, elected leaders of Wisconsin’s three AFSCME Councils gathered in Wisconsin Dells for an historic event.  Recognizing an opportunity to usher in a new era of activism, board members convened a two-day summit exploring the possibilities of a unified AFSCME Wisconsin. Read more >>>

Divide-and-conquer politicians like Wisconsin’s current governor have for years scored points by pitting worker against worker. Exploiting the fact that many workers have been screwed out of health care and pensions, they insist the solution is to screw everybody. Real leaders try to solve the problem another way. Instead of undercutting the benefits of workers who still have decent health care and a shot at a dignified retirement, real leaders work to create opportunities for more workers to have health and pension coverage. Read more >>>

Last month’s employment figures are in, and things don’t look good. Read more >>>

by Olivia Sandbothe

Low-wage workers in certain federally funded jobs will see a much-needed pay increase, thanks to President Obama.

Read more >>>

While many AFSCME members can’t wait for the chance to put Wisconsin back on course by electing a new governor this fall, we also have a lot at stake in this year’s spring elections.  On Feb. 18 we’ll go to the polls in a primary election to pick candidates who will stand for election to local offices on April 1. Read more >>>

Perils of Privatization Seen in Sudden School Closing

Operators of a private school funded by public dollars literally disappeared "in the dead of night" in December after getting paid, leaving students and their families in the lurch.  We can expect to see more stories like this as Gov. Walker and his legislative allies pour more public dollars into unaccountable and unproven voucher schools.   For details, see this story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

As Wall Street-backed politicians busy themselves trying to unravel pension systems across the nation, the Wisconsin Retirement System continues to stand out as an example of how to do pensions right.  The WRS just reported strong returns on the investments that provide the bulk of the system’s funding. As a result, retired members who participate in the system will finally get an increase in their pension checks. For many, it will be the first increase in six years. Read more >>>

Walker's Wisconsin Number One in Jobless Claims

New figures show Gov. Scott Walker's policies of slashing take-home pay for public employees and turning away federal dollars for everything from health care, rural internet expansion and high speed rail are a dismal failure.  Wisconsin now leads the nation in new claims for unemployment compensation.  See Cap Times story here.  

Corporate Tax Cuts Don't Create Jobs

It's plain to see that Gov. Scott Walker's game plan of cutting investment in public services and schools while giving tax breaks to corporations isn't working.  Under his watch, Wisconsin continues to fall behind its neighbors. A new study shows why.  Give-aways to corporations have nothing to do with job creation.  In fact, corporate tax breaks simply undermine the public structures that provide the foundation for a healthy economy.   

Union members and community supporters rallied outside UW Hospital and Clinics on Dec. 4 before turning in petitions meant to pressure the administration to recognize the right of UWHC employees to have an independent voice on the job. Read more >>>

Wisconsin's Pension System Gets Some Well-Deserved Love

With pension systems in other states getting a lot of attention because of mismanagement by politicians, it's important to remember that Wisconsin's pension system remains strong.  A recent story in the Wausau Daily Herald highlights some of the reasons for its continuing strength.

Another Privatization "Success" Story

Politicians who want to privatize everything from schools to correctional facilities pretend that somehow the taxpayers benefit from handing over tax dollars to unaccountable corporations. The Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD) series of profiles on “America’s Highest Paid Government Workers” has put the spotlight who really benefits: highly paid CEOs. For example, George Zoley, Chief Executive Officer of GEO Group, is doing quite well, thanks to taxpayers.  He pocketed $22 million from 2008-2012 while undercutting pay of front-line workers.  Get the rest of the story here.

When Racine’s City Council voted in July of 2012 to break contracts with city workers, AFSCME and two other unions cried foul. And we went to work. We took the city to court -- and won! Read more >>>

AFSCME District Council 48 leaders say it is unacceptable that city of Milwaukee officials are unwilling to meet with them about the theft of personal information involving thousands of city employees. Read more >>>

New Web Site Tracks Outsourcing Boondoggles

When Wall Street collapsed the economy in 2008, one company eager to buy public assets from cash-strapped governments proclaimed, "Desperate governments are our best customer!” Across the country, for-profit companies are engaged in a hostile takeover of our schools, roads, prisons, drinking water, and even government itself.  A new resource called "Outsourcing America Exposed" gives citizens the tools they need to identify these privatizers and profiteers, their eye-popping salaries, the "fine print follies" contained in their contracts that put taxpayers on the hook -- even for work not done -- and how citizens can take back control of public assets and public services.  Find out more here.
 

Standing within sight of a state Capitol now controlled by anti-worker zealots, Dane County leaders and AFSCME members took a stand for real democracy – at the voting booth and in the workplace. Read more >>>

AFSCME International President Lee Saunders shared some important words with the nation on the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, "I Have a Dream" speech.  Follow the link below to see a piece that was published Aug. 28 in the Huffington Post.  Read more >>>

Another "Robin Hood in Reverse" Budget Penalizes Wisconsin's Poor

As Wisconsin legislators who voted for the new two-year state budget fan out across the state and prattle on about new tax breaks that are supposed to finally jump-start the state's stalled economy, advocates for children paint a gloomier -- and much more accurate -- picture of the new budget.  Click here to get the facts in a new post from the Wisconsin Budget Project's Jon Peacock.

An editorial in Wisconsin's largest newspaper recently argued that Gov. Scott Walker's attack on public imployees has reduced the relevance of unions.  Council 40 Executive Director Rick Badger penned a pointed response, which ran in the July 26 edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.    Read more >>>

Researcher Jack Norman puts some context on recent economic news:

The good news: Wisconsin had a June jobs surge, a boost from May of 13,800 private sector jobs. State officials rightfully called it the largest month-to-month gain in nearly a decade.

The bad news: Most of the growth—7,200 jobs—was in the “leisure and hospitality” sector, where average weekly pay was only $284 last year. That’s barely one-third the overall average wage in Wisconsin of $803.

Read more >>>

UW Hospital and Clinics employees are grateful that city of Madison leaders are standing with them as they work to maintain collective bargaining rights at University Hospital and Clinics – the city’s second largest employer. On July 16, the Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of maintaining collective bargaining at UWHC. It was a major victory for union members and the community. Read more >>>

Wisconsin Still Losing the Jobs Race -- Only Now at a Slightly Slower Pace

Researcher Jack Norman says the newest jobs numbers are not the good news for Wisconsin some would have us believe. The only ‘good news’ is that we’re not falling behind the nation quite as rapidly as we once were. But Wisconsin is still missing out on the national recovery. And our governor’s policies are largely to blame. Read more here.

With Wisconsin’s economy continuing to lag behind neighboring states, the token “raise” being offered state to employees will do nothing to improve their take home pay – or the state’s economy. The 1 % “raise” will be more than wiped out by another round of increases in the employee co-pays for retirement and health care. Read more >>>

It's NOT Working: Wisconsin Now 49th in Economic Rankings

While Gov. Walker flits about the country on his quest for fame and political contributions, Wisconsin's economy continues to suffer under his austerity policies.  A new forecast from the Federal Reserve ranks Wisconsin's economy 49th in the nation.  While other states see big job growth, Walker's policies have Wisconsin stuck in reverse.

On May 29, out of thin air, the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance made radical changes to the state’s unemployment compensation system. This sneak attack not only kicks the state’s unemployed while they’re down, but potentially wrecks decades of cooperative policy making that involved employers and workers each step of the way. Read more >>>

Pres. Saunders Calls Out Gov. Walker's Failed Policies

AFSCME International Pres. Lee Saunders, no stranger to Wisconsin, has penned a powerful take-down of Gov. Scott Walker's failed policies.  In a piece published May 23 in the Huffington Post, Saunders points out that Wisconsin's pathetic pace of job creation is no accident, but the direct result of Walker's austerity policies -- including his attack on the rights of workers.  Read it here.

Despite efforts by the Walker administration to manipulate and spin the numbers, there is no getting around the fact that since Walker took office, Wisconsin's economy has lagged behind surrounding states and the rest of the nation.  In a recent report issued May 20, researcher Jack Norman explains how Walker's destructive policies are the root of the problem.  Read more >>>

Legislators reviewing Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal will soon reach an important fork in the road.  They can either take the low road and rubber stamp the governor’s $35 million cut to early childhood education -- or they can do the right thing for children and reject the governor’s cut. Read more >>>

On Tuesday, Wisconsin’s AFSCME members showed that we still pack a punch.  Our preferred candidates won three out of four races in which AFSCME endorsed. Read more >>>

Wisconsin's Economic Slump Tied to Walker's Assault on Public Service Workers

Wisconsin's economy has been lagging the nation in job creation since Scott Walker took office.  But our real downward spiral began when Walker's policies took hold with his first budget -- a budget that featured an all out assault on the buying power of Wisconsin's public employees.  Independent policy researcher Jack Norman lays it all out in a powerful column published April 2 in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Read it here.  Hear Norman go in depth during an April 4 appearance on Wisconsin Public Radio.

With state legislators about to hit the road for hearings on the governor's budget proposal, AFSCME has outlined some key concerns.  A fundamental problem is that this budget dishes up more of the same bad policies that have driven Wisconsin to the bottom of the nation in job creation rankings. Read more >>>

You’d think Wisconsin has had enough of bad ideas being rammed through despite overwhelming opposition from citizens.  But this hasn’t stopped a handful of legislators from pushing a bill that would make it even harder for citizens to be heard. Read more >>>

Two years after Gov. Walker dropped the bomb on public employees, his new budget supposedly includes some kind of “wage adjustments” for state employees.  He hasn’t said how he will make this happen. We have a right to be skeptical. Read more >>>

Providing a long-overdue pay raise for struggling public employees is not just a matter of fairness, it would help kick-start Wisconsin’s stalled economy, the leaders of AFSCME’s three Wisconsin Councils said on February 5. Read more >>>

When the Assembly Corrections Committee convened on Jan. 30 to probe concerns about safety inside the state’s correctional institutions, the only non-departmental expert invited to speak was AFSCME Council 24 Executive Director Marty Beil. Read more >>>

After more than a year of hard bargaining with the nation’s biggest bus company, Beloit school bus drivers didn’t back down. Because they stuck together, on Jan. 10 they ratified a new tentative agreement that adds 12.5% to their wages over four years. Read more >>>

State expands contractor use despite higher costs

Wisconsin continues to rely more and more on outside contractors despite the fact that its own figures show that contractors cost more than state workers.  In fact "more than half of the analyses found that using state workers would be cheaper".  Read some independent analysis here.

An Animated Fairy Tale With Familiar Faces

Wisconsin cartoonist Mike Konopacki provided the artwork for this informative little tale.  You'll likely recognized some of the characters.

AFSCME leaders took a moment to express thanks to AFSCME activists in the wake of the Nov. 6 election. Read more >>>

Another court has found fatal flaws in Gov. Scott Walker’s signature union busting legislation. On Sept. 14, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas struck down key provisions of Act 10, the law Walker rushed through early last year.  Walker’s power grab prompted the largest citizen uprising in Wisconsin history and the successful recall of three state Senators who supported Walker’s deeply-flawed law. Now, that law is getting knocked around in court. Read more >>>

Candidates talk a lot about taxes, and some even talk about how we might increase the fairness of our tax system.  But specifics are few.  Some of our allies have just launched a new project that can help fill in the blanks.

  Read more >>>

AFSCME Council 24 members have been working side-by-side with WEAC Council 1 members for many years in a variety of state facilities. Brothers and sisters in the workplace, they are now also brothers and sisters in the same union. Read more >>>

If you ignore the voice of workers long enough – workers will find a way to raise that voice. That’s exactly what nearly 300 employees of Journey Mental Health Center in Madison did – voting overwhelmingly in August to join AFSCME Council 40. Read more >>>

Our allies at We Are Wisconsin will be hosting a series of Next Step Strategy Sessions across Wisconsin in the coming days. It’s your chance to weigh in on the future of Wisconsin’s grassroots revival. Read more >>>

Gov. Walker didn’t want to study the Wisconsin Retirement System to make it stronger.  If he did, the study released July 2 wouldn’t help him much. The report pretty much says what we already know. The Wisconsin Retirement System is the soundest system of its kind in the country. Read more >>>

If Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s approach to budgeting became U.S. law, Wisconsin would lose about $3.3 billion in federal spending in the next two years, with a resulting loss of about 26,000 full-time jobs, a new study shows. Read more >>>

Delegates to AFSCME’s 40th International Convention elected Lee A. Saunders to be president and Laura Reyes to be secretary-treasurer of the union representing 1.6 million public service workers.  The Wisconsin delegation also re-elected Local 2412's Gary Mitchell to continue serving as International Vice-President for our state. Read more >>>

National Study Ranks Wisconsin Top Retirement System

A new study shows that Wisconsin has the strongest pension system in the country.  Even as state officials prepare for their own study of the pension system, independent analysis from the Pew Center for the States has strong praise for our system.  Here is a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about the study.

A close look at the price and pitfalls of privatization

The Wisconsin Budget Project brings together some good thinking on the dangers of privatizing vital services in a posting available here.  In short, the record shows privatization can lead to not just a loss of accountability and quality, but higher costs -- costs that are often hidden up front.

Council 24 Executive Director Marty Beil recently penned a powerful piece about the cost of Scott Walker's assault on unions.  It was published on June 17 in the Crossroads section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Read more >>>

Fighting Bob La Follette came by his nickname honestly -- he never stopped fighting for his beliefs, even after suffering an occasional setball at the polls.  State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout takes note of this special quality in a timely piece celebrating Fighting Bob's birthday. Read more >>>

We made him pay, and pay and pay.  Scott Walker thought he could obliterate 50 years of bargaining rights by dropping a bomb on us.  We responded with the biggest popular uprising in Wisconsin history, occupying and surrounding the state Capitol for weeks. In the process, you inspired a national movement. Read more >>>

While nearly every other state in the country—including our neighbors—gained jobs last year, Wisconsin actually lost 23,900 jobs from March 2011 to March 2012 according to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was the largest decrease in percentage terms in the country. The job losses are another indication that Gov. Scott Walker’s extreme policies have sent the state into a tailspin. Read more >>>

In a major victory for AFSCME and its allies, a federal judge struck down two key provisions of Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-worker Act 10 March 30. Read more >>>

AFSCME hosted a series of Leadership Academies for Wisconsin members this spring and more are being planned for the fall. It’s a chance for local union officers, executive board members, stewards, Next Wavers, Volunteer Organizers, and Council leaders to take their skills to the next level. Read more >>>

State DOT Trying to End Reporting on Cost of Contracting

A Republican state representative has proposed a bill that would stop the Department of Transportation from having to analyze the cost of hiring private contractors instead of using state employees.  The reports so far have shown that private contractors consistently cost more.  The Walker administration's solution is not to reduce big payouts to the privateers, but to make it easier to hide its waste of taxpayer dollars.  Some great reporting from Madison's WISC-TV on the bill's Feb. 7 public hearing can be found here.

An Astute Observer Stands Up for Public Employees

Positive portrayals of public employees are all too rare in the media, but here's a link to a fine assessment of the Wisconsin situation from the editor emeritus of the Cap Times.

Two more close associates of Gov. Scott Walker were charged on Jan. 26 as part of a John Doe probe looking into Walker's time as Milwaukee County Executive and apparently zeroing in on his campaign for Governor.  Read more >>>

A former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker was one of three men charged with felonies on Jan. 5 as part of an ongoing corruption investigation moving ever closer to the governor. Tim Russell, a campaign operative Walker hired to multiple high-ranking government posts, was charged with two felonies and one misdemeanor count of embezzlement by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

Walker has a close relationship with Russell, dating back more than 10 years. A longtime aide and adviser to Walker’s campaigns, Russell also served in various capacities in Walker’s Milwaukee County administration.

Read more >>>

An Amazing 2011 Just Part of AFSCME's Long History of Fighting for Front-Line Workers

AFSCME members stood on the front lines of Wisconsin's amazing fightback campaign this year, but this fighting spirit should come as no surprise.  AFSCME members have been fighting the good fight for 75 years and will continue fighting for long into the future.  Check out this video, and click here for more about our proud history.

500,000 signatures in 28 days! That’s the word Dec. 15 as United Wisconsin announced the success of the recall effort on Scott Walker after four weeks. This amazing pace says that the people of Wisconsin are done with Scott Walker and his bullying ways that took away the rights of workers. We are ready to reclaim our state.  But we are not done yet! Read more >>>

Gov. Scott Walker’s economic policies have caused so much job loss that Wisconsin is trailing the national pace of job creation.  That’s brought home by a new report from Institute for Wisconsin's Future.  The report is called "The Price of Extremism: Wisconsin’s economy under the Walker administration." Read more >>>

When Scott Walker attacked our collective bargaining rights, fellow workers across the state and country stood with us. Today, some of those workers are under attack and need us to stand with them.  Thousands of supporters stood together in Manitowoc on Dec. 10 for a Solidarity Rally to say no to union busting. Read more >>>

In the face of snowballing support for the recall movement against Gov. Scott Walker and his loyal lieutenant Rebecca Kleefisch, the Walker administration is going to extraordinary lengths to block the collection of signatures.   The administration is even denying war heroes residing at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King the opportunity to sign petitions. Read more >>>

Ohio voters’ resounding rejection of their governor’s attack on collective bargaining rights sends a clear signal to Wisconsin and to any other state where out-of-touch politicians try to take away rights from workers. Read more >>>

Gov. Scott Walker’s crusade to destroy worker rights and silence critics hasn’t completely slammed the door on citizens trying to hold accountable their own government. Not yet, at least. Read more >>>

Madison to Manhattan -- The Pizza Connection

Council 40 activist Tim Birkley travels to New York City from his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. He explores the connection between the February occupation of his capitol by thousands of teachers, students, and state workers to the occupations happening around the country and around the world.

Gov. Scott Walker continued to consolidate power and politicize state agencies on Oct. 25 when his administration unilaterally unveiled sweeping new rules governing state employee relations.  Read more >>>

City of Milwaukee public service workers, community members and activists were joined by AFSCME members from across the country for a Sept. 30 rally to protect collective bargaining rights and defend the vital public services relied on by citizens of the Wisconsin’s largest city. Read more >>>

The numbers don’t lie. Wisconsin’s lowest paid state employees take a much bigger hit than top political appointees and other highly paid state employees under Scott Walker’s union busting law. Read more >>>

Fighting Back and Making History in Wisconsin

Working families in Wisconsin have stood up and said "no more" to the politicians playing partisan games with their lives. Nurses, teachers, firefighters, cops, and public and private sector workers are fed up with paying the price for Wall Street excess, the greed of corporate CEOs, and the dangerous agenda of the politicians who answer to them. This video produced by AFSCME International tells their story.

Wisconsin had a leaner public sector than all but 11 states in 2010, a new report by the Wisconsin Budget Project shows. Read more >>>

Wisconsin’s largest state employee union is asking state legislators to encourage the Walker administration to make good on its recent rhetoric about working together. Read more >>>

Even as state government tries to make it harder for public employees to enjoy the protection and benefits of union membership, public employees across Wisconsin are choosing to stand with their union. Read more >>>

Thanks to a tremendous grassroots effort involving thousands of volunteers, our season of Senate recalls ended on another high note.  Two pro-worker Senators beat back pro-Walker candidates who were backed by tons of corporate cash.    Read more >>>

Wisconsin Republicans paid a political price for supporting Gov. Walker’s anti-worker agenda, losing two state Senate seats in the Aug. 9 election. The recalls represented an historic moment in the state of Wisconsin and showed the strength and vitality of Democrats, labor and a grassroots, populist movement. Read more >>>

Thanks to you and your tireless union brothers and sisters, on Aug. 9 we showed that there are real consequences to blindly following Gov. Scott Walker’s radical agenda.  Two state Senators who rubber-stamped Walker’s union busting scheme are now ex-Senators! Read more >>>

On July 19 Sen. Dave Hansen beat back his recall challenger by a 2-to-1 margin, thanks to his willingness to stand up for working people, and working people standing up for him.  Registered member may read more here.

Privatizers Called Out in Clear-Headed Editorial

The Tomah Journal sees the problem clearly, while right wing idealogues like Gov. Walker and his allies continue to wear blinders.  Privatization is a costly "solution" in search of a problem.  Read the Tomah Journal's take on it here.

The administration of Gov. Scott Walker will be forced to reopen all eight entrances to the state Capitol -- without metal detectors or security guards grilling citizens on the purpose of their visit -- as the result of a lawsuit brought by the Wisconsin State Employees Union, AFSCME Council 24, and six individuals.  Read more here.

AFSCME is part of a broad coalition of Wisconsin unions that filed a federal lawsuit on June 15 challenging the constitutionality of the state’s Budget Repair Bill.  The bill would gut collective bargaining rights for all but a select group of public workers belonging to unions that supported Gov. Scott Walker in the last election.  Read more here.

Another Report Nails State for Wasting Money on Contractors

It's no secret that outsourcing public employee jobs to private contractors is costly for taxpayers.  WISC-TV has done some fine reporting on the state's wasteful ways, even as the administration of Gov. Scott Walker wants to do away with a cost-benefit analysis law intended to rein in this kind of waste.  The Madison television station found that the state spent $13.8 million extra to have private contractors do work rather than state employees -- in just the first four months of this year!  With few replacements being hired as a wave of retirees head for the doors because of Walker's attack on their rights, how many other agencies will be turning to costly contractors because of staff shortages?   

Walker's Power Grabbing Ways Draw National Attention

It's no secret that Gov. Scott Walker has been going all out to consolidate power in the governor's office.  But while Wisconsin media seems to shrug its shoulders at each extreme power grab, Walker's attack on Wisconsin's tradition of clean and open government is raising eyebrows from national observers.  Here's a piece from Huffington Post that puts Walker's tactics in perspective.

AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee issued a powerful statement on National Correctional Employees Week.  Read it here.

When Gov. Scott Walker launched his attack on public employee rights back in February, he picked a fight that went far beyond organized labor.  And when the governor introduced a budget proposal that guts public education and support for vital services while threatening health care for low-income families, environmental protection and other core Wisconsin values, the fight got bigger still.  Many of those leading the fight are finding common ground as part of the We Are Wisconsin network.  Registered members may read more here.

Wisconsin workers represented by AFSCME are donating $50,000 to the earthquake relief fund established by the Japanese trade federation RENGO.  While Wisconsin's AFSCME families are fighting to win back their long-held collective bargaining rights from a government that stripped them away, they stand in solidarity with the millions affected by the tragic events in Japan.  Read more here.

Wisconsin Voices

In early March, Council 40 Local 2228 produced a video about the fight to retain collective bargaining rights and how it affects public employees.  The Local used its own funds to hire video and audio staff from Los Angeles and flew them in for a few days. The results are stunning. 

Despite the discouraging setback of seeing most legislative Republicans rubber stamp Gov. Scott Walker's attack on public employee unions -- union members and supporters turned out for what may have been the biggest rally yet at the state Capitol on Saturday, March 12.  Registered members can read more here.

We’ve said it loud and clear in every that way we can. Hundreds of thousands of us have raised their voices together at massive State Capitol rallies and spontaneous uprisings all over Wisconsin. We have lit up the legislature’s phone lines and swamped the email inboxes of our state senators. We’ve done almost everything possible to convince state senators that taking away our bargaining rights is unacceptable. Unfortunately, Gov. Walker and Republican Senators just aren’t listening. Registered members can read more here.

Workers Rights Emergency Response Fund

The historic outpouring of public support for public employees is deeply appreciated by all AFSCME members. We have been truly moved by the passionate response to this attack on our freedoms.

Our fight against this threat to the rights of all public employees is costing significant sums for transportation, media and support of our members. Any donation you, your friends, or supporters in your community can make will be used to continue this fight until we are victorious in turning back this attack.  For more, click here.

Without even trying to negotiate with unions, Wisconsin's governor has proposed radically changing state law to take away your bargaining rights and your union. Your pay would be cut and capped, and your right to have any say about your health care, retirement and working conditions would be stripped away by the proposed "budget repair bill".  Read more here.

Based on initial press reports, a policy-laden proposal is about to be rushed through the Legislature in the guise of a budget repair bill would radically reshape relations between public service workers and their employers. The proposal would strip rights from workers to negotiate a fair contract, fair treatment or even workplace safety.  Read more here.

AFSCME Council 48 Executive Director and Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt penned a passionate defense of public services that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Feb. 6.  You can go to their piece in the Journal Sentinel here, or read it on this site by clicking here.

If Wisconsin residents had one wish to make as group, it would probably be for a strong economy with more jobs and financially secure families throughout the state. There is no genie in a bottle or fairy godmother with a wand to make this happen by magic. It is on us -- in partnership with the state and local leaders who represent us in decision-making arenas. So how do we build that prosperity?  Read more here.

Despite the gloom cast over employee relations by the Legislature's inability to complete work on overdue state contracts, some legislators clearly understand and value the important work being done by public employees.  State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout is one of them.  Click here to read a column she recently distributed to media in her west-central Wisconsin district.

Much of today's political rhetoric about public employee pensions does not match reality.  In fact, Wisconsin's retirement system is viewed nationally as an example of how to do it right.  Read more here.

As Wisconsin faces a significant structural budget deficit, some politicians have suggested that the benefits and salaries paid to public employees should be reduced to be more comparable to the benefits and salaries paid to private sector workers.  These misguided opportunists need to get their facts straight.  Read more here

The city of Madison continues to back away from a plan to replace dozens of cashiers who staff parking ramps with automated machines.  Supporters of real people over machines won another victory on Sept. 27, but the fight is not over.  Read more here.

They came, more than 200 strong.  They worked, and the dust is still settling.  They learned, from their work, from each other, and in workshops.  Now, participants in Wisconsin’s first-ever Next Wave Conference are even more ready to make a difference in their communities and to step up into leadership roles in their union.  Registered users can read more and get access to pictures by clicking here.

Wisconsin has received more than $11 billion in federal Recovery Act aid since 2009, helping people, businesses and communities weather the worst recession in 75 years.   A new website shows where the money has been invested. Read more here.

Investing in public services is the most effective way to create jobs, according to a new study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst.  Though its researchers focused on New England, many of the conditions they found resemble the upper Midwest.  Read more here.

When members of Council 24 came together for their 78th Annual Convention in Appleton, they brought not only their enthusiasm -- they brought generous donations for a local food program.  Read more here.

Attacks from anti-tax zealots on public service workers have been relentless in recent years.  Especially in times of economic duress, a chorus of critics is always quick to contend that public service workers have a sweet deal.  But a new report sets the record straight.  Read more here.

Corporate interests that attack retirement security for front-line workers are hardly making news, despite the breathless media attention given reports cranked out by corporate-funded “think tanks”.  In response to the latest bit of pension bashing, Council 24's Marty Beil fired back.  Read more here.

The myth of Wisconsin as a high tax state has been relentlessly pushed by a so-called "non-partisan" group that calls itself the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.  Now, a watchdog group has launched a website that reveals the built-in bias of the group behind the myth.  Read more here.

A new report shows the clear advantage that belonging to a union can mean for working men and women.  Unions substantially raise wages and benefits for their members in every state.  Read more here.

The youth movement is on in Wisconsin as all three AFSCME Councils are expanding their engagement in AFSCME’s Next Wave initiative.  Read more here.

Despite the way scapegoat-seeking politicians (like Scott Walker) try to blame public employees for budget woes, real numbers paint a very different picture. In October the U.S. Census Bureau issued data on state and local government employment and payrolls in 2008. The Wisconsin Budget Project has analyzed Wisconsin's rank in public sector employment. The numbers contradict politicians who deliberately spread the idea that WIsconsin has a large number of government employees and/or a large public sector payroll compared to other states. Fact is, only nine other states have a leaner public sector than Wisconsin. Read more here.

Not every AFSCME member gets pictured on the cover of Time magazine.  Of course, not everyone finds himself leading a platoon of soldiers looking to disarm roadside bombs in Eastern Afganistan.  The exploits and heroism of Sgt. First Class Chet Millard as a member of Wisconsin National Guard's 951st Engineering Company brought him to the attention of the national magazine.  When not fighting on the front lines, brother Millard works on the front lines of public service in Wisconsin as a Correctional Officer at Jackson Correctional Institution where he is a Council 24 Local 219 member.  Read more here.

As state and local governments across the nation grapple with declining revenues caused by the national economic downturn, a familiar debate is playing out over and over. 
Read more at laborweb.afscme.org/sites/WI_C_11/index.cfm

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