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Is Wisconsin Our Egypt? 15,000 Protest Off-the-Wall Right-Wing Governor's Policies

'I've never seen anything like it... there were Steelworkers, Teamsters, Pipefitters, building trades unions and more -- unions I've never seen at a rally in 10 years.'

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The Blue Shield action received local TV and print coverage.

Watch video and hear from people who can no longer afford health insurance.

--On February 7, a few dozen citizens, including consumer advocate and presidential candidate Ralph Nader, greeted President Obama with chants as he walked across Lafayette Square to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where he told the CEOs of multi-national corporations that he's convinced "we can and must work together." Members of National Nurses United and Single Payer Action shouted, "What about single payer, Mr. President? Stop caving to the corporations. What about your pledge for single payer? Stop buckling to the corporate power."

"I don't think a U.S. president has ever walked from the White House to pay homage to the business barons. Usually, a president has enough character to say to the corporate barons, 'Would you come and meet in the White House?' So symbolically, it's like a transfer of overt power to the corporate barons who've been opposing almost everything he's proposing," said Nader. “The fact that he snubbed the AFL-CIO headquarters which is right around the corner, whose member unions represent 13 million workers all over the country, sends us a message – that he’ll pay homage to his adversaries and continue to turn his back on his supporters because he knows his supporters have no where to go. They are not going to vote Republican in 2012, so that's disrespect for his supporters.”

"We're protesting the fact that we want our President to pay more attention to what's happening to working people in this county and to not kowtow to the Chamber," said Donna Smith, community organizer and legislative advocate with the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.

Single Payer Action reports that the President walked within a couple hundred feet of the protesters and waved to them.

National media outlets reported that the President was hoping to ">"mend ties" with the Chamber even though the administration's economic team is filled with Wall Street executives and most multi-nationals have posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter profits, but none of the reporters who covered the speech bothered to interview the protesters outside.

Watch video from Stop the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

--On February 8, some 2,000 teachers and public school supporters packed the Indiana statehouse to oppose Republican Governor Mitch Daniels' proposal to drastically change the state's education system. His plan includes restrictions on collective bargaining, performance-based pay for teachers, and a publicly funded voucher system that could be used to send students to charter schools. The South Bend Tribune reports that teachers jeered when the Republican-controlled House approved a bill that would expand charter schools.

The Indiana State Teachers Association's Nate Schnellenberger told WLFI-TV that the political debate is not about education reform. "It’s much more about diminishing our rights as educators to do what we know is right in the classroom and to share our expertise with our administrators," he said.

Democratic Representative Craig Fry told the South Bend Tribune that collective bargaining is really at the root of the push for education reform. "The bottom line in this whole thing is the Republicans want to destroy the teachers unions," he said. "They can say whatever they want, but the bottom line is they want to destroy the teachers unions because of politics."

Teachers from across the state traveled to Indianapolis to attend the rally, which was organized by state unions and the PTA, and express their frustrations. “We are very concerned they are trying to destroy public education without having a working knowledge of what is going on in public education," said Sande Bemis, an English teacher at Riverton Parke Junior-Senior High School, in an interview with The Tribune-Star. "I think it’s critically important we take a stand and let them know teachers aren’t just going to roll over and accept this.”

 
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