Workers' Uprising: Walker Unveils Disastrous New Budget, Threatens Democrats With Teacher Layoffs; Protesters Ejected from Speech
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Update: Earlier, we passed on reports that windows at the capitol building were being welded shut. Those reports are now in question; According to FDL's David Dayen, it may be a matter of routine maintenance rather than something more nefarious, but photos posted by protesters suggest otherwise. As Dayen says, "There does appear to be some bolting of windows, but it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff" on this story. Labor attorneys are investigating the reports.
Update: They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words, and our correspondent Adele Stan took this one at a rally in Washington, DC this weekend:
That's Marilyn Schulman, who was there with her son, Joshua. Joshua is also a teacher. Both teach in Montgomery County (Maryland) public schools. Their union voluntarily gave up scheduled cost-of-living increases and other raises through 2014. "There are some teachers who think there's money out there that we just haven't found yet, but those folks are very few," teachers union President Doug Prouty told The Washington Examiner. "The vast majority of our membership realize that the economic situation is what it is."
A major issue for the union is whether the pay freeze will continue when the economy starts showing signs of life. "If not, that's money we'll continue to lose down the road," Chris Orlando, a math teacher at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, told The Examiner. That's why they need strong unions.
Update: Think Progress highlights the Koch brothers campaign to destroy the American labor movement:
The Koch brothers have played an integral role in provoking Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) notorious attempt to crush Wisconsin's public sector unions. Koch Industries contributed $43,000 to Walker's gubernatorial campaign, and Koch political operatives encouraged the newly elected governor to take on the unions. Koch Industries is a major player in Wisconsin: Koch owns a coal company subsidiary with facilities in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan; six timber plants throughout the state; and a large network of pipelines. Since the showdown began two weeks ago, Koch-funded front groups like Americans for Prosperity (AFP) -- which is chaired by David Koch -- and the American Legislative Exchange Council have organized counter-protests, prepped GOP lawmakers with anti-labor legislative talking points and even announced an anti-union advertising campaign. For now, however, the AFP message doesn't appear to be resonating: Koch-backed pro-Walker demonstrations have had low attendance and were dwarfed by pro-union supporters in Madison this week.
KNEE-CAPPING UNIONS: In a speech earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Americans For Prosperity-Michigan Executive Director Scott Hagerstrom revealed the true goal of his group and allies like Walker. Speaking at CPAC's "Panel for Labor Policy," Hagerstrom said that even more than cutting taxes and regulations, AFP really wants to " take the unions out at the knees." Knee-capping free labor has long been a goal of the Koch brothers and their many front groups. In the run-up to the 2010 elections, the Kochs worked with other anti-labor billionaires, corporations and activists to fund conservative candidates and groups across the country. Now after viciouslyopposing pro-middle class policies for years, Koch Industries is trying to eliminate the only organizations which serve as a counterweight to its well-oiled corporate machine. Believing he was talking with David Koch, Walker told a prankster his plans to crush the unions. Koch's AFP operatives are now working with "state officials in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania to urge them to duplicate Walker's crusade in Wisconsin."
Update: Mother Jones' Andy Kroll considers what the next steps in the Wisconsin uprising might be.