In February and March of 2011, crowds of union members and their supporters that at times numbered over 100,000 flooded the streets surrounding the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin to protest the taking away of collective bargaining rights from public employees.
After 15 months of blood, sweat, and tears, those same workers and their supporters managed through recall elections to flip control of the Wisconsin State Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats.
Within the past couple of weeks, all the state senators were given an opportunity by The Wheeler Report, a respected, independent state capitol news service, to list their top priorities for the upcoming 2013 legislative session.
Though the Wheeler Report did not publish the results on their own page, the senators' responses can be viewed at the web site of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
Many senators listed 5 or 6 legislative priorities, but not one mentioned restoring collective bargaining for public employees. Not just no Republicans. No Democratic senator listed restoration of collective bargaining rights for public employees as a priority. Not one.
Do I feel used? Yes, I do. Do I feel ignored? Yes, I do.
I endorsed Sen. Kathleen Vinehout in the recall election against Scott Walker (She lost in the primary.) Here are Sen. Vinehout's priorities:
• Health Care ExchangeThose are all issues that need attention, but not a whisper from her about the rights of the people who helped put her party in power.
• WEDC accountability for grants (from Audit Committee)
• Frac Sand Mining (Full disclosure, Conditional Use Permits, Review of non-metallic mining laws)
I have a hat with a figure of Bucky Badger embroidered on the front. Last summer, Senators Lena Taylor and Jon Erpenbach autographed my hat during a broadcast of the Ed Show from the capitol square in Madison. They were all smiles as I and dozens of others shook their hands, patted them on the back, and thanked them over and over for defending the rights of the working class.
Here are Sen. Taylor's top agenda items for 2013:
• Jobs and Economic Development (Capital Access)Here are Sen. Erpenbach's priorities:
• Corrections Reform
• Health Care, Health Exchanges
• Healthcare ExchangeSurely the new Majority Leader, Mark Miller, would stand up for the rights of working people, right? Wrong:
• Tax Fairness
• Campaign Finance – Disclosure
• Concealed Carry – Eliminate liability for businesses that post
• Infrastructure projectsThe recalls were just another election cycle to them. They did a heroic thing going to Illinois last year, but since they returned they've forgotten who their friends are. Shame on them.
• Small Business support
• Support to high unemployment areas
• Align job training with skills need
Shame! Shame! Shame!