Posts tagged with 'The Uptake'
On Monday afternoon, the Capitol Police in Madison, Wisconsin refused to enforce an order to clear the Capitol building of hundreds of peaceful protesters who have been occupying the site to protest Governor Scott Walker’s plan to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews State Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D), who spent Sunday night in the Capitol building with other protesters. Roys describes what happened at four o’clock on Monday afternoon when the government gave the order to clear the protesters from the building:
And after several hours of the same sorts of scenes that we’ve been seeing all week—singing, chanting, drumming, speechifying—the Capitol police captain, Chief Tubbs, made an announcement, and he said that the protesters that had remained in the building, they were being orderly and responsible and peaceful and there was no reason to eject them from the Capitol.
Police attempted to clear the building of protesters on Sunday night, but they relented when the protesters refused to leave and allowed them to stay another night. On Monday, the police decided not to eject protesters already inside, but no additional activists would be allowed in. The governor plans to deliver his budget address on Tuesday afternoon. Walker is expected to call for spending cuts that could exceed $1 billion dollars.
Gov. Walker has threatened mass public sector layoffs if the Democratic senators do not return from Illinois by March 1. However, the Uptake.com reports that one of the absent legislators, State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, claims Walker is not telling the truth. Erpenbach says the unions have already agreed to come up with the money the governor needs to balance the budget, and therefore, he has no need to lay anyone off to bridge the gap.
Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive describes the epic scale of the Wisconsin protests:
This is the largest sustained rally for the rights of public sector workers that this country has seen in decades — perhaps ever.
The crowds at the state Capitol have swelled from 10,000-65,000 during the first week all the way up to 100,000 on Feb. 26. Hundreds of people occupied the Capitol building with a sit-in and sleep-in for days on end, and total strangers from around the world ordered pizzas for them.
In case you’re still wondering what all of this means, Andy Kroll, Nick Baumann, and Siddhartha Mahanta of Mother Jones have joined forces to bring you this “Wisconsin 101″ primer.
The Republicans in the Wisconsin House passed a bill that would take away collective bargaining rights for public sector unions, restrict their ability to collect dues, and force them to undergo yearly recertification votes. But the bill cannot become law until the state Senate also passes it. Currently, 14 Democratic state senators are hiding out in Illinois to deprive the Republican majority of the quorum they need to vote on the bill. However, as Kroll notes, if only one Democrat breaks faith and returns to Madison, the Republicans will be able to pass the bill.
Jamilah King of Colorlines.com brings us a photo essay on the solidarity rallies held around the country over the weekend in support of the Wisconsin protesters. From San Francisco to Salt Lake City to Atlanta to New York, people took to the streets in support of the right of workers to organize. Also at Colorlines.com, historian Michael Honey draws parallels between the situation in Wisconsin and Dr. Martin Luther King‘s last crusade. Shortly before his assassination, King stood with the sanitation workers of Memphis to demand collective bargaining rights and the power to collect union dues.
George Warner of Campus Progress profiles some young activists who took to the streets of Washington, D.C. to express their solidarity with the Wisconsin protesters. About 1,500 people came out to a rally in support of the protesters on Saturday.
Anonymous strikes again
In a bizarre twist, a loosely organized coalition of anarchic hackers known as “Anonymous” attacked websites linked to Koch Industries on Sunday, Jessica Pieklo reports for Care2.com. The Koch brothers are among Gov. Walker’s most generous benefactors. The hackers launched a distributed denial of service attack on the website of the Koch-funded conservative group Americans for Prosperity.
In addition to generous campaign contributions, the Koch brothers gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn paid for millions of dollars worth of ads against Walker’s opponent in 2010. Walker is evidently very grateful to Koch. Last week, a writer for a Buffalo-based website got Walker on the phone by pretending to be David Koch.
Don’t look now, but…
Meanwhile, in Indiana, the state assembly reconvened on Monday to find most of the 40 Democratic members had decamped for Illinois. The legislators are apparently taking a page from the Wisconsin playbook. Indiana’s Republican governor is trying to pass legislation that would make permanent a ban on collective bargaining by public sector workers and the Democratic legislators are seeking to deny him the 2/3rds quorum required to vote on the bill.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Audit for a complete list of articles on economic issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Mulch, The Pulse and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.
by Raquel Brown, Media Consortium blogger
It’s been a tumultuous week in Madison, Wisconsin. Tens of thousands of state workers, teachers, and students have packed the state Capitol building to protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to weaken public unions.
In a move ostensibly aimed to balance the state budget, Walker proposed a bill on Friday, February 11 that would dislodge collective bargaining rights for all public workers except for police, firefighters and the state patrol—some of the few public employee unions that supported Walker’s gubernatorial campaign. In addition, the bill will require most state workers to pay significantly more for pensions and health premiums.
Armed with scores of clever signs, demonstrators are rumbling through Madison, chanting “Kill the bill” and “This is what democracy looks like!” To delay the passage of Walker’s controversial bill and forge negotiations, 14 state Senate Democrats fled the state on Thursday, leaving the chamber with too few lawmakers to take a vote.
The Uptake is also LiveStreaming from Madison:
Roger Bybee of Working In These Times explains why the protests in Wisconsin are vital to America’s labor movement. “America’s labor movement is enjoying a great start in this epic battle to hold onto fundamental union rights in Wisconsin. It’s already had vast repercussions across the nation,” Bybee writes.
For the people?
Walker claims that the Democrats’ boycott is disrespectful to democracy. Further, he contends that his anti-union bill is representative of the people since he fairly won the election and Republicans gained control of both houses in the Wisconsin state legislature last November.
But John Nichols of The Nation argues that Walker’s elected position does not give him total free reign over the state: “Democracy does not end on Election Day. That’s when it begins. Citizens do not elect officials to rule them from one election to the next. Citizens elect officials to represent them, to respond to the will of the people as it evolves.”
This week, Wisconsin workers have embraced their First Amendment right to “peaceably assemble and petition the government” and are making sure their voices are heard.
Furthermore, according to Colorlines.com’s Kai Wright, the current assault on public workers is racialized. He writes:
But as governors and columnists have painted pictures of overpaid, underworked public employee in recent weeks, I have also seen the faint outline of familiar caricatures—welfare queens, Cadillacs in the projects, Mexican freeloaders. It’s hard to escape the fact that, in the states and localities with the biggest budget crunches (New Jersey, California, New York…) public employees are uniquely black.
Young people rallying
Emboldened by the bill’s potential to destroy the quality of their education, students have helped the protests gain momentum. While graduate students led a “teach-out,” undergraduate students organized a “walk-out” from university classes and a sleep in at the capital’s rotunda.
Micah Uetricht of Campus Progress writes, “If public sector union workers—indeed, all workers—are to gain dignified work and lives, it will take a mass cross-generational mobilization that engages students and workers of all ages and industries. In other words, it will take the kind of movement in full bloom in Madison right now.”
Here comes the Tea Party…
Tea party activists will meet head-to-head with union protesters on Saturday, as many are flocking to the state Capitol for a massive counter-demonstration in support of Walker’s bill. Led by the conservative group American Majority, and other conservative pundits like Andrew Breitbart, Jim Hoft and Joe “The Plumber” Wurtzelbacher, Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones reports that “the organizers of this anti-union protest do have the resources and know-how to stage a big rally. … But more important, the scheduled protest appears to be resonating with Tea Party activists across the country, who have been praising Walker for taking on unions.”
Wisconsin was “the birthplace of public sector unions” 50 years ago, which makes Walker’s proposal a significant break from the state’s pro-labor past. Even worse, “other state legislatures could see Walker’s assault on public employees and their unions as a blueprint for how to fix their own budget catastrophes,” notes Mother Jones’ Siddhartha Mahanta. “Such plans are already under consideration in places like Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee, where the GOP scored major electoral victories last November.” Thus, the bill is an attack not only on Wisconsin’s workers, but on the rights of public workers across the country.
From Egypt to the Midwest
So does this make Walker the Mubarak of the Midwest? In light of Egypt’s recent uprisings, The American Prospect’s Harold Meyerson examines the glaring double standard surrounding Wisconsin’s protests:
American conservatives often profess admiration for foreign workers’ bravery in protesting and undermining authoritarian regimes. Letting workers exercise their rights at home, however, threatens to undermine some of our own regimes (the Republican ones particularly) and shouldn’t be permitted. Now that Wisconsin’s governor has given the Guard its marching orders, we can discern a new pattern of global repressive solidarity emerging – from the chastened pharaoh of the Middle East to the cheese-head pharaoh of the Middle West.
But, wait: There’s more! Here are some other notable stories from Wisconsin:
- The Progressive’s Josh Healey provides a list of ten things you should know about Wisconsin’s crusade for worker’s rights.
- Adele M. Stan of AlterNet describes Walker’s cozy relationship with the Koch Brothers’ deep pockets.
- On GRITtv, Milwaukee’s Ellen Bravo reveals state workers struggle for basic rights, while Ev Liebman shares her similar experience in New Jersey.
- Free Speech Radio News interviews Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller from an “undisclosed location.”
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the Wisconsin protests by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. For more news on Wisconsin, follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.
by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger
This morning, President Barack Obama condemned the “failure by those of us in Washington to fix a broken immigration system” and called on Congress to support reform this year.
“This administration will not just kick the can down the road,” Obama said. He also described comprehensive immigration reform as “held hostage to political posturing.” The UpTake, Mother Jones and The Colorado Independent provided live coverage of Obama’s statements.
The White House is no doubt concerned about the electoral consequences. Latino voters are waiting to see if Democrats address the issue. Obama also met with policy groups and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at the White House on Monday and Tuesday to discuss moving forward on immigration reform.
The possibility for comprehensive immigration reform this year is still unlikely, thanks to inaction by federal lawmakers. Not only have elected officials been preoccupied with other pressing issues, such as health care reform and Supreme Court hearings, they also fear political backlash from voters if they support immigration reform during a recession.
On the bumpy road to immigration reform, Congress has clearly fallen asleep at the wheel. Lawmakers may still support reform focused on young immigrants and farm workers this year, even if it doesn’t involve creating a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.
As Daisy Hernandez reports at ColorLines, “Obama acknowledged the political realities in Congress and talked with the group about smaller bits of immigration legislation, including a bill to permit undocumented young people to attend college,” according to attendees of the brainstorming sessions.
Hernandez explains that “Republicans are painfully aware, of course, that immigration might be this year’s election football.” During the lead up to the election this November, the Senate failed to come to a compromise or even sponsor an actual bill. The House of Representatives has sponsored a reform proposal, but won’t vote on it until the Senate takes action. It’s a sticky Catch-22.
No more Arizonas
Despite Congressional fumbling, the need for immigration reform certainly won’t go away any time soon. Latino voters are growing in influence every day in the Untied States. As Gabriel Arana reports for The American Prospect, “the anti-immigrant push has served to unify and mobilize Hispanic voters, leading them to rethink their ties to Republicans and demanding action from Democrats on immigration.”
Just last March, an estimated half a million reform supporters marched on the National Mall in Washington DC. Shortly after that, on May 1, tens of thousands marched in cities all over the country, with reform proponents participating in civil disobedience in the nation’s capital and Arizona.
Arana also notes that Latinos have had “historically had lower levels of political participation than other minority groups” in the political process, and now they are taking the reform cause to “the streets, to their representatives, and in the pages of Latino papers—on an issue that affects them directly.”
That means that Republicans in Florida—a state which has a Latino population of approximately 20 percent, according to the US Census—will likely face big hurdles in their attempt pass an Arizona-like law targeting undocumented immigrants and racially profiling Latinos. New America Media has been reporting on the Florida proposal, which, like Arizona, could lead to a major international backlash.
According to their coverage, the plan would “make remaining illegally in Florida a criminal offense,” would “include severe penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers,” and it would “allow police to ask suspects for proof of legal residency.”
‘Take Our Jobs’
On a lighter note, migrant workers have started a campaign to educate the public about the arduous work immigrants do on farms and in the fields—work that would be too tough for most Americans.
As Bonnie Azab Powell at Grist reports, the United Farm Workers, “tired of being vilified as stealing jobs from unemployed American citizens” have come up with a new campaign to put everyone to work.
“The union has created a website where you can sign yourself up for fieldwork,” Powell writes. “Experienced field hands will train legal residents and hook them up with the many seasonal harvest openings in California, Florida, and elsewhere.”
But the work won’t be easy, or just. As the article notes, “federal overtime provisions don’t apply to farmworkers, nor do minimum-wage laws.”
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.
by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger
President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that he would be deploying 1,200 National Guard troops to the Mexican border to beef up security along the Río Bravo. This surprise move has garnered criticism from immigrant rights supporters, who argue that it will dehumanize and endanger immigrant and Latino communities.
Julianne Hing at RaceWire offers more details on the plan, reporting that an extra $500 million has also been allocated to law enforcement along the border.
“Obama is reportedly asking for these troop increases in anticipation of Republicans’ demands on a war spending bill this week,” Hing writes. “But Obama’s already outpaced his predecessors in spending on border security and military presence at the border.” (more…)
By Alison Hamm, Media Consortium Blogger
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop15) turned ugly today when police officers beat back hundreds of demonstrators, including a group of 50 to 100 delegates that were trying to meet with the protesters.
More than 250 people were arrested, including spokespeople for Climate Justice Action (CJA), a global network of NGOs that organized a walkout at the Bella Center today. CJA’s spokesperson Dan Glall told Mantoe Phakathi at Inter Press Service that “as a condition for going back to the negotiations, we demand industrialized nations uphold the Kyoto Protocol, commit adequate funds to adaptation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.”
OneClimate has video (below) of today’s walkout.
“More than 1,000 people have been arrested, detained and released over the course of the past week,” Jennifer Prediger writes for Grist. “Some were made to sit on freezing sidewalks for six hours in a nasty version of time out. The people who threw rocks and set cars on fire were rightfully detained. But the droves who were dragged in last night for dancing awkwardly in Christiana? Seems like overkill to me.”
The chaos outside reflects the increasing pressure inside the Bella Center, as delegates turn to the United States and China for leadership in the final days of the summit. Together these countries account for 42 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.
In order to finalize a global climate agreement in Copenhagen, both countries need to take a big step forward, as David Doniger and Barbara Finamore report for Grist. For the U.S., this means aid for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people; for China, this means making steady progress to meet the country’s carbon reduction goals.
The U.S. has already committed to pay its share of a $30 billion fund to last through 2012. “But to lead in Copenhagen, the U.S. needs to back even larger investments to meet these core needs for the longer-term—2015 or 2020,” Doniger and Finamore write. “China has the opportunity to enhance its standing as a responsible world leader by building global confidence in the implementation of its carbon reduction goals.”
But as David Corn reports for Mother Jones, China and the U.S. are apparently “stuck in a standoff.” An Obama administration official insisted that it’s not about the money: “‘We have to get the developing nations into an international agreement,’ the official said… Yet China has forcefully resisted the idea of incorporating their self-professed emissions goals (essentially, slowing the growth rate of emissions) into a binding agreement. China has also repeatedly said that it will not submit its performance to official outside vetting.”
Corn writes, “But with 115 heads of states beginning to arrive, the Copenhagen talks have left some fundamental gaps for the last minute. Even if those gaps are bridged, the resulting agreement could fall far short of what experts say is necessary to redress the dire consequences of rising global temperatures. Just ask the scientists roaming the halls.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Copenhagen today in a last minute appearance. Clinton has booked a full day of meetings on Thursday and will join President Barack Obama in negotiations when he arrives Friday. Like Obama’s schedule switch at the conference (he originally planned to be there last week and instead will arrive Friday), Clinton’s arrival could indicate the U.S.’s intention to seal a deal by the end of the week.
For live updates of the negotiations and protests, check out The Uptake’s live video stream from the Bella Center.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.
By Alison Hamm, Media Consortium Blogger
UPDATE: Negotiations stalled today in Copenhagen when African nations walked out in protest of perceived attempts by rich nations to kill the Kyoto Protocol, as Talking Points Memo reports. The talks are back in session now. Watch Link TV’s live stream from Copenhagen for more on this story as it develops.
On Saturday, December 12, climate activists rallied to call for a binding climate agreement. Vigils, fasts, and protests were held around the world, and in the largest environmental demonstration in history, 100,000 activists marched in downtown Copenhagen from the Christiansborg Palace to the Bella Center, where the United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop15) is being held. (more…)
By Alison Hamm, Media Consortium Blogger
Over 15,000 people from 192 countries began to work towards an international climate deal today in Copenhagen. These discussions are part of the largest and most important United Nations climate change summit in history. After two years of contentious negotiations, heads of states are convening through Dec. 18 to curb greenhouse gases, encourage the development of clean energy, and transfer hundreds of billions of dollars to help developing nations curb climate change.
It’s going to be a lively 11 days. Jacob Wheeler has already posted video (below) of a demonstration to save the climate for In These Times‘ blog, The ITT List. For live coverage of the Cop15 summit, make sure to check out video streams hosted by The UpTake and OneWorld. (more…)
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium Blogger
Today, the Senate Finance Committee will consider amendments that would add a public option to the highly contested bill. Committee members Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) seek to force their colleagues into an up or down vote on the public option. (more…)