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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nice turn-out at Wisconsin solidarity rally

There was a nice turn-out of union members from both the public and private sector at the State House rotunda this afternoon.

The State House interior was awash in the various union colors and alive with signs of solidarity and support for embattled state workers in Wisconsin.

AFSCME, the union that took the lead in organizing this rally, was out in force. Lead speaker was Charlestown's own, Mike Downey, who is the President of AFSCME statewide.

Speakers - to the extent they could be heard amid the noise and the echoing rotunda - hammered home the point that in these hard times, we cannot let our sisters and brothers in Wisconsin - or Indiana or Ohio - bear the brunt of attacks on their right to organize by Tea Party Republican Governors.

And speaking of the Tea Party, a handful of teabaggers slinked into the audience and, as the speakers started, began shouting and heckling. At first, the union folks tried to take their rudeness in stride and ignored them (although after a while, I had some choice words with one of them).

Then one of the more foolhardy teabaggers started up while he was standing within a group of Building Trades guys. Now, I worked in the Building Trades, and I could have predicted that this clown was taking a very foolish risk talking that crap while standing within reach of the guys from the Laborers, Painters, Electricians, etc. But no blood was shed, at least none that I saw, and the teapartier was escorted out by the police.

These are hard times for working people in this country and I'm afraid there are even harder times coming. The country is sharply polarized. Kallie Jurgens' much feared class war is here. With jobs, health care, retirement on the line - the ability to support your family and work safely and look forward to a comfortable old age - we have a duty to each other to stand up for what is right.