The Racine area LaborFest celebration included a special award to the 14 state Senators who challenged Governor Walker and the Republicans on collective bargaining rights. “Without these honorable senators our communities would not have been able to marshal a response to the proposal that captured the attention of the nation, and made Wisconsin ground zero for national labor movement,” said organizer Scott Sharp, from Local-67 in Racine.
Milwaukee Senator Chris Larson talked about how today’s blue collar worker, union or non-union, has become “the whipping boy in our society.” Kenosha Senator Bob Wirch mentioned that his recent recall victory included the greatest coalition he’s ever exprerienced in his political career. “We have to keep it going,” said Wirch.
Racine Representative Cory Mason suggested the story that’s been told thus far is not over, but it will take hard work to write the final chapter. Kenosha Representative Peter Barca, whose name was mentioned more than once in speeches as a good candidate for Governor, said there are many more battles ahead, and “we will not rest until these rights are restored.”
Two Republicans took advantage of the Marathon County Labor Council’s change of heart, and marched in the Wausau Labor Day parade. Congressman Sean Duffy and state Senator Pam Galloway marched with dozens of supporters at the end of the procession. And they encountered union protestors who yelled “shame, shame” while some on the other side screamed “small government, small government.” Some parade-goers turned their backs on the lawmakers, while chanting for a recall of Governor Scott Walker. The Labor Council originally said it would ban Republican lawmakers from the Wausau parade, mainly because of their support of the state law that virtually eliminates collective bargaining for most public unions. But the group changed its mind after the mayor threatened to pull tax dollars for police and clean-up, and high school bands talked about withdrawing.
In Milwaukee, the crowd for the Labor Day parade was smaller than last year when President Obama attended. But Bruce Colburn of the Service Employees’ International Union said it was still one of the biggest turnouts in years. He said it showed that people favored a Walker recall election next year. The group United Wisconsin was busy getting signatures of support for a recall. Official petitions cannot be circulated until November.
The governor stayed home on Labor Day, and his office issued a statement which praised Wisconsin’s employees. Walker said the workers are “the single most valuable and important asset we have when attempting to attract and retain employers.” And the governor vowed to press forward with his plan to create a quarter-million new private sector jobs by 2015.