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September 19, 2021

Solidarity with Wisconsin: Alaska’s Capital Rallies For Working Families

“We have all been reading about Wisconsin and the other attacks against public employees throughout the country. The time is at hand to stop wringing our hands and start taking some action.”Pete Ford, Alaska Public Employees Association (APEA-AFT)

(Juneau, AK)—With almost no advance notice, a large crowd in Alaska’s Capitol converged on Dimond Courthouse Square near the State Legislature Building to stand in solidarity with embattled public employees in Wisconsin.

In the middle of a sunny day in Juneau, union and non-union folks alike made their voices heard in defense of working families and basic standards of decency when it comes to their treatment. In addition to the noon rally, schoolteachers in Juneau took up the cause at a rally near the state legislature.

The public strongly opposes laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions as a way to ease state financial troubles. —USA Today

According to a new Gallup/USA Today poll released today, the public supports the collective bargaining rights of public employees by a 2-1 margin (with 61% opposed to their states adopting what Scott Walker is trying to foist upon Wisconsin, and 33% favoring it).

Addressing the rally was Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami, fresh from delivering a blistering rebuke to Sarah Palin in the Anchorage Daily News regarding the Wisconsin controversy.  (“She has no knowledge that Wisconsin’s public employee pension plan is fully funded, that the state’s budget actually had a surplus before Governor Walker gave it away to big business, and she certainly doesn’t know that Wisconsin’s hard working public employees actually earn an average of 4.8% less than their private sector counterparts.”)

After the rally Beltrami commented:

This is nothing more than a politically motivated attack on the middle class. A governor elected by the deep pockets of the billionaire Koch brothers who seek to wipe out the only organizations who stand up to these modern day robber barons to protect all the things the Koch brothers abhor: decent wages, safety on the job, the strength of a collective voice and the only remaining check on their thirst for complete control. Our very democracy hangs in the balance. We Alaskan unions stand strong with our Wisconsin brothers and sisters. And so should the rest of America.

Those in attendance cheered the following note of thanks from Wisconsin guidance counselor Dana Paraskt, read aloud by APEA’s Pete Ford:

Dear Friends in Alaska-

Thank you for standing in solidarity with workers in Wisconsin today as we face extreme attacks on the middle class from our state politicians.  In Wisconsin, and now across the country, we have decided to join together and stand up for our basic rights as workers. We all know this proposal isn’t about fixing the budget but about weakening the middle class and crushing our voice as working people. Thank you for standing with us today and saying, “enough is enough.”

As a guidance counselor in Superior, Wisconsin, this proposal will hurt me do my job in the best way I can. This fight isn’t about money or benefits.  I didn’t become a high school educator to get rich.  I did it so that the young people in my community will have the support they need to succeed in society.  I am a better educator and a better mentor because I have the basic American right to have a voice on the job.  The fact that someone is trying to take away that right is unacceptable.

It brings me great pride that teachers, students, nurses, policemen, firemen, steelworkers, painters, sheet metal workers, women’s groups, clergy, community members and many others all around this great country are standing together today.  When we come together politicians will have to listen.

Thank you for your support and keep up the fight.

Dana Paraskt, AFT Wisconsin

Guidance Counselor at Superior High School

For the latest on-the-ground reporting from Wisconsin’s Capital, check out the excellent live blog by Madison journalist and Mudflats friend Kristian Knutsen.

~Pete Ford and Vince Beltrami at the rally in Juneau, Alaska

Thomas Dewar and Amy Coffman contributed to this report.



34 Responses to “Solidarity with Wisconsin: Alaska’s Capital Rallies For Working Families”
  1. yukonbushgrma says:

    I lived in Wisconsin my first 49 years. (Not tellin’ you how many years I have on me now!)

    I *worked* for the state of WI for many years. Even back 15 years ago, we began to pay a small amount toward our health insurance. I never complained … it was still a wonderful policy. But I also sensed that the union was starting to lose its standing …….

    Wisconsin is ground zero, in my opinion. If these guys can’t do it, no one can. Believe me, there are fighters down there.

    I hope the 14 Dems stay down in Illinois and don’t come back until they’re ready to fight.

    If you want to sum it up — it’s about the “have’s” and the “have-nots.” (That’s what my mother used to say … probably based on when she was brought up …. )

  2. nymiss says:

    I’m so happy that President Obama didn’t speak on Walker yet. If he had, then recent events would have no impact.

    If you notice, Walker is drowning in his own cesspool. Check out how our President always allows
    a fool to destroy himself.

    Our President is letting the American people make their own stand, allowing democracy to work.

    Now, had Walker had hired people to bust up the demonstrators, I’m sure that the Feds would
    have to go and take care of business in Wisconsin.

  3. jojobo1 says:

    I kind of like thisone too but it could be updated as we had 60,000I think it was Saturday or maybe sunday which was sleet.rain andsnow .

  4. Blue Idaho says:

    Has anyone posted this?

  5. ebeth says:

    Although I am in California, I started receiving emails from Senator Illinois Dick Durbin regarding the fight for Health Care.

    I received another today on the “Wisconsin 14” <- Love that! He has formulated a petition to sign in support of the boycott: The text of the petition is as follows:
    I stand in solidarity with the Wisconsin 14 and their courageous boycott against Governor Scott Walker's assault on American workers' hard-earned collective bargaining rights.

    The text of the email is:
    An assault on unions anywhere is an assault on working families everywhere.

    Wisconsin's tea party-backed governor, Scott Walker, has launched an ideological crusade against his own citizens' collective bargaining rights. He's using the pretense of a state budget deficit to curb the rights of teachers and other public employees in his state to unionize — rights we've recognized here in America for over 80 years to assure better working conditions and fairer compensation for all workers.

    Fourteen brave Democratic state senators — backed by tens of thousands of ordinary citizens protesting outside the state Capitol — are boycotting a vote on the governor's plan. We're counting on these 14 state senators to prevent the most serious setback America's labor movement could ever face.

    I want them to know working families in Illinois and across the country welcome the "Wisconsin 14's" boycott and stand with them, every step of the way.

    Sign my petition to show the "Wisconsin 14" we support their boycott and encourage them to continue standing strong to protect the rights of American workers.

    Governor Walker is not setting out to fix his state's budget. After all, he just enacted a sweeping tax cut that will make Wisconsin's deficit worse.
    No, at the behest of his big corporate backers, he's setting out to break unions, clear and simple. Why else would he refuse to even sit down with teachers and state employees and work out a fair compromise — when union leaders have signaled that they are open to temporary wage and benefit concessions?

    It's because this whole debate is about who holds political power — the corporations or the people — and not budget deals.

    In the wake of the Citizens United decision granting moneyed interests unprecedented power over ordinary citizens, the current showdown in Wisconsin marks a watershed moment in American history. If we lose this fight, Republican leaders throughout the country will move forward with their own plans to bust unions and further undermine the power of American workers to earn a decent living.
    That's why we must all rally behind the thousands of Wisconsinites protesting in the streets of Madison — and the 14 Democratic state senators who refuse to entertain a rollback of workers' collective right to speak for themselves. These legislators are workers' last line of defense, and it's crucial we show them our support.

    Show your support for the "Wisconsin 14" as they stand strong against Governor Walker's assault on American workers' hard-earned collective bargaining rights!

    Thank you for joining me in publicly supporting the "Wisconsin 14" and their courageous boycott on behalf of every American worker.

    In solidarity,
    Dick Durbin
    U.S. Senator

  6. Polarbear says:

    In all this economic and political mess, I have not heard a single American say they do not want to work. Now is not the time throw anyone in any job into unemployment. We need to stay steady on the course of the economic recovery which is slowly happening around us, not tear apart the fabric of our communities. What is required right now is patience, and more leadership from President Obama. Steady on course.

  7. MadCityKaren says:

    Thank you, Alaska! I was back at the protests in Madison today (I only live 3 miles from the Capitol Square), and while there are less people protesting than previously, we’re still strong … and a big reason that we are still able to fight is for all the support being shown by people everywhere. While I was in the rotunda today, the Firefighters of Southern California union showed up with some 160 of their members; they flew in for about 8 hours to support the public employees of Wisconsin.

    AKM … OK if I were to snag your picture to put on my FB page? (I’m one of your FB friends; feel free to snag any pics/videos that I’ve put up.)

    And while I’m thinking of it … sounds as though there could be an investigation into the ‘prank’ phone call to Walker this morning for violation of ethics (sounds familiar?), election laws and labor laws. A former State Attorney General reviewed the tapes this afternoon; there may be more said about this tomorrow.

    • jojobo1 says:

      As their should be

    • yukonbushgrma says:

      “sounds as though there could be an investigation into the ‘prank’ phone call to Walker this morning for violation of ethics (sounds familiar?), election laws and labor laws.”

      Wow, that just sucks! Well………..I hope someone is on top of this!

      IMO, that was the best thing I heard in the last month! I don’t care if it was a prank — it exposed the WI gov for who is truly is ………

  8. Jack Bennett says:

    I think all of the Tea Party winners see themselves on a fast track to the White House. Break the Unions and you’re the man. I wonder how many of them heard that from the Koch Bros. Must be tough for Scott and the rest, in their quest for power, to look in the mirror and see the face of a conniving, deceitful traitor to his friends and neighbors. Trading self respect and pride for a moment of greed and power doesn’t seem fitting for a purportedly good. righteous young man. Not to mention that he darn well better win or the moment of power will read lifetime loser. (Koch Bros. don’t do losers)

  9. auni says:

    Here is something important–saw it on HuffPost just now. Wisconson Gov. was punked by an editor at Buffalo Beast–pretending to be one of the Koch brothers and had a phone conversation with him. You have to read it and realize how the Koch guys are running the show–very troubling

  10. Megaera says:

    I made a small contribution this morning to Your Voice in Wisconsin through ActBlue. A little bit from a lot of people can change the world.

  11. LA Brian says:

    Indiana governor Mitch “The Blade” Daniels asked GOP to withdraw its anti-union legislation. It’s not that he doesn’t support the idea but rather that it was not a central issue in the campaign and would prefer not to “blindside” residents with the issue.

    I also read this editorial that adds some perspective to what’s going on in Wisconsin:

  12. Califpat says:

    I am part of the middleclass but also a retired Mom!! My children are being given furloughs, pay cuts, and downsizing here in California. They have worked for years in the Sheriff department, as Parole officer, Real estate broker (this one is due to the economy) Bank employee, one on the corporate level of a car company, and my baby who is graduating from a university this year who will be going into the criminal justice system. If Wisconsin Walker wins with these imbecilic bills, then that opens the doors for the rest of the country! I will be participating here in California to stop this madness and to help restore the American dream for my children, for middleclass, for the working people, and for your children! I am down for helping to bring this country back to being the best in the world!!! Collectively we can let the Rethugs and the Koch brothers know that we will not be bullied!!

    • A Fan in CA says:

      I’m seeing here in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara that this “kill the pensions” movement is working at the local level.

      Since we are very blue at the state level the campaign is local. Lot’s of publicity being planted by groups who highlight the few who get big pensions. Lot’s of claims the municipalities can no longer afford to pay into pensions, blah, blah, blah.

      The biggest lie. CalPers is in trouble. Nonsense. It got hit hard by the Wall Street created financial crisis but it coming back. CalPers is used not only by the state but many other group to manage their defined benefit annuity pensions.

      You know how R like to talk about replacing Social Security with INDIVIDUAL 401K’s? This is now one of the end games with public pensions. The Wall Street conglomerate makes a lot more off of everyone having an individual account than these group plans. That is why private pensions have pretty much disappeared over the past 30 years.

  13. GoI3ig says:

    Our nation is heading to a return of sweatshops, and indentured servitude. The middle class will slowly die off, and be replaced with a huge lower class that serves the corporate elite. The GOP’s greatest feat is getting the masses to vote against their own self interests.

    The working class conservatives have cut their own throats this time. They are just too inept to realize it.

  14. WhichTruth says:

    Hat tip to the public workers of Wisconsin for standing up and drawing a line in the sand on corporate take over of our nation. I was beginning to wonder if it would happen. I’m looking to see solidarity of all unions and those of us who understand their importance in our society. If we have to go through this to maintain our rights so be it. Let the revolution begin, so we can get it over and own with our lives.

  15. nymiss says:

    This is very interesting…hmm, I wonder how many of the demonstrators voted for the tea party? And, I wonder how many of them stayed home on election day?

    Something tells me that there are many people who are only just realizing how they goofed…oops!

    They let the devil into their government house!

    And who/what is it that the tea party wants to fix? They may just end up ‘fixing’ their friends, neighbors and relatives. Local people were motivated by their hate–but the national tea party has it’s own agenda, and right now it’s the national tea party calling the shots and instructing the locally elected cons how to ‘execute’ the tea party plan…the local tea partiers were only used as tools.

    Wonder what the end result will look like? And, if all the locally elected people, and the senate and house repubs all work together, what will this country look like in a few years?

    Six weeks after Obama’s inauguration, the tea party was created. I wonder who was its ‘architect’?

    Wow, hate sure is ugly!

    • A Fan in CA says:

      If I recall it was Rick Santelli’s rant closely followed by Fox sponsored Tea Party rallies. It was setup to deflect real anger at Wall Street for stealing our savings as the markets crashed.

      • LaniN says:

        Quite right. There was a preplanned, orchestrated on air rant. Than magically, preprinted signs and painted buses appeared. The whole fake grassroots movement appeared, was exposed, and several media outlets apologized. Within weeks, everyone forgot the truth and returned to featuring the astroturf baggers. This was a huge topic on the forum. Pardon the typos- on iphone will fat fingers.

  16. Firecracker says:

    Darn if I had known this was going on I would have made it downtown today. However in my crazy day I have not had a chance to be close to a computer. Workers Unite!!!

  17. seattlefan says:

    Ed, LOD, and Chris all said tonight that this is not just about Wisconsin….it is warfare on the middle class and we all need to sit up and stand up with these people. Solidarity indeed! Great photos

    I saw Bernie Sanders talking about this and he said we are all affected by this blatant crushing of the middle class. He said you may not be personally feeling the effects, but if the middle class is crushed we will all feel it (paraphrasing as I can’t find the actual video). So true. Our country is being pillaged by the republicans and the billionaires that OWN them. Don’t get me going on the Union Busting that is also going on.

  18. I happened to be somewhere that Fox News was on, during the story about Madison the reporter (?) stated that a poll stated that the ‘people’ supported the governor’s bill. Since I have read of about 3 polls that said otherwise, I found that rather …. disingenuous. And they didn’t mention any of the other polls. ditherheads.

  19. Lee says:

    This is a nice sight to see. The folks in Wisconsin have a battle to fight. The bill they are fighting has 144 or 146 pages, and proceeds to give all authority to the Governor to sell of State property at the whim of the Governor with no oversight.

    It also strips the workers of all their rights.

    We are fighting for our freedoms all over again. The path that the Republican-Tea Bag Party is on will destroy everything good about this country. They certainly are not making friends and influencing the majority of the people in this United States.
    Remember We the People. Governor Walker may end up like Governor Hutchinson.

    • LaniN says:

      Excellent point, Lee. The bill lets the state sell off PUBLIC UTILITIES to private corporations with NO bids. And it also states that such sales will be DEEMED to be in the public interest. Meanwhile… Koch has just opened its lobbying office in Madison.

      Sorry about the caps, but I don’t know how to bold on the blog. 🙁

  20. LaniN says:

    Here’s some info on this coming weekend’s rallies:

    “Over the next hours and days, all who love this country need to do everything possible to spread the “spirit of Madison” to all 50 states. This does not mean we need to occupy 50 state capitol buildings; things elsewhere are not yet that dire. But this weekend, the best of America should rally on the steps of every statehouse in the union.”

    Also, too: “We call for emergency rallies in front of every statehouse this Saturday at noon to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. Demand an end to the attacks on workers’ rights and public services across the country. Demand investment, to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work. And demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share.”

  21. Sue says:

    Thank you Alaskans for supporting Wisconsin workers! It’s a tough fight but we are not giving up. This battle can’t be lost because I fear if Wisconsin fails to stop this from happening other states will be next.

    I just hope that your ex-Gov doesn’t get all bent out of shape when Wisconsin’s governor snatches the “Worst Governor Ever” award from her manicured fingertips.

    One thing I know that would cheer us up over here, an appearance by Brian the Moose. Do you think he could come and make a surprise visit anytime soon? 🙂

  22. Zyxomma says:

    Solidarity is a beautiful thing. Union!

  23. mag the mick says:

    I’m sure I recognize several old friends in that crowd. Good on ya.

    Here in Arizona, state workers have never been allowed to unionize. Their ranks and salaries have been decimated with the cuts over the last few years. And guess what – we still have a huge budget deficit, and our so-called leaders can’t even blame unions for this one.

    Solidarity forever, folks. The unions made us strong 100 years ago, and they still do.

  24. Marnie says: Is the piizza place in Madison that is taking donations to help feed the demonstrater. The sited is specific for the last week and tells how to order the pizza.

  25. LaniN says:

    That is a beautiful sight, AKM!,, Democracy for America, and other organizations have called for supporters to rally in every state capital this coming Saturday.

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