John Nichols Fires up Madison Pro-Labor Rally

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Courtesy of Uppity Wisconsin blog

Just before thousands of protesters took over the Wisconsin State Capitol yesterday to oppose upstart Republican Governor Scott Walker’s push to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public-sector employees in an effort to balance the state’s budget, John Nichols of The Nation magazine fired up the crowd.

Here were Nichols’ words on Sunday, when he called Walker a “Dictator Governor”.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to strip public employees of most collective bargaining rights, cut pay and gut benefits without any negotiation represents the most radical assault yet by the current crop of Republican governors on the rights of workers has inspired outrage in a historically progressive and pro-labor state.

With unions calling on members an allies to “fight back” against a “blatant power grab,” tensions are running so high that the governor, who took office in January, is threatening to call out the National Guard in case of industrial action by state, county and municipal employees. “Even if you don’t like unions,” says Rich Abelson, executive director of AFSCME Council 48, the union that represents Milwaukee County workers, “surely we all can agree that anti-freedom attacks that deny public employees the right to negotiate a fair contract…are outrageous and wrong.”

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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