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2011-02-25

"Gov. Walker Needs to Get Over His Koch Addiction": Labor Activists Protest Koch Brothers’ Madison Office

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Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the lobbying offices of the Koch brothers in Madison on Thursday. "The Koch brothers have funded a lot of anti-union, anti-worker legislation not just here in Wisconsin, but across the country," says Elizabeth DiNovella of the Madison-based magazine The Progressive. "People in Wisconsin are here to say that Walker needs to get over his Koch addiction and to really respect workers’ rights to organize." [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: And those are the firefighters’ bagpipes. This is quite an amazing scene here. Musicians have gathered. Tom Morello of The Nightwatchman gave a big concert the other night. People are coming from all over the country, but mainly it’s people based right here in Wisconsin. Wisconsinites are descending on the Capitol from every corner of this state. They see this as ground zero for labor activism in the United States. They see people in Florida looking at this, people in Ohio. There was a protest inspired by the one here in Columbus, Ohio, of 10,000 people protesting. People in Michigan looking at what’s happening here, people in Indiana.

Well, I want to turn right now to a protest that took place yesterday just down the road from the State Capitol here. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the newly opened lobbying offices of the Koch brothers. Democracy Now! producer Mike Burke spoke to one of the editors of The Progressive magazine, that’s based right here in Madison, Wisconsin, about the protest.

ELIZABETH DINOVELLA: My name is Elizabeth DiNovella, and I’m the culture editor for The Progressive magazine, and I’m also a proud union member that’s part of a local of the UAW here in Wisconsin. I’m here today outside of the Koch offices. They just opened a lobby office recently. And Koch has been one of the major funders behind the Walker campaign. And, you know, the Koch brothers have funded a lot of anti-union, anti-worker legislation, not just here in Wisconsin, but across the country. And so, people in Wisconsin are here to say that, you know, Walker needs to get over his Koch addiction and to really respect workers’ rights to organize.

Wisconsin has a long, proud progressive tradition. Many labor — many things we take for granted came out of struggles here in Wisconsin, from unemployment insurance to Wisconsin also had the first laws that protected women workers and child laborers. And I work for The Progressive magazine. We have a long, proud history, 101 years this year. It was started by "Fighting Bob" La Follette, who actually was a Republican governor and senator here from Wisconsin, but he was part of the progressive wing of the Republican government. He fought against corporate power back a hundred years ago. And a hundred years later, all of his arguments are still relevant. He said that the real cures for the ills of democracy is more democracy. And that’s still relevant today.

MIKE BURKE: And I saw a statue of Fighting Bob in the Capitol with posters all over it.

ELIZABETH DINOVELLA: Yeah, I mean, Fighting Bob is alive and well. And really, he fought against corporate power a hundred years ago. The Progressive magazine has been fighting against corporate power for a hundred years. And Wisconsin really does have this long progressive tradition. And the Republicans used to be a part of it. And it’s time for Walker to stop getting money from people like the Koch brothers and to really respect the rights of Wisconsin workers.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Liz DiNovella, editor at The Progressive magazine, Liz DiNovella, one of the many thousands of people who are protesting here Madison, Wisconsin.

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