Rank-and-file union members are among the thousands protesting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s “budget repair” bill that would strip public workers of their right to collective bargaining. In this web exclusive video from the streets of Madison, Democracy Now! speaks to union members who have come from around the state, and as far away as California, to march in solidarity. “What Wisconsin is faced with right now is a class struggle. It’s an attack on not only unions, but on working families,” says Bobby Olvera, vice president for International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13 of Los Angeles, CA.
JOY ROBERTS: My name is Joy Roberts. I live in the town of Troy in southeastern Wisconsin. And I’m a member of the Communications Workers of America Local 4603 out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And the reason that I’m here today is because we have to stop what the corporations are trying to do, and that is to buy our democracy. They can pour in all the money that they want, but they can’t defeat the people, because we are going to be here, and the community is — this is not just a fight for labor. This is a fight — or not just a fight for public-sector workers. It’s a fight for all working men and women in this country. And so, we have to stand strong, and we know our brothers and sisters in the broader community are going to join us, because they’re not taking us down.
BOBBY OLIVERA: My name is Bobby Olvera. I’m the vice president for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13 for Los Angeles and Long Beach. We came out here with 161 union members. Behind me, I have brothers and sisters from the longshore division of the ILWU, and we are here as a sign of support for the Wisconsin workers and Wisconsin families. What Wisconsin is faced with right now is a class struggle. It’s an attack on not only unions, but on working families. It’s an attack on the ability for families to have a guarantee of health benefits and a secure job and to be able to sit at a table and collectively bargain with their employers. What’s going on right now is something that has to stop here. It’s unacceptable not only to the labor movement, but to working families and the middle class across America.
JIM LOU: My name’s Jim Lou. I’m with Local 80, AFSCME, out of West Allis, Wisconsin. And we’re over here to show support for not just public employees, but all of middle class, because this is something that will affect everybody. And we have to — we have to stop it here, and we’ve got to let the rest of the country know exactly, exactly what’s going to happen. This is just something that will affect average middle-class people across the whole country.
BRIAN AUSTIN: Hi, my name is Brian Austin. I represent the Madison Professional Police Officers Association. Our union represents the rank and file of the Madison Police Department. We’re out here today to show solidarity for all of labor throughout this crisis. We’ve been here from day one. We will be out here marching until justice is served. This is an attack. We consider this an attack on every citizen in the great state of Wisconsin, and it will not stand. When we joined this profession, we swore to uphold, serve and protect the members of this community, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do by being out here with these people.
We’ve come down. Every single day we’ve been down here marching. We’ve been working — the irony is, the bigger this gets, the more hours we have to work on duty. We’ve been working 12, 16 hours on duty, stripping our uniforms down, coming out here with our signs and our “Cops for Labor” shirts and marching. We’ve been spending some time in the Rotunda to try to keep those people energized. They’ve been fantastic. They’ve been in here, day in and day out, in the Rotunda, keeping this cause alive. And we’ve been trying to support them in any way we can.