Nationwide Effort to Eliminate Voice of Nurses, Teachers, Firefighters and All Working People

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Nationwide Effort to Eliminate Voice of Nurses, Teachers, Firefighters and All Working People

WASHINGTON - All eyes are trained on Wisconsin, but corporate-backed politicians are clearly gunning for working people in every state across the country.

In a brazen new low, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is on track to sign a new law under the guise of fiscal responsibility that will allow him to appoint emergency fiscal managers with powers so expansive they could "fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, eliminate services - and even eliminate whole cities or school districts without any public input," according to CBS.

Over the past week, Republican governors and legislators in state after state have taken aim at their own constituents with increasingly blatant attacks on education, public services, and working people's voices.

·         In Maine, Governor Paul LePage has exempted himself from a budget bill that requires teachers and other state employees to increase their pension contributions from 7.65 percent of their salary to 9.65 percent. Laws curtailing the rights and compensation of public service employees or calling for privatization of public services have been introduced in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin;

·         On Thursday, the Florida House passed a bill, HB 7005, which would slash unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to a sliding scale of 12 to 20 weeks, and force unemployed workers to accept a minimum wage job after receiving 19 weeks of benefits;

·         In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett's budget would cut over 1500 jobs and slash funding for public universities in half. Public school teachers and employees face assaults in the form of thinly veiled attacks on public schools and teachers in Alabama, Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania among others;

·         So-called right-to-work bills have been introduced in over a dozen states, including Maine, Missouri, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Tennessee, and Indiana;

·         Paycheck deception bills, which would silence workers' voice in the political process, have been or soon will be introduced in nearly two dozen states;

·         Prevailing wage laws that protect workers and communities from unscrupulous contractors lowballing bids on taxpayer-funded construction projects have been targeted for repeal by the Republican governors and legislatures of 19 states;

·         And it's not just the rights of workers to collectively bargain for a middle class life under attack. We're also seeing a nationwide push to take away the rights of voters. New Hampshire State Representative Gregory Sorg recently introduced a bill that would eliminate the right of New Hampshire's college students to cast a ballot where they go to school. In a chillingly partisan statement, Sorg's argument against the ability of students to vote where they go to school was not based on their residency, but on their habit for voting for liberals.

In Wisconsin, working families continue to make their voices heard. On Saturday, over 150,000 students, clergy, nurses, teachers, firefighters, and community members rallied at the Wisconsin Statehouse to call out Scott Walker for his blatant push to silence working people's voices. Check out pictures of Wisconsin small businesses supporting public service workers: http://bit.ly/fVXqkL.

But even in states where the outcry has not been as publicized, working families have stepped up to express their dismay to lawmakers who would rather play partisan games and tip the scales against the middle class than create jobs. On April 4, working people from across the country will declare "we are one" in events across the country, everything from vigils and rallies to house parties and letter writing parties. Participants will point to Dr. Martin Luther King's struggle for civil rights and how the movement continues today. Go to the We are One website to see events develop: www.we-r-1.org.

Other updates:

·         Last Thursday, over 20,000 teachers, firefighters and policemen joined with community members at the Indiana Statehouse to protest against "right-to-work-for-less" legislation and to host a mock funeral for the middle class.

·         On Tuesday, hundreds of Miami teachers, firefighters, police, healthcare workers and others met at the Mahi Shrine Auditorium to express their outrage at a slew of bills headed for the floor at the start of Florida's 2011 legislative session.

·         In Iowa, a hearing last Monday night drew hundreds of union supporters to testify against a collective bargaining bill that one protester called a "cynical attempt to cripple unions that have historically not seen eye-to-eye with the governor"

·         And in Missouri, 5,000 working people protested proposals to make Missouri a right-to-work state and repeal child labor laws.

Working people are galvanized as politicians spend their time taking away the rights of workers instead of creating jobs and building the economy. That energy will continue as long as politicians spend their time giving political favors instead of creating good jobs.

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The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is a voluntary federation of 56 national and international labor unions. The AFL-CIO union movement represents 10.5 million members, including 2 million members in Working America, its new community affiliate. We are teachers and truck drivers, musicians and miners, firefighters and farm workers, bakers and bottlers, engineers and editors, pilots and public employees, doctors and nurses, painters and laborers-and more.

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