by David Safier
I went to a noon gathering at the Capitol in support of the union workers in Wisconsin. Leaders from AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) led the protest. Rep. Dan Patterson, pictured, spoke passionately about the rights of workers in Wisconsin and Arizona.
A FEW NOTES FROM THE AFTERNOON:
•The AFSCME rep (on Patterson's right) observed that whenever tyrants come to power, one of the first things they do is ban the unions and throw their leaders in jail. Not a direct parallel to what's going on in this country, of course, but it made me think that two institutions which most threaten an oligarchy or plutocracy are a free press and labor unions.
•Patterson told me about the legislative attacks on unions and state workers in Arizona. He cited Adams' cut-the-pensions bill, which was created behind closed doors without input or involvement by police or fire unions.
•I talked to Steve Farley after the rally was over. He commented about what's going in the legislature: "It's so profoundly disappointing that there are so many important issues we need to work on here, and all we talk about are wedge issues." He shook his head and said [paraphrasing], Yesterday was Anti-abortion Day. Today is Anti-immigrant Day. Soon it will be Anti-Environment Day.
•Bruce Wheeler was of the same mind as Farley. He said, "Critical issues like education and job development are being sacrificed on the altar of wedge issues meant to divide us."