Friday, 11 March 2011

Wisconsin Update (March 11/11)

Mike Elk, who along with Mother Jones has been providing great coverage of events in Wisconsin, has some details on the 'Move Your Money' campaign.
M&I Bank is the largest bank in Wisconsin, and was the recipient of $1.7 billion in TARP bailout money from the federal government. The bundled contributions from M&I executives were Walker’s second largest source of campaign funds. According to records provided by the Sunlight Foundation, executives at M&I Bank gave $46,308 to Walker’s campaign. And now, a group of local unions in Wisconsin have threatened to pull their money from M&I Bank unless it denounces Scott Walker’s attack on workers’ rights.

“Walker and his henchmen in the GOP have chosen to ignore the people of Wisconsin, but we all know now that they will listen to their big money donors,” says factory worker David Goodspeed, union member of Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 565."This is an opportunity for donors like M&I to be good corporate citizens and do what’s right for the citizens who bailed them out.”

Firefighters said they withdrew $182,000 (or $192,000 -- number varies) from the bank yesterday and are encouraging others to do the same.

When I blogged on this yesterday, I was wrong. The Bank of Montreal doesn't own M&I yet.
A senior union researcher estimates that unions have at least $1 billion invested in M&I Bank, mostly through pension funds. Discussions are going on at the highest levels of the labor movement about how exactly to leverage this financial clout in the political debate in Wisconsin. Since the Bank of Montreal is in process of purchasing M&I Bank, US unions have reached out to the Canadian Labour Congress to urge their involvement in a disinvestment campaign.

Some photos of the demonstration outside the bank here.

Scott Wanker signed the illegally passed union-busting bill this morning in private, but will hold a public ceremonial signing this afternoon, I guess, to rub salt in the wounds of working people.

Having lost this battle, activists are now concentrating on recalling ReThug senators.

The process isn't easy and only two pols have been successfully recalled in state history. There's a formula for how many signatures required depending on the last vote.
Signature gathering is a laborious and costly process that challenges even the best organizations. And, you can be assured that Republicans will try to disqualify as many of the petition signers as possible -- meaning that recall advocates will need well in excess of 15,000 [for each pol] just to be safe.

But, Democrats insist they are well on their way -- having already collected 15 percent of the signatures they needed over the weekend. Liberal groups say that have raised close to $2 million dollars in support.

There's an online poll there at WaPo and currently 71% think the recall will succeed.

Meanwhile, in case anyone still had a lingering doubt about what this bill is really meant to do, a dim-witted ReThug spilled the beans on live telly.
In an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly moments ago, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI), one of Walker’s closest allies in the legislature, confirmed the true political motive of Walker’s anti-union push.

Here's what the ijit said (video at the link):
FITZGERALD: Well if they flip the state senate, which is obviously their goal with eight recalls going on right now, they can take control of the labor unions. If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.

It's a two-fer! Reduce the power of unions for your political masters AND your corporate masters. Win-win.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow, another rally will be held. And the farmers are coming! On their tractors! They're calling it Tractorcade.

The hardy tweeps of Wisconsin are joking about the weather forecast for tomorrow. It's going to be warm! 40 degrees F! That's about 4.5 in celsius.

Tractorcade is slated to start at 11 a.m. (Central). I'll look for and post a live feed. The main rally is later but I don't want to miss the farmers.

Organizers are hoping for the biggest rally yet -- at least 100,000 people.

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