Rallies Across PA Held in Support of Wisconsin Union Workers, Gov. Scott Walker
By Christina Gongaware, Contributing Writer
Thousands of supporters across the state joined together through the weekend, protesting efforts in Wisconsin by Republican Gov. Scott Walker to eliminate collective bargaining rights for unionized state employees. With these rallies also came counter-protesters, stressing that Governor Walker is taking needed steps to balance the state budget.
In Harrisburg, over 1,000 gathered on the steps of the State Capitol to support the role of unions. The rally was organized by groups such as Keystone Progress, whose chair declared that “some of the basic things every worker considered a ‘right,’ such as weekends and paid holidays, were generated through union organizing.”
“Right now the American dream is slipping away for millions of us, and we’re here today to say enough is enough. It’s time for our government to work for us, and not just corporations and millionaires,” said Michael Morrill, Executive Director of Keystone Progress.
Roughly 50 counter-protesters were also present, including Jim Denlinger, who said he did not support the unions members’ cause because, “I consider unions to be backing fundamental socialism and communism.”
The grassroots conservative groups that organized the counter-protest say that they stand for taxpayers’ rights and that collective bargaining only hurts taxpayers’ wallets.
Meanwhile, in downtown Pittsburgh, hundreds of union members rallied with the theme of “We Are One.” Twenty five union representatives also collected outside Pittsburgh City Council’s meeting room to stress, as Councilwoman Natalia Ridiak said, that the governor has, “set about his warpath.”
“When it’s open season on the workers of Wisconsin … it’s going to be open season on Pennsylvania pretty soon,” said Pittsburgh Councilman Doug Shields.
Tea Party supporters also organized downtown in support of Gov. Scott Walker and his attempts to cut the budget.
“We wanted to make sure that the taxpayers voice didn’t get lost in all of this because ultimately, particularly when public sector unions are concerned, the decisions that are made we end up paying the bill,” said Janet Cook, Tea Party organizer.
Also, at Love Park in Philadelphia, around 1,000 supporters came together as a dozen speakers argued that Gov. Scott Walker was attempting to destroy the middle class. The crowd was made up of teachers, police and firefighters, city and state employees, elected officials and union leaders, among others. Signs included slogans that read, “Cut bonuses, not teachers,” and “Unions make us strong.”