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WEEKEND UPDATES: The War Against Workers and other stories

February 26, 2011


Nurses will picket Washington Hospital Center again


Nurses at Washington Hospital Center to hold one-day strike: Registered nurses at Washington Hospital Center (WHC), the largest hospital in Washington, DC voted to hold a one-day walkout on Friday, March 4. The vote came after three days of negotiations that the RNs say will not resolve their concerns regarding serious patient safety problems and nursing standards at the hospital. Talks are scheduled to continue this week. The 1,650 nurses, members of National Nurses United (NNU), also object to attempts to cut nurses’ pay and benefits, and charge that the company violated federal labor law in implementing cuts in workplace and economic standards. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO will be marching with the nurses and so will I as a long-time patient at WHC.

Strong>Ekos2 has several posts on my recent stays at the hospital and my serious concerns about the imposition of the administration’s plans to cut nurses pay and benefits on the hospital’s nursing capacity, the morale of nurses and the safety and well being of patients.


Natural Gas Transmission Lines: Devastation or Opportunity? New article by Henry S. Cole, Ph.D. posted on Courage PAC. The nation’s delivery system for natural gas is aging, obsolete, deteriorating and dangerous. Modernizing the system will prevent explosions and fires and create hundreds of thousands of desperately needed jobs in communities in Ohio and across the U.S. Without the necessary investment the recent rash of explosions – often fatal – is likely to deteriorate as the pipelines continue to age and budgets for inspection shrivel. Is your neighborhood next?

Jennifer Brunner, Ohio's first woman Secretary of State and founder of Courage PAC


Courage PAC is an Ohio Political Action Committee that supports progressive causes and leaders. Founded by Jennifer Brunner, former Secretary of State of Ohio, its purpose is to encourage advocacy and citizen activism. Courage PAC is focused on citizen involvement on issues such as financial reform, fair elections and redistricting and accountable and transparent government. As Ohio’s Secretary of State (2007-2011) and Ohio’s first and only woman Secretary of State she accomplished the herculean task of reforming Ohio’s election process, widely seen as unfair to minority communities that tend to vote Democratic. For her achievements Ms. Brunner earned a Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in 2008 for her work. En-Courage you to check out Courage PAC. (No pun intended).


Friday: the Wisconsin Assembly voted to pass the Republican “budget-balancing bill.” The bill if enacted by the GOP-ruled Senate would deprive public sector workers of their long-held collective bargaining rights. Democrats and 4 Republicans voted against passage. The measure passed 51-17. However, the vote taken just after 1 AM was taken when many members were sleeping and 28 members were too late to register their votes.

Three cheers for the Democratic state Senators who have left the state in order to avoid a quorum. And for the tens of thousands of protesters who show no sign of giving in the GOP’s attempt to bust unions. To see to see a series of photos taken by University of Wisconsin-Parkside faculty members Wendy Miller and Gary Wood and others. Go to Wisconsin State Capital Protests Page. See also Wendy’s son Miles Kristan interviewed on Madison area TV.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker


Saturday: My way or the highway Walker: According to an article in today’s Washington Post, Gov. Scott Walker threatened to trigger as many as 12,000 layoffs beginning next week unless lawmakers enact his plan to strip public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights. So much for job creation. See article by Michael Fletcher.

Wisconsinites see it differently: A survey this week of Gannett Wisconsin Media readers found that a large majority side with unions and Democratic senators in their stalemate with Gov. Scott Walker, and an overwhelming majority believe police and firefighter benefits need to be part of the debate.

Recall Action by Utah Group? Meanwhile a Utah-based group the American Recall Coalition, a group based in Utah, filed paperwork Tuesday to start a recall action against the Democratic Senators who refuse to be bullied by Walker and his GOP allies. Talk about outside agitators!

Support from New Jersey: Thousands of public sectors workers braved driving cold rain in Trenton on Friday to show solidarity with public workers in Wisconsin and other states: “We are Wisconsin! We are Wisconsin! We are Wisconsin!” demonstrators chanted. We will be watching developments in Indiana and Ohio as well; where Tea Party-backed governors and legislatures are also attempting to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers. There have been big protests in these states as well.


Thousands in New Jersey Capital support Wisconsin public employees; photo: Bob Hennelly, WNYC

Scott Walker: No friend of transportation, no friend of jobs: According to the Huffington Post, Feb 22, 2011: Budget referees and transportation officials in Wisconsin have informed Gov. Scott Walker (R) that if he were to pass his controversial anti-union legislation into law, he could be forfeiting tens of millions of dollars in federal funds for transportation. Under a provision of federal labor law, states can risk losing federal funds if they eliminate “collective bargaining rights” that existed at the time when federal assistance was first granted.

Back in November Ekos-Squared posted an article on Mr. Walker’s intent to decline $800 billion in federal funding for a high speed rail line between the Milwaukee and the capital, Madison.  He made the announcement right after his election. The funding was obtained by former Governor Jim Doyle (D). The post also included the news that Spanish manufacturer Talgo was likely to move its production facility located in Milwaukee to a state (i.e. Illinois) that had accepted federal funding.  125 skilled Milwaukee area manufacturing workers would lose their jobs. (See video of worker demonstration).

James Cannon, electrician at Talgo's Milwaukee plant installs wiring in high-speed rail car. Photo: Kevin Harnack, Daily Reporter

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Amazed! permalink
    March 2, 2011 10:08 pm

    War against workers? Who are they trying to kid? They have good paying jobs during one of the highest periods of unemployment in this country’s recent history. What they are doing is nothing less than a slap in the face to every man and woman who has been scraping by on unemployment for months or years!

    Please nurses, wake up, send your union packing and get back to work feeding your families.

    • Henry S. Cole, Ph.D. permalink*
      March 2, 2011 10:32 pm

      There is indeed a slap in the face; but its the middle class that’s getting the slapped, badly. “Amazed” would really be amazed if he were a nurse who had worked for 15 years on the night shift and was now told that his salary would be slashed by $10,000. He would be amazed if he were parent whose child’s school were closed because a governor or Congressman believed that tax cuts for the wealthy were more important than education. I would also ask Amazed how it is that the wealthiest nation on the planet can’t afford to repair its roads, can’t afford to pay its nurses, can’t afford to pay firefighters, etc. The answer is pretty clear; money that used to go to middle class and investments in basic needs is now going into the pockets of millionaires and billionaires, largely as a result of shrinking tax rates for those with the highest incomes. See future posts for further details of the war against the middle class by the elite and the growing gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us.

  2. February 27, 2011 4:26 pm


    As usual great coverage of what’s going on. Please investigate another aspect of Gov. Walker’s brothers Koch inspired and funded madness: Provisions in the same bill that would take away collective bargaining that would allow the state to sell off, without bid, any state owned power plants.

    See Paul Krugman in 2/25/2011 NY Times:

  3. February 26, 2011 5:48 pm

    Hank, great work on the coverage of issues affecting the everyday lives of people. Readers of Courage PAC’s website have liked and recommended your article on natural gas explosions on Facebook to their friends. Thanks for what you do. Jennifer

  4. Dorene Frey Sefack permalink
    February 26, 2011 5:20 pm

    Hi Hank,

    Coming to the reunion in September??

    • Henry S. Cole, Ph.D. permalink*
      March 2, 2011 10:41 pm

      Hope to!

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