Local WE ARE ONE Rallies

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, where he had gone to stand with sanitation workers demanding their dream: The right to bargain collectively for a voice at work and a better life. The workers were trying to form a union with AFSCME.

Beginning with worship services over the April 1 weekend, and continuing through the week of April 4, unions, people of faith, civil and human rights activists, students and other progressive allies will host a range of community- and workplace-focused actions.

Join us in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and dozens of other states where well-funded, right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life for: the freedom to bargain, to vote, to afford a college education and justice for all workers, immigrant and native-born. It’s a day to show movement. Teach-ins. Vigils. Faith events. A day to be creative, but clear: We are one.

If you live in Dwight, there are four rallies fairly close:

If you live in the Pontiac area:

If you live in the Kankakee area:

I’ll be at the Kankakee event from 5’ish to about 6’ish. Hope to see you there.

Wisconsin judge says union law not in effect – Chicago Sun-Times

A Wisconsin judge has ruled the state’s explosive new collective bargaining law is not in effect.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued a restraining order earlier this month preventing the secretary of state from publishing the law, typically the last step before it takes effect. Republicans pushing the bill convinced another state office to publish it and declared the law was in effect.

Sumi issued a declaration on Thursday morning saying the law wasn’t properly published and isn’t in effect.

via Wisconsin judge says union law not in effect – Chicago Sun-Times.

Ohio House to vote on collective bargaining limits – Yahoo! News

An Ohio bill that would limit collective bargaining rights for 350,000 public workers was poised for a vote before the Republican-controlled House on Wednesday, one of its final hurdles before the measure goes to the governor.

The vote comes a day after a legislative committee approved changes to make the bill even tougher for unions. Met with chants of “Shame on you!” from nearby protesters, the GOP-backed revisions greased the measure for what was expected to be smooth passage in the House.

The Senate, also controlled by Republicans, narrowly passed the bill on a 17-16 vote this month. It would have to agree to the revisions before Gov. John Kasich could sign it into law.

Kasich, a first-term Republican, supports the proposal and is comfortable with the changes, his spokesman said.

Contentious debates over restricting collective bargaining have popped up in statehouses across the country, most notably in Wisconsin, where the governor signed into law this month a bill eliminating most of state workers’ collective bargaining rights. That measure exempts police officers and firefighters; Ohio’s does not.

The Ohio bill would apply to public workers across the state, such as police officers, firefighters, teachers and state employees. They could negotiate wages and certain work conditions but not health care, sick time or pension benefits. The bill would do away with automatic pay raises and would base future wage increases on merit. Workers would also be banned from striking.

Read the full article here: Ohio House to vote on collective bargaining limits – Yahoo! News.

Judge Blocks Wisconsin Anti-Union Law (Again) | TPMDC

A week and a half ago, Judge Sumi blocked the law on procedural grounds, ruling that a key conference committee used to advance the bill — and to get around the state Senate Dems’ walkout from the state — had violated the state open-meetings law by failing to give proper 24-hours notice. The judge’s order “restrain[ed] and enjoin[ed] the further implementation” of the law, including the prevention of Secretary of State Doug LaFollette (D) from publishing the act in the Wisconsin State Journal. The Journal acts as the state’s official newspaper for the purpose of giving the public official notice of new laws — the final step for the law to take effect. That decision is now going through an appeals process, which remains up in the air.

This past Friday, however, state Republicans had the bill published by a different state agency — the Legislative Reference Bureau, which handles drafting and research for the legislature — according to the LRB’s statutory requirement to publish legislation within ten days of enactment. Notably, the LRB itself has said that this publication does not constitute action that would put the law into effect. But state Republican leaders, including Walker’s office and the state Attorney General, say that the law is now in effect.

And Monday, the Walker administration announced that it was now carrying out the law, with government employees’ paychecks starting on April 21 to contain deductions for contributions to their health care and pensions — and to no longer deduct union dues.

As for today’s proceedings, they focused mainly on taking testimony about the conference committee, and about last Friday’s maneuver. LRB head Stephen Miller reaffirmed his position that the agency’s publication did not cause the law to take effect, and discussed the sequence of events that led to the current situation.

Read the rest of the article here: Judge Blocks Wisconsin Anti-Union Law (Again) | TPMDC.

Judge again blocks GOP collective-bargaining plan – JSOnline

For the second time in less than two weeks, a Dane County judge Tuesday issued an order blocking the implementation of Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to curb collective bargaining for public workers.

Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi said that her original restraining order issued earlier this month was clear in saying no steps should be take to advance the law. The GOP governor’s administration did so after the bill was published Friday by a state agency not named in Sumi’s earlier temporary restraining order.

“Further implementation of the act is enjoined,” Sumi said.

“Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was the further implementation of Act 10 was enjoined. That is what I now want to make crystal clear.”

She warned that those who violate her order could face court sanctions.

But outside the courtroom, Assistant Attorney General Steven Means said the legislation “absolutely” is still in effect.

The statement by Means – the executive assistant to Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen – shocked Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha).

“It’s just startling that the attorney general believes you should not follow court orders anymore,” he said.

In a later statement, Department of Justice spokesman Bill Cosh said: “We don’t believe that the court can enjoin non-parties. Whether the Department of Administration or other state officers choose to comply with any direction issued by Judge Sumi is up to them.”

The new restraining order bars Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette from designating a publication date for the law or running a notice about it in the official state newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. Sumi’s written order does not name anyone else.

It is in effect until further order of the court, and another hearing is slated for Friday. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat, has asked her to permanently halt the law because he believes a legislative committee violated the open meetings law when it approved the legislation.

Sumi has not yet ruled on whether lawmakers violated the open meetings law, but she noted the Legislature could resolve the litigation by passing the measure again. Republicans who control the Legislature showed no signs of considering that.

Read the rest of the article here: Judge again blocks GOP collective-bargaining plan – JSOnline.

Number of nonunion state workers dropping in Illinois – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register

It’s getting lonely at the top of Illinois state government.

In the past eight years, more than 10,000 state employees have joined unions, a four-fold increase over the previous eight years, according to records analyzed by The Associated Press.

If pending requests are approved by the Illinois Labor Relations Board, nearly 97 percent of state workers would be represented by unions — including many employees once considered management. Only 1,700 “bosses” would be left out of nearly 50,000 state employees.

While Republican governors in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states move to throttle the influence of state employee unions, the surge in Illinois’ union membership worries even traditionally union-friendly Democrats, who fear it could harm the effective management of government.

It has put them in the awkward position of trying to smother union growth even as they criticize GOP curbs elsewhere.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s office is pressing a key union to give up several thousand new members. If negotiations fail, Democratic lawmakers will likely resurrect proposed legislation to limit union-eligible jobs and rescind union coverage for thousands of people.

Read the full story here: Number of nonunion state workers dropping in Illinois – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register.

Daily Show: I Give Up – Pay Anything…

As greedy public workers bankrupt states, America makes it harder for honest corporate citizens to create jobs.

Fight over Wis. union law heads to court today – Chicago Breaking News

With Gov. Scott Walker’s administration insisting a new law eliminating most of state workers’ collective bargaining rights has gone into effect — but other state and municipal leaders disputing that — many are looking to a court hearing today for some clarity.

The latest dispute over the collective bargaining law began Friday when the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau published the law by posting it on a website, and Walker said that was all that was needed for it to take effect.

Typically, a law goes into effect when it’s published by the secretary of state, but Democrat Doug La Follette had been prevented from taking action by a temporary restraining order.

The state had appealed the restraining order, but the state’s Justice Department led by Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked to withdraw its appeal and cancel today’s hearing, saying the whole thing was moot now that the law had been published.

Walker’s administration said it was moving to implement the law Republicans pushed through earlier this month despite massive protests that drew up to 85,000 people to the state Capitol and a boycott by Democratic state senators.

Along with removing most of public employees’ collective bargaining rights, the new law requires them to pay more for their health insurance and pensions, which amounts to an 8 percent pay cut.

Walker’s top aide, Mike Huebsch, said the administration was preparing a computer program to take out the new deductions and stop the deduction of union dues on paychecks state workers will receive April 21. The Department of Administration would stop that work if a court determined the law didn’t take effect Saturday, Huebsch added.

But La Follette, the head of the office that posted the law, the Madison city attorney and others maintained the law is not in effect until the secretary of state acts.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat, filed briefs Monday evening asking the judge for just such a declaration on Tuesday. Ozanne argues the secretary of state and the reference bureau work in tandem to publish laws. The secretary of state sets the publication date and the bureau executes publication on that day, he contends.

via Fight over Wis. union law heads to court today – Chicago Breaking News.

Durbin thinks Illinois prison will be sold soon | WBEZ

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says he thinks the federal government is very close to reaching a deal with Illinois to buy an under-used prison. The state is trying to sell a maximum security prison in Thomson, Illinois.

Durbin told reporters the deal makes sense.

“The federal government needs more prison space. The State of Illinois has a surplus prison. It works,” Durbin said.

Durbin wouldn’t say how much the prison would cost. Federal officials originally looked at the prison to house detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but they have since backed off that plan.

via Durbin thinks Illinois prison will be sold soon | WBEZ.

Indiana Dems To Return Home With Big Concessions From GOPers | TPMDC

Just about a month ago, dozens of Indiana state House Democrats fled to Illinois to shut down what they said was a Republican agenda that targeted workers rights and the public schools. Now they’re set to return, having won several concessions from the GOP that will change the face of what Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) was hoping would be a signature session.

Rep. Patrick Bauer, leader of the state House Democrats, called the deal “not perfect” but said the deal shows the standoff — which shut down the state legislature in Indiana for weeks — paid off in the end.

“The principled stand by House Democrats forced concessions by the House Republicans that reflected the concerns expressed by so many people who came to the Statehouse in recent weeks,” he told TPM in a statement. “Today we can announce compromises that are great steps forward for working Hoosiers.”

Here are two big highlights from compromise, provided to TPM by a Democratic source:

• Labor: Republicans have agreed to scrap the controversial right-to-work law that led the Democrats to shut things down back on Feb. 22. Republicans have also pledged not to pass a law making the state’s existing ban on collective bargaining for state workers, created by Daniels executive order, permanent.

Daniels had suggested the legislature not take up the bill in the first place, saying he supported it but that it could “wreck” his goals of making the session about education reform and other top priorities for his administration. So the deal to take labor off the table can be seen as a victory for both the Democrats and Daniels, who’s eager to move on to other things, possibly in advance of a run for the White House.

• Education Daniels’ signature policy agenda for this legislative session was a proposal to create a state-funded private school voucher system for low- and middle-income families. That plan will be curtailed considerably in the deal with House Republicans.

The compromise calls for strict caps on the number of vouchers the state can give out the program’s first two years, denying, as a Democratic source put it, “the largest voucher program in the nation the Republicans originally wanted.” Under the new plan, vouchers will be limited to 7,500 students in the first year and 15,000 in the second year.

Other concessions in the deal call for the abandonment of plan to let private companies take over failing public schools.

Now let’s hope that both parties follow through on this compromise.

Read the full article here: Indiana Dems To Return Home With Big Concessions From GOPers | TPMDC.