Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker brought his anti-union message to Springfield, IL. where thousands of union members jeered his visit and contrasted Walker’s Republican politics to those of another Republican and Springfield’s most renowned son Abe Lincoln.
Linda Morris-Cooley joined with members of the Printing Sector and other CWA leaders to protest the Walker appearance at the state Chamber of Commerce headquarters.
Walker’s signature on a bill that severely curtailed the collective bargaining rights of public- sector unions has made him an enemy to organized labor nationwide. More than half a million Wisconsin voters have signed a petition to recall Walker in the November general election.
Shelley Brown, an unemployed resident of Decatur, stood outside the hotel brandishing a sign featuring a giant middle finger that was surrounded by the words: “ Scott Walker Go Home.”
“Scott Walker is a union buster, and he signs laws that are against women’s rights. He’s trouble,” Brown said. “ We don’t need him in Illinois. He did enough in Wisconsin.” Springfield police estimated that 3,500 to 4,000 people attended the rally, said Ernie Slottag, the city’s communications director. Walker’s efforts to restrict bargaining rights were an obvious target at Tuesday’s rally, but some of his other policies drew the protesters’ ire as well.
Robert Guy, state director of the United Transportation Union-Illinois Legislative Board, criticized Walker’s decision to forego federal funding of high-speed rail between Madison, Wis., and Milwaukee, which he said cost Wisconsin residents hundreds of jobs.
“That’s not only snubbing the president, that’s also snubbing the residents of Wisconsin,” Guy said.
In April, Walker signed legislation that repealed a 2009 law that gave workers, especially women, more legal avenues to fight wage discrimination.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” said Jim Alderson, a retired Illinois Department of Transportation worker, about what some rally-goers called Walker’s “war on women.”
The “Unwelcome Walker” rally featured a number of union officials and labor supporters from Illinois and Wisconsin who praised the values of unions.
“This nation was built on blood, sweat and tears. Since 1870, one of the forces behind the blood, sweat and tears was labor unions,” said the Rev. T. Ray McJunkins, pastor of Union Baptist Church at 1405 E. Monroe St. “ The voice of the labor union, the strength of the labor union, is the ability to sit down at the conference table and collectively bargain for fairness and equality.”