And, IEA supports them in that stance.
“We are disappointed in the outcome of Tuesday’s election,” said WEAC President Mary Bell. “Defeating a sitting governor was an uphill battle, yet despite this electoral defeat we have accomplished a lot educating and informing the people of Wisconsin about public education, workers’ rights and the need to restore honest government.”
Walker’s campaign was fueled by millions of dollars in out-of-state, corporate contributions that were given to him in an effort to support his stance against labor and the working class. He outspent opponent Tom Barrett $31 million to $4 million.
Last year, with Walker at the helm of a Republican-controlled House and Senate, Wisconsin ended collective bargaining and dealt numerous financial blows to public employees in the state.
“We support our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin and we will continue to do so as they fight to restore the rights of the state’s working class,” said Cinda Klickna, IEA president. “We are proud of the work they’ve done and continue to do. We have their backs in their quest to advocate for students, workers and communities.”
In fact, numerous IEA employees traveled to Wisconsin to help in the election efforts.
“Canvassing door to door in the community was a very good experience to see that democracy is alive in Wisconsin!” said Nicole Rethamel, an IEA UniServ Director in Rockford.
“It was my pleasure to serve Wisconsin this past week. Organizing and educating the community to GOTV was a great experience that I will share with my colleagues here in Illinois. Organizing members and the community is what the unions are all about. Let’s not wait until we lose collective bargaining to organize.”
All is not lost, however, as John Lehman, a former teacher and a retired NEA and WEAC member, was elected to the state’s Senate. His election helped shift control of the Wisconsin State Senate to the Democrats, stripping Walker of his ability to run roughshod over the rights of so many in his state.
Scott Rude, a UniServ Director from Sterling who worked on both the Tom Barrett gubernatorial and Lehman senatorial campaigns, said he also felt rewarded by the experience and believes we in Illinois can learn a lot from Wisconsin.
“Looking back, I feel great for being a part of all of it, but what I would truly like to convey is that we are in the first stages of a battle to preserve the rights for workers – all workers -throughout this country,” he said.
“So I strongly encourage everyone to get to work now. Build or expand your coalitions now. Heed the call wherever it comes from to help out. Your reward will be the very democracy that many of us have taken for granted.”