STANFORD, Conn. - As Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker was wined and dined by Republicans inside the swanky Stamford Hilton hotel, outside a giant 12 foot rat and corporate pig attracted honks of support as demonstrators chanted "Scotty Walker what a joke! He's in love with the Brothers Koch!"
Members of a dozen unions and community groups organized the protest to make it clear that the voters of Connecticut will not tolerate corporate attempts to enact anti-union "right to work" laws in this state.
Josh Herty, who moved to Connecticut after losing his job in Wisconsin under Walker's budget cutting policies, told the crowd, "Not only did I lose my job, many people with an education are unemployed in Wisconsin because there are no jobs to be had now. Scott Walker, go home!"
Rene Soto, community organizer with the Stamford immigrant organization CRISOL (Coalition of Residents and Immigrants in Solidarity), declared that as someone who is opposed to immigration reform, "Walker is not welcome here."
"It was a shame what you did in Wisconsin," said Harold Brooks, vice president of AFSCME Local 3144 whose members filled a bus from New Haven. "It's immoral to pay low wages. It's immoral to take away dignity and contractual rights from workers. I stand with my union to protect bargaining rights for all!"
John Olsen, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO decried Walker for refusing federal funds for mass transit in his state. "Anyone who turns down funding because of ideology should be run out of office," declared Olsen, urging those present to make their voices heard at the ballot box for worker-friendly candidates.
A video promo for the annual Republican dinner lauded Walker, attacked Olsen and called on Connecticut to do away with unions. At the dinner, featuring probable Republican candidates for Governor in 2016, Jerry Labriola, chair of the state Republican Party said Walker "could be a role model for how we solve our problems."
Walker's policies have cut funding for public schools, for health care, and for services that public workers provide to the community in Wisconsin. As a result Wisconsin is 44th in the nation for job creation.
Prior to Governor Walker and the Republican legislature, Wisconsin was one of the most progressive states in the nation with all major positions held by Democrats.
With the election of Governor Danell Malloy and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy in Connecticut, Republican leaders openly hope for the same flip here. They welcomed the opportunity to take Walker's message nation wide.
The Walker plan has been devastating for all working class and rural communities, cutting taxes for millionaires, cutting funds for public education and health care, and blocking wind power and a federally funded high speed rail project.
Walker's allies in Wisconsin's Republican legislature even attempted to place additional restrictions on what food items can be purchased with food stamps. In stark contrast, Sen. Murphy is making headlines this week as he lives on a food stamp budget of $4.80 a day to protest possible budget cuts.
"We don't need Scott Walker here," said Dave Roche, president of the Connecticut State Council of Building Trades. Referring to the funding by the right-wing Koch brothers of Walker's campaign, Roche added, "The Koch brothers are trying to buy newspapers here in Connecticut. We say, get the hell out!"
Photo: Sue Peacock/Flickr (CC)