Walker’s revenge felt by Wisconsin workers

In the latest development in the war on Wisconsin workers – which in itself is a leading battlefield in the wider war on workers in the U.S. – three groups of Badger State workers have been disciplined for opposing GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

The latest group consists of 25 newspaper workers, punished this month just for signing the petitions that forced the Jun. 5 recall election against Walker. Eight workers at the Wisconsin State Journal were disciplined, as were workers at the Gannett chain’s papers in Appleton and Green Bay. None of the 25 had union representation. The sanctions were not specified. Gannett said its workers “violated ethical standards.”

Unions led the recall campaign, which turned in more than a million signatures on the petitions, after Walker’s 2011 law killed collective bargaining rights for 200,000 state and local government workers.

The newspaper workers, whose names – along with everyone else’s – were disclosed by the state board that certified the petitions, join two groups of workers disciplined last April for participating in the Feb. 18, 2011 protest against Walker’s law.

The state affiliate of the National Education Association represents one of those groups, teachers in Hudson. The other workers’ group that got hit were 11 faculty members at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School.

The teachers called in sick and participated in the largest of the mass protests at the state capital against Walker’s law. The school claimed it could not find substitutes and had to close the schools involved. Two months later, the school board handed out unpaid suspensions ranging from one day to 15 days.

The board imposed longer terms on teachers who encouraged colleagues to call in sick or discussed the elimination of collective bargaining rights with the media, news reports said. The union, which has had to cut its staff in half after Walker’s law also yanked dues collections, was unable to return phone calls about the Hudson case.

The medical school disciplined the doctors for distributing sick leave notes to other workers who needed them to join the Feb. 18, 2011 protest. The punishment ranged from written reprimands to loss of pay. The state medical board also disciplined seven other doctors for signing similar sick leave notes for other workers. The state medical society, a private group, said doctors who signed the sick leave notes “threatened the public’s trust in the medical profession.”

Photo: Megamarch, Madison, Wisc.. March 12. John Bachtell/PW Megamarch, Madison, Wisc.. March 12. John Bachtell/PW 



Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.