February 21, 2011


A State Patrol estimated crowd of 2,000 Federation members and members of other unions jammed the rotunda of the state Capitol in Olympia Monday to show solidarity with Wisconsin’s public workers’ fight against attempts to strip them of collective bargaining and union rights.And they got a spirited tip of the hat from Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, two-time candidate for president.

The Olympia rotunda rally sends a message “that at this moment when workers all around America are asking if there is going to be anybody who is going to stand in solidarity with them, that you are the vanguard of solidarity….You are part of a wave that is growing, a powerful, human wave,” said Kucinich, who was in Olympia for several speaking engagements. 


“This is a watershed moment in our history, the labor movement and in this country,” Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson said.

Cheers went up as Federation President Carol Dotlich announced that two-thirds of WFSE/AFSCME members voted to offer sanctuary to the “Wisconsin 14,” the Wisconsin Senate Democrats who fled the state to thwart Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to steamroll over public workers.

“And if Scott Walker succeeds in ending worker rights in Wisconsin, the birthplace of public servants’ liberty, it could happen here,” Dotlich said.
The crowd filled four levels of the Capitol with a sea of AFSCME Green behind the speakers’ rostrum.

They rocked the dome with chants of “Put People First” and “Union busting is disgusting.”
Dotlich noted we have a governor “who is not afraid of collective bargaining” and was able to negotiate $330 million in savings.

“But if Scott Walker gets his way, other governors may be deluded into thinking that collective bargaining is a threat and they may advocate tyranny over talking,” she said.
“The reality is, those in power from Wisconsin to Washington want to blame you, the working people, for the budget mess,” Dotlich added.

“Corporations are doing everything they can to break unions,” Kucinich said. “Corporations are doing everything they can to knock down wages. Corporations are doing everything they can to get rid of benefits, to get rid of retirement. But you are the answer….You are the last line of defense in a democracy….

“Workers have a right to organize. A right to collective bargaining. A right to decent wages and benefits, a right to retirement, a right to safety in the workplace. …. You have a right to a job and you have a right to participate in the political process. And it is your participation that is going to change this political process all across America.”

Several legislators spoke up for public servants.

“I can absolutely assure you that if there is any thought in this legislative body to attack these collective bargaining rights I will be there as well as many (others),” said Sen. Steve Conway of the 29th District.

“Public service is what made us great,” said Rep. Chris Reykdal of the 22nd District. “We are not great despite it, we are great because of it.”

‘We have a budget crisis,” said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown of the 3rd District. “We have an economic crisis. It’s serious. And it’s not going away quickly. And we’re going to have to make some really tough decisions. But let’s not (balance them) on the rights of public workers to collectively bargain.

The rally ended with the crowd singing a special version of the Wisconsin state song, “On Wisconsin.” Watch the video on our YouTube Channel "WFSEc28." We posted it so the entire world knows that Federation members and the Labor Movement in Washington state know what Solidarity stands for.
Here are the special lyrics:

On Wisconsin! Fight for freedom!
Washington stands with you
We are proud state public servants
AFSCME Green and true

Go, Wisconsin! Fight Scott Walker!
We should make him flee!
‘Cuz we’re united coast to coast

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