“We’re Not the Problem”

Union members and others sympathetic to the cause of organized labor gathered in Civic Center Plaza today to show their solidarity with workers in Wisconsin. Rallies took place in state capitals across the country and in major cities including New York, Chicago, and here in San Francisco.

Diane Browne, President of the Richmond Local Teachers Union, said “I appreciate the leadership and courage of those in Wisconsin standing up for working conditions and for our right to collectively bargain, which is ultimately for the benefit of our students and our future students. I am proud to be a teacher right now.”

Browne said she was inspired by her fellow teachers in Wisconsin, and feels that public sector unions are being scapegoated.

“We’re not the problem.” She pointed to fraud on Wall Street as the cause of the budget woes which are forcing cuts to local government across the country. Pensions, as well as local funds generally, have been hit hard by the economic crisis following the collapse of the housing bubble.

“We have to make sure that people understand that the problems are not due to the teachers.”

She said she was hoping labor leaders would do whatever it takes to push back attacks on organized labor.

“I’m hoping for a call for a general strike. I think it will be a hard fight, but I think in the end we will win.”

“When people like David Koch own the government, things have gotten so corrupt there’s no point even having a government.”

Bruman came out from Berkeley to show his disgust with the Koch family—pronounced “coke” he explained. And who are the Kochs?

“The Kochs are some of the richest people in America. They started with oil and energy first, then started buying into different businesses; now there’s hardly an industry they don’t have their hands in.”

The Koch brothers, Charles and David, are billionaires, among the world’s wealthiest men. According to analysis in Reuters among other places, they are largely responsible for funding anti-union efforts in several states. In Wisconsin, they donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican Scott Walker’s gubernatorial campaign and a million to an organization that targeted Walker’s opponent.

“The problem,” Bruman said, “is these politicians who pretend to be for the public interest, but all they really care about is corporate interests.”

Last edited: June 2, 2011

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