Wisconsin UE Members
Demand New Legislative
Two weeks before the UE Wisconsin
Political Action Day, Local 1193 Pres. Laverne Ollison was taking care
of an important piece of political action on behalf of her co-workers at
St. Mary’s Nursing Home in Milwaukee. Together with home administrator
Mike Berry and UE Field Org. Mindy Williams, she testified before the
state legislature to support legislation that would make it easier for
nursing homes to improve wages of support workers. Pres. Ollison is
pictured here with Berry.
Delegates pose with
State Sen. Gwendolynne Moore. The Fourth District Senator met with
Milwaukee area delegates; for the second consecutive year, her office
provided assistance to the UE Political Action Day in Madison. From
left, Donna Gary and Cornell Brown, Local 1193, Shirley Harrison, Local
1135, Tom Dunne, Local 1172, Felicia George, Sen. Moore, Laverne Ollison,
Local 1193, and Field Org. Mindy Williams.
aggressive, energetic delegation from around the Badger State that met
with lawmakers in Madison on March 28.
Wisconsin UE’s second annual Political Action Day brought
representatives from seven locals to the State Capitol on March 28 to meet
with legislators on a range of issues of vital importance to their co-workers
and neighbors. They insisted on a new set of priorities, placing the needs of
working people before those of big business.
Support of Senate Bill 320. When
Milwaukee-based Steeltech Corporation declared bankruptcy and shut down in
October 1999, more than 40 UE members were owed back pay and vacation pay
in excess of $100,000. Current Wisconsin law gives banks first claim on
the assets of companies like Steeltech, leaving the UE members high and
dry. Senate Bill 320, sponsored by Sen. Judy Robson, (D., Beloit) would
fix this disgraceful "bankers first-workers last" situation by
moving the claims of workers against bankrupt companies to the front of
Action to Save Manufacturing Jobs. Lawmakers must
investigate the gutting of Wisconsin's manufacturing base — and propose
solutions that help protect and retain these jobs.
A Solution to Wisconsin’s Nursing Home Crisis.
With our senior population rapidly increasing, the legislature should
recognize that quality care cannot be provided with worker wage and
benefit levels at current sub-poverty levels. The legislature must craft a
comprehensive plan to provide the funding needed in order to bring all
nursing home positions up to minimum "living wage" levels.
Health Care Reform. Assembly Bill 793/Senate
Bill 308 would require health insurers to cover mental health as well as
drug and alcohol dependency treatment at the same benefit levels as other
Skills Training for Wisconsin Residents. Growing
numbers of working people are being brought to Wisconsin from all over the
world to help fill certain "shortages" of skilled labor. The
legislature should examine whether this practice of importing skilled
workers is used by business to obtain a ready-made workforce, without
having to create comprehensive training programs for tens of thousands of
Union members also raised the issue of prison labor, too, in
line with UE policy — and in response to Gov. Thompson’s call to turn
prisons into factories.
WORKERS, NOT BANKERS, FIRST
Due to the impact on UE members at Steeltech, the banking bill
was an emotional issue for the union delegation. Delegates agreed to urge
co-workers back home to call their senators and urge support of Senate Bill
Half of the UE delegates had been present last year, creating
a good mix of those with experience and those ready for an education in
The delegates had 26 appointments in all, 16 with
representatives and 10 with senators. Most lawmakers were present. Some
delegates came ready to raise issues with their legislators.
Milwaukee area UE members met with Rep. Spencer Coggs
and Sen. Gwendolynne Moore, both of whom have addressed UE National
conventions and are proven friends of working people. Both indicated they
support the UE positions on the bills of concern to union members.
The UE delegates found Sen. Gary George much less
forthcoming with commitments or full answers.
Before meeting with lawmakers, the UE delegates heard from
District 11 Pres. Carl Rosen, who discussed the importance of
state-level political action, and Political Action Dir. Chris Townsend,
who reviewed the issues.
The delegation was also addressed by Jim Cavanaugh, president
of the South Central Wisconsin Labor Council, and Matthew Rothschild,
editor of The Progressive magazine. Cavanaugh gave a report on AFL-CIO
legislative work on the state level, and applauded UE’s rank-and-file-style
of political work. Rothschild spoke to the importance of an independent,
honest, fighting news media, and brought copies of the magazine for everyone.
In attendance were representatives of Locals 1111, 1112, 1121,
1135, 1161, 1172 and 1193.
UE News - 04/00