Twenty-four delegates from seven UE locals in Wisconsin
gathered in the state capital on May 25 for the state’s first UE Political
Action Day in many years.
The delegates had face-to-face meetings with a number of state
legislators, generally receiving a good reception from their presentation of
UE’s "New Priorities" program for Wisconsin. Lawmakers made a firm
commitment to back the union on issues of concern to working people
In particular, delegates from Local 1193 returned to their
jobs at St. Mary’s Nursing Home in Milwaukee with pledges from legislators
that they would back UE's position on issues raised during their meetings.
The UE delegates presence was welcomed by Phillip L.
Neuenfeldt, secretary-trreasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and by Rep.
Spencer Coggs (D., Milwaukee). "We are vastly outspent up here in
Madison by the very wealthy business interests," said Neuenfeldt.
"That’s why we need unions like UE to be here to defend working
"The powers that be use everything at their disposal to
control working people — that’s why it’s important for you to be
here," declared Rep. Coggs. The legislator, a former union leader, gave
his 100 percent backing to the UE Wisconsin legislative program.
Among the legislators who had a positive response to the union
program was Terry Lesser from the Sparta area. Small farmers are being
battered by NAFTA, he said. Apparently heir to a legacy of progressive
Republican politics in the Badger state, Lesser agreed with the UE stance on
prison labor and so-called "paycheck protection" legislation.
Delegates were also addressed by UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob
Clark, District 11 Pres. Carl Rosen and Political Action Dir. Chris
Townsend, who reviewed the agenda and the issues.
At the wrap-up session, District Pres. Rosen asked if the
union should have a Wisconsin political action day next year. Every hand went
UE Wisconsin members called for:
In addition, union delegates said, legislators should take
immediate action to modify the impact of Act 27, scheduled for final
implementation on Oct. 1. The Department of Health and Family Services is
mandated to conduct background checks on more than 300,000 Wisconsin
health care workers, for the purpose of barring anyone who has been
convicted of both minor and major offenses — regardless of workers’
actual job performances, and without any statute of limitations. Delegates
said the legislature should immediately suspend implementation of Act 27,
which would allow time for key modifications such as the "grandfathering"
of hundreds of thousands of current workers.