We had a “little” labor rally in my hometown, Superior, and while we may have had about 200 people there, it sure seemed like we had 100,000. It was noisy, raucous, educating and awesome.
It seems that the University of Wisconsin-Superior, my alma mater, wants to outsource 20-some custodial jobs. That set off a firestorm that brought in people from Milwaukee, Madison, Eau Claire, Minnesota and River Falls. I’m sure I missed a few places, my sincere apologies.
People like Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO was there, as was Martin (Marty) Beil, executive director of Council 24, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Both gave rousing speeches, and for once, I was not bored. I actually enjoyed listening to them, as well cheering, chanting and clapping.
They talked about union sisterhood and brotherhood, and while some think we aren’t doing so well, it just ain’t true. They addressed the serious matter of outsourcing, how it will hurt not just UWS, but all UW campuses as well, and this union busting will turn around, starting in Superior. The crowd just went wild; we cheered, we stomped, we clapped and we waved our pro-union, anti-Koch, anti-union-busting signs and one thing is clear: We’re not going away.
We took a “little” hike down Belknap Avenue, about two miles, weather was great and as we moved right along, we chanted, we waved at those wonderful people driving by, and they in turn honked and waved. They returned the favor. So picture this:
A warm sunny day, a whole bunch of us marching down the sidewalk, waving our signs, and streams of people driving by, honking their horns, waving at us, and cheering us on. If anyone of them showed any disrespect, I didn’t see it.
At some point, I turned to Union Brother Dean Scanlon and said: “This is my hometown and I’ve never been as proud of Superior as I am today.” The same goes for all those great folks who showed up in support, but at that moment, my heart was with Superior. It still is.
So we marched down to the UWS campus, listened and cheered to some more speeches, and went home.
Was it worth it?
My thanks to Brother Scanlon for sticking to me like glue; he did a great job of babysitting. It seems that some folks, like my wife, were concerned about my health. Obviously, I survived it.
I’ll leave you with this: When somebody told me that going on that march could be hazardous to my health, well, that did it. I went.lican ticket for the 7th Congressional District in Wisconsin.