RACINE - Union members took their anger over Gov. Scott Walker's union overhaul to the streets Monday, including the one on which state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, lives.
Racine Education Association and Kenosha Education Association members and several students picketed in front of Wanggaard's home at 1246 Blaine Ave. Monday evening. Twenty minutes after the protest began, about 45 people marched in front of Wanggaard's house chanting, "Union yes, Walker no!"
Walker's budget repair bill proposal would nearly end collective bargaining rights for all public employees except police officers, firefighters and state troopers. Some unions call it the Attack on Working Families Bill.
Wanggaard did not return calls to his cell phone for comment Monday.
REA Executive Director Steve Urso said the picketing was called "because we want everyone to know this is a significant change in Wisconsin law in the direction of government in this state; this is now usurping local control. This is not going to fix his budget."
Even if the collective bargaining overhaul shored up local budgets, Urso said municipalities are not going to be sending checks to the state. And pension contributions are rolled into a total contract package.
"We want (Wanggaard) to know there will be eyes on him," Urso said. "He's our representative just as much as he represents anyone else in this community."
Urso said Racine Unified School District's 1,630 teachers and 450 education assistants know a too-rich contract settlement will mean layoffs.
"Where's the public debate on all of this?" he asked. "Where's the public discourse on all of this?"
KEA Executive Director Joe Kiriaki said that union started Sunday by picketing at Republican state Rep. Samantha
Kerkman's Town of Randall home. "She was quoted in the Kenosha News Saturday saying that desperate times require desperate measures, and we have to fix this budget deficit," Kiriaki said. "I don't think she's feeling much pain."
Kerkman's 66th Assembly District includes the city and town of Burlington in Racine County, all of western Kenosha County except Wheatland, and nearly all of the Town of Somers in eastern Kenosha County.
Kiriaki said about 400 KEA members, including himself, live in the
Racine area, making it the second-largest union in Wanggaard's district.
He said about Walker, "It's pretty clear he's intoxicated with power, based on the approach he's taking, trying to slaughter public employee unions."
Bob Novine, who lives on the other side of Blaine Avenue from Wanggaard, came out to briefly watch the picketers. "I'm all for Gov. Walker," he said.
Novine said educators do a good job, but few people he knows get
"I think we have to take a pretty serious step," he added. "I don't want this state to go bankrupt like California."