Archive for Saturday, February 26, 2011

Union rally fuels Kansas Democrats

Gathering includes state’s new Democratic Party chairwoman, Joan Wagnon

February 26, 2011


Kansas Democrats pondered Saturday how to rebuild after last year’s disastrous elections but found encouragement in a rally that brought hundreds of people to the Statehouse to wave signs, sing protest songs and show support for the party’s union allies.

Democratic activists and elected officials from across the state gathered in Topeka for Washington Days, the party’s biggest annual convention. The Democratic State Committee unanimously selected former state Revenue Secretary Joan Wagnon as the party’s new state chairwoman; she’s also a former Topeka mayor and former Kansas House member.

She follows Larry Gates, an Overland Park attorney, who was chairman eight years, and she promised to travel the state to nurture local party organizations and recruit candidates, particularly for the Legislature. She acknowledged Republicans prospered last year by exploiting voter discontent with Washington and tying Kansas Democrats at all levels to President Barack Obama.

“I think we saw a lot of backlash against Obama, and quite frankly, the Republicans outflanked us,” she said after the Democrats’ meeting. “We have to reshape our message a little bit.”

For many Democrats, the “Save the American Dream” rally Saturday represented a start toward rebuilding the party. Taking a break from caucus meetings, Wagnon and other Democrats left a hotel for the south steps of the Statehouse, ignoring the chilly air and gray sky outside.

Progressive groups and unions organized such events across the nation to show solidarity with public employee unions in Wisconsin, which are fighting Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to strip them of most of their collective bargaining rights.

Kansas union members and their supporters who rallied in Topeka found plenty to criticize in their home state. Republicans last year swept all statewide and congressional races on the ballot since 1964 and increased their legislative majorities. Rally speakers suggested the result was an extreme-right, anti-worker state government.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that the Democratic base wasn’t energized in the 2010 elections,” state House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat, said after the rally. “The Republicans are doing a great job of rallying our base.”

At least 500 people participated in the event, shouting, waving signs and ending the event with energetic choruses of “This Land is Your Land,” though organizers put the count at 1,200. The Democratic Party promoted the event to activists at its convention.

Chuck Tribble, an Overland Park truck driver and International Brotherhood of Teamsters member, acknowledged being disillusioned with Democratic President Barack Obama, but he was impressed by a fiery pro-union speech Saturday from state Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka. Tribble said it typifies what Democrats need to do to reconnect with voters like him.

“They need to come out here today when stuff like this is going on, and be with us,” he said. “I’m ready. I’d stand with them in a moment.”

But Ashley McMillan, the Kansas Republican Party’s executive director, was skeptical that Democrats can reconnect with Kansas voters. She said voters will assess GOP officials on how well they create jobs and revive the economy, something they’re working to do.

Justin DeLong, a Gardner computer programmer and tea party movement participant who watched the rally, said voters gave power to Republicans because they want to move away from policies pushed by political progressives. DeLong said he’s not an opponent of unions, but he also held a sign saying his American dream was “personal responsibility.”

“It’s time to get back to fiscal responsibility,” he said. “It’s time to get our budgets under control.”

Rally speakers compared the pro-union demonstrators to protesters who’ve toppled repressive governments in Tunisia and Egypt and are threatening to do so in Libya. They described Walker’s proposal on collective bargaining in Wisconsin — which the governor says is needed to help balance that state’s budget — as part of a national attack on workers’ rights by GOP conservatives and their big-business backers.

“I’m a crazy, red-blooded Kansan that says, ’We must stand together,’” said rally speaker Teresa Molina, a Wichita high school Spanish teacher and board president of a local service and advocacy group, Sunflower Community Action.

Union members see a Wisconsin-style political attack in a Kansas bill prohibiting unions from automatically deducting money from workers’ paychecks for labor groups’ political activities. The state House approved it this past week.

The bill’s supporters see it as protecting workers from being required to contribute to campaigns they don’t support. Opponents of the bill say workers always can opt out of paycheck deductions and see the measure as an attempt to cripple unions’ fundraising and political influence.

“It’s spreading all over the country,” said Dan Holland, a Kansas City, Kan., truck driver and Teamster. “They’re trying to bust the labor unions because that’s the major — only, last major — form of financial support and boots on the ground that the Democratic Party has.”

Dozens of union members shouted from the House gallery to members, urging them to oppose the bill as it came up for a final vote. Capitol Police officers and doorkeepers told them to leave the gallery and then escorted them out.

Amid allegations that union members had shouted obscenities and vulgar sexual terms at female Republican legislators and staffers — strongly disputed by union leaders — the Kansas GOP issued a statement decrying “street tactics” by “union thugs.”

Hensley began his speech with, “You don’t look like thugs.”

“You look like Kansans,” he said. “We will not be silenced!”

McMillan contrasted the furor over the paycheck deduction bill with Kansas officials’ successful efforts in lobbying for a lucrative Air Force contract for major Kansas employer Boeing Co. While those Republicans were trying to create jobs, McMillan said, Democrats were trying to ensure that their biggest political benefactors could still funnel them campaign cash easily.

“I think Kansans are very clearly seeing that,” she said.


bisky1 3 years, 1 month ago

organized labor vs public opinion By a margin of 37 percent to 27 percent they believe unions make good jobs scarce; by 44 percent to 26 percent they say unions hamper worker productivity; and by a resounding 54 percent–to–18 percent margin they believe unions diminish American competitiveness.


Olympics 3 years, 1 month ago

"A public union employee, a tea party activist, and a CEO are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies in the middle of it. The CEO takes 11 of the cookies, turns to the tea partier and says, "Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie."


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"One of the strongest statements has come from Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, who explained “what all working families should know:”

Who caused the economic crisis? Banks, Wall Street speculators, mortgage lenders, global corporations shifting jobs from the U.S. overseas.

Who is profiting in the recession? Corporate profits, 3rd quarter of 2010, were $1.6 trillion, 28 percent higher than the year before, the biggest one-year jump in history. Meanwhile, average wages and total wages have fallen for all incomes, except the wealthiest Americans whose income grew five-fold.

Who is not paying their fair share? In U.S. states facing a budget shortfall, revenues from corporate taxes have declined $2.5 billion in the last year. In Wisconsin, two-thirds of corporations pay no taxes, and the share of state revenue from corporate taxes has fallen by half since 1981. Nationally, according to a General Accountability Study out today, 72 percent of all foreign corporations and about 57 percent of U.S. companies doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes for at least one year between 1998 and 2005. Are public employees overpaid? State workers typically earn 11 percent less, local public workers 12 percent less than private employees with comparable education and experience. Nationally, cutting the federal payroll in half would reduce spending by less than 3 percent. Would pay and benefit concessions by public employees stop the demands?The right has made it clear it wants A- cuts in public pay, pensions, and health benefits, followed by B- restricting collective bargaining for public sector workers, followed by C- prohibiting public sector unions.

Will the right be troubled if cuts in working standards make it harder to recruit teachers and other public servants? No. Take public teachers, many of whom have accepted wage freezes and other cuts in recent years. Many in the right have a fairly open goal of privatizing education, and destabilizing public schools serves this purpose. The right also salutes the shredding of government workforce, part of its overall goal to gut all government service and make it harder to crack down on corporate abuses or implement other public protections and services.

Will the right stop at curbing public workers rights? Employers across the U.S. are demanding major concessions from private sector workers, and breaking unions. Rightwing governors and state legislators are seeking new laws to restrict union rights for all private and public employees."



markoo 3 years, 1 month ago

"Union rally fuels Kansas Democrats"

Yeah, all five of us. Woo hoo, I'm fired up!


pace 3 years, 1 month ago

The "new" republicans seem to have an adversarial position with Kansas workers The destruction of not just services but infrastructure that has been built up generations of Kansans will be tragic. I agree we need to economize but raising taxes on the working person while giving cuts and loop holes to the wealthiest will impact every working person. Most of the union members in Kansas are trade, Labor deserves a strong voice at the table. Union representation helps the non union workers preserve a living wage and benefits. We will have to rebuild Kansas after this battle against working people is waged. Billionaires are paying taxes like they were millionaires between the loop holes and the cuts. The ads won't sell so well when people can't afford a television.


tbaker 3 years, 1 month ago

Government employee unions use union dues to support political campaigns. Politicians then award improved wages and benefits to the unions who supported their campaigns and send the tax payer the bill. This arrangement has been going on a very long time and in good economic times, there was enough tax revenue to pay for it. The money is no longer there to do this. At some point the parasite begins killing the host. We're reached that point. The small and shrinking minority of Americans who pay the vast majority of taxes are fed up. WI is just the beginning.


bisky1 3 years, 1 month ago

where does barney frank lie in your created by the ability mission bozo?


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

“Justin DeLong, a Gardner computer programmer and tea party movement participant who watched the rally, said voters gave power to Republicans because they want to move away from policies pushed by political progressives. DeLong said he’s not an opponent of unions, but he also held a sign saying his American dream was “personal responsibility.

”It’s time to get back to fiscal responsibility,” he said. “It’s time to get our budgets under control.”"

Amid all of this talk of "personal responsibility," folks like Mr. DeLong want to scapegoat government employees for something for which they are not responsible.

The budget crisis was not created by state employees. It was created by the ability of Wall Street to act completely irresponsibly (while taking obscene profits and salaries,) and Fox News cheers them on, whipping know-nothings like Mr. DeLong into being their happy little foot soldiers blaming it all on "progressives."


Robert Burnham 3 years, 1 month ago

Joan, It wasn't the Republicans who " outflanked " you, the voters just figured out that we aren't going to put up with politicians who spend and spend and buddy up with special interests just to stay in a cushy state job. Don't expect the taxpayers to bail you out time and time again. We're tired of it, and if you and your cronnies don't start working for us, you'll be on the street soon too!


bisky1 3 years, 1 month ago

overthemoon, wish i could pay loan back that way, i'll gladly pay you back tuesday. what crap no one knows the truth


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"McMillan contrasted the furor over the paycheck deduction bill with Kansas officials’ successful efforts in lobbying for a lucrative Air Force contract for major Kansas employer Boeing Co. While those Republicans were trying to create jobs, McMillan said, Democrats were trying to ensure that their biggest political benefactors could still funnel them campaign cash easily."

Have you ever smelled such a stinking pile of lying hypocrisy?

What jobs did they create? Well, none, actually. One branch of the government, the federal one, has chosen to spend tax dollars on one of largest piles of pork in history. And the Obama administration had much more to do with that than whomever McMillan was referring to.


toe 3 years, 1 month ago

If unions are crushed will politicians be able to reduce spending, or will they find a new excuse to blame for their over spending?


usnsnp 3 years, 1 month ago

I know all government workers make over 100,000, dont pay taxes, and have great benifits. Get your head out of the sand, most government workers are average americans and they pay just as much taxes as you do. Go tell the people that work at the DMV, pick your garbage, patrol your highways, put out your fires, try and protect our food supply, protect your country, teach your children, that they are overpayed, lazy, living off the people. If their jobs ares so good why dont you complainers try and get one.


KUrolls 3 years, 1 month ago

Government Unions are a waste of taxpayer money. They should be outlawed. Their pimping of taxpayer money claiming they are average americans is a lie. They are rich, upper middle class living off the backs of working americans. Their scare tactics reminds me of the rioting Tea Party. Their doom and gloom predictions reminds me of the Tea Party.

Greedy bankers, greedy government union and greedy Kleptocrats are the ones that brought the country to where it is today.


JHOK32 3 years, 1 month ago

Why are we not focusing on the handful of greedy bankers on wall street who brought the entire U.S. economy down with their insatiable greed? Now the poor & the middle class have to pay for their insatiable greed. School teachers have to pay for their greed? School teachers are the next "evil ones?" Get real! This is outrageous! Why are'nt these bankers in prison like Bernie Madoff? Instead, they are still making outrageous salaries & bonuses while the very taxpayers who bailed them out are losing their homes, savings, retirements, & healthcare! Isn't it bad enough that the richest 20% of our population own 80% of our entire wealth? They will not rest until they own 100% of our wealth! Is this really what our founding fathers had in mind?


jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Remember a decade ago, at the very beginning of the Bush presidency. V.P. Cheney met with a group of oil executives, behind closed doors, with the goal of establishing what America's energy policy should be. Given Cheney's past relationships to big oil and big corporations, we were all correct to be very skeptical of the outcome of those meetings. When Democrats "collectively bargain" with public sector unions, we should look at that with equal skepticism, given the relationship unions have with the Democratic Party. What I'd like to know is this; Is this just a matter of getting even? Republicans from big corporations to Wall Street bailouts have ripped off the American taxpayer and now it's our turn to rip them off. If it's tit for tat, okay, just say so. But please don't tell me that bargains reached between Democrats and unions are legitimate. They are on equally sound footing as Cheney's meetings ten years ago.


tomatogrower 3 years, 1 month ago

"But Ashley McMillan, the Kansas Republican Party’s executive director, was skeptical that Democrats can reconnect with Kansas voters. She said voters will assess GOP officials on how well they create jobs and revive the economy, something they’re working to do."

When are they going to start? Cutting education and the arts, losing thousands of jobs?Limiting abortion will revive the economy? Getting defense contracts paid for by those evil taxes they are always trying not to pay? Giving tax breaks to already wealthy people will revive the economy? Bush did that, and look what happened. Allowing corporations to treat their employees like slaves and maybe let them pollute and hire children for little or nothing will revive the economy? Well, I guess it's working in other countries, but whose economy is really being revived? That's the real question. Are the Republicans really just trying to make things even easier for rich people to get richer, or are they trying to revive the middle class? I know what the evidence is showing me. Not that the Democrats are proving to be any better.

Wake up people. Start voting according to who is funding the campaigns. Demand openness in these mysterious groups like "Americans for Prosperity". Start attending rallies supporting the people, instead of rallies propagated by some lies, like death panels, spread by celebrity politicians, and funded by people like the Koch brothers. Start voting with your dollars. Contribute to campaigns of politicians who don't want to take money from big corporations. Pay attention to what is going on around you, not what you see in some 30 second million dollar ad.


Jimo 3 years, 1 month ago

"So the unions had a rally in support of the cowards in Wisconsin who refuse to do their job and vote on a bill?"

This seems to be the talking point of the day.

What is it about Fox Propaganda viewers that keeps them from remembering what happened five minutes ago?

The GOP spent 2 years filibustering hundreds of votes in the U.S. Senate on everything under the sun including bills Republicans historically favored, bills co-sponsored by Republicans, even bills that, when a vote came, the GOP voted in favor of.

In contrast,, we have Democrats, using quorum rules that have always existed and exist everywhere, saying no to ONE bill whose entire design is to fundamentally alter political power.

Allowing the minority to veto an extreme proposal is the purpose for which quorum rules exist. Otherwise, the rule would only be that a majority be both present and voting in the affirmative.


ChasL 3 years, 1 month ago

All city employee's should unionize, looks like there's lots of support for it.


ophiuchus 3 years, 1 month ago

Governor Scott Walker... learning to crawl... ripping the stitches of that seamy underbelly.


commuter 3 years, 1 month ago

getreal- all of those programs you are talking about are funded through taxpayers how about creating less taxpayer jobs & more private jobs? Or does that go against you?

You can not continue to expand the government.


getreal 3 years, 1 month ago

Where are these jobs the GOP is supposedly creating?

They have proposed draconian cuts to education = JOB LOSSES They have proposed closing KNI = JOB LOSSES They have proposed abolishing the Arts Commission = JOB LOSSES They have proposed dispicable cuts to community mental health centers = JOB LOSSES They have proposed NO funding for early headstart = JOB LOSSES


Flap Doodle 3 years, 1 month ago

Did they have the official moveon signs in Topeka yesterday?


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"Embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has now acknowledged in a press conference and in a nationally television interview -- with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren -- that he engaged in discussions with political allies about hiring "troublemakers" to disrupt peaceful demonstrations against his budget repair bill.

"You said you thought about it?" asked Van Susteren.

"We did," replied Walker. "We had people contacting (us). I even had lawmakers and others suggesting riling things up."

Lester Pines, one of the most prominent lawyers in Madison, the Wisconsin capital city where the largest demonstrations have taken place, referred to that comment as "a scandal."

"If , in fact, they took any steps toward implementing that (plan to disrupt rallies), that's a crime," explained Pines. "If they took steps to implement that, they engaged in a conspiracy to deny people their civil rights."

After learning of the governor's comments in the Thursday interview, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, a 27-year veteran lawman, said: " I spent a good deal of time overnight thinking about Governor Walker's response, during his news conference yesterday, to the suggestion that his administration ‘thought about' planting troublemakers among those who are peacefully protesting his bill. I would like to hear more of an explanation from Governor Walker as to what exactly was being considered, and to what degree it was discussed by his cabinet members. I find it very unsettling and troubling that anyone would consider creating safety risks for our citizens and law enforcement officers. Our department works hard dialoging with those who are exercising their First Amendment right, those from both sides of the issue, to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure they can demonstrate safely. I am concerned that anyone would try to undermine these relationships. I have a responsibility to the community, and to the men and women of this department - who are working long hours protecting and serving this community -- to find out more about what was being considered by state leaders.""


Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 1 month ago

But Ashley McMillan, the Kansas Republican Party’s executive director, was skeptical that Democrats can reconnect with Kansas voters. She said voters will assess GOP officials on how well they create jobs and revive the economy, something they’re working to do.

And you know how you do that? With bills on abortion and on voter id, with bills attacking union members and bills creating new government commissions. Then let's indiscriminately slash funding for programs that create thousands of jobs because ideologically we are opposed to the arts.

Oh yeah, them GOPers are working hard to create jobs and revive the economy. Social issues aren't the real priority...


distant_voice 3 years, 1 month ago

I wasn't there, but from every report I've read or heard from every news source in the state, the Union members were loud, coarse, disruptive, and deserved to be removed. It's not surprising that Union officials and members are protesting their right to be obnoxious; they protest anyone's rights to hold any laws over them at all.

Society has long tolerated the assumed rights of Union Members to disrupt and to cause harm to both property and other people, rights they would not have if they weren't Union. Unions have a right to exist and a right to represent their members. They do not have a right to be abusive, destructive, and disruptive.

In America, we are supposed to have the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the latter of which is generally regarded as pursuing whatever legal path we choose for improving our wealth. Where unions are involved, they use their jack boots to trample these rights and, in most states, society allows them to force people to join unions just to work at certain jobs.

It is my opinion that the State acted within its rights to have these people removed and where I don't always, in this case, I support and applaud their decision.


Bushloather1 3 years, 1 month ago

Anonymous's press release:

Dear Citizens of the United States of America, It has come to our attention that the brothers, David and Charles Koch--the billionaire owners of Koch Industries--have long attempted to usurp American Democracy. Their actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin are the final straw. Starting today we fight back.

Koch Industries, and oligarchs like them, have most recently started to manipulate the political agenda in Wisconsin. Governor Walker's union-busting budget plan contains a clause that went nearly un-noticed. This clause would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process. The Koch's have helped to fuel the unrest in Wisconsin and the drive behind the bill to eliminate the collective bargaining power of unions in a bid to gain a monopoly over the state's power supplies.

The Koch brothers have made a science of fabricating 'grassroots' organizations and advertising campaigns to support them in an attempt to sway voters based on their falsehoods. Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth and Citizens United are just a few of these organizations. In a world where corporate money has become the lifeblood of political influence, the labor unions are one of the few ways citizens have to fight against corporate greed. Anonymous cannot ignore the plight of the citizen-workers of Wisconsin, or the opportunity to fight for the people in America's broken political system. For these reasons, we feel that the Koch brothers threaten the United States democratic system and, by extension, all freedom-loving individuals everywhere. As such, we have no choice but to spread the word of the Koch brothers' political manipulation, their single-minded intent and the insidious truth of their actions in Wisconsin, for all to witness.

Anonymous hears the voice of the down trodden American people, whose rights and liberties are being systematically removed one by one, even when their own government refuses to listen or worse - is complicit in these attacks.

We are actively seeking vulnerabilities, but in the mean time we are calling for all supporters of true Democracy, and Freedom of The People, to boycott all Koch Industries' paper products. We welcome unions across the globe to join us in this boycott to show that you will not allow big business to dictate your freedom.



shotgun 3 years, 1 month ago

The key word being stereotype! Not all trade unions are like The UAW. the Kansas State Slogan Should be, Kansas where skilled blue collar workers earn $10.00 per hour, work mandatory overtime, and get treated like crap!


BigPrune 3 years, 1 month ago

So the unions had a rally in support of the cowards in Wisconsin who refuse to do their job and vote on a bill? Yeah, I guess those people who "refuse to do their job" stereotypes unions pretty well. That's why the jobs moved overseas and GM and Chrysler had to go bankrupt then get bailed out by us taxpayers.

I just don't feel their pain.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.