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Wisconsin unions threaten local businesses with boycotts

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Having failed in their efforts at regime change by Egypt-style riots and protests, unions in Wisconsin are attacking Governor Scott Walker in a different way.

According to an article at The Blaze, unions are now threatening local businesses with boycotts if they do not publicly denounce the Wisconsin governor.

The letter below was sent to Marshall & Ilsley Corporation, a financial services firm, by the heads of seven public employee unions:

March 10, 2011
Mr. Tom Ellis, President
Marshall & Ilsley Corporation
770 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
SENT VIA FASCIMILE AND REGULAR MAIL

Dear Mr. Ellis:

As you undoubtedly know, Governor Walker recently proposed a “budget adjustment bill” to eviscerate public employees’ right to collectively bargain in Wisconsin…

As you also know, Scott Walker did not campaign on this issue when he ran for office. If he had, we are confident that you would not be listed among his largest contributors. As such, we are contacting you now to request your support.

The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor Walker’s efforts to virtually eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin. While we appreciate that you may need some time to consider this request, we ask for your response by March 17. In the event that you do not respond to this request by that date, we will assume that you stand with Governor Walker and against the teachers, nurses, police officers, fire fighters and other dedicated public employees who serve our communities.

In the event that you cannot support this effort to save collective bargaining, please be advised that the undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the goods and services provided by your company. However, if you join us, we will do everything in our power to publicly celebrate your partnership in the fight to preserve the right of public employees to be heard at the bargaining table.

Wisconsin’s public employee unions serve to protect and promote equality and fairness in the workplace. We hope you will stand with us and publicly share that ideal.

In the event you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact the
Director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, Jim Palmer, at 608.273.3840.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

James L. Palmer, Executive Director
Wisconsin Professional Police Association
Mahlon Mitchell,President
Professional Professional Fire Fighters
Jim Conway, President
International Association of Fire Fighters Local 311
John Matthews, Execuctive Director
Madison Teachers, Inc.
Keith Patt, Executive Director
Green Bay Education Association
Bob Richardson, President
Dane County Deputy Sheriffs Association
Dan Frei, Prersident
Madison Professional Police Officers Association

The Nation reports that union bosses are also targeting M&I Bank - the largest in Wisconsin - with a similar threat. According to The Nation:

M&I Bank is the largest bank in Wisconsin, and was the recipient of $1.7 billion in TARP bailout money from the federal government. The bundled contributions from M&I executives were Walker’s second largest source of campaign funds. According to records provided by the Sunlight Foundation, executives at M&I Bank gave $46,308 to Walker’s campaign. And now, a group of local unions in Wisconsin have threatened to pull their money from M&I Bank unless it denounces Scott Walker’s attack on workers’ rights.

The message sent by the unions could not be more clear: Obey us or else.

Several hundred union activists protested the bank on Thursday and two union members reportedly withdrew their funds - an estimated $192,000 - from the bank.

“We wanted to illustrate how serious our threat is by having just two of our members pull their money out,“ said Joe Conway, Jr., President of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 311.

Union activists plan to escalate their protests by asking (read: ordering) their members to move their funds.

Mike Elk of The Nation writes:

Unions have had some success with this tactic in the past. In 2009, a coalition called composed of organized labor, religious groups, community organizations and MoveOn.org, spearheaded a successful campaign to get Ken Lewis pushed out as Chairman of Bank of America.

With few tools in their arsenal to stop the escalating attacks, unions may increasingly turn to this tactic of moving their money to protect their rights. While workers may be on the defensive, fending off right-wing assaults like Walker’s, they are also realizing the power they have in society and the economy.

Meanwhile, left-wing assaults and threats continue against the duly-elected government of the State of Wisconsin, by those who supposedly work for the taxpayers and are paid with taxpayer dollars.

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