Union supporters turn out in Blue Hill

Local demonstrators show support for union members in Wisconsin Saturday during an hourlong gathering at the Mill Stream bridge in Blue Hill.
Rich Hewitt | BDN
Local demonstrators show support for union members in Wisconsin Saturday during an hourlong gathering at the Mill Stream bridge in Blue Hill.
By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 26, 2011, at 6:14 p.m.

 

BLUE HILL, Maine — A small group of demonstrators turned out on the Mill Stream Bridge on

Saturday to show support for state workers in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker has introduced legislation to strip their unions of collective bargaining rights.

 

The local demonstration, one of many across the country including a larger turnout in

Augusta, was organized by the local chapter of Alliance for Democracy, a populist

movement opposed to corporate influence in the nation’s economy and politics. They had

support from other local organizations, such as Peninsula Peace and Justice.

 

One impetus for the one-hour gathering in Blue Hill was to protest the corporate

takeover of the country, according to one of the organizers, Bonnie Preston of Blue Hill.

Preston highlighted the link between corporate power and the events in Wisconsin,

noting that Gov. Walker had campaigned as a moderate Republican, but

soon after his inauguration, showed his true colors.

 

“As soon as he was in office, he used up more than the Wisconsin state surplus to give

tax breaks to corporations,” she said.

 

Walker’s efforts in Wisconsin, she said, are part of a wider conservative effort to destroy

unions.

 

Demonstrators carried signs proclaiming “solidarity” with Wisconsin union members

who have been protesting proposed legislation that would limit collective bargaining

rights for public sector union members in the state. The signs also highlighted benefits

that American workers enjoy today because of the efforts of unions over the years, such as

a 40-hour work week, weekend days off, maternity leave, and safe working places and equipment.

 

“I’m here because I’m afraid this will be coming to Maine, this concept of doing away

with collective bargaining,” one woman said.

 

The local group was joined by Judy Gauthier, a teacher and union member in Wisconsin

for 30 years who now lives in Blue Hill. Gauthier, who energized them by singing the

Wisconsin Badgers’ fight song, said teachers have been able to provide for the needs of

children in Wisconsin because of some of the benefits they won through collective

bargaining.

 

“Teacher organizations have created the support system that has made it possible to help

children with needs,” she said.

 

Although she has been retired for some time and not connected with the protests in Wisconsin, Gauthier said those benefits could be lost if teachers lose the ability to bargain collectively.

 

“He [Walker] could increase class size, which would make it harder to deal with those

problems; he could make working conditions harder,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/02/26/politics/union-supporters-turn-out-in-blue-hill/ printed on August 20, 2014