On Saturday, massive protests in support of Wisconsin public employees engaged in an historic struggle to save their collective bargaining rights were held in all 50 state capitals.
The following are reflections and footage from from some in our community who are standing on the side of love for worker’s rights:
Rev. Fred Small of First Parish Cambridge UU spoke at a rally at the state house in Boston, telling people:
“As a person for faith, I believe our struggle is political, but it is not primarily political. It is economic, but it is not primarily economic. Our struggle is primarily moral and spiritual.”
Jim A. Jaeger of Madison, wrote:
Yesterday, February 26, 2011, over 70,000 people gathered at the Capitol in Madison Wisconsin to protest Governor Scott Walker’s usurpation of power and attempted destruction of collective bargaining rights for public employees. The Madison Unitarian Universalist Congregations, including First Unitarian Society, James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation and Prairie Unitarian Universalist Fellowship were all represented. We marched proudly behind the Standing on the Side of Love banner. We appreciate the support we have gotten from around the nation and especially from our fellow UU’s.
This video from Madison was posted by Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson:
Madisonian Abigail Swetz is in the thick of things. Here are her reflections:
I have never been more proud to be married to a Madison Police Officer than these past two weeks. I have protested nearly every day, and my wife has worked nearly every day. Both of us have aching feet and determined hearts. And last week, my wife worked a 12 hour shift, took off her weapon, put on her union shirt, and marched for another 2 hours around and inside the Capitol. She did that 2 days in a row. This entire protest is a labor of love, and if her actions don’t prove that, I don’t know what will.
At times, I feel uplifted by my work in this protest. And at times I feel disheartened. Sometimes I smile and sometimes I cry and sometimes I do both all at once. But if anything, these past two weeks have re-invigorated my faith in the sacred found in every person. Even in the Tea Party supporters. They were vocal, as were we, but no fights broke out, and I even saw some true conversations happening last Saturday, the only day we’ve had counter-protesters. And every time I see a kid holding an “I love my teacher” sign, I think, “We may lose, but this will not end here.”
I know I’m rambling now, but that’s what marching and very little sleep will do to you. On the first Thursday of the protests, I was chanting inside the Capitol when a fellow protester with a bullhorn made his way to the center of the floor. He stood on an upturned bucket and said, “This is being reported by a certain news organization as a violent protest. So I want everyone to turn to your neighbor and hug them.” And so we did. We are truly standing of the side of love.
Joining other state capitols across the nation, Bismarck, ND hosted a rally featuring supporters of workers’ rights.
Interviewees Don Morrison and Karen Van Fossan are members of the Bismarck-Mandan UU congregation, standing on the side of love (and bringing the heat!) in solidarity with Wisconsin workers: