WBUR

Union Protesters Clash At Beacon Hill Rally

BOSTON — The union protests that started in Wisconsin have now spread beyond its borders. In Ohio and Indiana Tuesday, as Republican legislators pushed for bills to balance their budgets by curbing collective bargaining, pro-union demonstrators marched on their state capitols.

Closer to home, on Beacon Hill, union members and Tea Party supporters clashed over the stalemate 1,200 miles away, between teachers and the governor of Wisconsin.

Supporters of the Wisconsin teachers and supporters of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tried to out-shout each other while holding signs across the street from the Massachusetts State House. While the teachers’ backers far outnumbered those for Walker, both were equally adamant in their positions.

“We don’t want to lose the right to collective bargaining,” said Mary Reese, a Stoughton schoolteacher.

Supporters of the Wisconsin teachers and supporters of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tried to out-shout each other while holding signs across the street from the Massachusetts State House.

Reese said the message she’s trying to get across is, “that we are united. That we are united in this effort, and that we are not going to lose these rights that we’ve worked so hard for.”

On the other side, Robert Cappucci of Medford stood on top of a snowbank and expressed his support of Gov. Walker, “Because he’s doing what he was elected to do — trying to balance the budget,” Cappucci said.

“He’s curbing the system in the public sector unions, not the private unions. We need to get back to fiscal sanity and fiscal responsibility, not only in Wisconsin, but here in Massachusetts where we’re [trying] to cut out $2 billion.”

Christen Varley turned out for the rally as well. She’s the president of the Greater Boston Tea Party.

“We should make sure that the taxpayers are heard as well as the people who live off the taxpayers money,” Varley said.

Tea Party supporters — relatively few in number — were not ignored by those backing the Wisconsin teachers, when they addressed the crowd from the podium set up on the front steps of the State House.

“There are two visions of America here: there’s the Tea Party vision, and there’s the vision of the American worker,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch, who noted the original Boston Tea Party site is in his district.

“Just for the record, for the Tea Party folks and for everybody else here. Just for the record, when the Tea Party actually occurred, back then, the colonists threw the tea overboard,” he said. “The colonists didn’t throw the teachers overboard. The colonists didn’t throw the senior citizens overboard. The colonists didn’t throw kids overboard on Head Start.”

The crowd also heard from Gov. Deval Patrick. Unlike his Wisconsin counterpart, Patrick spoke of the partnership between state government and public unions, saying there’s no need to attack public sector workers to make change for the people of the commonwealth.

“You and I have shown that working together, we can close our budget gap,” Patrick said. “Why? Because we are all in this together — every one of us, is in this together.”

Patrick told the crowd there’s a reason Massachusetts students are No. 1 in the nation in student achievement, and that, he said, is because “we turn to each other, not on each other.” That comment drew cheers. But with several other states expected to debate similar proposals to strip public workers unions of collective bargaining rights, expect more rallies to come.

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  • Sally

    I was disappointed in ‘BUR’s superficial reporting on yesterday’s rally at the state house. The opening statement was said to be about supporting teacher rights. In fact it was about ensuring collective bargaining rights for all workers. The rally was filled with workers from a wide range of unions in both the private and public sector. The on-radio report didn’t mention that the governor, three congressmen and a number of state reps and Boston city councilors spoke to the crowd in support of unions and in support of our Wisconsin counterparts.

  • Mlauritson

    I was there. It wasn’t in any way shape or form about the “tea party”, nor should it be. Why did you even bring them into the story? They have nothing to do with the story. I didn’t hear them at all nor even know they were there. How did you find them?

    This was a “real deal” union crowd, not a Koch brothers’ orchestrated event. The issues are workers’ rights versus the moneyed interests (not tea party folks) that want to break the back of unions and eliminate any organized opposition to counter their money. That’s the story; the continuation of an historical and epic struggle. It runs deep in people, as seen by speakers telling multi-generational stories about their father’s and grandfather’ fight for basic workers, decent wages and so on – It’s part of a very long, universal and epic journey. Respect it.

    I’m insulted and object to you putting the tea party and unions on the same page or footing. I’m at a loss for words.

    Margaret

  • kat

    I found it interesting that those in favor of eliminating the rights to collective bargaining were given so much ‘air’ time by the media.

  • Mo

    Abolish the greedy gutless public sector unions.

    • Anonymous

      why do you hate America?

  • Dshaky

    I completely agree with Kat and Mlauritson’s comments below.

    This is poor reporting by WBUR. There was only a handful of tea partiers at yesterday’s rally. While I witnessed a little bit of shouting back and forth, the rally was nonviolent, and I’d say at least 95% pro-union and pro-collective bargaining. Also, this was not just about teachers, but about union rights.

    • Anonymous

      Are you people that stupid!! The rest of us are working-we can’t get fake doctor’s notes!!!!!!!!

      • Freeman Z

        Yes, we people are stoopid. And you misspelled “doctors’ notes.”

  • Beverly C-

    The rally was more than 95% pro-union supporters. The Tea Party supporters, victims of their own publicity, now are required to show up at rallies just to keep their name in the news. “WBUR” still did better reporting than the Globe, which characterized the event as “Patrick reading out to Unions.” He couldn’t have reached out to us if we hadn’t been gathered there in the first place.

    • Anonymous

      That’s because the rest of us are working to pay their salaries stupid!!!!

      • Jeff Manzelli

        Oh really? There’s no money going to endless war and corruption? It’s TEACHERS you wanna smack around? If you blame workers for the nations woes and don’t look instead to the powerful, then I think the peanut butter monster will eat your face!!!

        By the way, you’re missing an apostrophe there.

      • eldosgatos

        You do (then again, maybe not) realize that those public sector employees pay taxes too, so in effect they are actually paying their own wages and benefits.

  • Beverly C-

    The rally was more than 95% pro-union supporters. The Tea Party supporters, victims of their own publicity, now are required to show up at rallies just to keep their name in the news. “WBUR” still did better reporting than the Globe, which characterized the event as “Patrick reading out to Unions.” He couldn’t have reached out to us if we hadn’t been gathered there in the first place.

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    I agree with those who who complained about the “equal time” given the vast majority on the union side and the few Tea Partiers, whose antics insult the memory of the original Tea Partiers of our Revolution. You’re Public Radio; you should know better. Do workers have the right to a fair living for their work, or don’t they? The great bulk of participants were on the workers’ side; does that tell you something about where the will of the people really stands? I’m all for giving the minority a chance to explain itself; but then, that’s what this blog is for. And where were the NUMBERS of those involved in either demonstration? Please don’t turn this into a mere “human interest” story; too many livelihoods are at stake!

  • makakam

    Disinformation seems to be the theme of current politics, no matter whose trying to spoon it out. The bill does not end collective bargaining. It puts the matter to a vote whether the mandatory inclusion should continue on behalf of workers. Every year is likely too short a period to hold “continuation” elections, but some period (e.g. every 3 years) would be appropriate. We live in a so-called democracy and it seem hypocritcial of those shouting the loudest about the loss of their rights also being the ones to argue against taking a VOTE.
    As for those who have no sense of economic reality, programs that we have come to appreciate as beneficial (think Headstart) are going to have to come to an end if we all don’t agree to live on less. Its easy to point at the so-called “wealthy” (wealth is a matter of assets, no income), but in reality, those making a million or more can not make up the deficits. If public union workers are not willing to lessen their incomes along with the private sector workers, or work to the same age as private sector (I still don’t understand how someone who works for us, the people, gets to be supported by us, the people at age 55 while the rest of us, the people, have to work to age 65, 66, and now 67).

  • Anonymous

    The unions are killing our country. If they don’t like their current jobs-find a new one, like the rest of us have to do. Retirement benefits for government workers is ridiculous-and they have basically been stealing our money for years-and enough is enough!!!!! Try working jobs like the rest of us who pay your salaries. You could never handle it!!!!

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