Courtesy of former GEO #6300 president and current union activist and GEO member Kerry Pimblott:
Day Five of the 24/7 Solidarity Vigil witnessed protests on the capitols of all fifty states. In solidarity with workers in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio, union members and their allies converged on state capitols in protest of bills that threaten to destroy collective bargaining rights and undermine working-class communities.
Almost forty GEO members and several community members made the trip to Madison today joining others that left earlier in the week. In total almost one hundred people have made the trip from UIUC to Madison in the past week in a powerful expression of solidarity.
Another forty campus workers and students traveled to Springfield to participate in a Solidarity Rally with workers from across the state. Teachers, plumbers, pipefitters, postal workers, clerical staff, electrical workers, carpenters, and service workers joined together beneath the Lincoln statue to protest the assault on organized labor both in Wisconsin and here at home in Illinois.
In Champaign-Urbana, almost 150 people – from both Indiana and Illinois – joined together in a rally outside the Comfort Inn Suites to express their support for the 25 Democratic Representatives who left the state in protest of a series of bills that threaten to destroy collective bargaining rights and public education.
However, while workers were protesting reports broke from Madison that the Capitol building would be closed at 4pm on Sunday and protesters forcibly removed. Such actions are part of a systematic effort by the Governor to subdue unionists protesting in the capitol and could potentially end the occupation that has sustained protests over the past 12 days. With this knowledge, several GEO members decided to drive to Madison to help our union brothers and sisters sustain the struggle. As I write now, members of GEO and the local chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War are inside the Capitol building preparing for tomorrows events.
We do not know what Governor Walker intends to do tomorrow or how the thousands of men and women sleeping in the Capitol will be removed, but we stand in solidarity with those brave workers and remind the Governor that “the whole world is watching.”
Please stay tuned for further updates on the protests in Wisconsin, the possibility of protesters being evicted from the state capitol, and updates on local solidarity events.