Virginia groups criticize McDonnell's support of Wisconsin's Walker
A group of labor and non-profit organizations sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) criticizing his support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is backing a bill that would curb public-worker benefits leaving his state capital awash in protests.
"We are embarrassed that our governor, Bob McDonnell, would support Governor Walker's shameful actions and would oppose the hardworking nurses, firefighters and teachers that keep our nation going," said Sandra Cook, chairperson of Virginia Organizing.
McDonnell sent out a recorded video and a tweet in support of Walker last week. As vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, he also sent a statement when the organization launched www.StandWithScott.com.
"Governor Scott Walker is taking the tough, but necessary, steps to balance the books in Wisconsin and get the state's fiscal house in order, and I applaud him for it," McDonnell said. "I thank Scott for his leadership. It's what we need to see more of in every state capitol, and in Washington D.C."
McDonnell and his fellow GOP governors campaigned for Walker in the closing days of the 2010 election.
McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said the governor disagrees with those who sent the letter. "The future well-being of American workers and families depends on our ability to boldly reduce government spending and reform our pension and entitlement programs today,'' he said. "This will require everyone doing their part, so everyone can benefit in the years ahead. Virginians know this and support these reforms. Governor McDonnell is leading this effort in Virginia, and Governor Walker is doing the same in Wisconsin. It's what voters made clear at the polls last November that they wanted to see occur at all levels of government. It is the right and responsible thing to do."
Read the letter below:
Dear Governor McDonnell;
We are deeply concerned about your expressed support for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as he fights against workers' rights and abuses his authority by striking a blow against all working people in Wisconsin. In your video address last Friday, you stated that the actions taken by Governor Walker are simply a matter of course and that asking public sector workers to "do more with less" is a means to "get Wisconsin's fiscal house in order." This assessment obscures the real issue at hand in Wisconsin: Governor Walker is unscrupulously using the budget crisis as an opportunity to push forward an anti-organized labor agenda.
Blaming public sector workers for budget problems caused by the worst economic downturn in decades is a shortsighted, misguided approach at best and opportunistic and autocratic at worst. Public sector workers in Wisconsin have made the concessions to pensions and health care benefits that the Governor has requested. The firefighters, teachers and nurses that are filing into the Capitol building by the thousands have, in fact, agreed to "do more with less."
The problem is that Governor Walker is not bargaining in good faith. He has made it abundantly clear that this is an ideological crusade against working people and their right to bargain collectively, not simply an exercise in fiscal discipline. Governor Walker's exploitation of Wisconsin's economic instability for political purposes is shameful. In the struggles of his constituents, Governor Walker sees political opportunity. From 950 miles away in Virginia, we see Governor Walker prioritizing corporate interests over the interests of residents and communities.
For the last several years, states across the nation -- with Democratic and Republican Governors alike -- have made incredibly difficult budget decisions. The Commonwealth of Virginia is no exception. In fact, as a right-to-work state, Virginia's budget has faired no better than those with strong public sector unions like Wisconsin. Although we accept that difficult times require difficult choices, Virginians are simply not buying the "blame the public sector workers" mentality. As organizations, we see our members and supporters suffering from several years of drastic budget cuts. We hold in good faith that our elected officials in the Commonwealth will make pragmatic budget choices and will not use our health, safety and education as bargaining chips to further a political agenda.
We stand in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of firefighters, teachers, nurses and police officers protesting in the Capitol buildings of Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. These working men and women deserve our respect and support for continuing to fight for the American dream.
Central Virginia Chapter A.P.R.I.
Central Virginia Labor Federation
Communications Workers of America Virginia State Council
CWA Local 2204
Eastern Virginia Labor Federation
IUE-CWA Local 82161
National Coalition of Public Safety Officers
Northern Virginia Labor Federation
Richmond Jobs with Justice
Richmond Peace Education Center
SEIU Local 5
SEIU Local 32BJ
Sierra Club Virginia Chapter
Tenants and Workers United
Virginia Association of Personal Care Assistants
Virginia Education Association
Virginia New Majority
Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, IAFF
Virginia State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Voice of Vietnamese Americans
Western Virginia Labor Federation
Workers' Justice Center
| February 24, 2011; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell
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