Rally for Wisconsin Workers
An estimated 1,000 labor activists, including hundreds of MTA members, crowded Beacon Hill for a sunset rally February 22 in support of Wisconsin workers, who are facing down a threat to their collective bargaining rights. Hundreds more packed the area surrounding Springfield City Hall.

"We are here because we believe that public employees should have a voice in their profession," MTA President Paul Toner said as he addressed the Boston crowd of union members, which included educators, social workers, nurses, tradespeople and other professionals, public and private. "We are here because we believe that all workers should have a say in their future."

"We don't need to attack public sector workers to make change," said Governor Deval Patrick, one of the last speakers to take the podium in Boston. "We are all in this together."

Representing her fellow educators, MTA board member Elizabeth Shevlin said, "Collective bargaining protects our students now and in the future. Collective bargaining gives teachers a voice in how our schools run on a day-to-day basis to improve our schools and classrooms. Collective bargaining keeps class sizes low – promising every student the attention he or she deserves from a qualified teacher."

The Boston rally was also addressed by Massachusetts Congressmen Edward Markey, Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch. Capuano declared, "Today, I am a Cheesehead!" Lynch seemed to address a small counter-rally of Tea Party members when he said about the original tea party, "The colonists threw the tea overboard. The colonists didn't throw teachers overboard. The colonists didn’t throw the senior citizens overboard. The colonists didn’t throw kids overboard on Head Start."

Many other union officers and members and some state legislators also expressed their support for the Wisconsin workers.

Marc Lewis, president of the Acton-Boxborough Education Association, carried a placard decorated with the University of Wisconsin badger mascot and the slogan, "Not on the backs of Wisconsin Workers."

"Some of my favorite people in the whole world are public employees in Wisconsin," said the 1994 UW Madison graduate. "So if I couldn't be in Madison, I'm glad to be in Boston to let them know we'll be with them all the way."

Meanwhile, across the Commonwealth, the MTA was well represented at the Springfield rally.

"This is not the time to overturn collective bargaining," Will Rice of the Agawam Teachers Association said at the Springfield event. "We support all workers and are very proud of our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin for standing up to this regressive assault on all workers."
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