GSPHE UGA Stands in Solidarity With Wisconsin Workers

Students protest state policies: Rally defends public services

February 23, 2011 by NATHAN SORENSEN

Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in Wisconsin apparently does not stay in Wisconsin.

Georgia Students for Public Higher Education organized a rally under The Arch Wednesday, bringing more than 30 protesters on both sides of Broad Street. The rally came together in order to publicly demonstrate a union of interest with the state employees in Wisconsin.

Members of the University’s chapter of Georgia Students for Public Higher Education held a rally at the Arch to show solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin. Photo by Sarah Lundgren | The Red & Black 

The state capitol building in Madison, Wis., has seen continuous protests from public employees over a bill that regards curbing bargaining rights for higher salaries.

Students in the GSPHE said they set up the rally with the idea that the protests in Madison are only the front lines of a nationwide political battle for the rights of public services and wage bargaining.

“We feel like there’s a nationwide assault on working-class people,” said Andrew Epstein, a graduate student from New York. “The assault in Wisconsin is an assault on us — so we stand with them. We don’t like corporate oligarchs.”

Holding signs reading “Support our workers,” “Don’t kill Georgia’s education system” and “Workers unite! Wisconsin to Egypt to Georgia,” more than 30 students and members of the community shared, stated and even sang the call for solidarity.

Many rally-goers expressed their concern for the similarity between Gov. Nathan Deal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

“Both Walker and Deal have similar budget plans,” said Allie McCullen, a senior from Snellville. “They have placed cutting taxes for the extremely rich on the top of their agendas while simultaneously urging constituents to embrace the notion of ‘shared sacrifice.’”

Members of the Athens community also joined in the rally.

John Straw, vice president for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees for the local Athens chapter, was among the rallying group.

“The first thing Hitler did in Germany was get rid of the unions,” Straw said. “All that corporations want is slave labor — they don’t support their own citizens.”

For many of the rally supporters, the protests aren’t over.

“Since the beginning of February we’ve rallied every Wednesday at The Arch,” McCullen said. “We’re gearing up for March, which has been named ‘Defending Education Month.’”

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