The Ed Show   |  February 17, 2011

On the frontlines in Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Senators Fred Risser and Mark Miller, give Ed Schultz an update on the status of the anti-union bill and what tomorrow will bring.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now, joining me now from an undisclosed location is wisconsin state senators. frank rizzer and mark miller and nine other democratic state senators who are standing up in solidarity for the workers of wisconsin . ladies and gentlemen , at your undisclosed location, may i say that this crowd is behind you 100% and i get a sense that wage earners across this state think you did exactly the right thing today by not caving into this governor and standing your ground. i want to introduce this country to a gentleman named frank rizzer. he is the longest serving legislator in the united states of america . he was here back in 1956 when they passed collective bargaining . mr. rizzer, great to have you with us tonight. i want you to give us your thoughts at this hour as you see this unfold, fred.

>> thanks, ed. you know, wisconsin 's a great state . we've got a great liberal tradition of service by our state and public employees. you know, we were the first state to adopt and implement social security back in the early 1900s . we were one of the first states to adopt and implement collective bargaining for state employees back in the 1950s . and i was happy to be part of that program. we're here today to slow down the steamrolling process that our young governor has adopted. he's attempting in five days to eliminate and do away with what the state has accomplished in 50 to 100 years. what we're going to do is we're going to slow this process down, we're going to give the people of this state an opportunity to talk to their representatives, to talk to the executives. to let the public know what they feel about it. and to slow up what this outrageous dictatorial new governor is doing to us.

>> senator fred risser , what is it going to take to have you come back with your fellow senators? are you coming back tomorrow?

>> i doubt we'll be back tomorrow. but we'll be back some time, after we've given the people an opportunity to make known their feelings to the various legislators and to the state . our effort here is to give the people a chance to be heard. the governor, as i say, in less than five days he's attempted to run through and eliminate what has been put together in 50 to 100 years.

>> senator mark miller , i would like to ask you tonight, what do the democrats want? what are you willing to accomplish with this governor, if anything, at this point?

>> ed, you are there in madison, wisconsin . we wish we were there with all those people who are demonstrating for what they want their governor and their elected representatives to do. but they're not being heard. tens of thousands of wisconsinites, good, solid, hard-working wisconsinites are demonstrating just to be heard. and they are not being heard. we are -- we have left to let them know that we hear them. we hear them and we want them to make their voices loud and clear so that others who are in a position to vote on this and make a difference will hear them also. it is --

>> senator miller, may i ask, directly, have the 14 colleagues, you and your 13 colleagues, have you determined what it's going to take for you to come back and get to work? what bar has to be met for you? what criteria that as to be met for you folks to come back?

>> you know, ed, it's not useful to negotiate and set those things out in the press because that's not the way you get things done. negotiations take place across the table with people talking face to face , and that's what the governor has not done, but that's what we intend to do with the governor.

>> senator fred risser , how would you describe governor walker?

>> well, the governor has been governor for less than two months and already he has tried to take away a lot of the prerogatives of the legislature. in fact, earlier this week, he decided to take over the rules making process and take it away from the legislature. now he's attempting to take away from the legislature not only the collective bargaining rights, but he's taking away rights for some of our elderly and our medicaid program. and he's doing it by himself. i don't know why some of his own party doesn't slow him up, but we're going to do everything we can.

>> and in wisconsin we're a hard-working, common sense people. we come from solid, working class stock. people who broke the sod and made wisconsin what it is today. we're not extraordinary except in the fact that we raise our families and work extraordinarily hard. we're known for our work ethic . and it's -- and we are known for the fact that we have figured out how to resolve workplace issues. we have the procedures in place to be able to work these things out so that we have labor piece. the governor --

>> senator miller -- senator miller, is there a budget crisis in wisconsin ? yes or no?

>> no, there is no budget crisis in wisconsin . we had -- two years ago, we had a much worse crisis.

>> and do you believe, fred, that this is part of a bigger plan to take down unions and organized labor and collective bargaining in america?

>> there's no doubt about it. he has introduced a bill, and he says it's to correct a deficit that doesn't exist, but in the bill, he spent most of his time trying to gut collective bargaining , for not only state employees, but for all municipal employees, for teachers, for everyone. and it's just part of his plan to gut the rights of our working middle class .

>> senators fred risser and mark miller and other courageous nick democratic state senators gathered there tonight, i want to thank both of you. you're courageous. the nation is watching you. this is an attack on labor and the ground zero , i think in the minds and opinions of many americans, is here in wisconsin . keep