PSI Communicators' Action Network - Wisconsin March 2012

Photo of occupation of Wisconsin state capitol 2011 - Photo by Jessie Reader
Union communicators from Canada, Europe and national affiliates in America answered an urgent call to join the new Public Services International Communicators’ Action Network (PSI CAN), as part of an expert communications response team in Wisconsin, USA, in early March.

The purpose of the PSI CAN effort was to document state affiliate activities marking the one year anniversary of the passage of legislation stripping public service workers’ rights.   The team worked with the direction of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO communications director and the We Are Wisconsin communications team including local PSI affiliates and community allies. Activities such as a bus tour and town hall public forums were centred in and around Milwaukee and Madison, with candlelight vigils held in more towns. The final rally at the Capitol in Madison on Saturday, March 10 drew some 65,000 people.

An international solidarity delegation of PSI leaders from NUPGE and PSAC (Canada) and NSWNA (Australia) also attended under the banner of PSI’s Quality Public Services-Action Now! campaign which is designed to defend and advance public services and trade union rights around the world.

Communications included:

  • State, national and international media outreach
  • Producing original stories
  • Photo documentation of events
  • Series of videos produced
  • Series of radio podcasts produced
  • Social media outreach

Please see the results at these web links:

Results of PSI CAN expert team efforts: 

  • Series of short videos produced and promoted
  • High quality photos uploaded to Flickr
  • Twitter and Facebook – produced 3000 small cards inviting members of the public to tweet and share their photos and videos using the #ReclaimWI hashtag
  • Storify blog collated selected blog posts, photos, videos, tweets.
  • Social media – progressive bloggers conference call coverage, including In These Times
  • RadioLabour daily online broadcasts
  • Local, national and international media coverage including Huffington Post, AP Newswire, Red Pepper magazine (UK)
  • Expanded PSI Communicators’ Action Network
  • Gave profile to QPS campaign through direct “value-added” local-international communications collaboration and solidarity delegation support

Background:

In 2011 in Wisconsin, tens of thousands of union members and citizens joined in an awe-inspiring wave of protests against Governor Walker’s union-busting legislation aimed at public service workers. On March 9, 2011, the State Senate passed the bill, repealing state workers' collective bargaining rights over pensions and health care, limiting pay raises of public employees to the rate of inflation, ending automatic union dues collection by the state, and requiring public unions to recertify annually. Since then, in a major recall mobilization, over one million signatures to recall Governor Walker were submitted on January 17, 2012. Recall elections for a number of Wisconsin lawmakers are now scheduled for June 5 this year.

It’s no small irony that Wisconsin was the first state in America to provide collective bargaining rights to public employees in 1959. Wisconsin affiliates expressed their deep appreciation for the outpouring of support from PSI affiliates around the world to prevent these rights from being repealed.

Also see