2011-03-03 / Local & State

Hundreds Rally In Pa. Capital For Wisconsin Unions

HARRISBURG, Pa (AP) – Hundreds of people rallied in Pennsylvania’s state capital on Saturday to support union members in Wisconsin, where Republicans are seeking to reduce the collective bargaining rights of government workers.

Participants, who included auto workers, teachers, electricians, postal workers and railroad workers, chanted and carried signs while the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome’’ played over a loudspeaker.

Michael Morrill of Keystone Progress, an advocacy group that organized the rally, which was part of a nationwide effort, said those taking part wanted to “stand in solidarity with Wisconsin workers and American families everywhere.’’

“Right now the American dream is slipping away for millions of us, and we’re here today to say enough is enough,’’ Morrill said. “It’s time for our government to work for us, and not just corporations and millionaires.’’

Morrill and some others told the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette that participants also hoped to deter Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett from any such effort in the commonwealth. Most, however, said they were there to show support for unionized workers in Wisconsin.

“People need to stand up together for one another. That’s why we’re here,’’ said Boh Wittle, a postal worker from Perry County, who attended with his wife.

One woman carried a “Wisconsylvania’’ sign, and others chanted, “We are Wisconsin,’’ a play on the football rally cry “We are Penn State.’’

Meanwhile, several dozen people across the street sounded whistles and bullhorns in a counter-protest.

Kurt A. Snavely of Hershey said GOP officials in Wisconsin were trying to balance their state budget.

“There’s no more money to pay the bills. There’s just no more money,’’ he said. “You can’t run up debt forever.’’

Eileen Connelly, who chairs Keystone Progress, told the opponents that some basic things now relied upon by every worker, such as weekends and paid holidays, were the produce of union organizing.

“We need to stand up for our fellow citizens, whether they’re union members or not,’’ she told the cheering crowd, The (Harrisburg) Patriot News reported. “It’s not ‘what I have, to hell with you’ but ‘what I have, you should, too.’

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