Phone Banking starts 6/18
Noon-4pm Rain or Shine!
Discher Park – Horicon (click for map)
Thursday June 20 – West Clinic
451 Junction Road
11:00am – 1:00pm
Friday June 21st – UW Hospital & Clinics
With special guest Sly (93.7)
600 Highland Ave
Or about a rally protesting the American Legislative Exchange Council’s paid ads defending Florida’s “kill at will” legislation. Or upcoming “spring training” events for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Or maybe a discussion of the impact on Social Security solvency if the wealthiest 1 percent paid their fair share into the system. Maybe a news story on how your senators voted on the Blunt Amendment that would have let employers determine whether their employees had access to birth control insurance coverage.
Behind the Scenes
You probably never noticed who was behind these stories. You may never have even heard of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
Citizen Action says it “organizes people to make Wisconsin a better place to live and work.”
It’s the brains and coordinator behind hundreds of media stories, mobilizations and educational campaigns across the state every year to promote economic and social justice. If you don’t immediately connect Citizen Action’s name to everything they do, it may be because “We try to let the issues take center stage,” according to Jim Cavanaugh, former president of the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL) and a longtime member of the Citizen Action Executive Committee. The SCFL is one of over a hundred dues-paying Citizen Action affiliates.
In addition to affiliates, Citizen Action has assembled a broad coalition of progressive organizations across the state, including leading labor, senior citizen, environmental, community, interfaith, women’s, family farm, teacher’s and civil rights organizations.
“The idea is to bring together a lot of groups that tend to focus on different issues into a united front,” Cavanaugh says. “This way we can get unions and farmers involved in the mining issue and bring together environmentalists and Native Americans to defend women’s reproductive rights.”
Citizen Action’s major emphasis is on jobs and health care reform. But, with the all-around assault by the right-wing these days, you are likely to see Citizen Action attacking any number of issues. One day may see them coordinating a press conference on Corporate Personhood, the next on defending Wisconsin’s public employee pension system.
A quick search uncovered 16 news stories in the state in the past month alone where Citizen Action appeared prominently.
On March 20, Citizen Action organized people to fill the Milwaukee Common Council meeting to demand passage of a jobs act.
On March 26, a Citizen Action spokesperson was on Wisconsin Public Radio denouncing excessive health insurance premium increases in the state. That same day the Green Bay Press-Gazette quoted Citizen Action on Governor Scott Walker’s decision to turn down $40 million in federal health care aid appeared in a Capital Times article on moves to repeal the state’s Pay Equity Law.
The organization certainly gets around. Not only geographically, but on the issues as well.
If there’s a public face of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, it would be Executive Director Robert Kraig. He appears regularly at media events and on radio and TV talk shows, and he’s the one usually quoted in press releases. But the organization includes nine other staffers with titles like “Health Care Organizer,” “Economic Justice Program Director,” and “Canvasser.”
“I can’t say enough about Kraig and the other people who work for Citizen Action. They work very, very hard,” Cavanaugh said. “But, you can tell, they all really love their jobs.”
The organization has some goals and initiatives for the immediate future. Increasing access to affordable health care. Restoring collective bargaining rights for public employees. Generating good jobs and livable neighborhoods in major urban areas. Passage of the Milwaukee Jobs Act. Restoring Walker’s cuts to BadgerCare. Gearing up for renewal of the Occupy movement.
But it’s hard to say just what’s in the immediate future for Citizen Action because a lot of their work these days is in reaction to the general assault on the lives of ordinary people in our state. So, in effect, the right-wing is setting much of their agenda.
But, whatever the future holds for Citizen Action of Wisconsin, we can be sure they’ll be out there, doing good work for our side.
For more information visit www.citizenactionwi.org.
Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has been devastating for Wisconsin citizens. This summary by the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO covers some of the major losses for middle income and working class families over the last year. It details how the public policies promoted by the Walker administration represent a radical departure from Wisconsin values and traditions. Click here for “Losses” full-length or “Losses” Talking Points
Labor and community organizations have signed on to a new bill introduced in the State Legislature that would roll back Governor Walker’s slashing cuts to BadgerCare and fund the program by closing corporate tax loopholes.
The BadgerCare Protection Act bill repeals the elements of Act 10 and the State Budget which give the Walker Administration the authority to slash BadgerCare. The bill is funded by rolling back some Walker tax giveaways to large corporations which allow multi-state corporations to shelter profits in other states, reducing their Wisconsin taxes.
“At a time when Wisconsin needs to make tough choices, the right choice is to make sure families have access to affordable health insurance,” State Representative Jon Richards (D- Milwaukee) said at a State Capitol press conference on February 28. “The wrong choice is to deny health care coverage so corporations and the wealthy can get tax giveaways.”
“It is unconscionable for Scott Walker to force tens of thousands off BadgerCare in order to open up tax loopholes which enable some of the largest corporations in Wisconsin to shelter profits out of state,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The BadgerCare Protection Act restores basic fairness. By merely asking large corporations to pay their fair share of state taxes we can protect the health security of tens of thousands of Wisconsin families during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”
So far, 22 unions and community organizations have endorsed the BadgerCare Protection Act, including the South Central Federation of Labor, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, Wisconsin State AFL- CIO, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, 9 to 5 Milwaukee, Alliance for Women’s Health, Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, Wisconsin Jobs Now, Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Grassroots Citizens of Wisconsin, Coalition for Wisconsin Health, Greater Wisconsin Committee, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, AFSCME, National Association of Social Workers Wisconsin Chapter, AFT Wisconsin, Institute for Wisconsin’s Future, ABC for Health, and Wisconsin Physicians for Social Responsibility.