By Ann McNeary, AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison
Thank you for the opportunity to speak this evening. A seder is a new experience for me and I appreciate the chance to participate.
The Cup of Elijah – which symbolizes future redemption – is a good indicator of the current struggle going on. For many state and municipal workers, their “Cup of Elijah”/their freedom, was taking a job in the public sector – which wasn’t going to make them rich but was going to provide for a decent retirement with health care coverage.
Many times, people become complacent in their faith. They follow customs/traditions but it is done very routinely. The actions of this governor have been a very dramatic call to action since the very core of the Labor movement – the right to act and bargain collectively – has been challenged. Years and years of fighting, historic battles which resulted in years of progress are being wiped out.
Wisconsin was progressive – first worker’s compensation coverage and first unemployment insurance for instance – but the current legislature seems determined to eliminate all of that. This is our legacy – similar to a faith tradition – and this is what is threatened.
The Cup of Elijah illustrates how many people can come together for a common cause. Just as with people of differing faiths, the Labor movement isn’t always clearly aligned but what has happened here in Wisconsin has shown that people with similar core values – to live lives of dignity, security, and health – can work toward a common goal. Differences can be set aside.
There have been times at the Capitol (and outside the Capitol) that the crowd has been awe inspiring, in a very faith-filled way. That so many people show up – no matter what the weather – to look out for each other. People are polite; families are involved; young and old standing shoulder to shoulder. Many of those protesting are NOT directly impacted by either the budget repair bill or the budget bill but they understand that an injury to one is an injury to all.
This is about fighting for freedom. This is about standing together. This is about justice.