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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, May 20, 2024

Union members push for pay raises

Armed with signs and shouting cries of frustration, local union members, state employees, UW-Madison employees and students held a rally for higher pay increases Thursday afternoon on Capitol Square. 




To promote general awareness and gather public opinion, the various organizations rallied together to protest what they said were unfair wages and low pay increases. Protesters said they were concerned the proposed pay raise does not properly reflect the rate of inflation. 




Dissatisfied with the the current contract proposed by the Wisconsin Legislature, more than 34,000 state employees have been working without a contract since July, according to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 171. 




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Signs characterized the current contracts of decreasing quality of life for state employees. A sign carried by one protester called for the state to 'bring back welfare'state workers' wages are too low.' 




Adam Walsh, newly elected Associated Students of Madison representative, said he is familiar with the financial difficulties in contract negotiations since his parents are both teachers. 




Walsh told the crowd, 'We want your wages high and our tuition low.' 




A mock voting booth, titled 'Wisconsin State Workers Contract Primary,' was set up, consisting of separate voting ballots and boxes. 




'There are two different ballots'take a green ballot and put it in the box for a 1 percent raise,' a protester shouted. 'But if you want $1 an hour, fair raises for everybody, then take one of these red ballots.' 




One protester, who declined to give his name, said that contracts over the last decade have involved budgets getting passed prior to contract negotiations. 




'It's like doing a budget, and then negotiating,' he said. 'For the past few years, it's been the same thing. Our unions are tired of that.' 




Bob Beglinger, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Teachers, said the beginning salary for teachers in Wisconsin is, adjusted by inflation, $1,000 less than it was 10 years ago.' 




'We must reverse this trend,' Beglinger said. 'We need to call upon the governor and Legislature to adequately fund our schools. [They need to give] contracts to state workers to compensate them for their dedication and hard work.' 




Mary Taqliarino, a Madison resident and Local 171 union member, brought her 8-year-old son Sam along to the rally. 




'He knows why we're here; he understands,' Taqliarino said. 'If we had more money, we could do more things. He knows that sometimes I have to say no.' 




Fluorescent letters painted on Taqliarino's 5-foot-by-3-foot cardboard sign read, 'My apartment is 30 times this box size. $450 for two.' 




Randy Brink, member of the executive board of Local 171 and animal caretaker at the Psychology Building, gave a short speech. He said that, in light of the terrorist attacks and spread of anthrax, people were apprehensive about holding the planned rally. 




'Some feel that public demonstrations are inappropriate and unpatriotic in a time like this,' Brink said. 'But there is nothing unpatriotic about trying to take care of your family.'

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