BOISE — Close to 400 union supporters converged on the Idaho Statehouse steps Saturday to rally in support of Wisconsin protesters.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has advocated legislation that would remove many collective bargaining rights for public employees. The Boise rally was one of many in support of protesters organized by MoveOn in state capitals and major cities across the United States on Saturday.
“It’s to stand in solidarity with the people in Wisconsin,” event co-host Michael Margulies of Eagle said. “Around the country, the American dream is under fierce attack.”
Presenters spoke at the local event including teachers, a Vietnam veteran and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization’s Idaho president.
Gov. Butch Otter has come out in support for Walker on a Republican Governor’s Association website.
“For too long, elected leaders like Governor Walker, who are responsible and accountable to our citizens, have been virtually held hostage by the outdated and costly demands of public employees’ unions,” Otter wrote.
Both private and public sector unions are under attack, Margulies said.
“We’re trying to save the American dream,” he said. “(Rally attendees) were extremely supportive. Most of them were union members.”
Many who attended the rally in Boise were teachers, Margulies said. Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s education reform bills challenge the rights of teacher’s unions in Idaho, he said, which is why many came out to the rally.
“What happens here, happens around the country,” Margulies said, comparing union issues in Wisconsin to union issues in Idaho.
“In Boise we were very surprised to get this many people up and we’re very pleased and happy with that because this is not pro-labor state,” he said.