And joining Gage for demonstration outside of Scott's Charleston office were the local Longshoremen, Communication Workers, AFL-CIO, other labor unions, and even yours truly.
Recently, Scott introduced a bill he calls the "Employee Empowerment Act." Despite that title, it doesn't exactly give any power or freedom; in fact, it does just the opposite.
If passed, it would block federal employees from paying union dues directly from their paychecks. Thus, instead of providing any "empowerment," the act would only restrict the freedom of government employees to pay dues in a convenient format of their own choice. And taking away a freedom of choice ain't exactly empowering, now is it?
And H.R. 2145 isn't Scott's first anti-labor measure so far in the first months of his term. He submitted another that would prevent an entire household from food stamp eligibility should any member at the same address participate in a labor strike.
So what else can the local labor force - about 35 in number at today's demonstration - do but protest?
It wound up being a rather moving rally, too:
Now, let me be clear that these other folks who supported Scott were not a violent, angry mob. They were very peaceful, respectful, friendly folks, overall. They came to state their side, just like we were there to offer ours. And it was rather congenial. I shook many hands and even traded jokes with a few. I met members of this group before, after all.
But there were a couple - and let me specify that I don't know if they were with 9-12, and I'm not insinuating that they automatically were - who were outright hostile.
After answering a question about what union representation has done for her, a woman with ILA found herself being insulted and taunted in a format that reminded me of the locker room in middle school. And she looked wounded by it, too.
One guy wanted to know what I did for a living, then what education I'd achieved, then where I went to school. He was apparently trying to fish for grounds to issue his own insults, which he then did after I answered his last question.
I was told my state university schooling was "union based" and deficient as a result, especially in comparison to his Harvard Univ. credentials. (I wanted to tell him I was absolutely certain that Harvard doesn't teach its students that Pres. Roosevelt - who died in 1945 - signed the bill enacting Medicare in 1965, which he'd just claimed.) After he capped off his juvenile tirades with that foolish statement, I walked away from him.
I even spoke directly to Scott. That wasn't my intention, mind you, but after I wandered over to hear what he was telling folks, I wound up directly in front him.
Having his attention, I took opportunity to state my case - removing a freedom does not constitute empowerment. In fact, it's only the opposite. His consistent promotion of the so-called "right to work" has apparent goals to squash union representation, too, I said
Scott swore that his bill was not meant to be an attack on unions. Another person in the crowd challenged him on that, though, pointing out that his bill did not address other formats of automatic paycheck deductions federal government employees can make, such as charitable contributions. As a result, his proposal could only be viewed to be anti-union, since it only addressed union dues deductions.
I continued by reminding Scott and others nearby that, in today's complicated business world, representation is a vital need. The fields of labor and labor rights and labor laws are much more complicated today than when unions were first formed decades ago. If they weren't so complicated, then why is that a majority of the members of this particular union in question (AFGE) have post-secondary education, many with masters' and doctorate degrees, and still openly seek union representation to help them figure it all out?
To block that representation, I offered, is like saying, "you have a right to a fair trial ... but not to an attorney."
That's when Scott recognized me. "What's your name?" he asked with an inquisitive squint. "Oh, yeah, I remember you now," he said. "I guess this is an announcement of your next campaign." (No, it isn't, Tim, you'll face much bigger weight than mine next year.)
Following that misdirection, he wanted to close the argument speaking on other irrelevant topics.
I tried to bring it back, though. To deny union representation - and give favor exclusively to companies in the process only in hopes it will increase corporate interest - resembles the economic theory of Karl Marx, father of communism, I pointed out.
Scott closed it after that. "We could discuss this forever," he said.
He then wandered over to speak to Gage from the AFGE. Local media surrounded them, and I didn't want to interfere or appear camera-happy, so I stayed back. I didn't hear the conversation, but it appeared to hold a serious tone.
I simply wandered over to join the union folks in their rally, which continued with the same spirit.
I spoke with some counter-protesters, too, and am glad to have had the opportunity. Hell, it was fun. We shared stories of our mutual discontent with last week's congressional hearing in North Charleston, for example. And that made me overlook and ignore the angry Harvard-wannabe, who was then pursuing another soundboard to rant against (and who also peacefully walked away from him).
But it didn't help me feel any better about Scott's bill, though. This is a simple, basic right to representation that's under consistent attack. Not just in Wisconsin, but nationwide.
And we can't allow this cheap, meaningless, pointless bill to go through as a result.