FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS FACULTY, WORKERS, AND STUDENTS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF WISCONSIN PROTESTERS

Urbana-Champaign (February 21, 2011): On February 22, at noon, the Campus Faculty Association, the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO, IFT/AFT Local 6300), and other workers and students on campus will rally in support of the protesters in Wisconsin.  The rally will take place at the Alma Mater Statue on campus, and will feature speakers from several campus labor organizations.

At the close of the rally participants will march to the YMCA (1001 S. Wright Street) where the GEO will hold a permanent 24-hour-a-day vigil.  This vigil will continue until Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker retracts his proposed bill, which would drastically curtail the collective bargaining rights of the state’s union workers.

Today marks the ninth straight day of protests at the Capitol in Madison as state government workers and their allies rally against Wisconsin Governor Walker’s proposal. Unions have agreed to negotiate the financial provisions of their contracts, but Governor Walker continues to refuse to even meet with them.

“We recognize that what is happening in Wisconsin can influence workers rights here at home in Illinois,” said Kathy Oberdeck, President of the Campus Faculty Association.  “We stand in solidarity with the public workers of Wisconsin, because their struggle is our struggle—a fight to get a voice for working people in the decision making process of our State governments and Universities.”

The goal of the rally is to express support and encourage awareness of the protesters in Wisconsin.  The 24-hour vigil at the YMCA will continue that effort.

“The vigil will be an opportunity for GEO members, campus faculty, campus workers, and community members to come together in solidarity with the working-people of Wisconsin,” says Kerry Pimblott, GEO member.  “There will be constructive solidarity actions taking place throughout the day and night. The vigil will also be a space where people can come to work on their dissertations, grade papers, do homework, or just eat lunch.  It will be a central space for everyone who stands in solidarity with the protesters in Wisconsin.”

The solidarity rally and vigil is part of a growing national response to the events occurring in Wisconsin, and in Ohio.  A similar rally will also take place in Lansing, Michigan on Tuesday.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Seawell, GEO Co-President, 217-722-7544, stephseawell@gmail.com.

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