"Collective bargaining is the American way."
That's the message union members like Harold Brooks of AFSCME Local 3144 (New Haven City Managers) delivered with passion and volume as they marched through the streets of downtown Stamford to call out Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was in town to keynote the state Republican Party's annual fundraiser.
"We felt it was important to send a strong message that Scott Walker’s anti-working class agenda does not reflect our values, and is not welcome anywhere in Connecticut," said Brooks, who chartered a bus that brought 50 union members to Stamford.
Walker is the poster boy for the political attacks on union members across the country.
In 2011, he rammed through legislation that stripped Wisconsin public service workers of their collective bargaining rights. Walker got considerable help from ultra-wealthy funders like the notorious Koch Brothers.
Kim Rice of AFSCME Local 714 was among the many Council 4 members who took part in the protest.
"It's a shame we have to come and defend the rights that people died for," said Rice, who works for the State Department of Social Services in Bridgeport. "But it's also important for us to be here and to take a stand."
Local 714 member LaTara Toliver, who also works at the DSS Bridgeport office, was glad she participated.
"I'm a new steward and I wanted to be here to support our union. I saw what happened in Wisconsin. We won't let that happen in Connecticut."
The hundreds who marched clearly rejected the Walker model, echoing the resolve of AFSCME members around the country who are standing up against corporate-backed politicians looking to destroy workers' rights.