Teacher union leaders in Wisconsin on Monday connected the Chicago teachers strike to Wisconsin's collective bargaining battle that erupted in Madison a year and a half ago.
"Their fight is really our fight," said John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc. "Whether we're talking about Scott Walker or Rahm Emmanuel, it's the same thing."
Matthews said Madison teachers bonded with Chicago teachers in February and March 2011 when many attended rallies at the state Capitol. They have recently taken up a fundraising collection for the Chicago effort.
A small group of Madison teachers traveled to Chicago to rally in support of Chicago teachers over Labor Day Weekend.
Karen Vieth, a Sennett Middle School teacher, described in her blog delivering a speech at the Chicago Labor Temple in which she drew a connection between the Chicago teacher union contract negotiations and Madison's upcoming discussions over an employee handbook to replace the current contract.
"We are all fighting the same fight," Vieth said. "It is a fight for our students and our schools and their right to a quality public education."
The South Central Federation of Labor announced plans to hold a rally Friday in Madison at the state Capitol to support the Chicago Teachers Union. The organization is also sending buses to a rally in Chicago on Saturday.
In a statement issued Monday, Wisconsin Education Association Council president Mary Bell said members of the state's largest teachers union "offer their full support to the Chicago Teachers Union in a fight that is about much more than a contract for the 26,000 teachers."
"In varying ways, Wisconsin educators are showing their support for CTU members, by wearing red to support public educators, donating to the solidarity fund or sending messages of support and encouragement," Bell said. "We will stick together and speak with one voice -- because based on what we've witnessed in Wisconsin, what happens in our various communities and states impacts the profession as a whole."
(c)2012 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)