The Marathon County Labor Council is allowing Republicans to march in the Labor Day Parade.
Randy Radtke, Council President released this statement:
Labor Day is meant to celebrate the accomplishments of labor for the citizens of our country: things like better workplace safety, some retirement security through Social Security, higher pay, and some time off so workers can spend it with their families. These things have raised workplace conditions at union and non-union companies alike, and collective bargaining helps keep them strong.
We didn't start this fight in Wisconsin, but were responding to anti-worker positions and policies supported by local Republican politicians, including those who have complained about not being invited. With the track records that Pam Galloway, Sean Duffy, Scott Walker, and Jerry Petrowski have all put together this year, they should be ashamed to even show their faces at a Labor Day parade.
Just like we'd hoped, our decision has stimulated a great debate in our community about the meaning of Labor Day. But because we don't want to wind up having community groups and school bands affected in the process, we will let everyone march and hope these Republican politicians finally take away some lessons about what Labor Day really means. We know their actions and voting records speak more loudly than waving at any parade.
We have had countless offers from across our area pour in to help pay for parade costs. While we thank everyone for your generosity, we urge you instead to use it to support charities that are helping working class people who may be laid off or struggling due to the difficult economy.
President Marathon County Labor Council AFL-CIO
Last week, organizers told some area Republicans they couldn't attend the event. But Mayor Jim Tipple says if they don't include everyone, the city will no longer be a sponsor. State Senator Pam Galloway says she thinks the group went too far. Galloway says she wants to go to meet her constituents but she doesn't think organizers will change their mind.
"I'm just assuming they're going to pay for that and we're not going to be in the parade," says Galloway.
Grand marshal Representative Donna Seidel says she wasn't involved in excluding the GOP party, but she's not surprised to see conflict over workers' rights continue.
"I certainly respect the ability of the labor council to make this kind of decision," says Seidel.
But the controversy is not just a concern for politicians. What it means for our school band programs is even more complicated. The D.C. Everest High School band performs in the parade every year. But if it's no longer hosted by the city school leaders may have to pull the band out of the parade.
"We are going to make a decision that's in the best interest for our kids and school," says Principal Tom Johansen.
The mayor hopes organizers resolve the conflict quickly, so the city can have the parade without the politics.
In less than a week, the Wausau area's VIPs will take to the streets for the annual Labor Day parade. But controversy in the past few days, has shown some regulars might not be back this year.
A parade organizer with the Marathon County Labor Council made it clear some Republican lawmakers aren't invited. The reason: not supporting workers' collective bargaining rights back in February.
But Mayor Jim Tipple says because the city of Wausau pays for a portion of the parade's costs including liability insurance, the event is required to be non-partisan.
"The city does sponsor the parade we have staff that close streets put up barricades police protection,' says Tipple.
Department heads like Wausau's fire chief Gary Buchberger say they'll still participate in the parade despite the controversy.
"We are an integral part of the community and we want to support these kinds of things we have in the past and we have every intention of trying to do so in the future," says Buchberger.
And while Mayor Tipple is confident the conflict will be resolved in a few days, he hopes there won't be any protests on Labor Day.
Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple Releases Statement:
August 29, 2011- The City is a co-sponsor of the Labor Day parade event, because we provided the payment for the insurance premium for the event, and we agreed to erect a stage and provide city services at no cost to the Marathon County Central Labor Council.
The banning of a political party from participation at any event co-sponsored by the City is against public policy and not in the best interest of all the citizens of the City of Wausau. And therefore, we encourage the event organizer to invite all interested parties, or reimburse the city for other costs.
Organizers of Wausau's Labor Day parade say Republican lawmakers aren't welcome in this year's event.
The Marathon County Central Labor Council sponsors the September 5th parade. The council includes about 30 local unions from the Marathon County area.
Council president Randy Radtke says they choose not to invite elected officials who have "openly attacked worker's rights" or did nothing to intervene.
"When Scott Walker leveled his assault on workers and workers rights, the local Republicans followed in lock step with him," Radtke said.
A step he says doesn't follow the values of Labor Day.
"They wanna walk one way and talk the other way," Radtke said. "The reason Labor Day was brought about was to recognize the achievements that the labor unions have accomplished over the years."
State Senator Pam Galloway says unions are only a fraction of the labor represented in the parade and only part of what the parade is all about.
"I'm a worker, you're a worker, we're not represented by unions," Galloway said. "It's not appropriate for the citizens of the city of Wausau to be deprived of contact with their elected representatives. When I go to these parades, I try to talk with people before the parade actually starts."
Other Republican leaders, including Rep. Sean Duffy's office say they hoped political differences could be set aside for the family friendly event.
The Republican Party of Lincoln County says the tradition of a shared event will now end over "petty and short sighted anger toward legally elected officials."
Republicans are hoping to work with Wausau city officials to resolve the conflict before Labor Day.