People in every walk of life and every part of the country -- even other countries -- are expressing heartfelt gratitude to the 14 Democratic state senators who left Wisconsin Feb. 17 rather than allow Gov. Scott Walker to pass a sham budget bill taking from state and local workers the right to bargain for good middle-class jobs.Gov. Walker and state Republicans may be sending them $100-a-day fines and arrest warrants, but take a look at some Facebook and phone messages real people are sending the brave Wisconsin 14:
- "I've got 20 plus years in in Department of Corrections and I myself have walked through the halls of hell literally... I've dealt with escapes, fire, suicides, Jeffrey Dahmer... In my opinion, the 14 of you are clearly as big American heroes as those who are dying in the war overseas right now."
- "Today I will start tithing 1 percent every day of my daily income for your re-election campaigns!"
- "I was taught to either stand for something or fall for anything... Thank you for setting a great example!"
- "My parents in northern Illinois would be glad to feed you a home-cooked meal -- just drop me a note and I'll put you in touch."
- "History will look back on you not only as heroes of the American working class but also as patriots in the purest form as inspired by the founding fathers of this country."
- "Keep up the good work, and if you need $100 -- any one of you -- I am, definitely, willing to sacrifice Benjamin Franklin to keep you guys out of state until this situation is over."
- "As a social worker in Wisconsin barely able to pay my own bills on my income, I want to say Thank You to all of you... I see first-hand what happens when services are cut and people are unable to get the services they need--the stress, the homelessness, the inability to get mental health or health services in general and the revolving door of our horrible "justice" system. It's horrible. Please keep up the fight."
- "I have never taken a stand before but now I do, with all 14 of you!"
- "You are what democracy is all about!"
- "Thank you, thank you, thank you! Please know how much the citizens of Wisconsin understand your sacrifices in leaving your homes, families and constituents to do the right thing and stop this ridiculous budget 'repair' bill. You give us hope!"
- "Thank you all for the guts you have shown throughout this time. I believe the story of the Wisconsin 14 will go down in history."
- "Muchas gracias."
- "Thank you all from Canada. We believe in free collective bargaining. It is a human right and courageous folks like you and the protesters make us all proud!"
- "Thank you from your neighbors in Minnesota who were only 8,500 votes away from being in the same situation had we not elected Mark Dayton."
- "I have never been more proud of a group of men and women..."
- "You are the heroes of the whole nation. This is not only about middle-class union workers, it is about all of us."
- "Finally, politicians who stand for something they truly believe in."
- "I'm a little choked up here because I realize the sacrifice that you are making. They put the pressure on you. They're trying to turn the screws on you. I appreciate your courage. Your vision... And the backbone that you're showing."
- "Sorry you're away from your families, but because of your efforts we all hopefully have better family lives."
- "You are on the right side of history."
- "I'm down at the capitol right now. I am a retiree. I've been here every day at least twice a day. I have other things to do... like our 14 senators do. But this is the most important thing that's happened in Wisconsin in my life. I'll be 70 in September... God bless and keep you always."
Let me add my thanks and my admiration for the Wisconsin state legislators -- and those from Indiana -- who have left home and are living out of suitcases for weeks to do the people's work.
Follow Richard Trumka on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RichardTrumka