Koch Industries Orchestrating Wisconsin Anti-Teacher Protest

protesting governor walkerKoch Industries Slashed Wisconsin Jobs, Helped Elect Governor Scott Walker, Now Orchestrating Pro-Walker Protest

Wisconsin’s newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker is facing a growing backlash over his attempt to cut pay and eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in his state. Although Walker is claiming his power grab is an attempt to close a budget gap, the budget “crisis” was engineered by Walker as soon as he got into office. As Brian Beutler reported, half of the budget shortfall comes from Walker’s own tax cuts for businesses and other business giveaways enacted in January.

A number of the big business interests standing with Walker are beneficiaries of his administration’s tax giveaways. But the greatest ally to Walker is the dirty energy company Koch Industries. In response to the growing protests in Madison, Koch fronts are busing in Tea Party protesters to support Walker and his union-busting campaign. Last week, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz reported on the involvement of Club for Growth and the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity in the pro-Walker protest scheduled over the weekend.

Watch it:

Koch Industries is a major player in Wisconsin: Koch owns a coal company subsidiary with facilities in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan; six timber plants throughout the state; and a large network of pipelines in Wisconsin. While Koch controls much of the infrastructure in the state, they have laid off workers to boost profits. At a time when Koch Industries owners David and Charles Koch awarded themselves an extra $11 billion of income from the company, Koch slashed jobs at their Green Bay plant:

Officials at Georgia-Pacific said the company is laying off 158 workers at its Day Street plant because out-of-date equipment at the facility is being replaced with newer, more-efficient equipment. The company said much of the new, papermaking equipment will be automated. […] Malach tells FOX 11 that the layoffs are not because of a drop in demand. In fact, Malach said demand is high for the bath tissue and napkins manufactured at the plant.

Koch Industries was one of the biggest contributors to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign, funneling $43,000 over the course of last year. In return, Koch front groups are closely guiding the Walker agenda. The American Legislative Exchange Council, another Koch-funded group, advised Walker and the GOP legislature on its anti-labor legislation and its first corporate tax cuts.

According to the EPA, Koch businesses are huge polluters, emitting thousands of pounds of toxic pollutants. As soon as he got into office Walker started cutting environmental regulations and appointed a Republican known for her disregard for environmental regulations to lead the Department of Natural Resources. In addition, Walker has stated his opposition to clean energy jobs policies that might draw workers away from Koch-owned interests.

lee fang think progressMoreover, other organizers for the pro-Walker protest are from groups associated with corporate and Koch interests. American Majority, a Virginia-based front group founded by organizers funded by millionaire investor Howie Rich, is on the ground contacting Wisconsin Tea Parties to support Walker in Madison. Austin James, an American Majority official who was caught teaching Tea Party members to spam Amazon.com profiles of liberal books with negative comments, is the contact for the Facebook page organizing the pro-Walker protest. Eric O’Keefe, a longtime conservative operative who helps lead American Majority, attends Koch strategy meetings.

Lee Fang

Think Progress


  1. George A. Crackuh says

    This is just a load of misdirection and blather by one frightened lefty-regressive who sees the end of the cushy era of freeloading off the taxpayers coming to an abrupt end.

    If private businesses are supporting Gov. Walkers sensible moves to rein in the featherbedding teachers unions, good for them, it’s their right to do so. After all, Obama already sent his goons and thugs in to make Hitler signs and push peaceful citizens around. It’s going to backfire on him, badly.

    I’m also happy for all the factories to be made as automated as is economically realistic to do so.

    You regressives make it ever more difficult to afford an employee, and ever more problematic to deal with one, and then you are so surprised when businesses look for another way to get the job done!

    GA-Pacific slashed jobs? Good! Businesses are not created to be jobs programs for unhappy people – businesses are there to serve customers and make a profit for the owners. If you don’t like how somebody runs that business, you can leave, and start your own, better-run business. Make all the profits you can, and share them out any way you like.

    Not all teachers are a bunch of fat, coddled, overpaid, bullies, but way too many are, and the unions are the worst part of it. We the taxpayers have had it with all the double-dealing fat-cats in and around the government, and the teachers unions are a huge part of the problem.

    This overdue turnaround in Madison is just the beginning – this is going to be replicated all over the country very soon. Our federally-corrupted school system is a vast money-sucking failure which does a truly crappy job of educating our kids. Not to mention the malignant social brainwashing they get instead.

    I expect this will year we will see the acceleration of all sorts of home schooling, and charter schools, and private schools, and voucher programs. And our kids and our country will be all the better for it.

    Can’t happen fast enough, for me.

    • Adam Eran says

      Yet another right-winger who believes that private is always good, public is always bad, and the oligarchs have earned their money, while the unions are simply the last refuge of the lazy. The truth: in the last 3 – 4 decades, real productivity has increased, so real incomes can increase (consult your economics text for the reasons). The trouble is that real incomes for the bottom 90% have been flat, while the tippy-top of the income pyramid has had a dramatic raise. One study puts the increase for the top 0.01% at 497% (the real number). See http://select.nytimes.com/2006/02/27/opinion/27krugman.html

      The attack on Teachers is particularly awful since none of the “buzz word” solutions for real educational problems demonstrates the slightest effectiveness. Neither testing, nor merit pay nor charter schools, nor any of the other “celebrity solutions” (Tony Danza gets a reality show as an English teacher…for reals) actually work. The most ludicrous such solution is testing. Teachers who are most effective one week are least effective the next in trials of this solution.

      Unmentioned by the “reformers” of education (actually union busters) is that one statistic really correlates quite well with educational achievement: childhood poverty. Believe it or not, the “Waiting for Superman” crowd touting these magical solutions for education suggests Finland as the model system. Unmentioned by that film or such pundits: Finnish teachers are unionized, paid quite well, and Finnish childhood poverty is at 3%. In the U.S., childhood poverty is at 23%.

      All the magical thinking in the world, or blaming those lazy, good-for-nothing teachers unions, might temporarily disguise the agenda here (fight amongst yourselves, little people, but ignore those who have stolen your money), but it’s likely the truth will out.

      Now all we need is to prosecute the fraud on Wall St. (Don’t miss: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-isnt-wall-street-in-jail-20110216). Interesting side note: Current Wall St. bonuses exceed the current California deficit.

    • Uri Fulla Shytte says

      Nice try, cracker. You don’t even make enough money to qualify as a Republican.

      Unions are one of the pillars that once made this country great and made your existence, wretched as it is, possible. Labor precedes capital and without which capital is useless. I want the Wisconsin public sector employees to all get raises, recall the fascist pig Walker, and vote every Republican corporate stooge out of office.

      It’s ignorant sociopathic cowards like you who do the bidding of your corporate puppet masters and the hilarious irony is that you get nothing out of it, absolutely nothing. The Dickensian world of serfdom you want to return to with everyone poor except the Koch brothers is fine for your family, but not for normal people.

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