Spokeswoman: Wis. National Guard preparing for possibility of guarding prisons if guards walk

By Associated Press (via Fox6)
Feb 22, 2011

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin National Guard spokeswoman says its members have been visiting prisons to prepare for securing them in the event that correctional officers walk off the job to protest Gov. Scott Walker.

Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie said Tuesday that guard members visited the Redgranite Correctional Institution in central Wisconsin and others in recent weeks. She stressed that the visits were to update long-standing contingency plans for providing services during an emergency, and that Walker had not asked the guard to be on alert.

Guthrie noted that then-Acting Gov. Martin Schreiber activated 6,000 members of the guard in 1977 amid a work stoppage to guard prisoners and deliver other state services. She said that, based on history, “of course we’re going to be prepared should such a call come.”

See also the Badger Herald:
Labor leaders call reports of strike endorsement premature.National Guard official says Guard ready to take over in case strike indeed occurs

By David Brazy
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday’s reports that the South Central Federation of Labor was calling for a general strike may have been premature, according to a federation official.

SCFL Vice President David Mandehr said despite media rumors, the federation did not endorse a general strike at its monthly meeting on Monday night because its bylaws do not allow the members to do so.

“Basically we had a vote, and it’s just a motion to form a committee on how we could get information out to our constituents if a general strike is called,” Mandehr said.

Mandehr said if a general strike would be called, it would have to go through the AFL-CIO with the SCFL’s affiliate unions.

The SCFL is an umbrella organization representing 97 unions and 45,000 members in five Wisconsin counties, according to the SCFL website.

Some of the confusion may have come from a statement on the SCFL’s website which said the federation would endorse a strike if the bill is passed.

“The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his ‘budget repair bill,’” the statement said.

However, under the statement endorsing a general strike the website also said the SCFL did not call for a strike at the meeting because they did not have the authority.

The SCFL also passed a motion opposing all aspects of the budget repair bill at the meeting.

If the repair bill is passed, many workers are not planning on backing down. Union member Cheri Caff said they will continue to stand up to Walker’s plan.

“We need to go head to head with him until he backs off of our bargaining rights,” Carr said.

If the repair bill is passed and widespread strikes follow — including correctional officers — the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to help support state prisons, according to Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie.

Guthrie said the National Guard has visited state correction facilities this year. She added they do routine visits every year to be prepared in the event of any kind of emergency.

“We are always ready to ensure the safety of Wisconsin … we are also preparing for spring flooding and a flu pandemic but that doesn’t mean those things will happen,” Guthrie said.