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The Unsung Heroes behind the Wisconsin Recall Campaign

by Clyde Weiss  |  June 04, 2012

Peggy Peterson
Peggy Peterson, AFSCME Retiree Chapter 52, volunteers at recall headquarters. (Photo by Amy Hendrick)

MADISON, Wis. – It’s a beautiful, sunny weekend, and most people are out having fun, doing chores, or spending time with family. Yet thousands of volunteers are out knocking on doors – or inside making phone calls – to get out the vote to recall Gov. Scott Walker this Tuesday.

Then there are Peggy Peterson and Jim Terasa, just two of the real unsung heroes of the recall campaign – volunteers who perform less glamorous but equally essential jobs that make everything else work smoothly. Let’s meet them.

FIGHTING FOR THE TRUE WISCONSIN

Peterson, 61, is working in the kitchen of the Walker recall volunteer headquarters. It’s also where they get sustenance for the fight. At this moment, Peterson is cutting slices of watermelon.

Taking a break from that task, the retired state employee and member of AFSCME Retiree Chapter 52 in Madison, describes her job this way: “I’m supplying support to all the people out there getting out the vote. That means I’m running food, going out and buying food, and making sure they’re well supplied in the yard with water and ice.”

She started helping months ago, performing a variety of tasks, including data entry and workplace leafleting. Peterson was actually on a vacation after her retirement when Governor Walker launched his campaign to take away workers’ rights. That was too much for her.

“My family has been in the state of Wisconsin since before the Civil War,” she explained. “I literally came back early to get involved with this movement because Walker’s Wisconsin is not the kind of Wisconsin my family fought for, and I want to bring it back – not just for me and my co-workers, but for my family.”

She worked for months gathered petitions, entering data and teaching others how to use the data entry system. “It was basically a seven-day-a-week, 12-hour-day commitment,” she said. Her husband, Chuck, “is extremely supportive,” and even helps out when he can, she noted.

Volunteering “is so important on so many levels,” she said. Noting that Wisconsin was the first state to allow public employees the right to collectively bargain, Peterson said that she “could not stand for my generation to let that go down the tubes, when so many of my predecessors fought so hard to bring that right to the state of Wisconsin.”

DATA ENTRY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Data entry may seem to some a mundane task, at least in comparison to the adventures of those out on the streets knocking on strangers’ doors. But Jim Terasa, 59, sees it differently.

A financial specialist with the University of Wisconsin and a member of Local 24 Terasa began working data entry for the senate recalls elections last year, then for the petition drive to recall Governor Walker.

Once the fight began at the Capitol in the winter of 2011, Terasa was committed. Not only was he angry over the loss of collective bargaining, but also because of Governor Walker’s policies that led to a loss of roughly 9 percent of his salary through wage cuts and medical premium co-pays.

“This is so important to me,” he said. “We just cannot let this stand. How can you back someone who’s just ripping our state apart? It’s so sad.”

Help Peterson and Terasa and the other unsung heroes of the recall campaign. Learn how here.

Paid for by AFSCME WI Special Account, Lee Saunders, Treasurer. Not authorized by any candidate, candidate’s agent or committee.
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