Solidarity With Wisconsin’s Union Workers

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I haven’t forgotten. And I’m here to remind you about unions.  And union members.  Here’s Pete Seeger:

Yes, I know. I lament that union membership is now so small.  And that union power is at an all time low. I regret that so few workers are organized in the US, and I am aggrieved by the constant libels unions endure: for example, that the auto industry needed to be bailed out because of its union workers, not because of an overpaid, greedy management as dumb as a sack of hammers.  The dominant narrative is that the unions and not the capitalists have caused the problems in the economy. So the unions and not the bankers should make changes. And that the unions are unattractive. That they are fossils. What a joke. What utter nonsense.  

And now, again, the Teapublicans have decided that the time is ripe to try to emasculate unions.  This time the unions are those representing Wisconsin’s public employees. This union busting is nothing new.  The Teapublicans have been anti-labor and anti-union for more than a century.  They’ve never seen a lockout or a goon or a scab or an injunction they couldn’t justify.

Wisconsin has become the epicenter of an overt, concerted, explicit Teapublican effort to regress to the era of employment at will, the 6 day work week, the 12 hour day, no vacations, no sick time, no overtime, no workers’ compensation, no unemployment insurance.  Remember the Steel Barons and King Coal, garment sweatshops, and intimidation of workers?  Remember goons and Pinkertons and scabs?  Remember Haymarket Square, Big Bill Haywood, Eugene V. Debs, Mother Jones?  Remember all of that history, all of that tradition?  Do you remember what it means and what it feels like?  When unions are destroyed, when the power of unions is taken away, what remains is the Teapublican nirvana, the Nineteenth Century.

Maybe it’s time to watch Harlan County, USA again.  Or Norma Rae.  Or Matewan.  It is time to remember about unions and what they mean.  

The Teapublican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, has made no bones about his aspirations to be the new vanguard of a national, union busting movement.

According to the New York Times:


Governor Walker, in an interview, said he hoped that by “pushing the envelope” and setting an aggressive example, Wisconsin might inspire more states to curb the power of unions. “In that regard, I hope I’m inspiration just as much as others are an inspiration to me,” he said.

FreedomWorks, a Washington group that helped cultivate the Tea Party movement, said it was trying to use its lists of activists to turn out supporters for a variety of bills aimed at cutting the power of unions – not just in Wisconsin, but in Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio as well.

And officials seeking to curtail labor’s power in other states said that by focusing attention on public-sector unions, the tense standoff in Wisconsin could give them momentum.

Put another way, Walker doesn’t give a hoot about the alleged financial crisis in Wisconsin or the state’s deficit and pension and health care issues.  No.  This is his time to try to smash the public workers’ unions, and he’s going for it.  And the rest of the Teapublicans in Wisconsin’s legislature are going for it.  The threat is so real that the Democrats have had to leave the state to thwart a quorum.

This makes my blood boil. I’ve been for the Union my entire life, and I always will be.  Unions occupy an important corner in my heart and soul.  My great grandmother was in the ILGWU.  My parents were in the NEA. And I’ve been in unions, myself. I’ve pounded the pavement for six weeks in Winter, walking a picket line and subsisting on strike benefits, to demand a decent wage.  I will not cross a picket line. Ever. I am furious about the events in Wisconsin.

And I think that if this is a showdown, between union busting Teapublicans and state workers,  we all need to remember which side we’re on.  And we need to begin to find ways to act in Solidarity with the Wisconsin unions and to support their struggle for survival.

Me?  I’m sticking with the Union.  I will do whatever I can to support the struggle of Wisconsin’s Union Workers.  And I invite you to join with me.

Solidarity forever, for the union makes us strong.


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originated at The Dream Antilles

22 comments

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    • davidseth on February 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm
      Author

    Thanks for reading.

    • plf515 on February 19, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    80 years ago and even more.  

    And I am a union member – Freelancer’s Union.  I’ve been a member of other unions in the past.  

    In union there is strength!

    • plf515 on February 19, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    http://twitpic.com/419nfm

    Solidarity!

  1. Wages for the “upper poor” (formerly the so-called “middle-class”) would be what $$ an hour across the board with no benefits?  

    The Unions provide the leverage that is needed to combat run-away greedy employers.

    Here is another action that may be taken to increase solidarity with the teachers, firefighters, nurses, librarians and all protesters in Wisconsin:



              (click on logo for Action Page)

    Be sure to note just some of the signators that are on board!

    Thank you, Davidseth!

  2. Is this really it?

    Largest protest yet fails to sway Wis. lawmakers

    By TODD RICHMOND and JASON SMATHERS, Associated Press Todd Richmond And Jason Smathers, Associated Press – 2 hrs 29 mins ago

    MADISON, Wis. – Sometimes they cursed each other, sometimes they shook hands, sometimes they walked away from each other in disgust.

    None of it – not the ear-splitting chants, the pounding drums or the back-and-forth debate between 70,000 protesters – changed the minds of Wisconsin lawmakers dug into a stalemate over Republican efforts to scrap union rights for almost all public workers.

    “The people who are not around the Capitol square are with us,” said Rep. Robin Vos, a Republican from Rochester and co-chair of the Legislature’s budget committee. “They may have a bunch around the square, but we’ve got the rest on our side.” . . . . . .  

    The Wisconsin governor, elected in November’s GOP wave that also gave control of the state Assembly and Senate to Republicans, set off the protests earlier this week by pushing ahead with a measure that would require government workers to contribute more to their health care and pension costs and largely eliminate their collective bargaining rights.

    Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said the crowds that have gotten bigger each day have yet to win over any member of his caucus. . . . . .

    Doctors from numerous hospitals set up a station near the Capitol to provide notes to explain public employees’ absences from work. Family physician Lou Sanner, 59, of Madison, said he had given out hundreds of notes. Many of the people he spoke with seemed to be suffering from stress, he said.

    “What employers have a right to know is if the patient was assessed by a duly licensed physician about time off of work,” Sanner said. “Employers don’t have a right to know the nature of that conversation or the nature of that illness. So it’s as valid as every other work note that I’ve written for the last 30 years.” . . . .

    This is the right-wing media viewpoint!  Is it reality?  We have to hope and pray that it is NOT so!

    The ramifications of passage of Walker’s bill are unending and are, perhaps, best expressed here!

  3. I support the Wisconsin teachers right to collective bargaining verbally, but that’s it. I don’t, for a minute, think the the teacher’s unions will go out on a limb for American workers, in general, nor will they even seriously embarass (much less throw under the bus) anti-labor and anti-middle class Democrats. They’re not going to organize people to vote out politicians – including Democrats – who refuse to vote against “free trade” agreements.

    Noam Chomsky has pointed out a main reason that Canada has universal health care, and we don’t, is because unions fought for it for all people. In Canada, at least, unions have not proven so selfish.

    Well, we saw with the Obamacare fiasco how far unions were willing to fight for an equitable healthcare system which doesn’t further entrench the parasitic private interests, for the benefit of all Americans. Nothing seems to have changed, much, in that department!

    I probably won’t make the time, but if I had more of it available, I would call the Wisconsin teachers’ union and ask them about what they’ve done, agressively, for the welfare of American workers, in general. (Not just issue tough sounding statements, and do some lobbying. ) I’d ask them what they’re doing to roll back NAFTA, why haven’t they asked their members to pamphlet the entire state of WI about the Korean NAFTA, and their out-of-state union brethren the rest of the country, when are they going to run strongly pro-labor and strongly pro-middle-class candidates against an anti-labor and anti-middle-class Democrat incumbent, what are they doing for real (and affordable) healtcare reform for everybody, etc.

    If I do so, I’m anticipating that the answers I get will confirm my belief that the unions are only willing to fight for themselves, and will at best just talk (and lobby) on any larger measure of concern to increasingly economically fragile Americans.

    So, if the Wisconsin techers union is only willing to support me verbally, but in no other way, then I’ll not feel much motivation to do anything more to respond, in kind.

    So, good luck, Wisconsin teachers’ union! Let us know how it all works out, OK? Tooda-loo!

    P.S.: I happen to know that the question of the selfishness of unions is a complicated one. I was a participant in a phone meeting of the PDA on healthcare, and it was explained that local chapters were at odds with their national leadership. It turns out that, at the national level, they were thinking of all their pension funds that were invested in healthcare stocks!

    I think a resurgent labor movement, if it comes from unions, at all (which is what one would naively expect), would have to come from local chapters, or even just union members who form a sort of trans-union organization. The union top leadership seems mostly to be of the Veal Pen variety.

    =================

    Dump Obama!

  4. Recall of Congressional, County and State Officials: §§9.1 0(1) and (3), Wis. Stats.

    The qualified electors of any state, county, congressional, legislative, judicial, or of any prosecutorial unit may petition for the recall of any incumbent elected official by filing a petition with the same official or agency with whom nomination papers or declarations of candidacy for the office are filed, demanding the recall of the officeholder. This is an extension

    of the right to recall congressional, judicial, legislative, or county officials found in the Wisconsin Constitution since November, 1926. See Wisconsin Constitution, Article XIII, Section 12.

    • RiaD on February 20, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Solidarity through Pizza!!

    newpioneer linked to what I just read at LaVidaLocavore:

    Feed the Revolution.

    I just read this post over at Corrente about Ian’s Pizza in Madison, WI (on State Street). It seems that people from around the nation and the world have been calling Ian’s and ordering pizzas to be delivered to the protesters. At last count orders had come in from 30 states and 5 countries, including Egypt.

    So many orders came in that Ian’s had to stop taking orders from regular customers. They were only making pizzas ordered for the protesters.

    What a novel and fabulous way to support the folks in Wisconsin.

    (my emphasis)

    Corrente sez:

       This was just posted on Ian’s Facebook Wall:

         

    This is astounding! As of right now, Ian’s Pizza on State’s normal in-store and delivery operations are on hold – due to the high volume of calls, we are only processing orders donated to the protesters. By our (rather harried) count, we’ve heard from 30 states and 5 countries (including Egypt, Korea, and our northern friends, Canada). Wow. Thank you! To our regular customers: We really apologize, but… wow.

    SOLIDARITY!

    newpioneer sez:

    I’m also gonna be calling my favorite pizza place in Madison, Rocky Rococo’s on Regent St. for another pie to be delivered on behalf of all of us!

  5. 3000 guys sitting on the bench, applying for that lofty position of janitor.  I have corpo-fascism randomely making up policy based upon and targeting employees who have a long time service records with said now corpo-fascist corpo assholes who “write them up” for having the audacity to call in sick three times in five fucking years.

    The unions are dead, history, past tense in the Orwellianisms of the Gattica/Soylent green world of post modern de-populationist America.

    • rossl on February 21, 2011 at 4:25 am

    1.  Democrats are trying to take advantage of this to boost the party – in the legislature, it is Democrats vs. Republicans so Democratic strategists want to use this to boost the party.  Of course, now that they’re out of power, they LOVE unions, but they just couldn’t get it together to pass the Employee Free Choice Act!

    2.  Many tea partiers are of the same class as the union workers, but that old divide and conquer strategy on the part of the ruling class is working as beautifully as ever.  Remember, even if the tea partiers don’t, what we have in common.  (I’m not trying to lecture you, just bringing this up)

  6. In the late 90’s, I attended an organizational workshop for the International Union of Operating Engineers, local 302, in Seattle. Out of a membership of close to a 1000 members, 3 people signed up for the workshop. A 3 day workshop was rolled up after only 1 day, because of the lack of interest. 3 people… and this was after the dispatch office called every single member and asked them to participate. the workshop was scheduled in early spring, when there weren’t many jobs working yet, Seattle mud keeps the dozers and excavators from working until well into summer, so it wasn’t as if the workers couldn’t attend. I asked around at the company I worked for and the excuses were, ” goin’ snowmobiling, watching TV, fuck the union, unions are bullshit” and more of the same.

    These were comments from working union members. When I tried to incite some enthusiasm, I was told to fuck off by several of the people I worked with. One guy actually asked if I was a communist.

    Pretty pathetic.  

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