Wisconsin protests: updates and discussion

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Malcy
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Feb 13 2011 00:56
Wisconsin protests: updates and discussion

Wisconsin governor threatens to use National Guard

Just saw this on Labourstart. Republican Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, threatening to draft in National Guard to maintain state services in the event of any resistance to his plan. Does anyone close, or in, Wisconsin know what the mood is among the state workers? Uill they strike?

admin: thread title changed from "Wisconsin withdrawing collective bargaining rights from state workers. Governor threatens to use National Guard."

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Chilli Sauce
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Feb 13 2011 10:39

That is fucking mental. I mean, I have no love for the trade unions, but this is just next level. This is a serious ruling class offensive and, man, if they can do that in Wisconsin, I can only imagine what the knock-on effect will be in other states.

Seriously tho, does anyone have contacts in Wisconsin? I want to hear more.

Plumber
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Feb 13 2011 16:13

I'll be posting information here about what is going on as it develops. The tiny left minority is trying to quickly organize the rank-n-file into a more cohesive form. Please ask questions and I'll check back and try to answer them. All I can say is that shit is hitting the fan in a way I've never seen.

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Steven.
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Feb 13 2011 16:18

Cheers plumber

gypsy
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Feb 13 2011 16:44

what a mess

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Tojiah
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Feb 13 2011 16:51

If it works in Wisconsin it can only spread further. The Cuomo, the new governor of New York (a Democrat, of all things) has targeting the nasty State employee unions as a main part of his agenda, for the same reason: to reduce the State deficit. He'll only be goaded on by a success over there.

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Chilli Sauce
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Feb 13 2011 18:44

Thanks Plumber, please keep us updated with articles, thoughts, impressions, etc.

Plumber
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Feb 13 2011 23:14

A mish-mash of Rank-n-Filers are organizing this to call for militant actions. If the legislation goes through we'll use this to push a city wide general strike...........Democratic union leaders are telling us we can turn this around by lobbing on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Capital building. We'll see......

Tuesday
February 15, 2011
5 to 9 p.m.
Orpheum Theatre
216 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin
5-7 open mic
7-8 panel discussion
8-9 open mic

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jesuithitsquad
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Feb 14 2011 00:30

I agree with Chili Sauce that this is a full-frontal offensive. Most public sector unions (the article didn't say, but it's gotta be AFSCME, right?) are contractually restricted from striking. However, as it appears from the article Gov. Walker intends to nullify the contract in March, I would think the no-strike provision of the contract would go by the wayside as well (unless the no-strike piece is mandated by law? honestly idk).

This is part of a nationwide trend as mentioned by Tojah. In Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is doing his level best to destroy the teacher's unions. Fortunately, he has presidential pretensions which will probably limit a full out assault on unions like we're seeing in Wisconsin. To think most people thought Tommy Thompson was a far-out extremist, yet, he would have never dared go this far. Wisconsin's electoral politics are very schizophrenic.

As an aside, I wonder if things start kicking off in a major way if some of the midwest/great lakes libcom posters here (myself, Nate, Juan Conatz to think of a few) could see if we can do some coordinated activity. Just something to think about . .

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jesuithitsquad
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Feb 14 2011 01:13

More detailed information in this New York Times article.

NY Times wrote:
His proposal would make it harder for unions to collect dues because the state would stop collecting the money from employee paychecks.

He would further weaken union treasuries by giving members of public-sector unions the right not to pay dues. In an unusual move, he would require secret-ballot votes each year at every public-sector union to determine whether a majority of workers still want to be unionized.

He would require public-employee unions to negotiate new contracts every year, an often lengthy process. And he would limit the raises of state employees and teachers to the consumer price index, unless the public approves higher raises through a referendum. Exempted from those changes would be firefighters and law enforcement personnel.

Yes, clearly this is all about saving money and not at all about breaking the union. roll eyes

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Juan Conatz
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Feb 14 2011 01:28
jesuithitsquad wrote:
As an aside, I wonder if things start kicking off in a major way if some of the midwest/great lakes libcom posters here (myself, Nate, Juan Conatz to think of a few) could see if we can do some coordinated activity. Just something to think about . .

I grew up in the tri state/Dubuque area where Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin meet. Don't have many contacts in Wisconsin, though. I know there's a Madison IWW branch, but I'm not sure what they do (besides the Just Coffee shop) and past attempts at contacting them here in Iowa (from Eastern Iowa branch of 2006-2007) rarely amounted in replies. That was before my time though.

There's also some Crimethincers that work in the Miller Brewing factories in Milwaukee, but not sure if they are still around or what they do now.

petey
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Feb 14 2011 01:43
NY Times wrote:
Exempted from those changes would be firefighters and law enforcement personnel

hoooo-boyyyyy

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devoration1
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Feb 14 2011 01:57

For what it's worth, I'm in one of the few states in the US that doesn't give public workers the right to collectively bargain (West Virginia; the rest being mostly Right-To-Work strongholds like Texas and the deep South)- however, the issue has come up every year in the local government (House and Senate) since the early 1970's. On the one hand, it wouldn't surprise me if (assuming this measure gets passed in full by the state gov't in Wisconsin) the Democrats put forward a bill giving the right to collectively bargain back to public workers every year until it passes like they've been doing here in WV (another measure could be to piecemeal it out- a bill is currently before the WV House to give public education workers the right to collective bargaining only; doing so may eventually put the status quo back for sections of the public sector workforce).

Quote:
Most public sector unions (the article didn't say, but it's gotta be AFSCME, right?) are contractually restricted from striking.

Instead of just 1 public sector union you've got a whole bunch of formerly industry or craft-specific unions who will now organize just about anybody (I bet if you called the Painters or Longshoremans or Machinists unions to organize a county clerks office they'd let you join and call an NLRB vote). NYC is a prime example- theres probably over a dozen different unions (some craft, some industrial, some general) all organizing the public sector and overlapping eachother. I'm sure Wisconsin has this same trend as the rest of the US.

Plumber
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Feb 14 2011 02:20

Madison IWW
I am the secretary of the branch, feel free to contact me here.

syndicalist
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Feb 14 2011 06:05

This is "interesting" in a state that used to have a large trade union and social democratic movment (WI used to be the home of "sewer socialism")...... I suspect NJ will jump on board as well....the Christie admin has been going hard at public workers, teachers......

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Schwarz
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Feb 14 2011 07:21
Tojiah wrote:
If it works in Wisconsin it can only spread further. The Cuomo, the new governor of New York (a Democrat, of all things) has targeting the nasty State employee unions as a main part of his agenda, for the same reason: to reduce the State deficit. He'll only be goaded on by a success over there.

Ugh, Cuomo doesn't even need goading. He came out a couple weeks before he even won the election (after all, Paladino was beyond crackpot with no chance of winning) saying in an interview with the Times that his tactic to break the gridlock in Albany was to - I think this is a direct quote - "break the backs of the unions."

My union is negotiating a new contract with the state and with all the cuts I'm not sure how it's going to shake out. Will they cut our wages? Will we lose our benefits? Fuck...

It's funny, because for those of us who lived here in the 80's, we remember his father (the former governor) as the sort of standard bearer for New Deal liberalism. I mean, yeah a piece of shit, but he actually paid lip service... Cuomo the Younger won't even consider raising taxes on the investment banker scumbags that dominate our city and have turned Manhattan into basically a gated community. Oh how the tide has turned.

I was at a talk the other day and some guy called the latest offensive on public sector unions in the US capital's 'final solution'. He may be right..

Good luck you folks in Wisconsin.

petey
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Feb 14 2011 17:36
Schwarz wrote:
Ugh, Cuomo doesn't even need goading. He came out a couple weeks before he even won the election (after all, Paladino was beyond crackpot with no chance of winning) saying in an interview with the Times that his tactic to break the gridlock in Albany was to - I think this is a direct quote - "break the backs of the unions."

right, and then stuck this in the face of the working families party and got their endorsement anyway.

who are the working families party?

Quote:
Affiliate Member Organizations:

Amalgamated Lithographers Association – Local 1, GCC/IBT
Amalgamated Transit Union – Locals 580, 1056
American Federation of Musicians – Local 802
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees – Locals SSEU 371, 983, 1549, 1930
Buffalo Teachers Federation, NEA
Citizen Action of New York
Communication Workers of America – District Council 1 & Local 1180, Mailers 6, NABET 16
Graphic Communications Union/IBT – Locals 119B-43B, 51-23
International Association of Machinists – Local 9 Limo Drivers
International Brotherhood of Teamsters – Joint Council 16 & Locals 111, 202, 282, 317, 445, 522, 805, 808, 812, 813, 1205
Laborers International Union of North America – Mason Tenders District Council of NYC/LI & Locals 147, 754
Long Island Progressive Coalition, CANY
National Education Association, NYS
New York Professional Nurses Union
Office & Professional Employees International Union – Local 153
Public Employees Federation, NYS
Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union – International & Local 338
Service Employees International Union – Locals 32B-32J, 74, 200United, 758, 1199 Healthcare Workers East
Sheet Metal Workers International Union – Locals 74, 137 Social Service Employees Union Local 371
Transit Workers Union – International & Locals 100, 101
United Auto Workers – Regions 9, 9A & Locals 2110, 2320, 2325
United Association of Plumbers & Steam Pipe Fitters – NYS Council & Locals 1, 773
United Federation of Teachers, AFT – Local 2
United Food and Commercial Workers – Region 1 & Local 1500
United Steel Workers of America – Local 9265
UNITE HERE! – Laundry, Dry Cleaning and Allied Workers Joint Board, Metropolitan Joint Board, New York Regional Joint Board, and NYS Council

http://www.workingfamiliesparty.org/about/who-we-are/

Blackhawk
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Feb 14 2011 22:11

I'll try to keep you all posted as things happen. I just finished writing this bit below with a rough overview of the situation.

War Declared on State Sector Workers
http://libcom.org/news/wisconsin-war-declared-state-workers-15022011

admin: article moved to news section

Cleishbotham
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Feb 14 2011 23:39

"The states' bond ratings are heavily based upon the state regimes willingness to attack state workers."

Is this not the global story right now? The starvation fo funds to the local states (or in the UK to local authorities) is another feature being replicated everywhere. Wisconsin - vanguard of the bourgeoisie...

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Steven.
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Feb 15 2011 09:44

Blackhawk, thanks for that article, I moved it into our news section. If you write any more articles about these developments please feel free to post them to our news or library sections as appropriate (library is for comment/opinion as opposed to news)

petey
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Feb 15 2011 13:30

he may fail, on a very practical level:

Quote:
Veterans are strongly objecting to Governor Scott Walker's inappropriate threat to activate the National Guard to intimidate state workers, as his administration moves forward with plans to break up workers' unions.

"Maybe the new governor doesn't understand yet - but the National Guard is not his own personal intimidation force to be mobilized to quash political dissent," said Robin Eckstein, a former Wisconsin National Guard member, Iraq War Veteran from Appleton, WI, and member of VoteVets.org. "The Guard is to be used in case of true emergencies and disasters, to help the people of Wisconsin, not to bully political opponents. Considering many veterans and Guard members are union members, it's even more inappropriate to use the Guard in this way. This is a very dangerous line the Governor is about to cross."

http://www.votevets.org/news?id=0409

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jesuithitsquad
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Feb 15 2011 15:44

this is awesome

Quote:
About 100 high school students in Stoughton walked out of class yesterday, to support their teachers who are trying to hang onto their union bargaining rights. Junior Theron Luhn helped organize the protest. He said quote, “Let’s show Governor Walker that we care about learning – and the teachers are worth every cent that we pay to them.” Walker wants public employee unions throughout the state to drop all of their bargaining rights except for pay raises at-or-below inflation. And he wants them to pay more toward their pensions and health insurance. It would apply to teacher unions, but not local police-and-fire unions. There are reports that Walker will propose a reduction of state aid to public schools and local governments in his next state budget, in exchange for more flexibility in bringing down labor costs. At Sun Prairie High School, about 10 students cheered for teachers as they walked in the door yesterday morning. Madison East High School students plan a protest march to the State Capitol today. And the Wisconsin State Journal says there’s a Facebook group started by Platteville students which called for a statewide student walkout today. State Public School Superintendent Tony Evers wrote to legislative leaders asking them to reject the Walker budget plan.

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Juan Conatz
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Feb 15 2011 17:49

source?

gypsy
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Feb 15 2011 17:57
jesuithitsquad wrote:
this is awesome
Quote:
About 100 high school students in Stoughton walked out of class yesterday, to support their teachers who are trying to hang onto their union bargaining rights. Junior Theron Luhn helped organize the protest. He said quote, “Let’s show Governor Walker that we care about learning – and the teachers are worth every cent that we pay to them.” Walker wants public employee unions throughout the state to drop all of their bargaining rights except for pay raises at-or-below inflation. And he wants them to pay more toward their pensions and health insurance. It would apply to teacher unions, but not local police-and-fire unions. There are reports that Walker will propose a reduction of state aid to public schools and local governments in his next state budget, in exchange for more flexibility in bringing down labor costs. At Sun Prairie High School, about 10 students cheered for teachers as they walked in the door yesterday morning. Madison East High School students plan a protest march to the State Capitol today. And the Wisconsin State Journal says there’s a Facebook group started by Platteville students which called for a statewide student walkout today. State Public School Superintendent Tony Evers wrote to legislative leaders asking them to reject the Walker budget plan.

hope more students follow suit.

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jesuithitsquad
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Feb 15 2011 18:38

Sorry, it's a news round-up: Lots of other interesting things in there:

-Rallies at UW and UW-M.

-Walker says national guard will only be used for prisons in case of work stoppage.

-No Wisconsin govenor has used troops against public employees as far back as the '30s.

-Passage of bill not a certainty despite GOP majorities in both houses.

-State union workers say they will swallow 8% cut but won't accept loss of bargaining rights.

-Administration getting daily agency attendance reports by 10a in order to monitor potential work stoppage.

-Security beefed up at state capitol by using DNR wardens for patrols.

-State's FMLA to be gutted in new budget. Part-time workers to lose access to family leave.

And the most depressing news:

Quote:
State union leaders have emphasized that they won’t strike, slow down their work, or hold sick-ins in response to Governor Scott Walker’s proposed cuts in union benefits and bargaining power.

Hopefully, this is just a misdirection thing, but somehow I doubt it. If I were to guess I'd say the unions are going to eschew direct action in favor of legal challenges but time will tell. . . hope I'm wrong.

Blackhawk
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Feb 15 2011 19:04

The pay cut of 8% is on top of the 17-18% that is set to be taken out of workers paychecks and put into the pension and benefit schemes.

The unions have precluded a strike from the start, that doesn't mean a strike wont happen, but it isn't likely. It also isn't likely that the army will be called out given that strike action has been ruled out. Depending on how things go this could change by the end of the week. The thing with the national guard threat is mostly bluster, as he can't send the army to surround every single government related building in the state--there aren't that many soldiers in the Wisconsin National Guard. It could be that they would be called on the prison guards union, but I doubt they will go on strike either. It is the first time such a threat has been aimed at state workers here ever.

There is no "right to strike" for government employees. That "right" was decided by legislation on a state by state basis. The only "right" state sector workers have is this right to collective bargaining and union representation. They can either lobby the bosses, or go wildcat. The current tactic of the unions is to lobby the state legislature to attempt to scale back the parts of the bill that are the worst for them. They might be forced to change this tactic as it will kill the unions guaranteed, there is no way workers will waste the time paying dues to an organization that can't collectively bargain on working conditions, or bargain for wages above the CPI adjusted inflation rate index. What is more state sector unions will subsequently be wiped out nationwide eliminating the last major portion of workers organized into unions.

Also, the current Obama federal budget is going to cut federal funds to the local UW Synchroton Radiation Research Laboratory, with about thirty workers facing immanent layoffs and the end of the research program.

petey
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Feb 15 2011 19:20
Blackhawk wrote:
There is no "right to strike" for government employees. That "right" was decided by legislation on a state by state basis.

in NYS, e.g., there's the hated Taylor Law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor_Law

Quote:
The Public Employees Fair Employment Act (the Taylor Law) is a New York State statute named after labor researcher George W. Taylor which authorizes a governor-appointed State Public Employment Relations Board to resolve contract disputes for public employees while curtailing their right to strike. The law provides for mediation and binding arbitration to give voice to unions, while work stoppages are made punishable with fines and jail time. The United Federation of Teachers and the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association challenged the Taylor Law at its 1967 inception. Following a 2005 strike, Transit Workers’ president Roger Toussaint was incarcerated for three days as per a Taylor Law ruling.
David in Atlanta
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Feb 15 2011 19:31

Green Bay Packers Support Wis. Public Employees

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jesuithitsquad
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Feb 15 2011 19:33
Quote:
There is no "right to strike" for government employees. That "right" was decided by legislation on a state by state basis. The only "right" state sector workers have is this right to collective bargaining and union representation. They can either lobby the bosses, or go wildcat.

Right, I was pretty sure this was the case, but my surprise is that if the actual existance of the union is on the line, I figured they might try to be a bit more militant. I mean, Jesus, if you can't be counted on to take some manner of action when they are actively trying to break the union, what's the point of having a union, like you say.

Blackhawk
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Feb 15 2011 21:59

Well, they might not have a choice but to strike. I'm not sure exactly if the official word of no strike was just the unions "playing their cards close to their chest" in the event a strike becomes necessary or if they really mean no strike action will be taken at all. My feeling is that locals that go out will find themselves isolated and without support from the unions or the public.

I should qualify the cuts and higher contributions currently being floated about actually add up to a 16% greater bite out of take home pay.

gypsy
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Feb 15 2011 22:11

cheers blackhawk for all the info.