Wisconsin protests: updates and discussion

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David in Atlanta
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Feb 16 2011 00:21

Thousands descend on Capitol to protest Walker’s plans

Quote:
The state Capitol was awash Tuesday in protests as thousands gathered to voice opposition to a bill by Gov. Scott Walker that would greatly weaken organized labor in Wisconsin.
Mike Harman
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Feb 16 2011 05:42
jesuithitsquad wrote:
it's gotta be AFSCME, right?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3mw49mk_x0 (sorry)

I just caught up with the thread, does this about summarise it?

- There's no legal ability to strike for public sector workers in most states.
- Several states are going to try to do this, but on different timetables.
- There have already been some small student walkouts (and teachers too?)
- This rally/march in the previous comment - was that a union organised 'lobby' or was it a bit less standard than that?

Mike Harman
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Feb 16 2011 06:02

Video: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_de45ba12-3935-11e0-9b64-001cc4c002e0.html?mode=video

Also, whoah - a sick for today has closed the entire school district!

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_acba30f4-398a-11e0-b927-001cc4c03286.html

Quote:
Madison schools will be closed Wednesday as teachers planned a district-wide absence to attend protests against Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to limit union bargaining.
District Superintendent Dan Nerad made the announcement at 11 p.m. Tuesday after 40 percent of the 2,600 members of the teacher's union had called in sick and more were expected to do so through Wednesday morning.
"At this ratio we have serious concerns about our ability to maintain safe and secure school environments," Nerad said in the announcement.
Although classes won't be held for students, all district staff members will be expected to report to the school, Nerad said in a statement.
Earlier Tuesday, Nerad said teachers who take a sick day will be asked to show proof of a medical reason. Those who don't could face sanctions such as docked pay. Teachers aren't able to take a personal day with less than three days' notice.
petey
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Feb 16 2011 14:06

smile

Mike Harman wrote:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3mw49mk_x0 (sorry)

oh don't apologize!

Spikymike
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Feb 16 2011 16:17

On a slightly related note there was a top official from Wisconsin on BBC's Newsnight last night for a long session in the studio and on location in Liverpool describing their 'no work- no benefits' regime and promoting it here without any opposition response but a favourable reply from a Tory spokesperson - it's basically an even tougher regime than here trying to force people into very low paid jobs. So attacks on all fronts it seems.

petey
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Feb 16 2011 19:49
Quote:
MADISON, Wis. – Thousands of people descended on the Wisconsin state Capitol again Wednesday to protest a bill that would strip most public employees of their collective bargaining rights, but Gov. Scott Walker insisted he has the votes to pass the measure.

...

If adopted, the bill would mark an especially dramatic shift for Wisconsin, which was the first state to pass a comprehensive collective bargaining law in 1959. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — the national union representing all non-federal public employees — was founded in 1936 in Madison.

There were some signs that support for the plan may be waning among Republicans who control the Legislature. Senate Republicans met in secret Wednesday morning to discuss the bill. Asked where Republicans stood on Walker's proposal, Sen. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse told The Associated Press, "That's a really good question. I don't know."

The protests have been larger and more sustained than any in Madison in decades. More than 1,000 protesters, many of whom spent the night in sleeping bags on the floor of the Rotunda, shouted "Kill this bill!" on Wednesday.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110216/ap_on_re_us/us_wisconsin_budget_unions

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jesuithitsquad
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Feb 17 2011 02:09

Apparently there were another 10k on the statehouse lawn.

I read somewhere--can't recall where atm--that protesters took over the committee room where the legislation is being discussed. It was referred to as a "citizen's fillibuster" which has a nice ring to it.

scottydont
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Feb 17 2011 22:41

Live updates here:
http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/478537/live_reporting_from_the_massive_protests_in_wisconsin_--_over_30,000_assemble_at_the_capitol/

Also unconfirmed news (via a friend of a friend) of 400 people occupying Bolton Hall at UW. Will get a source on that as soon as I can...

aloeveraone
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Feb 18 2011 01:03

Democratic senators have boycotted the vote to prevent a quorum, and they've supposedly left the state after the majority leader said the State Patrol could be used to "round up" the dems. Head of the State Patrol is the father of the majority leader.

Report: Wis. Dem State Senators Leave State To Block Budget Quorum

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Tojiah
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Feb 18 2011 01:32
aloeveraone wrote:
Democratic senators have boycotted the vote to prevent a quorum, and they've supposedly left the state after the majority leader said the State Patrol could be used to "round up" the dems. Head of the State Patrol is the father of the majority leader.

Report: Wis. Dem State Senators Leave State To Block Budget Quorum

Can they be "fired", as it were, for leaving the State for a prolonged span of time? A gutsy move, in any case.

RedHughs
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Feb 18 2011 03:40

Well, after the democrats have rolled-over in every other imaginable way, a bit of opposition is ... well, I'm not sure... I suppose you could give them some credit or some small, plastic prize... Anyone closer to the area might have an opinion.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that the democrats could not be removed from office for leaving the state to escape quorum.

On the other hand, no occupation of the capital or refusal of the electoral process is going to change the war plan outlined by capital. I'd cynically expect the democrats want some share of the retirement funds the republicans plan to loot and once that share is negotiated, the whole democratic process can continue...

Still, things are certainly `in flux`...

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jesuithitsquad
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Feb 18 2011 04:53

Yeah, no way would they try to remove all dems from office. The same thing happened in Texas a few years ago where the Democrats fled the state to avoid a quorum on redistricting where they were going to lose 5 congressional seats. As I recall, Tom DeLay was involved in trying to get the Texas Rangers (the cops, not the baseball team, obv) to unsuccessfully arrest members as they left the state, and I believe that whole process was part of the beginning of the end for DeLay who is now facing a prison sentence for corruption or something of the sort.

Eh, on the Democrats though it is surprising to find out some of them might actually be vertebrates. Funny thing to say the bravest thing any democrat has done in years is run away from a fight.

Anyway, even though the occupations are unlikely to change the the 'war plan' it is good to see some fight back.

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jef costello
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Feb 18 2011 11:01
aloeveraone wrote:
Democratic senators have boycotted the vote to prevent a quorum, and they've supposedly left the state after the majority leader said the State Patrol could be used to "round up" the dems. Head of the State Patrol is the father of the majority leader.
[/url]

So they can't win the vote but if they refuse to vote then the vote is invalid because it doesn't meet quorum?

petey
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Feb 18 2011 18:47
jef costello wrote:
So they can't win the vote but if they refuse to vote then the vote is invalid because it doesn't meet quorum?

right.

from today's nyt:

Quote:
The protests along the Capitol square have grown enormous. On Friday, Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., was expected to appear at a rally, while counterdemonstrators said they were planning their own rally over the weekend.

On Thursday, the drama had risen to a boil with the prospect of a vote seemingly imminent. Protesters blocked a door to the Senate chambers. They sat down, body against body, filling a corridor. They chanted “Freedom, democracy, unions!” in the stately gallery as the senators convened.

Then there was a new twist: the Democrats disappeared.

That left Republicans, who control the Capitol and had expected to push through the bill, in limbo. Although Republicans control the State Senate by 19 to 14, 20 senators — and thus, at least a single Democrat — must be in the room to call a vote on such fiscal matters.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/19/us/19wisconsin.html?hp

huli
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Feb 18 2011 19:09

I don't want to promote Socialist Worker, but these two reports contain some good information and good quotes:

http://socialistworker.org/2011/02/18/class-war-in-wisconsin
http://socialistworker.org/2011/02/17/wisconsin-unions-turn-up-heat

redsdisease
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Feb 18 2011 22:13

It makes sense to me that the democrats would do whatever they could to keep this bill from passing. As much as it's an attempt to break the unions, I imagine that this would also really hurt the democratic party. If I remember correctly, the teachers unions and the government employees unions (less sure on that one) tended to be the Democratic party's two largest financial donors.

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gram negative
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Feb 19 2011 00:43

ignoring the rhetoric, this is the first that i have heard of anything happening in ohio

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/18/ohios-turn-to-revolt-thousands-flood-statehouse-over-anti-union-bill/

Malcy
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Feb 19 2011 01:09

"counterdemonstrators" WTF?

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jesuithitsquad
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Feb 19 2011 01:21

Tea Party.

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waslax
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Feb 19 2011 01:27

From the rawstory article:

Quote:
Without collective bargaining, the power of unionized workers would be reduced to their last and most extreme tool in their set: the general strike.

You don't see that claim made very often in either mainstream or even leftist media coverage. The usual claim is that without collective bargaining, workers are left with ... nothing.

Yorkie Bar
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Feb 19 2011 01:49

It's contagious! http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/18/ohios-turn-to-revolt-thousands-flood-statehouse-over-anti-union-bill/

syndicalist
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Feb 19 2011 04:37

National Call to Madison

This is a national call out..............................

I will not expound on the details here but the last few days have seen
a massive upsurge of rank-n-file activity. At this very moment the
public schools are closed and huge demonstrations are occurring. This
energy is directly concerned with stopping anti-union legislation.
However, it looks as if the bill may go through ( in do time) but may
also be piecemealed out in the next 6 months. Either way, the militant
rank n file are organizing events and trying to push this past the
union issue, further into our society.

With that said the political situation is heating up in Wisconsin and
Madison seems to be ground zero. Please consider spending your weekend
in Madison and working with other unionists to stop this legislation
while at the same time pushing for a more radical action. Things are
moving very quickly and we are in need of strong organizers who are
experienced in every facet of the trade. Please distribute this far
and wide as we'll need as much support as possible. The Madison IWW is
small but has a core of active members who can and will push hard for
rank n file empowerment. Please let us know before you decide to make
the trip as we don't want to make any false moves right now and want
as many people as possible to come. If you do come, we'll be centering
our activity around Saturday and will be trying to coordinate our
activities with the existing events. Our goal is solidarity, not
competition, as we try to find common ground with the more militant
members of the public sector. We will most likely have a large,
chaired meeting, in the early afternoon which will then dictate our
actions on Saturday. Please be advised that news is coming in as we
speak and no one is in complete control. Spontaneous actions are
everywhere as this has caught us off guard.

Please consider our needs:

Delegates who can sign folks up
Your contacts and who you can bring with
Coming prepared to act in coordination with other other work class members
Your communication devices
Money - Checks can be written out to Madison IWW - We will be renting
meeting spaces,printing...ect.., which takes money!
Layout skills/printing skills
Creativity and a solid political analysis past the individual - Don't
bother showing up and talking about purges or charges

admin: details deleted at the individual's request. When posting people's personal details online, can people please make sure they have the relevant individual's consent?

scottydont
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Feb 19 2011 19:48

Updates form burnt bookmobile

Quote:
-The Milwaukee public school district union, the MTEA and its teachers have made a decision to hold a “sick out” and join the building demonstrations happening in Madison. MPS is shut down for teachers and students. (more info here)

-The numbers of anti-austerity and anti-bill protesters tomorrow at the Union are estimated to be the largest of all of the days so far. Some estimates are as high as 60,000 plus people.

-The Wisconsin Tea Party, which largely supports Governor Walker and could be held to be responsible for his election victory, are calling for counter-protests tomorrow as well “to clear the pigsty” that has occupied the Capitol in Madison. With this comes the possibility for confrontation between counter-protesters and occupiers, and between the police who will attempt to keep the situation under control. At the same time, there is an attempt to keep things contained and peaceful on the part of Union leadership, marshals, etc as well, as an immense effort of proliferating self-policing.

-Meanwhile the leadership of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, with 23,000 members, is making offers to betray their workers by declaring they are willing talk about concessions. (more info) This move hopefully opens up room for wildcat strikes to take shape amongst their less docile members.

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Juan Conatz
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Feb 20 2011 02:31

Thousands of protesters surround Wisconsin Capitol
http://newssun.suntimes.com/news/3911607-418/thousands-of-protesters-surround-wisconsin-capitol.html

Quote:
Doctors from numerous hospitals set up a station near the Capitol to provide notes covering public employees’ absences. 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.”

and

Quote:
Nearby, nearly two dozen cabs blocked a major intersection near the Capitol. The driver of the lead cab leaned out of the window and played a trumpet, while others attempted to honk their car horns in sync with a chant from pro-labor protesters: “This is what democracy looks like.”

“One of the reasons the company decided to support the protesters is because the members of this company started off striking their employer for better wages and that employer . . . refused to allow them to bargain collectively,” said John McNamara, the marketing director of Union Cab.

Pictures (think ya gotta log on to FB)
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2910874&id=8630002

Video of protests with cheesy and overly dramatic music
http://vimeo.com/20089255

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jesuithitsquad
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Feb 20 2011 02:57

The report about the doctor is amazing!

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Jazzhands
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Feb 20 2011 04:32
Malcy wrote:
"counterdemonstrators" WTF?

For once, they aren't paid by the government. They're just idiots. Yes, I know the whole Freedomworks story of how they were created to look like they're the majority, but Freedomworks is not the government.

What do we know about the actual militancy of the protesters? How far will they go, and for what? Will they be content if the bill isn't passed, or are they looking for something more? This is obviously the most militant labor action in America in possibly decades. Not a very high bar to meet, but it's better than nothing.

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Jazzhands
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Feb 20 2011 04:54

Story about public sector unions vs. private sector unions in the US.

Bear in mind, the reason for the counterdemonstrations is likely the Tea Party noise about the idea that public sector employees are paid so much better than private sector employees. In terms of raw numbers, that's true. But the reason for that is because there are so many public sector jobs that don't compare with the private sector. The private sector includes people who cook at McDonald's and janitors. All the jobs the public sector has that are equivalent to those low-paying, no-benefits, unskilled jobs are contracted out to the private sector anyway. The other reason is that public employees are more unionized, and therefore are screwed out of their pay less.

That's something nobody seems to grasp, and the reason the media is even pushing this stupid shit instead of finding this out on their own like real journalists is because the higher-ups in the media don't want private sector employees (including rank-and-file cubicle journalists, presumably) figuring out that even the most minor concessions are even possible or beneficial. To say nothing about an actual challenge to the system, which it doesn't look like the Wisconsin thing even qualifies as.

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Hieronymous
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Feb 20 2011 05:28
Jazzhands wrote:
This is obviously the most militant labor action in America in possibly decades.

I'd contest that and say that the cycle of struggles of immigrants workers against the "The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005" (H.R. 4437), also called the Sensenbrenner Bill after its author, was the most militant. It really took everyone by surprise on March 25, 2006 when at least 500,000 Latinos marched in Los Angeles. Remember, L.A. is a notoriously anti-union, anti-labor city dating back to the open-shop drives of the Merchants and Manufacturers Association at their founding in 1893.

Soon after the L.A. action, other cities across the U.S. started having mass marches and demos. By the main action on May Day 2006, millions of Latino workers walked off the job for the day in perhaps the biggest ever one-day general strike in U.S. history. It worked, because H.R. 4437 was withdrawn. Cities like L.A., Chicago and Houston had hundreds of thousands of strikers in the streets, with hundreds of other cities having tens of thousands.

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syndicalistcat
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Feb 20 2011 07:20

the degree of solidarity hasn't been shown in direct self-activity, not by native-born workers, in a long time. there were private sector as well as public sector workers in the protests in WI, along with students. today 55,000 people surrounded the capitol building, which has remained occupied for six days. a drumming circle is going on nonstop in the legislative chambers. lots of people made signs with comparisons to Egypt. they called the governor "the Mubarak of the midwest." supposedly an even bigger mobilization is planned for monday and tuesday.

Quote:
Remember, L.A. is a notoriously anti-union, anti-labor city dating back to the open-shop drives of the Merchants and Manufacturers Association at their founding in 1893.

your info is outdated. the open shop regime was broken in 1938. L.A. has a fairly high rate of unionization by current U.S. standards (around 15 percent or so).

the big immigrant general strike of may 1 2006 was very impressive. but there's not been much action lately despite the continuing repressive regime by the feds. the sessenbrenner bill was stopped, but there's been no amnesty.

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Hieronymous
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Feb 20 2011 09:09
syndicalistcat wrote:
your info is outdated. the open shop regime was broken in 1938. L.A. has a fairly high rate of unionization by current U.S. standards (around 15 percent or so).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it's actually 16.5% and is going down more rapidly than anywhere else in the U.S. due to the loss of manufacturing jobs.

On June 15, 1990, striking janitors in the SEIU "Justice for Janitors" campaign held a legally-permitted march and demonstration in Century City area of Los Angeles, where they were seeking a union contract with the cleaning contractors for the massive office towers there. The campaign had been underway in L.A. for about two years, and many demos like this had been occurring frequently. But this time the LAPD brutally attacked the mostly Latino marchers, seriously wounding several people and causing a pregnant woman to miscarry. A video of the event shows how merciless the pigs were.

LAPD was notorious for it's anti-communist "Red Squad," its Metro squad of elite goons, and other special units like the anti-gang CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) unit, as well documented in Mike Davis' many writings about the apartheid-esque attacks on black and brown communities under the guise of controlling gangs.

Add to that the 2007 May Day unprovoked police attacks at MacArthur Park, and the LAPD starts looking like Egyptian baltagiya.

Throw in the ever-present police helicopters and Los Angeles seems like it's on its way to becoming the dystopian nightmare in films like Bladerunner. The only changes I've personally witnessed from the open-shop mentality was the community solidarity offered to grocery workers during the bitterly defeated 2003-2004 Southern California supermarket strike. Also the way 16,500 short-haul troqueros at the L.A./Long Beach port complex (the busiest for containers in the Western Hemisphere) shut whole thing down on May Day 2006. Besides some exceptional moments like those, the norm in L.A. seems the brutalization of the working class. In the first half of the 20th century it was the bosses, their Pinkertons, and the open shop; since then it's been the cops making anyone non-white feel like Rodney King. None of that is ameliorated by slightly above average rates of unionization.

Anyway, my point about May Day 2006 in Los Angeles was that there had never been that many working class people on the streets before. It was 10 times bigger than any previous demo, mostly because public actions like that simply weren't tolerated by the ruling class, who use the thuggery of the pigs to prevent them.