Wisconsin protests: updates and discussion

447 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
Offline
Joined: 27-07-07
Feb 20 2011 11:17

Working Class Internationalism

syndicalistcat's picture
syndicalistcat
Offline
Joined: 2-11-06
Feb 20 2011 16:57
Quote:
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.
.

Hmm. I doubt it. If there had been that many working class people on the street before, the police would not have been able to prevent it. I don't think simple repression explains why there has tended to be relative quiescence in the American working class.

Growing up in L.A. it was my experience that the LAPD did act as an "army of occupation"...in all working class areas, but in a more nasty way in communities of color. But they didn't prevent things like the mass picketing in 1970 in support of the Teamster wild cat strike. altho the LADP attacked the janitors in 1990, the janitors carried out a successful strike without police violence in 2000.

The "Red Squad" existed back in the '30s. It's suppression of unions was overt. But, as I say, that was broken in 1938. that's why union organizing in L.A. didn't really start til 1938. Officially there was no "Red Squad" after 1938.

Of course the LAPD has continued in a more covert way to do infiltration of the left...but many police departments do this throughout the country.

soyonstout
Offline
Joined: 25-12-08
Feb 20 2011 17:09

I haven't seen this mentioned specifically on this thread yet (other than speculation) but:

Marty Beil, head of WSEU/AFSCME wrote:
We are prepared to implement the financial concessions proposed to help bring our state's budget into balance, but we will not be denied our God-given right to join a real union . . .  we will not - I repeat we will not - be denied our rights to collectively bargain,"

and

Quote:
Mary Bell, the president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state's largest teachers union, said her group also would make the financial concessions to keep its bargaining rights.

"This is not about money," Bell said in a phone conference. "We understand the need to sacrifice."

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Assembly’s abrupt adjournment caps chaotic day in Capitol

And then, a retired teacher quoted at the end of a WSWS article (Protestors in Madison denounce attack on public employees) said:

retired Madison teacher wrote:
Mary Bell spoke two times yesterday. They always give her the mic to say how much they are fighting for teachers. What she didn’t say is that the Wisconsin Education Association just accepted merit pay.

I'm not trying to plug the WSWS, but on this issue they seem to, once again, have their classic strengths (denunciation of AFL-CIO maneuvering) and myriad weaknesses (dogmatic, chapter-and-verse repetition of Trotsky's Transitional Program of 1938; inability to see the degrees of self-organization involved between following union orders and creating a strike committee with a mandate from an assembly; fixation with finance capital; etc, etc), but there may be some information that can be gleaned from their coverage.

For the future, I'm wondering in what ways the attacks coming to the rest of the states will follow any sort of pattern set up here. Specifically, economic cuts being pushed through along with plans to push AFSCME/AFL-CIO (or SEIU/Unite HERE, etc. where applicable) out of the austerity-administration business--followed by the rank-and-file fighting mostly or partially in the name of 'defending the union,' because they associate this with fighting the cuts, even though the union is perfectly willing to implement any cut that keeps the dues money coming in.

Interestingly, this fight has captured the attention of many in my union (and probably public sector workers all across the country), mostly around mischaracterizations and myths about Republicans vs. Democrats, and fully under the umbrella of the AFL-CIO/Democrats coalition, but I think it is posing the question of action again in the minds of many workers throughout the US.

petey
Offline
Joined: 13-10-05
Feb 20 2011 18:10
Marty Beil, head of WSEU/AFSCME wrote:
our God-given right to join a real union

smile

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Feb 20 2011 23:01

Any of ya'll in Madison right now? If so, how long you gonna be there and what are options for housing or things to do to help out with stuff? Might be headed there...

EDIT: Got everything figured out. Headed up early tomorrow morning.

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Feb 20 2011 23:40

State trooper union:

Quote:
I VALUE THE CAPITOL POLICE, AND THE U. W. POLICE. I VALUE ALL OF THE POLICE COMMUNICATIONS OFFICERS OF ALL OF THE AGENCIES IN OUR UNION, AND THE STATE TROOPERS, AND THE INSPECTORS OF THE STATE PATROL. I VALUE “ALL” OF THE SUPPORT STAFF OF ALL OF THE AGENCIES AROUND THE STATE. I DON’T KNOW HOW ANY OF US COULD FUNCTION WITHOUT ANY OF US AROUND THE STATE WE ALL NEED EACH OTHER.

I VALUE THE BUREAU OF FIELD SERVICES, FIELD AGENTS OF LOCAL THREE, NO LESS THAN ANY OF THE OTHER MEMBERS IN THE UNION. I AM HERE FOR EVERY MEMBER OF THIS UNION AND ALWAYS THOUGHT I HAD BEEN UNTIL THIS WEEK.

I SPECIFICALLY REGRET THE ENDORSEMENT OF THE WISCONSIN TROOPER’S ASSOCIATION FOR GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER. I REGRET THE GOVERNOR’S DECISION TO “ENDORSE” THE TROOPERS AND INSPECTORS OF THE WISCONSIN STATE PATROL. I REGRET BEING THE RECIPIENT OF ANY OF THE PERCIEVED BENEFITS PROVIDED BY THE GOVERNOR’S ANNOINTING.

I THINK EVERYONE’S JOB AND CAREER IS JUST AS SIGNIFICANT AS THE OTHERS. EVERYONES FAMILY IS JUST AS VALUABLE AS MINE OR ANY OTHER PERSONS, ESPECIALLY MINE. EVERYONES NEEDS ARE JUST AS VALUABLE. WE ARE ALL GREAT PEOPLE!!

http://www.wlea.org/

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Feb 21 2011 05:32

Labor leaders drag out Jesse Jackson, intensify efforts to temper Wisconsin protests
http://twincities.indymedia.org/2011/feb/labor-leaders-drag-out-jesse-jackson-intensify-efforts-temper-wisconsin-protests

Interesting, although M-L flavoured article

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Feb 21 2011 11:30

'We stand with you as you stood with us': Statement to workers of Wisconsin by Kamal Abbas of Egypt's Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services

Follow link for video. Transcript:

Kamal Abbas wrote:

I am speaking to you from a place very close to Tahrir Square in Cairo, "Liberation Square", which was the heart of the Revolution in Egypt. This is the place were many of our youth paid with their lives and blood in the struggle for our just rights.

From this place, I want you to know that we stand with you as you stood with us.

I want you to know that no power can challenge the will of the people when they believe in their rights. When they raise their voices loud and clear and struggle against exploitation.

No one believed that our revolution could succeed against the strongest dictatorship in the region. But in 18 days the revolution achieved the victory of the people. When the working class of Egypt joined the revolution on 9 and 10 February, the dictatorship was doomed and the victory of the people became inevitable.

We want you to know that we stand on your side. Stand firm and don't waiver. Don't give up on your rights. Victory always belongs to the people who stand firm and demand their just rights.

We and all the people of the world stand on your side and give you our full support.

As our just struggle for freedom, democracy and justice succeeded, your struggle will succeed. Victory belongs to you when you stand firm and remain steadfast in demanding your just rights.

We support you. we support the struggle of the peoples of Libya, Bahrain and Algeria, who are fighting for their just rights and falling martyrs in the face of the autocratic regimes. The peoples are determined to succeed no matter the sacrifices and they will be victorious.

Today is the day of the American workers. We salute you American workers! You will be victorious. Victory belongs to all the people of the world, who are fighting against exploitation, and for their just rights.

Arabist wrote:

About Kamal Abbas and the Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services: Kamal Abbas is General Coordinator of the CTUWS, an umbrella advocacy organization for independent unions in Egypt. The CTUWS, which was awarded the 1999 French Republic's Human Rights Prize, suffered repeated harassment and attack by the Mubarak regime, and played a leading role in its overthrow. Abbas, who witnessed friends killed by the regime during the 1989 Helwan steel strike and was himself arrested and threatened numerous times, has received extensive international recognition for his union and civil society leadership.

John1
Offline
Joined: 14-06-09
Feb 21 2011 13:16

This isn't anything to do with Anarchism and it's not revolutionary either but I thought it was interesting to see someone grappling with what's going on, sadly in another video he blames everything on aliens, no joke.

Wisconsin cuts & some opinions.

Beltov
Offline
Joined: 10-05-05
Feb 21 2011 18:23

What's happening there today? I gather it's a public holiday today in the US. Are there still occupations? Have the Democrats come out of hiding?

Internationalism has published an article on the protests in Wisconsin with our analysis...

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Feb 21 2011 18:53

On post #52 someone should break that email address.

All, keep the updates coming please!

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Feb 22 2011 02:45

Just got back from the capitol staying in Madison due to some helpful Wobs. Got a bunch of pictures and stuff to say, but that will have to come later as I'm tired as all hell.

p.s. - picked up an 'International Review' from lefty bookstore hand

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Feb 22 2011 04:26

Ok, real quickly some interesting things

-Demonstrations seem to be mainly organized by the Teachers union, SEIU and AFSCME. People from a ton of other unions were there though. IBEW, Teamsters, UE, Ironworkers, Steelworkers, etc etc etc. Even the prison guard and cop unions...

-Didn't seem to be much an overt radical presence besides Party for Socialism & Liberation, Progressive Labor Party and Socialist Alternative street preachers. Saw a bunch of IWW stuff pasted on wall inside the capitol, but never met any Wobs, I even had three buttons on my hat , hopin someone would see me. There was also a not attended anarchyist lending library on the floor with a bunch of dumb ass shit that had little context with the situation.

-Think Joe Tessone (IWW) was supposed to speak as part of the main platform, and this either didn't happen or I missed it

-Never seen so many 'parade marshals' in my life. Seemed more than even the 2008 RNC.

-There was TONS of free food, particularly pizza, with some nearby place actually not charging for food or drink the whole day.

-The capitol building is like a mini-city, with cleaning crews, cell phone charging stations, free food areas, lost and found, ride boards, etc. Even yoga classes. Supposedly some of the assembly rooms, unions, student groups, socialists and anarchists are using to meet in.

-The sound inside the marble building of thousands of people screaming, vuvazuelas bellowing and 5 gallon bucket drums banging is like nothing I've ever heard before. Amazing really.

-They sung the national anthem inside the building, that was bizarre to me.

-Atmosphere inside is less assembly and more concert. As in, less talking between people and more student leaders and whoever talking to people. Maybe other stuff is happening later at night or earlier, but I don't know.

-Hearing rumors of the possibility of a strike, but not sure by who, when or if its actually legit. Can't confirm it.

Kdog's picture
Kdog
Offline
Joined: 13-12-06
Feb 22 2011 05:50

Statement from First of May Anarchist Alliance:

On Wisconsin!
For Mass Actions, Occupations & a General Strike!
Spread the Struggle! Power to the People!

http://libcom.org/news/wisconsin-first-may-anarchist-alliance-statement-22022011

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Feb 22 2011 06:18

Ok, so, the South Central Federation of Labor in Wisconsin has issued an endorsement of a national general strike if the bill goes through and has instructed its education committee to "begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a General Strike"...

Schwarz's picture
Schwarz
Offline
Joined: 7-01-09
Feb 22 2011 06:26
Juan Conatz wrote:
Ok, so, the South Central Federation of Labor in Wisconsin has issued an endorsement of a national general strike if the bill goes through and has instructed its education committee to "begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a General Strike"...

Wow. Link please?

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Feb 22 2011 06:41
Schwarz wrote:
Wow. Link please?

Sorry, don't have one. This is from a Wob still downtown and someone involved in a progressive lefty non-profit type group.

EDIT: http://ricksmithshow.com/south-central-federation-labor-endorses-general-strike.

There's also two threads in Democratic Underground that link back to that.

Hopefully something more legit will pop up in the morning

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Feb 22 2011 12:16
Quote:
Ok, so, the South Central Federation of Labor in Wisconsin has issued an endorsement of a national general strike if the bill goes through and has instructed its education committee to "begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a General Strike"...

Fuck me! I mean, a trade union general strike is still problematic, but there hasn't even been the rhetoric of a general strike in the US for how many decades?

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Feb 22 2011 12:09

!!!!!!!!!!Please Forward Widely!!!!!!!!!!!

As I'm sure most people have heard, in the American state of Wisconsin the government has introduced a bill to strip public sector workers of their rights to collective bargaining. Of course, us in the IWW have no love for the trade unions, but this represents a vicious and coordinated attack on the working conditions and living standards of public sector workers that will ripple through the private sector as well. Plus, Wisconsin has historically been a bastion of organized labor. If the bosses can do this there, similar measures are sure to follow elsewhere.

The Madison, Wisconsin IWW along with local labor councils has begun calling for a one-day general strike in the state to oppose this. Public sectors workers, who've been without the right to strike for the past 40 years, have already begun taking action. Teachers have staged sick-ins and students have walked out in support. There's been occupations of the capitol building with tens of thousands of protestors supporting them from the outside. It is time to build on this momentum!

Please consider making a donation to the Madison IWW to help them and help the workers of Wisconsin win this important battle.

http://store.iww.org/madison-donations.html

waslax's picture
waslax
Offline
Joined: 6-12-07
Feb 22 2011 09:50
Juan Conatz wrote:
Ok, so, the South Central Federation of Labor in Wisconsin has issued an endorsement of a national general strike if the bill goes through and has instructed its education committee to "begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a General Strike"...

Actually, it's not an endorsement for a national general strike. I think it is an endorsement for a general strike within their region only, i.e. south central Wisconsin. Also, it would seem that it would be a strike for just one day.

Quote:
The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his “budget repair bill,” and requests the Education Committee immediately begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a general strike.

Still, it is amazing. Makes one wonder what would have happened (in Wisconsin) if it weren't for the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, etc.

Beltov
Offline
Joined: 10-05-05
Feb 22 2011 12:33
Juan Conatz wrote:
-Atmosphere inside is less assembly and more concert. As in, less talking between people and more student leaders and whoever talking to people. Maybe other stuff is happening later at night or earlier, but I don't know.

I listened to the video of the interview with the leader of the firefighters union, and that background music is terrible. Can't someone tell them to shut up and allow more discussion? It's a real barrier.

AnnieSocial's picture
AnnieSocial
Offline
Joined: 31-01-11
Feb 22 2011 12:37

Admin: comment removed, user banned for repeated inflammatory comments.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Feb 22 2011 12:51
AnnieSocial wrote:
The poor wisconsin workers! What next? Perhaps they will stop them drinking beer at work next?

http://libcom.org/news/carlsberg-workers-walk-job-retain-right-drink-beer-work-09042010

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 22 2011 12:49

Third trolling post this hour, banned 'AnnieSocial'.

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Feb 22 2011 16:43

Yeah, so it wasn't national. Sorry, just goin on the info I had at the time...

From Facebook

Quote:
At SCFL’s monthly meeting last night delegates endorsed the following: "The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his 'budget repair bill.'" An ad hoc committee was formed to explore the details. SCFL did not CALL for a general strike because it does not have that authority.

Also passed at last night's meeting: "The SCFL goes on record as opposing all provisions contained in Walker’s 'budget repair bill,' including but not limited to, curtailed bargaining rights and reduced wages, benefits, pensions, funding for public education, changes to medical assistance programs, and politicization of state government agencies."

Also, I guess they deployed riot cops last night and today to open up a section of the capitol building, presumably for Walker?

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
Offline
Joined: 27-07-07
Feb 22 2011 16:44
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Fuck me! I mean, a trade union general strike is still problematic, but there hasn't even been the rhetoric of a general strike in the US for how many decades?

The one-day anti-Sensenbrenner Bill (H.R. 4437) strike by Latino workers on May Day 2006 involved several million workers walking out across the U.S. Ex post facto we can call it a general strike, especially in places like Los Angeles.

And this depends where in the U.S. because in the Bay Area appeals for a general strike are made frequently, totally without any basis in reality, especially by Trotskyites.

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Feb 22 2011 19:45

Labor group calls for general strike if budget bill is approved
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_64c8d7a8-3e8c-11e0-9911-001cc4c002e0.html

Quote:
Madison Area AFL CIO Votes to Prepare For General Strike

This evening in a press release from IBEW Local 2304 President Dave Pokilinski, I received word that the 45,000 member Southern Central Federation of Labor, the local chapter of the AFL-CIO for the Madison and Southern Central Wisconsin area, has voted to make preparations for a general strike.

The press release reads as follows:

Around 10:50PM Wisconsin Time on February 21st the South Central Federation of Labor endorsed the following motions:

Motion 1: The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his “budget repair bill,” and requests the Education Committee immediately begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a general strike.

Motion 2: The SCFL goes on record as opposing all provisions contained in Walker’s “budget repair bill,” including but not limited to, curtailed bargaining rights and reduced wages, benefits, pensions, funding for public education, changes to medical assistance programs, and politicization of state government agencies.

It’s important to note that this is just a threat and not actually going out on a general strike. Under the Taft-Hartley Act a general strike in support of other workers is illegal; therefore the key word is the phrase “begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a general strike”. In addition, only individual unions, not the central labor federation has the ability to call a strike.

Many private sector unions would not go out on a general strike out of fear of being of sued by their employers. However, local labor observers say many public sector unions and some of the construction unions would go out on a strike. Threatening a general strike creates even more pressure for Scott Walker in the business community. The business community in Wisconsin already appears to bucking under the intense pressure of the mass labor mobilization as I noted here last week. .

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/madison-area-afl-cio-votes-to-prepare-for-general-strike

klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
Offline
Joined: 5-07-09
Feb 22 2011 19:48

http://www.facebook.com/pages/General-Strike-in-Wisconsin/166547476728383

Schwarz's picture
Schwarz
Offline
Joined: 7-01-09
Feb 22 2011 20:54

OK, so it's unequivocal that having a general strike on the table in the USA is big fucking deal. Still, the limits of this proposed action and, indeed, the defensive nature of public sector unions are pretty clear.

With a bunch of momentum on the side of workers right now, why wait until the bill is signed to strike? Wouldn't the horse have left the barn by that point? I don't see the point in displaying the latent power of the working class after the cuts and the dissolution of collective bargaining rights have already been signed into law.

Juan and others have been on the ground, so they know better than any of us what the scene is in WI. Since the most radical workers action has already ended (the sick-outs by teachers) and the situation is now one of political stalemate between Democrats and Republicans, I find it hard to believe that the level of intense solidarity we've seen will increase or even stay at the current level. I saw on the news that Walker gave the deadline of April 1st to resolve this matter before he starts laying off workers. That is over a month away.

Will there be IBEW, Teamsters and Steelworkers left in the capital by that point? After all, the SCFL is a public/private sector labor council. An effective general strike would have to include clerical workers, building trades workers, teachers, etc. It would also have to be open-ended and start before the bill was passed.

I know that this seems abstract and is possibly beyond the limits of what's attainable in WI... or the USA in general. At the same time, an action like this would be the only way that Motion 1 (endorsing and preparing for a general strike) and Motion 2 (no to ALL the cuts and anti-labor provisions) can be reconciled. After all, the unions have already conceded on cuts and it doesn't look like self-serving Democratic politicians can do anything but filibuster at this point. A general strike is an escalation, but to what end?

I think the piece that Hieronymus posted does a great job of outlining the intractable limits of public sector unions in the face of austerity.

Quote:
The role of unions is contradictory: In a crunch, in an open confrontation with capital or the State, unions demonstrate they cannot defend workers, their “programs” patently offer nothing by way of alternative. At best unions abandon “their” workers (as experience confirms over and again, recently for us, occurring with the flight attendants at Northwest before it was absorbed by Delta Airlines), but more often than not actively subvert our efforts (the situation across Europe over the past year). In Madison, the unions are relying on their Democratic party allies in the senate who left the state Wednesday for a location undisclosed in Illinois to prevent a quorum necessary for a vote on the bill's passage. That is a defense doomed to failure. The unions are engaged in an exclusivist, purely defensive struggle effectively without perspective and strategy. It is a position that offers no hope.

I think this is spot on.

I'll repeat that a general strike would still be instrumental in forging solidarity among workers across sectors and building working class confidence. I just think it's important to recognize the limits of such an action.

I'm probably preaching to the choir here anyways...

Schwarz's picture
Schwarz
Offline
Joined: 7-01-09
Feb 22 2011 20:58

As an important addendum, whatever happens in Wisconsin it is of course liable to affect other struggles... for example: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/us/23ohio.html?hp

Quote:
COLUMBUS — Protestors packed into Ohio’s State Capitol building and several thousand more gathered outside on Tuesday, as its legislature planned new hearings on a bill that would effectively end collective bargaining for state workers and dramatically reduce its power for local workers, like police officers and firefighters.

The bill, known as Senate Bill 5, was introduced on Feb. 8 by a Republican state senator, Shannon Jones, who said it was designed to give state and local governments more control over their finances during troubled economic times. It outraged unions who saw it as a direct attack on their workers, and as in Wisconsin, where a similar bill has drawn protestors for more than a week, union members came to the State Capitol to demonstrate.

Last week, protests swelled from a few hundred to about 4,000 on Thursday, buoyed in part by demonstrations in Wisconsin, which have made national news.

Hopes springs eternal.