Wisconsin protests: updates and discussion

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huli
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Mar 4 2011 04:32

And there's this also. Leave it to the Left to make a funeral out of the most exciting and sustained worker rebellion in the US in decades. At least they're saying "no concessions," though:

STOP WALKER’S ATTACKS ON WISCONSIN

No Cuts or Concessions!

MARCH 3 • THURSDAY 5:00 PM • Funeral Procession From Library Mall to the Capitol 5:30 PM • Rally and Press Conference, State Street side of the Capitol

Scott Walker’s bill and budget proposal threaten the future of Wisconsin and would be devastating to Wisconsin families. Walker has created this crisis by granting tax breaks to his corporate backers. Now, he seeks to cut education and state employee pensions, pay and health benefits, end collective bargaining rights, and undermine regulations and social programs like BadgerCare, that protect Wisconsin’s most vulnerable citizens.

We are tired of being blamed for a crisis that was caused by Wall Street greed —and the expectation that workers and their families, already struggling in the current economic crisis, continue to make concessions. Working people did not create the recession or the budget crisis, and there can be no more concessions, period.

Endorsers:

J. Eric Cobb, Building Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin*; Phil Neuenfeldt, President of WI AFL-CIO*; Jim Cavanaugh, President, South Central Federation of Labor*; Kill the Whole Bill Coalition; Shannon Maier, President, AFSCME Local 720 Dane County Courthouse Employees*; Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, TAA*; Dave Poklinkoski, President and Business Manager, IBEW 2304*; Jack Trudell, RN, UW Hospital, SEIU 1199WI*; Tim Birkley, First Vice President, AFSCME Local 60*; Joe Schirmer, SEIU Health Care WI District 1199*; Ariel Ford, Department of Civil Rights*; Eric Robson, AFSCME Local 171*; Joe Balkis, Steward Teamsters Local 705*; Mike Imbrogno, Executive Board, AFSCME Local 171*; Ben Rattliffe, Steward, AFSCME Local 60*; Jane Schirmer, Registered Nurse; Liberty Tree; Mindy Trudell, MSW, MTI*; Minnesota Nurses Association; Michigan Nurses Association; National Nurses United *Organization for identification purposes only

Join Us to Say No to All Cuts andConcessions!

March up State St. in a funeral procession symbolizing all that is worth defending against Walker’s attacks on working people! Come dressed for a funeral, and ready to dance!

To endorse this event or for more information, please contact Pilar Schiavo at (510) 385-4213 or PSchiavo@NationalNursesUnited.org

Samotnaf
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Mar 4 2011 06:14

Don't have time to go into my responses to the arguments about the IWW here, at least for the moment....But...

...Just heard some interesting information, which was mentioned in post 138, about the lobby of the theater building at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee which was occupied a couple of days ago.

There'd been a march in which some people tried to start a "everyone out - general strike" chant but it didn't go anywhere, but they shouted over chants like "tax the rich" by yelling "kill the rich" , which, while not being taken up by much of the crowd, was at least greeted by smirks and laughter. The march passed a high school that butts up on the campus and teachers were seen in the windows smiling and cheering.

After some tedious speeches by sds and union speakers they had invited, some people started yelling "it's cold" and "let's go inside" which got the crowd (about 150 remaining after the drift away from the soul-destroying speeches) moving again. They went back into the student union through the cafeteria wing, and chants of "class war" and "an eye for an eye - walker must die" were all you could hear in the cafeteria while they passed through it. After a discussion about which part of the Uni to occupy, the theater lobby of the arts building was decided on, because it stays open late, technically some students can be in it after hours and it was thought that the students and faculty there would be sympathetic, possibly engaged by the occupation. And so an occupation took place, though there were a lot of angry arguments with authoritarian killjoys who tied to manipulate things so that drinking alcohol and graffiti were banned, and arguments about filming for "alternative media".

So far I don't know if the occupation has continued or not. Maybe someone who directly participated in this has some things to add...?

Mike Harman
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Mar 4 2011 06:26

That April 4th day of action, do you think they deliberately avoided calling it the week before when it'd coincide with March 26th in the UK?

Either way while it's being called by the AFL-CIO, a 'day of action' could go lots of different ways at the moment. The first student demo in London where MIllbank got smashed in was called by the NUS ffs.

scottydont
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Mar 4 2011 18:26

There are relatively continuous updates here: http://burntbookmobile.wordpress.com/
looks like the building was still occupied last night at least.

Also, list of "demands" from the occupation.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3Qd17WwfJo
(Also, just to get it out of the way: anyone who says that they should be more serious should grow a heart/sense of humor)

what ever
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Mar 4 2011 21:35

The occupation is continuing into its third day. For now it is a completely open, similar to the Capitol building. People come and go. About 30 regularly sleep in the building. How open it is may change depending on how the administration decides to react to it. It may appear poorly for them to arrest many students and this is why they are "allowing" it to continue.

scottydont
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Mar 5 2011 02:55

The far left of capital is talking big:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/corey-hutchins/sc-union-leader-calls-for_b_830861.html?ref=email_share

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Jazzhands
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Mar 7 2011 21:44
blackrainbow wrote:
We all go into heated class warfair with the army we've got and not the army we would love to have (which I'd guess would be a mass working class movement with a significant libertarian communist tendency).

Didn't Donald Rumsfeld say that about Iraq?

Anyway, the army the anti-bill movement's got is basically the IWW, a working-class movement in Wisconsin with no political direction or leadership beyond "Kill the Bill", and a bunch of well-wishes from the AFL-CIO. But wishes don't help in the real world.

On the other side, Walker and the Koch brothers have the entire Tea Party, Fox News, the general anti-union malaise that's always hanging over our worthless media, the Wisconsin National Guard, and the financial backing of two oil gods, half the blogosphere, and the Republican Party.

EDIT: Also, if anyone hasn't heard of this, a DC nurses' union went on a strike on Friday that was supposed to last only a day. But the hospital has locked them out, so it's going to last at least until Tuesday or Wednesday. Now some of the more recent stuff from the union expresses solidarity with Wisconsin. I think they might be becoming more aware of their position as workers.

It seems Wisconsin is either inspiring strike movements elsewhere or forcing unionized workers to ponder what they're striking for: a chance to eat crumbs off the master's table. When they should be striking for a chance to sit at the table with all their fellow workers. I believe this one was a case of the latter.

scottydont
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Mar 7 2011 22:13

In terms of circulation of struggles: there have been somewhat spontaneous school walkouts over closures and layoffs in Dallas and Idaho

Obviously, hard to tell how much Wisconsin is effecting these, but with the amount of attention its getting wouldn't surprise me if there is some inspiration, as well as the common conditions of austerity, of course.

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Juan Conatz
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Mar 8 2011 21:17

edit

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Schwarz
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Mar 8 2011 20:05

It looks like I may have a free ride out to WI from NYC with the union I work for. They have chartered a bus and we would make it for the rally on Saturday in Madison. I am not in the IWW loop, so I will PM the appropriate folks.

Excited!

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Mar 9 2011 10:51
Jazzhands wrote:
Didn't Donald Rumsfeld say that about Iraq?.

Yup it was Rumsfeld who said that to his critics about the state of the US army preparations in the middle of a combat situation in Iraq (in particular lack of adequate kit for ground troops).[

Jazzhands wrote:
Anyway, the army the anti-bill movement's got is basically the IWW, a working-class movement in Wisconsin with no political direction or leadership beyond "Kill the Bill", and a bunch of well-wishes from the AFL-CIO. But wishes don't help in the real world..

So just where the f**k are you and your army of the 'politically clued up'?

Jazzhands wrote:
On the other side, Walker and the Koch brothers have the entire Tea Party, Fox News, the general anti-union malaise that's always hanging over our worthless media, the Wisconsin National Guard, and the financial backing of two oil gods, half the blogosphere, and the Republican Party..

Hmmm. So lets see. Is this the same Fox News owned by Rupert Murdochs' multi billion revenue News International Corporation? The same capitalist press owner who helped Margaret Thatchers' Tory government decisively defeat the strong holds of the British workers movement 25 odd years ago? Up against that multi billion revenue workers organisation with access to a sophisticated media network the IWW.?

Jazzhands wrote:
It seems Wisconsin is either inspiring strike movements elsewhere or forcing unionized workers to ponder what they're striking for: a chance to eat crumbs off the master's table. When they should be striking for a chance to sit at the table with all their fellow workers. I believe this one was a case of the latter.

Isn't it curious how far left wing armchair critics (of the 'theyre not adequite' school) pop up every time workers go into a major dispute, without clearly setting out how they would go about it. Even better, why haven't you got off your arse to do it?

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waslax
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Mar 9 2011 11:29
blackrainbow wrote:
So just where the f**k are you and your army of the 'politically clued up'?
...

Even better, why haven't you got off your arse to do it?

These kinds of comments are not at all reasonable. They are used to try to shut someone up, to intimidate them, like shouting someone down in a meeting.

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Mar 9 2011 13:13
waslax wrote:
...like shouting someone down in a meeting.

This isn't a f**ing meeting. It's an opinion on a overtly opinionated forum.

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Chilli Sauce
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Mar 9 2011 13:36

Guys, let's keep this thread productive. Argue privately please.

Any updates?

Schwarz, if you don't hear anything back, PM me and I'll try to send you in the right direction...ch

what ever
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Mar 9 2011 18:48

Schwarz, if you're interested in meeting up in Milwaukee that would be cool. It's about an hour away from Madison. There is a general assembly here tomorrow about how to support strikes being called by a neighborhood. It may be interesting. We may also be coming up for the weekend to participate in a discussion in Madison about how to support a General Strike.

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Jazzhands
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Mar 9 2011 19:54
blackrainbow wrote:
Jazzhands wrote:
Anyway, the army the anti-bill movement's got is basically the IWW, a working-class movement in Wisconsin with no political direction or leadership beyond "Kill the Bill", and a bunch of well-wishes from the AFL-CIO. But wishes don't help in the real world..

So just where the f**k are you and your army of the 'politically clued up'?

Look, I'm not saying that we have to be some kind of political Rambo. I'm just saying that the AFL-CIO should be doing more to plan other strikes and protests around the country. Which it won't, because their leaders are more concerned with their political clout with the Democrats than with being a real union. But come on, it's them.

blackrainbow wrote:
Jazzhands wrote:
On the other side, Walker and the Koch brothers have the entire Tea Party, Fox News, the general anti-union malaise that's always hanging over our worthless media, the Wisconsin National Guard, and the financial backing of two oil gods, half the blogosphere, and the Republican Party..

Hmmm. So lets see. Is this the same Fox News owned by Rupert Murdochs' multi billion revenue News International Corporation? The same capitalist press owner who helped Margaret Thatchers' Tory government decisively defeat the strong holds of the British workers movement 25 odd years ago? Up against that multi billion revenue workers organisation with access to a sophisticated media network the IWW.?

The same one. But when was the last time the IWW got mainstream media attention? Devil's advocate. I'm not saying I'm waiting for Marx to come back from the dead and kick Walker's ass. Also, I had no idea the IWW had that much money. You never hear from them down on the East Coast where I am.

blackrainbow wrote:
Jazzhands wrote:
It seems Wisconsin is either inspiring strike movements elsewhere or forcing unionized workers to ponder what they're striking for: a chance to eat crumbs off the master's table. When they should be striking for a chance to sit at the table with all their fellow workers. I believe this one was a case of the latter.

Isn't it curious how far left wing armchair critics (of the 'theyre not adequite' school) pop up every time workers go into a major dispute, without clearly setting out how they would go about it. Even better, why haven't you got off your arse to do it?

Maybe you oughta read that post again and figure out where I said "They're not adequate" or that I don't support them. I'm saying that it's a good thing that Wisconsin is inspiring either new labor actions or a new and more revolutionary perspective in the working class. And the reason I haven't done anything substantial about it is because I'M IN THE ASS END OF NOWHERE. Not everyone can be fucking Banksy, you know. You best shape up that attitude. You're just so busy looking for a fight instead of being constructive that you have no fucking clue what to do when someone agrees with you. So you twist their words and start barking at them.

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Juan Conatz
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Mar 9 2011 22:09

So here's some updates:

-The Democrats are being fined $100 every day that they're gone.

-There was a Wall Street Journal article that said the Dems were coming back "soon", but then they went on TV saying the WSJ article took stuff out of context and that no such plan existed.

-Yesterday, Walker indicated, through a release of emails, that he was willing to "compromise" on some aspects of collective bargaining. However, he has been accused of selectively releasing emails that make him seem more moderate than he really is.

-The once lively capitol building is now governed by a set of new rules aimed at making sure people are out by closing time and calm and quiet when they are.

-Here are some IWW General strike posters that have recently been made.

-Check out what a right-wing blog has to say about the IWW general strike call

Oh, also, I hate saying stuff before everything is concrete...in fact I don't like mentioning things till they've already happened, but it looks like I'm going to be moving up to Madison on Sunday for maybe a month primarily to help out with IWW stuff.

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Steven.
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Mar 9 2011 22:54
blackrainbow wrote:
waslax wrote:
...like shouting someone down in a meeting.

This isn't a f**ing meeting. It's an opinion on a overtly opinionated forum.

there is no need for that sort of tone. Please be polite.

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Mar 9 2011 23:42

Republicans maneuvering....

Quote:
GOP senators say they can advance collective bargaining bill without Democrats present

MARY SPICUZZA | mspicuzza@madison.com | 608-252-6122 | Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 4:45 pm

In a surprise move late Wednesday, Senate Republicans voted to move forward with the governor's controversial budget repair bill, sending the measure into a conference committee scheduled for later in the day.

Republican leaders would only say the Senate bill differed from the Assembly bill and indicated it was possible lawmakers could strip fiscal elements from the proposal and pass only the measures dealing with collective bargaining.

Such a move would allow Republicans to pass the governor's bill without the 20 Senate members needed to vote on fiscal matters. Currently 14 Democratic senators remain in Illinois, hiding out in an effort to deny the quorum and stall the vote.

If the Republicans move forward with their plans, it would be a major reversal for Gov. Scott Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau. Both have contended that the bill is fiscal in nature and thus the collective bargaining could not be stripped from the measure.

Democratic Senators on Wednesday immediately criticized the move, saying it proves Republican attempts to end collective bargaining for public employees are not about balancing the budget.

"They have been saying all along that this is a fiscal item, we've been saying it is not," said Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, from Illinois. "They have been lying. Their goal is to bust up the unions."

http://m.host.madison.com/mobile/article_8747fa04-4a74-11e0-8e6b-001cc4c03286.html

From the South Central Federation of Labor's Facebook

Quote:
REPORT TO THE STATE CAPITOL NOW!! Breaking - Tonight at 6 pm in the Senate Parlor we are hearing that Senate GOP is going to split the budget repair bill, fiscal from non-fiscal, and ram it through in the dark of night. We wanted to let you know that very important developments are likely to occur tonight at 6:00 pm in the Senate Parlor.
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Mar 10 2011 00:25

Retweeted by AFTWisconsin

Quote:
Republicans just approved separating out provisions of the budget repair bill. They are now headed to the Senate floor. #wiunion
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Juan Conatz
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Mar 10 2011 01:01

It passed the Senate

Quote:
GOP rams anti-union bill through Wis. Senate

MADISON, Wis. — Republicans pushed a provision stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights through the state Senate Wednesday evening by separating it from Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget bill.

The action, if it stand, would have the effect of rendering moot a Democratic attempt to keep the provision from passing the Senate. The vote in the Senate was 18-1. No Democrats were present.

All 14 Democrats had left the state to prevent passage of the overall budget bill in opposition to the collective bargaining rights.

The Senate is split 19-14 with Republicans in the majority. Because the union provision was part of a budget bill, Republicans in the Senate needed at least 20 senators present for a quorum.

By separating the anti-union measure from the budget bill, Republicans did not need 20 senators for a quorum.

Before the Senate floor vote, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald read the bill to a hastily created joint conference committee. Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, objected, saying the committee's meeting was in violation of the state's open meetings law. But Fitzgerald went ahead with the vote, which was seen live on WisconsinEye, and the measure was approved.

Senate Democrats reportedly were meeting to decide how to respond. Some argue that Senate Republicans were violating legislative rules with the vote.

The stand-alone measure would have to be approved by both the Senate and the Assembly, the lower chamber. The Assembly was not in session Wednesday and it was not clear that it could be convened until Thursday.

Stripping out the collective-bargaining provisions into a "non-fiscal" bill raises questions about the governor's and the Republicans' argument that the issue of collective bargaining rights is crucial to the budget.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41996994/ns/politics-more_politics/

Malcy
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Mar 10 2011 01:06

Watching this from afar I keep waiting expectantly for a tipping point. Hopefully this is it. If this does not trigger a mass walkout then I cannot see any hope of turning back the GOP's attacks on public sector workers and the class in general.

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jesuithitsquad
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Mar 10 2011 01:36

That's a really ballsy move. Agree with above this will be a make or break point. It will be interesting if they try something similar in Indiana.

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Mar 10 2011 04:48

Sorry, redundant post.

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Mar 10 2011 05:25

For those of you on Twitter...

http://twitter.com/AndrewKroll (Journalist for Mother Jones)
http://twitter.com/danielmke (SDS/FRSO guy from Milwaukee that's been in Madison frequently)
http://twitter.com/AFTwisconsin (public sector union)
http://twitter.com/DefendWisconsin (liberal info clearinghouse)
http://twitter.com/EricAntiFa (IWW organizer)
http://twitter.com/juanconatz (me)

Samotnaf
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Mar 10 2011 05:45

If I got it right - the Capitol has been re-occupied, yes...? What's going on?

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Mar 10 2011 05:57

From what people have been texting me or what info I've seen, there's anywhere from several hundred to a couple thousand inside the capitol with several hundred outside. Police weren't allowing people in, but eventually let the doors open for some period of time and the shut them (unsure about this). Inside, the most common chant is 'general strike'.

People have also been getting in through windows as well. Some people are 'blockading' the assembly room (where the bill would have to pass before it tomorrow or Friday) and singing Solidarity Forever.

Live stream here: http://www.livestream.com/theuptake

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Chilli Sauce
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Mar 10 2011 12:41

Thanks Juan, keep us in the loop and good luck with your move.

Intifada1988
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Mar 10 2011 19:38

is it true about the calls for a general strike?

Jared
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Mar 10 2011 20:26

We in New Zealand faced a similar thing in 1991, when the National Government introduced the Employments Contract Act: essentially individualising contracts. The fight was lost because the popular protests were co-opted and damped by the trade-unions.

From 'The Myth Of Passivity':

Quote:
In 1991, the National government prepared to introduce the draconian Employment Contracts Act and severe benefit cuts at the same time. These were both designed to drive wages down and reduce living standards. It was expected that unions and beneficiaries would put up a tough fight. Capitalists and state bureaucrats expected a struggle comparable to the Miners’ Strike in Britain – except in Aotearoa, capitalists attacked the entire union movement in one foul swoop, rather than targeting and isolating militant unions as was the tactic used against the Miners’ in Britain. In the end, capitalists were pleasantly surprised. A mass movement to stop the ECA was co-opted by union bureaucrats

and...

Quote:
The week of action against the ECA put increasing pressure on the CTU to call for a general strike. Yet on April 18, the bureaucracy of the CTU voted 250 122 to 190 910 against holding a general strike against the ECA. This move went against the wishes of the majority of its members. For example, as noted above, 87% of nurses voted for a general strike, yet the Nurses Association representative at the CTU meeting voted against a general strike. CTU bureaucrats wrongly assumed there was insufficient support to sustain confrontational and effective nationwide action. Most CTU bureaucrats wished to avoid any large-scale confrontation with capital partially because of their experience in 1951, when the militant wing of the union movement was obliterated during the Waterfront lockout. They believed confrontation would lead to an inevitable defeat and decimation of the union movement. Yet surely the ECA aimed to do that anyway! Ken Douglas, the CTU President, ironically said at a time when hundreds of thousands of people were marching in the streets against benefit cuts and the ECA that the era of confrontational class struggle had passed! Minister of Labour Bill Birch praised the CTU for the “realism” of “positioning themselves to work with the new legislation”.

Not only did union bureaucrats reject the call for a general strike, they also sabotaged the efforts of those who did. For example, Bill Andersen, a CTU bureaucrat and member of the Stalinist Socialist Unity Party (SUP), prevented or ignored people from the floor putting forward resolutions to defeat the bill at union meetings.16 John Ryall of the Service Workers’ Federation said, “The CTU leadership were opposed to doing anything” yet to be fair the CTU did oppose the ECA, and organised a campaign against it, including protests, strike activity and stopwork meetings. However, this campaign was mild, largely symbolic, and aimed to cause little disruption. The most effective way of opposing the bill was a nationally co-ordinated general strike. Perhaps the ECA could not have been defeated by even a general strike. But such a move may have forced the state to retract some of the more draconian proposals contained in the ECA, and perhaps if the strike was lengthy, widespread and well organised, it may have actually defeated the bill.

I post this so that you guys may learn from our failures, and to be wary of union bureaucracy trying to manage the protests into acceptable forms....