Wisconsin protests: updates and discussion

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flaneur
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Mar 16 2011 12:30

Funny that the biggest wildcat in history was a general strike.

syndicalist
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Mar 16 2011 14:17

On the historical question: US general strikes took place in 1946 (as quoted above). I believe those were the last general strikes. Clearly workers were much more organized nationally than today.

Could a public sector general strike happen in WI or in Madison, prolly. But it seems like municipal workers and Madison city government have reached a deal that incorporate all the nasty give-backs that they gave Walker's state government: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_d04b3a58-4f39-11e0-9fc6-001cc4c002e0.html (link lifted from one of Juan's postings)...... So other tactics and forms of rank-and-file organization will prolly be in order to maintain some form of momentum and begin a push back process on the "shopfloor".

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Mar 16 2011 19:46

Some updates...

-The recall thing is now dominating the discourse. There are now efforts by the unions and Democrats to recall 8 Republicans and also there are efforts by Republicans to recall the 14 Democrats. The former seems far more likely.

-A political organization that I won't mention initiated a strike faction in a union here and organized a meeting to push for a strike within the union, which was then taken over by a recall faction (maybe in a planned and concerted fashion?)

-There's gonna be what I imagine is another larger rally this Saturday, which is also going to tie into the Iraq war anniversary.


Article by liberal who came to Madison last weekend

Quote:
On the union side, many were anticipating some sort of general strike or mass labor action, as had been discussed a few weeks back, and many workers wore that message proudly on their signs on Saturday. But the unions have not announced any major steps yet.

The word on the street is that folks are giving the legal process a few weeks to see if there isn't a way to repeal the law on the grounds that it was rammed through illegally, without an adequate public hearing.

If that legal process fails, some are looking toward strikes as an option. Others believe a mass strike could be damaging at this point.

Even with a strike, a point of struggle will be overturning the bill, which, unless challenged effectively on legal grounds, could be hard to do. Some worry that it could be four years before political process could allow for that to happen.

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Mar 17 2011 06:29

http://libcom.org/news/portugal-12th-march-2011-15032011

this article seems interesting. it seems these calls could work if they are tied down to a place/time. less so the general calls for national ones that are random.

just saying, giving some defining characteristics to the event/demonstration could get some people out? even better if committed orgs call for it probably.

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Mar 17 2011 22:44
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This Sunday, March 20th, there will be two events discussing ways to take action against cuts, concessions, and other attacks on workers' rights.
The first event, 1-5pm at the Madison Labor Temple (1602 S. Park, room 201), is a strategy meeting sponsored by National Nurses United. This meeting is a place to discuss what our agenda, demands, and plans should be against Walker's bill and other similar attacks.

The second event, starting at 5pm at the Orpheum Theater (Stage Door, 216 State St., Downtown Madison), is a training event sponsored by the Madison I.W.W. and the Immigrant Workers' Union. This meeting will be led by trained organizers and it will cover ways to organize within your workplace and/or union for greater power among rank and file workers, as well as a discussion of possible job actions / industrial actions against the bill.

The first meeting is a strategy discussion, while the second meeting is a training on how to transform strategy into action.

hope to see you at one or both of these events. You are welcome to come to one, both, or even just parts of each event.

Solidarity
Madison I.W.W.

http://madison.iww.org/content/march-20th-madison-strategy-meeting-and-organizer-training

Interesting Tweet I think is indicative of a lot here

Quote:
@AFLCIO hey, question: why isn't there a general strike in WI? i'm in the UW grad student union, & i'd support a strike #wiunion

And here's the website for the AFL-CIO's April 4th Day of "Action"
http://www.we-r-1.org/

Samotnaf
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Mar 19 2011 08:14

edit

Samotnaf
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Mar 19 2011 08:13

edit

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Chilli Sauce
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Mar 18 2011 15:58
Quote:
The second event, starting at 5pm at the Orpheum Theater (Stage Door, 216 State St., Downtown Madison), is a training event sponsored by the Madison I.W.W. and the Immigrant Workers' Union. This meeting will be led by trained organizers and it will cover ways to organize within your workplace and/or union for greater power among rank and file workers, as well as a discussion of possible job actions / industrial actions against the bill.

I'd like hear how this went when it's complete if you don't mind.

(I'll be leading a workplace training myself on saturday, so training solidarity!)

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Mar 19 2011 05:39

The law has been temporarily blocked due to a judge's determination that it violated Wisconsin's open meetings law. Here's the story.

what ever
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Mar 19 2011 16:44

http://burntbookmobile.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/doors-superglued-before-uwm-protests-over-walker-budget/

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Mar 19 2011 23:56

Direct action gets the goods

Quote:
Tuesday afternoon, several Madison Police officers were monitoring a crowd of around 100 protesting outside of the M&I Bank, 1 W. Main St., when Sen. Glenn Grothman approached. Demonstrators allowed Sen. Grothman to pass, but some were verbally abusive to the lawmaker. When Sen. Grothman exited the bank, he was also subjected to angry words, but as he walked away a man hugged Sen. Grothman. An officer reported that Grothman did not appear to enjoy the embrace, and was able to squirm away. The officer came up to the man and told him it is not okay to put hands on people who do not wish contact. The man told the officer he had no idea who Sen. Gorthman was, but that he hugged him because,” I loved him." He added that he loves "everyone," and that he decided to hug Grothman because he was wearing a suit, like the one the man used to wear when he worked in insurance. The man told the officer that he is the "peace walker,” that he had trekked here from Las Vegas, and that he is considering running for president. He also asked the officer if he knew "Snoop Dog." The officer said he did not, and again told the man not to touch people who do not want to be touched.
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Mar 20 2011 00:12

We handed out quite a few leaflets for No Concessions/Nurses United event tomorrow as well as the IWW one, of course.

Significantly less people today than last Saturday. Maybe 5,000-7,000 at most. Lot of petitioning, signs and chants for recall. The scale from recall to more militant actions seems to correspond a lot with race and job to a certain extent. The strongest calls for recall are white public sector workers, while the strongest calls for further actions come from immigrant groups, Latino student organizations, non-public sector workers, etc.

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Mar 20 2011 02:10

I don't think I need to say the intent of this.
http://socialistworker.org/2011/03/18/injury-to-one-is-injury-to-all

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Mar 20 2011 06:39

Some pictures from the last 7 days





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Chilli Sauce
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Mar 20 2011 09:35

What about Labor and Elephant Poop!?!

Samotnaf
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Mar 20 2011 16:08

Over a week ago I posted:

Quote:
The 9-year-old daughter of my friend's girlfriend announced yesterday that she would walkout if similar things were happening at her school!!! When things start to move, everyone starts to move.

Correction: she was 7 years old.
Let's hope that soon 5 year-olds'll be chanting "No classes today - no class society tomorrow!"

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Jazzhands
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Mar 21 2011 01:00
Samotnaf wrote:
Let's hope that soon 5 year-olds'll be chanting "No classes today - no class society tomorrow!"

that would be the CUTEST THING EVER.

today the 5 year olds...tomorrow the kittens.

redsdisease
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Mar 21 2011 01:47
Chilli Sauce wrote:
What about Labor and Elephant Poop!?!

"Labor cleaning up the elephant poop."

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Mar 23 2011 01:55

No strike vote from UW-Madison teaching assistants

Quote:
The union for teaching and project assistants at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Sunday voted against a proposal from Gov. Scott Walker to separate Madison from the UW system, but members did not vote to authorize a strike, the group announced Monday.

It had been anticipated that the union, which represents about 3,000 teaching assistants and project assistants at UW-Madison, might consider striking in opposition to the proposals in Walker's budget bill.

"Don't hold your breath for that vote," Teaching Assistants' Association Co-President Kevin Gibbons said Monday. He said people have talked about striking, but it's hard to see how a strike would be strategically helpful right now.

As for the vote the union took Sunday, the approved motion says the union is "against the formation of a public authority model, and the threat to affordability and accessibility it poses to public education and the lack of protection for labor unions on campus."

It also says the members object to the "non-transparent and undemocratic process by which the New Badger Partnership was designed."

Gibbons said the union is still against the massive budget cuts the governor has proposed for K-12 education and higher education.

The AFL-CIO's April 4th "Day of Action" is being described as "not business as usual". Although, from what I've heard about locally this means a rally at 5PM at the capitol.

Also, check out these 360 views of some of the protests
http://www.tourdeforce360.com/madison_protest/

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Mar 22 2011 23:50
Quote:
"Don't hold your breath for that vote," Teaching Assistants' Association Co-President Kevin Gibbons said Monday. He said people have talked about striking, but it's hard to see how a strike would be strategically helpful right now.

Is that the union backing out before it's even started?

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Mar 27 2011 15:45

Real quickly, the recall campaign and the effort to elect a new Supreme Court judge on April 5th is sucking the life out of everything right now. I think the high point of general strike talk was right when the bill was passed in the Senate and people rushed to the capitol. Since then, and particularly since the 14 Democrats returned, there has been a demobilization. The informal or formal strike factions within the public sector unions that I know of seemed to have been defeated either through their inability to gain strength or a recall faction smacking them down.

Many of the public sector unions are trying to sign contracts before the bill becomes law, which was supposed to be yesterday when it was published, but there's been a court order against it, so I'm not sure if it's law as of now (even though they did go ahead and publish it, despite the court order to delay).

There is a new pamphlet that we wrote that will hopefully be out in the next week or week and a half. It steps away a bit from the talk of a general strike and talks more about specific job actions, etc, that can be done, while also addressing the recall and other stuff. There's a real potential that solidarity unionism may have to be a default for state workers depending on whether their unions even attept to do the yearly re-certification stuff outlined in Walker's bill.

Right now, me and the other 2 out of town organizers are on a statewide trip to try and connect with contacts/lapsed members we have, as well has hitting up some retail stores. We're also out slapping posters and leaflets at the universities.

p.s. - I was just in Duluth, where there was a Finnish language IWW paper until 1975. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to dig for these or find out people who could talk about the town's past. Seemed like a really interesting city. Arguably where the Rust Belt started, but in 2011, still more heavy industrial working than other Rust Belt areas I've been to

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Mar 28 2011 23:06

There's confusion on whether the law restricted collective bargaining is in effect yet or not.
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_74859b5a-580d-11e0-9bee-001cc4c03286.html

Also, some students at the University of Minnesota are occupying a building there, partially in solidarity with us in Wisconsin.

Quote:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: umnsolidartiy@gmail.com

Outrage over Soaring Tuition Boils Over with Student Walkout, Rally, March, and General Assembly at University of Minnesota

Wisconsin Labor Unrest Inspires Action

Rally and March: 11:30am Monday, March 28th, Coffman Union, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities East Bank

MINNEAPOLIS- On Monday, March 28th, students at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus will walk out of class at 11:30 am for a rally and march at Coffman Memorial Union. Students are outraged over soaring tuition, budget cuts, sky-rocketing administrative salaries, mounting student debt, attacks on cultural-diversity groups on campus, and blatant disregard for workers’ rights across the nation. In light of recent student and worker uprisings around the world, students in the Twin Cities are no longer willing to bear the burdens of the economic crisis while the rich only get richer. Inspired by the actions of students at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Madison, and other campuses around the state, U of M students are standing up against injustices in their own state and their own university.

In-state tuition at the Twin Cities campus has increased 150% over the past 10 years, but students are not receiving a better quality education for their money: class sizes are increasing, student-to-teacher ratios are rising, more classes are taught by contingent and part-time faculty instead of professors, and available financial aid is decreasing. “If more and more services are being cut, then where is my tuition money going?” asked undergraduate student Jacob Niewald. “From what I’ve seen at the University, the only people who are improving their economic standing are upper-administrators and star faculty.” Additionally, the Minnesota house just presented their version of a budget bill that would cut $161.9 million of state funding for the university, placing even more financial burden on students and workers in the University of Minnesota system.

These proposed cuts would also force the university to freeze wages for faculty and staff, a group that, according to graduate student Eli Meyerhoff, has already had to make too many concessions. “These are hard-working people with families to support and student loans to pay off. What will happen if they have their wages cut, their benefits decreased, or their jobs eliminated? The results of these attacks on the livelihoods of university workers will be felt by everyone, from students to faculty to the greater Minnesota community.”

It is for these reasons that students have decided that enough is enough. Together, members of the University of Minnesota community are walking out and marching in order to:

-Foster worker-student solidarity and unity
-Oppose increases in tuition, wage cuts and salary freezes for staff and faculty, and continued salary increases for upper-administration
-Call for a tuition freeze, across the board raises for university workers making less than $50,000 a year, and pay cuts for administrators making more than $200,000
-Stand in solidarity with students and workers everywhere, particularly with those involved in current struggles in Wisconsin and other states with similar bills, as well as in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and numerous others.
-Stand in solidarity with students in Milwaukee and support their ongoing occupation on the UWM campus
-Support the idea of a general strike in Wisconsin as the most effective means to stop Governor Scott Walker’s attack on students and working people in that state

syndicalist
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Mar 29 2011 00:08

Jun Gonatz: "p.s. - I was just in Duluth, where there was a Finnish language IWW paper until 1975. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to dig for these or find out people who could talk about the town's past. Seemed like a really interesting city. "

Home of the 1990s WSA wreckers and entryists. Real nice people there. Yup. Wouldn't bother me if a few of em slip in while ice fishing. Yup.

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Mar 29 2011 08:51
syndicalist wrote:
Jun Gonatz: "p.s. - I was just in Duluth, where there was a Finnish language IWW paper until 1975. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to dig for these or find out people who could talk about the town's past. Seemed like a really interesting city. "

Home of the 1990s WSA wreckers and entryists. Real nice people there. Yup. Wouldn't bother me if a few of em slip in while ice fishing. Yup.

Yeah, me and another guy (IWW organizer that I was with) were talking about that when we were in the town, too.

But doubt they (Duluth entryists into WSA) had anything to do with the old Finnish IWW, though...

syndicalist
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Mar 29 2011 12:54

At least one of the Duluth entryists would claim he has had something to do with everyone since the time of Moses.....so......

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Mar 29 2011 18:38

Inside the capitol building there is now a "free speech zone". Go outside it with a sign and be arrested or given a $200 fine.
http://eyedance.blogspot.com/2011/03/what-words-exactly-big-brother.html

On the bullshit recall

Quote:
SHOREWOOD — Matthew Dunn had barely started knocking on doors Saturday in this village next to Milwaukee when the reality of the task ahead of him became apparent.

"Oh, I've already signed," said resident Sandra Hays, a writing instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

The two chatted amiably, but Dunn, 36, a high school counselor who lives in the village, left the woman's doorstep without getting any closer to his goal of triggering a recall election against Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills.

"I think most of the easy signatures have been grabbed," he said. "Now, it's a slog."

Across Wisconsin, recall efforts are underway against 16 state senators — eight Democrats and eight Republicans. Each effort has just 60 days to gather enough signatures to force an election.

The clock starts ticking the day the recall committee registers with the state. Almost all of the efforts are now approaching the halfway point of the 60-day window or are already there — a critical juncture.

"The longer (a recall effort) goes on, the harder it is to get people's attention and to keep volunteers motivated," said Michael Kraft, a political science professor at UW-Green Bay.

For that reason, a recall effort ideally should have banked a disproportionate number of signatures by the halfway point, because the pace typically slows, he said.

The number of signatures gathered must be at least 25 percent of the number of votes cast for governor in that district in the most recent gubernatorial election. Given that relatively high bar, experts have said it is unlikely that even half of the 16 efforts will lead to recall elections.

Hitting the ground

In Shorewood Saturday, Dunn spent a chilly afternoon going door to door with another volunteer, Ronni Endemann, 37, of Burlington, an account services employee at a medical facility.

Dunn, a union member, said he was motivated by Darling's support of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's effort to end most collective bargaining rights for public sector workers. Endemann, not a union member, said she sympathizes with the labor movement and is concerned about proposed cuts to education and state health-care programs.

They were given a map of specific houses to approach from the recall effort's headquarters. Three hours later, they had knocked on 98 doors and acquired five signatures.

No one answered the door at 68 homes, 21 people already had signed a petition and four people refused.

The results were not unexpected because the campaign is in the "super-saturation" phase of going back over some neighborhoods two or more times, said Kristopher Rowe, 32, of Sherwood, a respiratory therapist who started the recall effort with a Facebook page.

The Darling recall effort needs at least 20,343 signatures by May 2. Rowe wouldn't say where the campaign is at, but he told one volunteer Saturday, "I guarantee you we will have more than enough signatures by that day."

'Not giving up'

Monday in Sun Prairie, homemaker Kate Ploessl, 48, stood on the public sidewalk outside the U.S. Postal Service office collecting signatures in the recall effort against Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona.

She described herself as a "conservative independent" who became irritated when the 14 Senate Democrats, including Miller, left the state to delay the vote on Walker's budget repair bill. "I see them as people who neglected to do their jobs," she said.

She has collected nearly 80 signatures herself, she said, but the two-hour stint Monday netted only three more. "That's how it goes sometimes," she said afterward. "I'm not giving up."

The Miller effort needs at least 20,352 signatures by April 26 but hopes to get 25,000 to have a cushion, said Jeff Horn, 43, a computer programmer from DeForest and the effort's leader. The campaign has not yet passed the halfway point to reach 25,000, he said.

"It's going to be close," he said. "I'm not saying we're ahead of the game, but I'm not despondent."

Horn said he was encouraged Saturday when he and several volunteers collected about 75 signatures in three hours at a stationary site along Monona Drive in "the heart of Miller country" in Monona.

Both he and Rowe said all of the people collecting signatures for them are unpaid volunteers.

Difficult task

The work isn't easy.

Ploessl first tried to gather signatures while parked in the lot of a residential complex across from the post office but was asked to leave. Then she parked at the post office and was told by an employee that she had to either leave the parking lot or take down a large "Recall Miller" poster on her vehicle. (She chose the latter.)

Dunn and Endemann had their own challenges Saturday. While most people were friendly, three homeowners ripped into them.

One man told Endemann that what she was doing was "horrible" and that she should "reexamine her life." A woman told Dunn she had voted for Darling "forever" and that he had "a lot of nerve knocking on my door and making me answer it."

"There are strong feelings on both sides," Dunn said afterward. "I fully expect to be verbally berated at times."

First I've heard of it, but supposably there is a hunger strike going on too

tastybrain
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Mar 29 2011 18:39

Juan did you get my PM?

I'm in Wisconsin, looking for the best ways to get involved. Any WI wobs or others who know what's going on right now? I've tried contacting the Madison infoshop and they just directed me to the Wisconsin wave website, also tried emailing the Madison wobs but no reply from them. Anyone in the far south, like near the Illinois border? Or know anyone around that region? Pm me if you have any info or contacts for me.

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Juan Conatz
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Mar 29 2011 18:52
tastybrain wrote:
Juan did you get my PM?

I'm in Wisconsin, looking for the best ways to get involved. Any WI wobs or others who know what's going on right now? I've tried contacting the Madison infoshop and they just directed me to the Wisconsin wave website, also tried emailing the Madison wobs but no reply from them. Anyone in the far south, like near the Illinois border? Or know anyone around that region? Pm me if you have any info or contacts for me.

Ah, yes, sorry, it got lost in the flurry of messages in my email. I'll find it and message you back.

Samotnaf
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Mar 29 2011 19:08

Just seen this - from Milwaukee Indymedia:

Quote:
“The night of March 15th, a group of roughly forty students, workers, the unemployed and other uncontrollables marched to the Milwaukee County Jail, carrying banners and black flags. The banners at the front of the march read “Burn All Prisons” and “No Control”. Upon arriving at the front doors of the jail, demonstrators chanted “Free them all” and launched dozens of fireworks through the air in an effort to communicate with those locked inside.

The demonstration was called for by participants in the occupation of the Theatre building at UW-Milwaukee as a part of the ongoing struggle against the “Budget Repair Bill”. The bill, proposed by the hated governor of Wisconsin, contains a provision that will institute a Truth-in-Sentencing policy. This measure removes the possibility for those locked away in Wisconsin’s jails and prisons to qualify for early release for good behavior or ‘good time’. For inmates this means a dramatic increase in the time spent in jail – more time in captivity, kept away from their families and loved ones, kept in abject misery and isolation. The Truth-in-Sentencing provisions of the bill highlight specifically how the economic attacks on working and unemployed people throughout the state goes hand in hand with the criminalization and imprisonment of the working class). The economic system that exploits our labor, deprives our benefits, and throws us on the street is the very same system that keeps us in cages and behind barbed wire.

In the past weeks of resistance to Walker’s austerity measures, the politicians and police unions have been remarkably silent about this provision. They’ve built a mythology that “we’re all in this together” or that “they’re on our side”. It is more convenient for them to simply ignore the ways that the bill they purportedly oppose dramatically expands the prison system they faithfully defend. It’s no coincidence that the bill both extends prison sentences while also protecting the Police Union from the elimination of collective bargaining rights. The role of politicians and the police is to maintain the dreadful economy and the prison system necessary to it. It should come as no surprise to us that those who fail to criticize this system are the same who encourage us to continue working and scold those who step outside the lines they’ve defined.

It is time for new lines to be drawn. On the one side: the governor, politicians, police, bureaucrats, professional activists. On the other: prisoners, workers, students, the unemployed, the enraged. If the spontaneous struggle against this bill were to generalize and become a movement against this economic system and its prisons, it would mean that those affected by the bill would need to extend their actions and gestures of solidarity through all the walls that separate them. December’s historic strike by prisoners in Georgia shows us what such action could look like. For us, this means that the strikes, occupations and sabotage – the generalized disruption of the economy – needs to spread through the walls of the prison, to generalize, and to intensify. In this, we need to build complicit relationships and revolt inside and outside those walls.

Towards an unlimited strike, for a world without prison.”

-The enraged

(my emphases).

Samotnaf
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Mar 29 2011 19:15

And just seen this as well:

Quote:
Q: “How has the situation in Wisconsin changed, if at all, in the weeks since you initially conducted the interview?”
A: It’s certainly devious in how imperceptible that change is and was, both for when there was a “change” and after. You had to seek it out or you have to have been effected, forced to pay attention. Most areas of life were on the surface in no way effected by “the events in Madison.” They were too easy to ignore. And this imperceptibility demonstrates the immense power of the apparatus that keeps everything the same and also the weakness of a struggle that either must change everything or will return to normal.
I’m tempted to compare the situation of seeming powerlessness, the general strike that was threatened and existed in many minds as a slumbering yet awakening beast of a bygone age, and which remains present in many minds specifically as a lack, to a phantom limb. We feel, and are witness to the presence of our absence of power.
What I can share are frustrations, and a kind of shock that corresponds with any subservient march back to work, and that forgets the most important fact of these events, which is that it was not the unions or politicians which made us something to be feared. It was the constitution as a force, however briefly and however foolish, that shocked many, especially those who participated, with fear. Where else did the constant calls for non-violence come from? A million tiny failures repulse us with the horror of our powerlessness, specifically after we glimpsed or dared think otherwise. Not only time will tell how well we will retain this dream, because within a world that has every interest in our forgetting, it would sooner have never happened. Either we will feel the shame of taking part in our own forgetting or we will have to fight and through conflict remember more and more what is at stake in the present.
So yes, a lot has changed, but if one weren’t part of it then it’s as if nothing has and never did. It’s a news story. It’s a protest to be ignored. Life goes on. Now instead of a general strike, or strikes, or sick outs, or walk outs, what remains overwhelmingly are recall campaigns, and talk of electoral politics, which channel and subdue these events into processes that manage them, contain them, count them, and include them in the calculus of the democratic party. One must wait for their turn to put a piece of paper in a box and then go back to work, go back home, go to the mall – all places which we’ve been produced to fit perfectly within. Our presence within them contests nothing, and where contestation is ignored politics hides – the beast slumbers.

- from here.