Update on the protests against wage cuts and the removal of collective bargaining for state workers in Wisconsin, with words of warning about the Democrats and unions from a local worker.
So far, thousands of schoolkids walked out of class in solidarity with the teachers, and school districts have warned parents of possible sick out by educators.
Meanwhile, thousands of workers and supporters have blockaded the Capitol building in a "people's filibuster" to prevent the bill from passing.
The following comment was posted to libcom.org by a local resident:
On 18 February, Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO came to speak. The liberal-posturing bourgeoisie have all come out endorsing the protests and the right to collective bargaining. The unions of course want to maintain the dues checkoffs for all workers covered by a union contract, but all this is secondary to their desire to maintain a seat at the table. If the bill is modified allowing for continued collective bargaining in the state sector the unions would be likely to accept most of the other concessions. The governor wants $158 million in cuts, compared to the unions' initial offer this Fall of $100 million in cuts to pension and benefit payments alongside a 3% pay cut.
This bill was shot down by two Democrats during the last session and shelved for the Republicans to work over when then assumed power in the state. It was the outgoing Democrats who killed the agreement, It allowed the Democrats to blame the Republicans for something they would've done themselves. The legislature then gave itself a 4% pay increase and a subsequent tax break for the wealthy biznesmenii, a tax break roughly equivalent to the amount that they wish workers to pay.
Meanwhile, as the result of the protests, the state's bond ratings are dropping regardless of the state's actual ability to repay its debts. The bond ratings hinge on the state authority's willingness to force concessions on workers. The actual ability of the state to pay off the debts by collecting revenue, from those who have the revenue to collect, is secondary.
The protests are set to continue through the weekend and are set for coming Monday as well. During the weekend the union locals will be meeting to decide their next step. Until the actual expiration date of the contract in March, the unions are legally bound by their 1971 no strike agreement that was a part of the legislation that allow the unions collective bargaining. It is not clear what the next move would be aside from more protests and attempts to block the bill from passing.
In fear that the passing of the bill would cause an explosion of anger among the assembled workers, and hurt their chances of reelection, fourteen members of the Democratic Party made their escape to Rockford Illinois to avoid being brought back by the State Patrol. Of course the passing of the bill at this point will cause a good deal of anger among workers either way.
Now Obama, the Archbishop of Milwaukee, and many other bastions of the owning class have come forward supporting collective bargaining for the state sector unions. Trumka, pres of the AFL-CIO, an excellent speechmaker will have to assure the crowds that the union is behind them and will fight this, while at the same time they fight primarily to maintain that important seat at the bargaining table. Trumka is the perfect choice for speaking to the crowds will carrying out measures that diametrically oppose what workers want. His role in the coal strike in 91 where miners were hung out to dry for having fought company thugs after a miner, Joe McCoy, was shot and killed on a picket line. The fact that the big dogs have had to stand up and take notice of these protests at all, show that the bourgeoisie is concerned about the effects of austerity on their stable social order and is interested in heading off resistance, before it spreads further.
If the union can retain the collective bargaining agreement they can declare victory and tell everyone to go home but the governor says there is nothing to negotiate and he doesn't look likely to budge at all.
Slightly edited from a comment on libcom.org [URL=http://libcom.org/news/wisconsin-war-declared-state-workers-15022011#comment-416416] here. [/url]