Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wisconsin's Growing Labor Militancy

(Image by newlow)
7,000 protesters in Wisconsin participated in a New Orleans style funeral procession on March 3, to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation and service cuts, AND to protest the concessions made by the public sector union bosses. Protesters carried coffins representing the service cuts, while a brass band played jazz. While mourning the loss of living standards or union rights is a silly waste of time (Don’t Mourn, Organize!), what made this protest interesting is that the participants were not giving up. On the contrary, they were demanding that the state’s budget crisis be paid for by the rich, not by cutting services, pay and benefits for workers.
Walker’s “budget repair” bill contained $1.5 billion in cuts to education and local government and could result in 70,000 people being thrown off Medicaid. Leaders of the teachers union (WEAC), AFSCME, and the Service Employees all agreed (almost immediately) to accept Walker’s health and pension rollbacks, which amount to an 8% percent pay cut. The concessions were made without consulting members and have been contested by protesters for weeks.

From the IWW website
The National Nurses Union held a “no-concessions” meeting on Feb. 27 that drew Jim Cavanaugh, president of the South Central Federation of Labor (the same group that supports a general strike) and J. Eric Cobb, Building Trades Council executive director. The meeting led to the “no concessions, no cuts” funeral march four days later. Participants in the “no concessions” meetings that followed felt that blame for the budget problems needed to be placed on Wall Street, not on workers. Indeed, many argued that the fight should be for improving wages and benefits, not conceding them.  

Others are calling for a picket of the AFL/CIO Western Conference on April 9 and continuing the call for a General Strike. The AFL-CIO has done nothing to defend labor in this time of rampant attacks on unions. Rather, they have accepted the claims by the ruling elite that the fiscal crisis was some sort of natural disaster and that “we” all have to tighten our belts. The United Public Workers for Action is calling for everyone, whether unemployed, employed, retired, Union member or not, to participate in a General Strike.

  • Stop Supporting the Two Corporate Parties / Establish a Democratic Workers Party
  • Arrest the Wall Street Perpetrators and Fellow Banking Conspirators Under the Rico Act
  • Picket the AFL/CIO Western Conference at the Oakland Airport Hilton April 9, starting at 9:30
United Public Workers for Action
East Bay 510-233-5820 San Francisco 415-867-0628

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