Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wisconsin Unions Vote to Prepare a General Strike – The Time to Act Is Now [IG/LFI]

Report from Madison: “We’re Making History”

Wisconsin Unions Vote to Prepare a General Strike – The Time to Act Is Now

Union demonstrators outside the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison protesting union-busting bill. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

MADISON, Wisconsin, February 22 – After the mammoth turnout for the pro-labor march on Saturday, union-busting governor Scott Walker hoped they would just dribble away. No such luck. This mobilization has staying power: thousands came out amid the sleet, slush and freezing rain on Sunday, followed by the now-standard twice-daily demonstrations on Monday despite bitter cold. And as the labor protests continue, there is beginning to be discussion of a key element that has been missing so far: strike action. More particularly, a general strike. This could have a dramatic impact in Ohio and throughout the country.

Most of the action on Sunday (February 20) was indoors, but it was impressive to see groups of four or five hardy souls, and sometimes just one or two, slogging away, circling the Capitol building all day long with their signs. They were determined to make their voices heard. About 11 a.m. a family drove up in a station wagon and vats of hot cider, to pass out to the demonstrators. They weren’t union members but come from a “strong labor family,” and figured they would do their bit. It was sure welcome.

In the middle of the soggy day, we ran across a young couple with a sign, “This Is What Class Warfare Looks Like.” That was quite striking after all the chants of “This is what democracy looks like.” They’re from Rice Lake in northern Wisconsin, about half-way between Eau Claire and Superior, and had driven 250 miles to Madison show their opposition to the attack on the unions. Actually, they had come down on Wednesday, the day after the de facto occupation of the Capitol started. Back in Rice Lake that day, they heard, there was a protest of several hundred students, teachers and others. So they headed back north to be there on Thursday, when over 1,000 protested in the streets (out of a total population of 8,000). Then on Friday it was back to Madison. That takes real dedication, and they’re not alone.

This gives the lie to Walker’s claim that people in small-town Wisconsin are with him, and it’s only a bunch of Mad Town liberals and out-of-staters causing trouble in the capital. It confirms the conclusion from yesterday, that the Tea Party right-wingers are vastly outnumbered. Working people all across the state are up in arms over his assault on labor, and way up in Rice Lake people know what’s what.

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