24/7 Solidarity Vigil Update, Friday February 25

26 Feb

Courtesy of GEO #6300:

Day four of the Solidarity Vigil began with a setback and ended with an unexpected sign of solidarity. Just a few minutes after 1am, vigil participants sleeping over at the University YMCA received texts from GEO members in the Wisconsin Capitol at Madison that the Republicans had passed the anti-union bill through the House ending several days of vigorous debate with House Democrats. The bill was now in the hands of the Senate including the fourteen Democratic members who have left the state to prevent quorum being reached.

At 9am campus workers and students continued their Solidarity Work-In at the Illini Union. People graded papers, prepared for class, and engaged in vigorous discussions of the nights events and the upcoming protests in Springfield, Madison, and Champaign-Urbana. Throughout the day, people stopped off at the YMCA to drop-off hand sanitizer, socks, cereal, vitamin C tablets, triangular bandages, and rice milk, all requested by our sister union TAA up in Madison. These supplies will be transported by over thirty campus workers and students who are making the trip to Madison tomorrow to support Wisconsin workers and help sustain protests on the Capitol building.

At noon, GEO members skyped in live with IFT President Dan Montgomery at the University YMCA. Montgomery explained that he had been following reports of the Solidarity Vigil from his base in Chicago and wanted to extend the full support of the federation to our efforts. Members described some of the highlights of the weeks activities and discussed possible coordination of future organizing efforts across the state. In particular, members expressed their concerns with the ongoing battle here in Illinois to erode the collective bargaining rights of educators and their desire to use this political opportunity to strike a blow against these initiatives. Montgomery commended GEO members for their work and provided some important advice and guidance.

At 2pm, GEO member Kerry Pimblott was invited as a guest on Higher Ground – a bi-weekly radio show on WEFT 90.1 FM hosted by local activists Sister Carol and Brother Aaron Ammons of CU Citizens for Peace and Justice. The three discussed the latest events in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio, and how local community members can get more involved. Shortly after, solidarity rallies continued over at the Comfort Inn in Urbana where the 25 Democratic Representatives from Indiana are staying in protest of shady anti-union and education bills. Protests at the Comfort Inn will continue tomorrow from 3pm – 5pm and will be bolstered by supporters from the state of Indiana who are traveling to Urbana in solidarity!

As the evening closed in, campus workers, students, and their children came to the University YMCA for a Family Solidarity Party. Some folks decorated cookies with solidarity images including badgers, GEO bugs, and union slogans while others made picket signs in preparation for the three protests taking place tomorrow. As we sat around the tables together, reports of new and surprising bonds of solidarity broke in the press. Upon being asked by Governor Walker to remove protesters and close the Capitol building, Wisconsin Police expressed their opposition to the bill and their simple refusal to comply with the Governors request. In an expression of solidarity, the police officers association asked their rank-and-file members to come out in support of the protesters and join them in a “sleepover” at the Capitol tonight!

–Jason Kozlowski


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