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Category Archives: Wisconsin Anti-Union Bill Protests

Nationwide Signs of Solidarity: LA Edition

One of the things that has grown during this recent thrust of anti-union legislation in numerous states is union solidarity. Especially prevalent between the increasingly besieged public-sector workers but also, and crucially, between public and private-sector workers (intended to be divided by the same anti-union bills and the accompanying rhetoric), protests supporting Wisconsin unions and workers have occurred nationwide. This one, on March 26 in Los Angeles, drew over 10,000 on what organizers dubbed “Solidarity Saturday.” It also drew support from public-sector workers from the ranks of police officers and fire fighters excluded from Wisconsin’s anti-union bill.

The political power that the radical, Tea Party infused right holds at the state level where these bills have spread portends problems in the immediate future for workers. However, the growing, and I would contend somewhat unexpected, solidarity and outrage over these same bills may well mean a worker-infused political backlash in the coming election cycles. How this plays out on a political landscape drastically changed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision empowering corporations with free speech rights to flood elections with cash and propaganda is a fundamental countervailing question to this scenario.

–Jason Kozlowski

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Recent Labor Hour Shows Available

Thanks for reading, everyone. Various things that have kept me quite busy have also, unfortunately, kept me away from actively blogging in the last couple weeks. That will change, however, with a spate of posts on myriad labor, economic, and political items to come today.

This one includes links for a couple recent shows. The March 19 show features an interview with Leighton Christiansen, a GEO activist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has twice visited Madison during the height of the protests, and whose excellent, stirring observations of life in the capitol rotunda I posted here on March 1. The March 26 show featured a discussion of and materials related to the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which occurred 100 years ago on March 25, 1911. I read a stirring, first-hand account by William Shepard. Thanks to WEFT factotum, blues mavne, and all-around good guy Bob Paleczny, Illinois World Labor Hour shows are archived at http://www.radio4all.net.

Be sure to tune in to the Illinois World Labor Hour every Saturday at 11 a.m. CT to WEFT 90.1 FM Champaign, IL, also available online at www.weft.org.

–Jason Kozlowski

 

Wisconsin Protest Coverage

Here are some links to stories and footage from last Saturday’s massive rally in Madison against the draconian anti-union legislation.

John Nichols of The Nation, who has spent considerable time in his home state of Wisconsin, penned this very good piece after the rally. He’s been on this from the beginning, and has rightly received a lot of air time to discuss the mounting protests. He pegs the number of protesters at over 100,000.

There is some very good video worth watching from the World Socialist Web Site of workers on the general strike, Wisconsin protests and the growing chasm of social inequality in our country.

This is an excellent article from The Cap Times on Saturday’s protests, including some great quotes from people in the massive crowd, and a strong speech from actor Tony Shaloub (“Monk” et al.) supporting Wisconsin protesters. Good stuff.

Meanwhile, Madison has rightly received the lion’s share of headlines and attention for the outpouring of organic activism, but Milwaukee and especially the students, teachers, and workers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, had a large protest yesterday. FightBack!news is an excellent site with regular updates from around the country on labor, workers, and resistance.

While Eric Kleefeld at TPMDC is right to be wary of who comprises the signatures thus far, there is no question that the recall effort in Wisconsin against the eight eligible Republican state senators is proceeding quickly. Democrats claim to have already amassed 45% of the signatures necessary for a recall.

Please be sure to say some prayers and send what assistance you can for the poor people devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami, and now facing the very real, terrifying threat of radiation exposure from several failing, destroyed reactors. It is beyond harrowing.

–Jason Kozlowski

 

March 12 Labor Hour Available

Thanks to Illinois World Labor Hour co-host, WEFT factotum, technical guru, blues maven, and all-around good guy Bob Paleczny, the latest edition of the Illinois World Labor Hour is now up and available at radio4all.net. It was a good show with Gloria Hays, who has been heavily active in the Wisconsin protests, calling in with a live report from the massive rally Saturday. Also, Tom Thomas read his latest poem, Bill Gorrell expressed his typically good thoughts on the possibilities of a general strike, and yours truly offered some commentary as well as a bit of labor history on the 99th anniversary of the successful conclusion of the IWW’s Lawrence, MA “Bread and Roses” strike of 1912, and the labor activist and feminist Leonora O’Reilly.

Be sure to tune in every Saturday morning at 11 a.m. CT to the Illinois World Labor Hour on WEFT 90.1 FM, Champaign, IL, also streamed online at www.weft.org, for the latest news and analysis on the labor movement, in the US and around the world.

–Jason Kozlowski

 

Photos of Riot Police Evicting Wisconsin Protesters

Because they’ve been such a menace…

 

Wisconsin Union Contracts Expiring; Recall Efforts Underway

The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that union contracts covering about 39,000 workers, which had been extended for nearly two years, are set to expire Sunday March 13. Included among the nearly 20 expiring agreements are contracts covering non-building trades workers, administrative and technical support staff, security and public safety, and professional social services workers represented by the Wisconsin State Employees Union (WSEU). Various provisions of the recently passed anti-union legislation will be phased soon and in over the next few months, such as the termination of dues deduction, greater deductions from paychecks for pensions, and higher health insurance premiums.

Currently, recall efforts targeting Republican state senators are underway, with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee spearheading and raising funds for the effort. Eight Republicans in all are eligible for recall, though six are likely targets. Should three lose recall votes and Democrats replace them, the balance of power in the state senate will dramatically shift.

Not to be overlooked, with the eventuality of legal challenges to the terms of the anti-union bill and how it passed the senate, it is essential to note that there is an election on April 5, less than a month away, for a seat on the state supreme court. The election is between Republican David Prosser and Democrat JoAnn Kloppenberg. Expect this to be a hotly contested, well attended, and expensive election for the seat, since currently four Republicans and three Democrats comprise the state supreme court.

–Jason Kozlowski

 

Walker Admits the Obvious: Union Bill’s Changes “Are Indeed Fiscal”

In what should be a surprise to few if anyone, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker acknowledged what most, especially the critics of the state’s anti-union bill, understand–the bill that the Wisconsin Senate passed yesterday without having the necessary quorum or allotted time beforehand to vote on it is inherently fiscal in nature. In a highly debatable preface to yesterday’s controversial actions, in which the Senate stripped down the overtly fiscal provisions yet left the clearly implicitly anti-union fiscal provisions in place to pass the anti-union bill, Governor Walker stated at a press conference this morning, “We followed the law, and yet it allows us to move forward with these reforms —¬†which are indeed fiscal.”

Since a Senate quorum is necessary to vote upon measures that are fiscal in nature, and given that Governor Walker has acknowledged the essentially fiscal nature of these anti-union measures ostensibly meant to cut state pension costs while, in actuality, the GOP Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald has admitted that the bill is meant to curtail the rights and political power of unions, it will be more than interesting to see how the eventual legal challenge to this act will stand up, if at all, in court. This is all the more so since Republican lawmakers claim to have acted within the rights of the conference committee not to have needed 24 hours advanced notice for the proceedings to legally occur.  However, this claim is highly debatable and subject to legal challenge.

Meanwhile, justice is served in the capitol as a score or so of nonviolent protesters were forcibly removed from the hallway leading to the capitol’s Assembly chambers.

As the late, great author Hunter S. Thompson once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” We’ve clearly moved into the ranks of professional political weirdness.

–Jason Kozlowski