Join Wisconsin showdown
to stop assault on unions!
AP Photo/Al Goldis
Lansing, Michigan, protest February 26 against Wisconsin union-busting assault.
All out to back public workers and their unions in Wisconsin!
Thats the rallying cry of growing numbers of unionists and working people across the United States. Unions are sending delegations to join labor militants at the state capitol in Madison. Student groups are arriving. The protest there on February 26 was the largest yetsome 100,000. And there will be further mobilizationsin large cities, and in small townsin Wisconsin as well as Indiana, Ohio, and other states.
The Militant urges our readers to join this fight. Bring a bus or car caravan to these ongoing actions. Organize fellow unionists and coworkers to go with you. Not only will your solidarity be welcomed, but struggles you are part of will win a wider hearing. Those engaged in other fightsagainst deportations, education cuts, cop brutality, in defense of abortion rightshave a stake in joining these labor battles as well.
Wisconsin is the first showdown between labor and capital since the bosses accelerated their assault on workers rights and job conditions as the capitalist crisis deepened sharply in late 2007. The employers, backed by their government and their two political parties, are speeding up the line, cutting back on safety, slashing pay, gutting health insurance and pensions, and tearing up work rules.
Now Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is attempting to strip public employees of the very right to collective bargaining on benefits, pensions, and work conditions. Walker, a Republican, is pushing the lie that the so-called budget crisis facing U.S. cities and states is the fault of public workers, who have won improved wages, health care, and pensions over the years.
Walker is appealing to workers in private industry, especially those who may have lost jobs or seen wages and benefits cut, hoping to stir up resentment of workers employed by the state. Those of us who go to Wisconsin can talk to and help convince fellow working people whove been taken in by these false arguments, or who are unsure.
Democrats, from New York governor Andrew Cuomo to Gov. Edmund Brown in California, echo these arguments to rationalize antilabor measures in those states. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, who claims to be prolabor, has meekly asked that public employees not be denigrated, while insisting that the concept of shared sacrifice should prevailthe capitalists code words for cutting wages and benefits.
Workers in Wisconsin, and increasingly those watching the battle in other states, have stood up and said No! The largest labor mobilizations in years are taking place in solidarity with public workers in Wisconsin, joined not only by public employees, but by more and more manufacturing workers in private industry, who see the writing on the wall. If this bill passes, they know they are next.
The last week of February saw demonstrations in scores of cities and towns, involving tens of thousands. They took place in large cities like Chicago as well as small towns like Hudson, Wisconsin, population 12,000, where several hundred demonstrated. Unions involved in struggles of their own sent delegations to Madison, like United Steelworkers Local 7-669 in Metropolis, Illinois, locked out by Honeywell. A group of 161 unionists from Los Angeles flew to the state capitol. Local 48G bakery union workers locked out by Roquette America in Keokuk, Iowa, drove to Des Moines, Iowa, for a solidarity rally.
Working people stand a little taller today, seeing the unity and solidarity we are showing in Wisconsin. As locked-out Keokuk worker Drake Custer put it, marching for the Wisconsin workers in Des Moines February 26: Pride doesnt come from being persecuted. Pride comes from fighting and participating with people like this.
Pride also comes from seeing fellow workers in Egypt, Tunisia, and other countries in North Africa and the Middle East beginning to wrest the right to organize and participate in politics. Small wonder Fight like an Egyptian was a popular sign at the We are Wisconsin rally in Los Angeles.
When you go to actions such as these, take a bundle of the Militant with you to sell. Its a weekly source of news about labor and other struggles across the United States and around the worldand political lessons the working-class movement has learned from victories and defeats over some 150 years. Show the paper around at work, at the union hall, or on your campus. Let fellow workers know how they can subscribe and order extra copies. Join a team of Militant distributors going to Wisconsin from a town near you. (See the directory on page 5.)
As the attacks on workers and our unions have mounted in recent years, the union officialdom has remained in retreat. They have continued to hitch prospects for working people to the capitalist system and to the political parties of the bosses, the Democrats and Republicans. But this has only emboldened the employers and their government to take moreat the local, state, and federal levels.
Now a fight has begun to be joined. This is the moment to stand alongside unionists and workers in Wisconsin. The battles wont end there.
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