The big labor rally and tractorcade outside the Wisconsin Statehouse in Madison March 12 was a tale of two cities.
For many thousands of workers and farmers, it registered determination to keep mobilizing and fighting antilabor assaults by the employers and their governments, in Wisconsin and beyond. That was one Madison.
But there was also another Madison, that of top union officials and the Democratic Party politicians in whose footsteps they follow. Clear the streets, is their message. Turn out the vote in 2012 to win Democratic majorities in state legislatures and Congress and reelect President Obama.
Michael Tate, chairman of Wisconsins Democratic Party, made no bones about it. From a policy perspective, this is terrible, Tate said of the new union-busting law. But from a political perspective he [Republican governor Scott Walker] could not have handed us a bigger gift.
The Militant is campaigning to get out the first messagethe message of solidarity in actionto as many workers, farmers, and others as possible. We urge readers to join us in this effort.
The tractorcade of 53 farm vehicles at the March 12 actionorganized by the Family Farm Defenders and Wisconsin Farmers Unionwas an example of worker-farmer solidarity not seen in years. Its not just that farmers, many of whom work full time for a wage to pay off farm debt and make a livable income, are hard hit by cuts in government programs.
Equally important, the farmers display of support for public employees helps open the minds of working people in rural towns and small cities across Wisconsin and elsewhere whove been swayed to one degree or another by false arguments pushed by capitalist politicians in both parties about public employees and their unions. It helps answer the lie that gains won by public employees come at the expense of taxpayersa classless catch-all papering over sharply different economic and social conditions of workers and farmers from those of better-off middle-class and professional layers and of ruling-class families themselves.
Class-conscious workers cant fight effectively and win if we simply concede to the so-called tea party those working people, small shop owners, and others who feel the blows of the capitalist crisis but dont yet see any alternative to those offered by one or another wing of the Republican or Democratic parties.
Nor can we defend our wages, job conditions, and unions if we follow the lead of union officials and others who tell us to put aside our struggles and get out the vote for the latest friend of labor.
Each issue of the Militant reports on upcoming actions by workers and farmers on the frontlines of struggles across the United Statesthis week, for example, a March 26 solidarity rally and march in Keokuk, Iowa, by union corn-refinery workers locked out by Roquette America (see ad on page 3).
Its at picket lines, rallies, and other actions like these that workers and farmers get to know each other, share experiences, and compare notes on lessons weve learned from our struggles. Whatever the outcome of any particular fight, that expanding solidarity is something no boss can take from us if we dont let them.
Those links, and the strengthened organization of our class forged by them, are our most important conquest today, whether in Madison, Indianapolis, Columbus, Keokuk, or wherever else we keep meeting up in the months and years ahead.
Labor-farmer unity in Wisconsin
Rallies in states across U.S. demand halt to attacks on public workers
Unions call rally against austerity measures in UK
March in Montreal protests budget cuts
Todays union fights: How we got here and the solidarity we must keep building
California students, teachers protest cuts
Socialists begin effort to extend reach of working-class paper
Intl team of socialist workers heads to Cairo
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