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Vol. 75/No. 12      March 28, 2011

Keep on expanding labor solidarity
(front page / editorial)

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 Wisconsin’s 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 message—the message of solidarity in action—to 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 action—organized by the Family Farm Defenders and Wisconsin Farmers Union—was an example of worker-farmer solidarity not seen in years. It’s 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 who’ve 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 “taxpayers”—a 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 can’t 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 don’t 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 States—this 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).

It’s 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 we’ve learned from our struggles. Whatever the outcome of any particular fight, that expanding solidarity is something no boss can take from us if we don’t 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.
Related articles:
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
Today’s 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
Int’l team of socialist workers heads to Cairo  
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