Sunday, March 13, 2011

Waking Up

Selecting an article from Watching America was easy this week, but that's probably because this opinion piece from Argentina's Argenpress matched my own interests right now. It's about the whole push to bust unions by Republican governors in our Midwest. It's also about the potential re-engergizing of the union movement in this country.

The Wisconsin battle has generated an extraordinary movement of solidarity and worker mobilization throughout the country with meetings, supportive actions, and fundraising to support the occupants of the Capitol extending to all regions. The issue of defense of collective bargaining and the right to organize workers has become part of the national debate. It’s not just solidarity: In Ohio, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets against the cutback plan pushed by that state’s governor, which proposed elimination of collective bargaining for public employees and allowing hiring of new workers (scabs) during an eventual stoppage. There are also mobilizations in Indiana, where bills were presented that included a plan that would authorize private sector workers to “choose” not to be in any union. On Saturday Feb. 26, worker demonstrations were held throughout the United States in solidarity with the fight in Wisconsin: In Madison, in spite of snow, 70,000 people united for the most important demonstration since the Vietnam War. There were also tens of thousands in every principal city in the country. The massiveness of the demonstration on the 26th gave new life to the storming of Madison’s Capitol: On Sunday the 27th the government’s attempt to clear the building failed when hundreds of state police officers declared support for the occupiers. The occupation continues stronger than ever.

In the United States the conscience of millions of workers is undergoing a transformation. The New York Times concluded that Wisconsin might be the “Tunisia of the United States’ working class.” It’s like one of the demonstrators on the 26th stated in his slogan, “Thank you, Governor Walker, for waking a sleeping giant — the American working class.”

While I'm not too sure the numbers cited by the author are accurate when it comes to the masses of protesters, I suspect they are closer to the truth than the ones given out by authorities and the US mainstream media. That said, I believe he's gotten the rest of the story correct. The working class is finally beginning to get it when it comes to what our owners have in mind for us.

We may have lost the first skirmish as the Republican state senators found a way to work around the missing Democrats, but the war continues. Yesterday another 100,000 (at least) protesters renewed the battle at the Madison Capitol, this time joined by the Democratic senators who have returned to the state.

And the unions and their supporters have found other ways to engage, including pouring energy into the effort to recall 8 Republican senators and pulling money from a bank whose directors contributed to Scott Walker's election campaign.

The battle is a crucial one for the nation, not just Wisconsin. If that sleeping giant awakens and stands up for the rights of working people, we will have our own revolution.

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