On Saturday labor leaders at the big staged microphone delivered speeches to between 3,000 and 5,000 Wisconsinites about maintaining the long fight to preserving worker rights, workplace safety, and “the middle class” and they called on their members to contact their legislators.
Meanwhile, the rank and file in Wisconsin discusses the futility of showing up for rallies and hearings where nobody but Walker-friendly “experts” are heard. They more openly express regret that a massive general strike was not attempted in 2011. And some speak wherever they can – in hushed tones or loud ones – of “general strike”.
A Wisconsin Right To Work bill [which is an exact replica of an ALEC template bill] is expected to sail through a hearing, to be passed on to the Tea Party majority state Assembly, and then to alight upon Walker’s desk for a signature. All of these actions could be completed by as early as Thursday night.
The solution that longtime activist David Williams and other advocates of direct action have been proposing for years suddenly don’t seem so “out there”.
Below is a video of Bob Slamka, a rank and file sheet metal worker, speaking about “shutting it down” during an impromptu assembly in the capitol rotunda after the AFL-CIO-organized rally. He is not speaking on behalf of a union in this capacity, although he is a union member, and has been so for 30 years. He is with the Local 18 of a statewide sheet metal workers union that has 4,300 members.
He proposes that next Friday be a shutdown day: LINK TO VIDEO
I asked him if labor leaders – even quasi-leaders – are responding favorably to his idea and he replied that he is getting mixed or guarded answers. He said AFL-CIO seems only to want to put up an opposition “for show”.
The scales have fallen from the eyes of many a former non-radical liberal Democrat and independent who formerly only voted (if that). They have seen for themselves hearing after hearing in which Wisconsinites have driven one third of the day to Madison, wait another third of the day, and ultimately, are not given even 2 minutes to speak in front of the hearing that decides their fate.
They have seen vote after vote advance Walker’s agenda on Tea Party lines with not even the adoption of amendments to legislation obviously churned out by a corporate mill (ALEC).
Most recently they have seen Scott Walker liken their strident yet peaceful, cheerful civic demonstrations to terrorism.
Now some former Republican-voting laborers are thrust into the same painful educational process as Walker rushes Right To Work For Less legislation he formerly said was off the table.
More Wisconsinites are ready to hear about a strident and swift way to combat the corporate corruption that has infused their state, county, town, and municipal governments.
Scales have fallen from more eyes.
But are they too frightened and weary to act after given sight?
Are they really, as Walker would say, “unintimidated”?
Leave your response in a comment.
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45 in all.
BELOW – A FEW COMMENTS ORIGINALLY LEFT AT THE OLD BLOG
Does the term “throw a monkey wrench into the works” mean anything to workers?
it would be Walker’s dream to fire everyone like Reagan and the air traffic controllers. How about a strategy where anyone could participate? Solidarity Saturdays where anyone (everyone!) negatively affected by Walker’s policies spends no money in WI. No groceries, no shopping, no eating out, no gas. Stay home and have a potluck with family and friends. Let the corporations feel it in their pocket books, too. Don’t know if it should apply to local business or not.
Look – this was our last chance. From now on the destruction of unions will be gradual, sporadic at different times in different locations of Wisconsin. The two times we should have taken direct action are gone from us now. Our leadership blew it, we the rank and file blew it as well.
I’m all for “shut it down Friday,” but how does this happen? Who’s organizing it? Just calling for it, without the ability to make it widespread, just points up our lack of power. “Organized” labor has some communications infrastructure available, but they’re not using it to lead. Those who are willing to lead don’t have that infrastructure to call broadly for a general strike, even for one day. Our Legislature isn’t the only place run by fearful people who won’t stand up against power.
Hello Norm. Bob Slamka here with a contact request. I like your insightful comment, and would like to welcome you as a friend. I will take your call as you are available. This evening the Devil’s Advocates will be at the Rigby 119e.Main off the Square. Let me know if you can make it! Thanks. Slammer
This is just another example of why Citizen’s United was such a blow to our Democracy. Politicians are no longer beholden to their constituents, but only their benevolent benefactors. They serve their agenda, not the peoples’. WI has been testing ground for billionaires Koch and the Union of ALEC (yes, they are a union, they are a collective that pay dues to fight for their interests. Why are they so successful, oh yeah, money!) And sadly, they have proven that the return on their investment was well worth it. It will only be a matter of time before they take it nation wide. So, how do we fight the oligarchs? I fear a general strike or slow down or sick out will only give Scott Walker the Regan moment he has waited for all his life.
When union leadership is too timid, it is time for their membership to step up on their own! If not a statewide, general strike now, WHEN?!?!? While standing as close as possible to the Senate on Wednesday evening as the GOP insulted Wisconsin labor, we continually asked those State Patrol, DNR Wardens, and Capitol Security guarding them if they would consider how their union is NEXT! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRLEvlZmtxE&list=UU8u2jLwAd9bi3-x4aFJJQkA
I say shut it down. Walker & Co have given us no other recourse. They are not and will not listen to the People of Wisconsin. They are not working for us so they do not care about our voice. They are doing the bidding of a shadow government who is silently stealing the People’s government right out from under us, probably laughing at all of us and our predicament, even thinking there is nothing we can do to stop them. Well, when a government is no longer working for the People there certainly is something we can do about it. We can rise up and shut it down. What Walker & Co are doing, ignoring our democracy, not protecting our Constitutional Rights and doing the bidding of another group for self gain and pay to play, seems to me to be a violation of their Oaths of Office and yes I will say it again sounds treasonous. They are unethical in their offices and are using them only for their goals not the People’s. They have disrespected the People of this Great State of Wisconsin. I am very mad and upset about all of this. It is not fair that this group, who are suppose to be protecting our rights, can put so many people of this state in such a worrisome way. It is a very dishonorable way to govern and we the People of Wisconsin should not sit silent over any of it.
“Scales have fallen from more eyes.” I can only hope so, for the sake of the greater good.
And with their new sight, I sure hope people not only look out for one another, but also LOOK UP, too. I refer you to the “Latest Flickr Fave” posted to the right today (“Capital protest” by Martin Saunders). It shows a large crowd of engaged and unintimidated men and women marching at their Capitol. And above them? A sky filled with chemicals destined to fall to the ground or get inhaled.
There are so many fights to fight. There is no room to be frightened or weary or intimidated. The time for action is now. Battlegrounds include Walker’s office, the foods we eat, the water we drink and very air we breathe. Pick your battle, but don’t forget to LOOK UP. That’s more like a war than a battle up there. (More info at http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org)