Saturday, February 19, 2011

[olympiaworkers] Demonstrations continue against attack on Wisconsin public workers Feb 19 2011

Update on the protests against wage cuts and the removal of collective
bargaining for state workers in Wisconsin, with words of warning about the
Democrats and unions from a local worker.

So far, thousands of schoolkids walked out of class in solidarity with the
teachers, and school districts have warned parents of possible sick out by

Meanwhile, thousands of workers and supporters of blockaded the Capitol
building in a "people's filibuster" to prevent the bill from passing.

The following comment was posted to by a local resident:

On 18 February, Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO came to speak. The
liberal-posturing bourgeoisie have all come out endorsing the protests
and the right to collective bargaining. The unions of course want to
maintain the dues checkoffs for all workers covered by a union
contract, but all this is secondary to their desire to maintain a seat
at the table. If the bill is modified allowing for continued
collective bargaining in the state sector the unions would be likely
to accept most of the other concessions. The governor wants $158
million in cuts, compared to the unions' initial offer this Fall of
$100 million in cuts to pension and benefit payments alongside a 3%
pay cut.

This bill was shot down by two Democrats during the last session and
shelved for the Republicans to work over when then assumed power in
the state. It was the outgoing Democrats who killed the agreement, It
allowed the Democrats to blame the Republicans for something they
would've done themselves. The legislature then gave itself a 4% pay
increase and a subsequent tax break for the wealthy biznesmenii, a tax
break roughly equivalent to the amount that they wish workers to pay.

Meanwhile, as the result of the protests, the state's bond ratings are
dropping regardless of the state's actual ability to repay its debts.
The bond ratings hinge on the state authority's willingness to force
concessions on workers. The actual ability of the state to pay off the
debts by collecting revenue, from those who have the revenue to
collect, is secondary.

The protests are set to continue through the weekend and are set for
coming Monday as well. During the weekend the union locals will be
meeting to decide their next step. Until the actual expiration date of
the contract in March, the unions are legally bound by their 1971 no
strike agreement that was a part of the legislation that allow the
unions collective bargaining. It is not clear what the next move would
be aside from more protests and attempts to block the bill from

In fear that the passing of the bill would cause an explosion of anger
among the assembled workers, and hurt their chances of reelection,
fourteen members of the Democratic Party made their escape to Rockford
Illinois to avoid being brought back by the State Patrol. Of course
the passing of the bill at this point will cause a good deal of anger
among workers either way.

Now Obama, the Archbishop of Milwaukee, and many other bastions of the
owning class have come forward supporting collective bargaining for
the state sector unions. Trumka, pres of the AFL-CIO, an excellent
speechmaker will have to assure the crowds that the union is behind
them and will fight this, while at the same time they fight primarily
to maintain that important seat at the bargaining table. Trumka is the
perfect choice for speaking to the crowds will carrying out measures
that diametrically oppose what workers want. His role in the coal
strike in 91 where miners were hung out to dry for having fought
company thugs after a miner, Joe McCoy, was shot and killed on a
picket line. The fact that the big dogs have had to stand up and take
notice of these protests at all, show that the bourgeoisie is
concerned about the effects of austerity on their stable social order
and is interested in heading off resistance, before it spreads

If the union can retain the collective bargaining agreement they can
declare victory and tell everyone to go home but the governor says
there is nothing to negotiate and he doesn't look likely to budge at

Slightly edited from a comment on here.

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