Boston to Wisconsin to Sacramento!

by David Duhalde and David Knuttenen

In Boston on Tuesday 22 February, DSAers joined over a thousand union members and supporters demonstrating outside the statehouse in solidarity with Wisconsin workers.

Wisconsin has been in the forefront of our minds, as tens of thousands of people have poured into the streets to resist the Republican governor’s attempt to effectively eliminate all collective bargaining rights for public employees.

The energetic and enthusiastic Boston rally was attended by a healthy mixture of public and private sector union members.  DSA members who were not part of a union contingent joined the hundreds of community supporters. We had made a baker’s dozen of  signs with slogans like “Another Patriot Fan Lovin’ Packer Solidarity,” “Madison to Cairo: Workers United!”  and “Union Yes! Walker No!” Each sign had a DSA logo and a printed sticker saying Boston DSA.  We handed out several hundred fliers with DSA logos about the Campaign for our Communities, and publicizing an upcoming Boston speakout on the impact of budget cuts.

The spirited rally was addressed by speakers representing many unions, followed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and at least two members of Congress. Rep. Mike Capuano advised the assembled union members that: “Every once in a while you need to get out in the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.  I am proud to be with people who understand that it’s more than sending an e-mail that gets you going.”  Although Capuano later had to apologize for the “bloody” comment, the assembled crowd met the substance of his remarks with cheers, whistles and applause. If Democrats are telling us that  elected officials need that kind of pressure from the streets,  you better believe  we gotta do it.

Anyway, overall a good day for DSA and a great day for labor.

But it’s important to realize that Wisconsin is the tip of the iceberg.  The economic meltdown caused by the excesses of the finance industry and other greedy exponents of capital has left state budgets decimated throughout the country, and everywhere, governors and state legislators, terrified of raising taxes, especially on those who SHOULD be taxed (because they have actually benefited from the whole mess), will be looking to balance their budgets on the backs of public workers, and on all of us who depend on public services in our communities, ranging from welfare, to education to public safety.

In Massachusetts, we have a chance to fight back!

In Massachusetts, two courageous legislators have filed, and 17 others have so far cosponsored, a bill that would deal with the budget crisis by raising revenue rather than slashing programs.  Best of all, it does this in a way that is as progressive as possible under Massachusetts’ State Constitution.  “An Act to Invest in Our Communities”, filed by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and Representative Jim O’Day, would raise the income tax rate slightly, while simultaneously raising the personal exemptions, protecting the people hardest hit by the Great Recession from a tax increase.  It would simultaneously increase the tax rate paid on investment income such as dividends and capital gains.  The net result is that taxes on the lowest-earning 20-40% of Massachusetts taxpayers would stay the same or go down, taxes for those in the middle would stay the same or go up, slightly, but the highest-earning tax payers, those who just received a huge give-away from the Federal government through extension of the Bush Tax Cuts, would have to give a chunk of that windfall back to the State.  And the bill would raise $1.2 billion toward the projected almost $2 billion state budget shortfall – saving a lot of important programs that benefit our communities.

Here are the provisions of the bill and a fact sheet  on the Massachusetts “Act to Invest in Our Communities” to use to lobby legislators in Massachusetts and in other states to raise revenues rather than slash budgets. 

Increasing taxes is never easy.  But  our communities have real needs.  The decisions we make today will shape our communities for years to come. We have built a state with the best public schools in the nation, jobs that pay enough to support a family, safe communities and a good quality of life. These things are the foundations of our future economic success. Deep budget cuts threaten to undermine what we have accomplished and weaken our communities.  Isn’t it better that we INVEST in our communities now – with all of us paying our fair share – rather than gut them, destroying all the things that actually make our communities good places to live?

3 Responses

  1. I just want to say again I love that Packer sign!

  2. I just wanted to say… we were back on Saturday! Check out Boston DSA’s website for more photos.
    http://dsaboston.org/stop-the-cuts/Rally-11-2-22.htm

  3. A reader of this article posted an interesting comment on Facebook on labor and wealth creation at http://www.dangerousminds.net/comments/the_relationship_between_the_labor_movement_and_wealth_creation_in_ame/

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