The Fight in Wisconsin: Congressman Kucinich

Emergency Labor Meeting in Cleveland

by Paul Garver

Ninety-six union leaders and activists from 26 states and from a broad cross-section of the labor movement , gathering at the Laborers Local 310 Hall in Cleveland on 4-5 March 2011, pledged to make the fight against union-busting and the budget cuts/concessions in Wisconsin the centerpiece of an emergency action plan centered on two national days of action called by the labor movement on12 and April 4.

Participants in the Emergency Labor Meeting (ELM) discussed, amended and adopted a 15 point “Perspectives” document  (appended to this post) to serve as the framework for future efforts.
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Worker Rights and Collective Bargaining Advance in China

by Paul Garver

At the same time that the rights of public sector workers to collective bargaining and effective union representation are under unprecedented attack in the USA, some Chinese workers are beginning to make substantial progress in achieving collective bargaining and worker rights. Even though Chinese politicians and bureaucrats are trying to prevent the democratic revolts in the Arab world from impacting Chinese society, they appear willing to allow modest internal labor reforms that do not directly challenge their authority.  In the USA right-wing movements fueled by the wealth of billionaires and pandered to by ambitious politicians have seized upon the budget effects of the great recession caused by their own financial recklessness and greed to destroy long established rights of public employees.

 

Sometimes workers’ victories are not dramatic.  Confrontational scenes like those recorded in the accompanying June 2010 photo of young workers fighting off yellow-hatted goons sent by the municipal trade union to break their strike did NOT characterize negotiations at the same Honda auto parts plant in Nanhai (Foshan City, Guangdong Province) in March 2011.

On March 1 enterprise union leaders elected by the workers and the provincial trade union federation, accompanied by 40 rank-and-file workers acting as observers, negotiated a new wage agreement for 2011 that raised the monthly wage of production line workers by RMB611 over 2010 levels (about a 30% increase).   The enterprise union had rejected the Japanese management’s earlier two offers, but with a mediating effort by Kong Xianghong, the Deputy Chair of the ACFTU’s provincial union federation, accepted a higher compromise proposal.
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Latino Organizations unite to defend workers’ rights

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NINETEEN LEADING NATIONAL LATINO ORGANIZATIONS UNITE TO OPPOSE GROWING ATTACKS AGAINST WORKERS’ RIGHTS

WASHINGTON, DC-  As working families struggle to stay afloat in this economic downturn, a wave of state-led attacks are threatening workers and the basic structure that protects their rights on the job. Attempts to destroy the right of workers to bargain collectively raise grave concerns about job quality and economic security for working families and vulnerable segments of our populations including Latinos and low-income families. Poor quality jobs, limited access to health care, pensions combined with high rates of wage violations, injuries and fatalities in the workplace are grave issues that disproportionately affect the Latino community.  In the absence of unions, attacks on workers’ rights and declining job quality will go unabated for all workers; exacerbating these risks among vulnerable populations.

Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Iowa and Florida are among a growing number of states with legislatures proposing bills to destroy workers’ right to bargain collectively in the workplace.  In light of these attacks on workers and labor unions, nineteen leading national Latino organizations united to call on lawmakers to oppose legislation that limits the power of workers to negotiate for quality jobs, good wages, benefits, safe working conditions and job security.

Across the country, tens of thousands of workers and their supporters are gathering to oppose legislative measures targeting the rights and pockets of public sector workers as the means to address budget shortfalls. Continue reading

Wisconsin Shows Failure of Democrats to Back Pro-Labor Reforms

by Mark Engler

Mark Engler

We should all know by now that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attacks on organized labor (and similar attacks by Republicans in Ohio, Michigan, and beyond) are not about balancing budgets. They are about undermining the single most important institutional force opposing exclusive big business control over U.S. politics. As Fox News anchor Shep Smith succinctly explained in a moment of refreshing candor for the network: “Bust the unions; it’s over.”

Now, it’s not at all surprising that, upon taking power, the Republicans would act quickly and forcefully to bolster their base (strengthening the power of corporate America) and disempower their political foes in the labor movement. Such is the essence of hard-nosed politics.

When Democrats take power, we would expect the converse: strong, swift, and sweeping actions to protect Americans’ right to join a union. Right?

Wrong. Instead of voicing a full-throated defense of workers’ rights, Democrats have consistently regarded protecting collective bargaining, updating ancient labor laws, and eliminating rampant corporate abuse of the system to be special interest concerns, of no real priority to the party as a whole.

Carter, Clinton, Obama. Again and again, labor has been told that its legislative priorities should take a back seat to more pressing matters, and again and again moments of political opportunity have passed with no action being taken to shore up labor rights.

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Kill Public Employee Unions; Erase the Middle Class

By Dmitri Iglitzin and Carson Glickman-Flora

It’s not like we didn’t see it coming.

At the very start of this year, January 2, the New York Times warned us of the coming battle with a front-page story, “Public Workers Facing Outrage in Budget Crisis.” The Economist, in its January 8 issue, gave us “The battle ahead: confronting the public-sector unions.” And the January Time Magazine? “Public Employees Become Public Enemy No. 1.”

So nobody should have been surprised when public employees became enemy number one in Wisconsin, whose governor and Republican-dominated Legislature are pressing a bill that would eviscerate most of the unions representing that state’s employees.

Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Ohio are likewise all considering legislation to ban various types of collective bargaining, and in Indiana, almost every Democratic member of the state’s House of Representative recently boycotted a legislative session to stop a bill that would weaken collective bargaining.

What has not been clearly noted, however, despite the thousands of barrels of ink that have been spilled about this topic, is the underlying motive behind these attacks. Why, exactly, has the governor of the Badger State made destroying public-sector unions his number one goal? Why are similar efforts being made in numerous other states? Why target public sector workers and their unions? What put this on the top of the hard Right’s agenda? Especially because, as the New York Times noted, “A raft of recent studies found that public salaries, even with benefits included, are equivalent to or lag slightly behind those of private sector workers” with a similar education.”

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More than 1500 join in Sacramento Capitol in second rally.

Union Solidarity

by Duane Campbell

Over 1500  union members and supporters rallied again  at the State Capitol in Sacramento  on Feb.26,  called by Move- on.com,  Jobs with Justice, and organized by local labor activists  to support the working people in Wisconsin in their struggle to defend their  union rights.  Speakers described the financial crisis that began  2007  as  an assault on organized  labor, working people, and our democracy.   A retired teacher from Wisconsin detailed many of the events occurring in Madison in an effort to end the occupations of buildings and  demonstrations by public employees and families there.  She noted that  Wisconsin teachers and public employees have agree to all of the demanded salary and benefit cuts, but insist that their union rights to negotiate be protected.  This defense of union rights is not acceptable to Governor Walker and the Koch Brothers who fund him.

CSU Employees (CSUEU) a SEIU local was one of the primary organizers of the event (not the faculty union).   Speakers from that union  and several signs noted that the assault in Wisconsin is class war- by the rich against working people. Continue reading

This is What Democracy Looks Like!

Cecily McMillan sent us this video of a rally she organized at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, in support of public workers under attack.

A union speaker announces that he is now proud to call students “my brothers and sisters.”

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.  Continue reading

Thousands Take Stand in Sacramento for Workers’ Rights in Wisconsin


By Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

When Wisconsin’s new right-wing Governor decided to make it his personal mission to eliminate the rights of teachers, nurses, bus drivers and other public servants, he probably thought it would be a cakewalk. After all, Gov. Scott Walker has a Republican-controlled legislature that is on board with his radical plan to eliminate collective bargaining for public sector workers. What he didn’t count on was the extraordinary resolve of working people to stop his assault on our values. For more than a week, tens of thousands have protested at the Wisconsin Capitol. The fight back spread to Ohio, Indiana and other states where politicians are attempting to strip workers of their voice. And it didn’t stop there. All over the country, workers are standing in solidarity to beat back these attacks.

Last night, the spirit of solidarity was tangible in Sacramento, as more than 3,000 workers – teachers, Teamsters, nurses, ironworkers, janitors and many others – descended on the State Capitol to send a message loud and clear across California and the country: An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

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