Sunday, February 27, 2011

We Are All Part of the Labor Movement Now

by Robert Creamer
Huffington Post, February 26, 2011

Speaking to a cheering crowd of eight to ten thousand outside of Chicago's State of Illinois Building Saturday, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Deputy Director Roberta Lynch said, "whether you are a member of a labor union or not, we are all members of the labor movement now."

She was dead on. In a matter of less than a month, since Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared war on the right of public service employees to organize and negotiate the terms of their employment, the public's perception of organized labor has fundamentally changed.

For many who previously believed that unions were just another "special interest" they now represent a labor movement that is fighting for the rights of middle class Americans.

King’s Fight For Unions Is Still Essential

Union members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1733 gather in Memphis to protest unfair labor practices in 1976. Photo: Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images
by Michael Honey
In light of the clash of wills in Wisconsin, we should remember the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One of King’s slogans that we rarely hear is this one: “all labor has dignity.”
King spoke these words in Memphis on March 18, 1968, in the midst of a strike of 1,200 black sanitation workers that had lasted over a month. After rousing them to a fever pitch, King called for a general strike by all workers to shut the city down on behalf of the sanitation workers.
What was the demand of these workers? Improved wages and benefits, yes, but their key demand was that the City of Memphis grant collective bargaining rights and the collection of union dues, without which they knew they could not maintain their union.
These are the very two items that Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker wants to take away from public employees. He knows, as did Mayor Henry Loeb in Memphis, that if you can kill union bargaining rights and dues collection, you can kill the union.
Also like Loeb, Walker is a fiscal conservative. As he cuts taxes for business he raises costs for workers and says ending union power will benefit the fiscal health of the state. Walker wants to end the right of public employees to bargain collectively, even though the workers have accepted a tripling of their health-care costs and a wage cut to help offset the state’s fiscal crisis.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman - Animated Interview with John Perkins

Rev. Jesse Jackson Addresses Madison Protesters (2/18/11)

Largest Crowds Since Vietnam War March in Wisconsin

By James Kelleher and David Bailey

MADISON, Wisconsin | Sun Feb 27, 2011

(Reuters) - A crowd estimated at more than 70,000 people on Saturday waved American flags, sang the national anthem and called for the defeat of a Wisconsin plan to curb public sector unions that has galvanized opposition from the American labor movement.

In one of the biggest rallies at the state Capitol since the Vietnam War, union members and their supporters braved frigid temperatures and a light snowfall to show their displeasure.

The mood was upbeat despite the setback their cause suffered earlier this week when the state Assembly approved the Republican-backed restrictions on union collective bargaining rights over fierce Democratic objections.

"I'm deeply honored to be here with you," said Peter Yarrow, a veteran of many social protests during his 50-year folk music career and a founding member of the group Peter, Paul and Mary. "If you persist, you will prevail."

What began two weeks ago as a Republican effort in one small U.S. state to balance the budget has turned into a confrontation with unions that could be the biggest since then President Ronald Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers nearly 30 years ago.

Republicans still must push the measure through the state Senate, which has been unable to muster a quorum for a vote because of a Democratic boycott.

If the plan is approved in Wisconsin, a number of other states where Republicans swept to victory in the 2010 elections could follow. Already, other legislatures including Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Idaho, Tennessee, and Kansas are working on union curbs.

Unlike previous protests, the rally on Saturday brought out thousands of union workers not directly affected by the bill, including the state's firefighters, exempted along with police from the Republican proposal. Dozens of private sector unions were represented as well at the event.

No "Tea Party" supporters of the proposal championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker were spotted on Saturday. They staged a smaller rally of their own in Madison a week ago.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rallies in 50 States Support Wisconsin Protesters

Rallies in 50 States Support Wisconsin Protesters
By the CNN Wire Staff
February 27, 2011

(CNN) -- A coalition spearheaded by liberal advocacy group held rallies across the country Saturday in support of public employees and others outraged at the Wisconsin budget-cutting bill they consider an attack on unions. and other liberal and labor groups held noon events at all 50 state capitals.

"Save the dream, we are reunited," a group shouted in Washington, D.C.

The focal point of the protests was the Wisconsin Capitol, where a light snow and cold temperatures failed Saturday to deter about 70,000 who drummed, chanted and marched.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, Governor Walker has got to go," chanted the group rallying in Madison.

There were no incidents during the protest, said Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department

The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a Republican bill that would strip most state workers of the bulk of their collective-bargaining rights.

Among other things, the measure would require workers -- with the exception of police and firefighters -- to cover more of their health care premiums and pension contributions. Collective bargaining would be limited to wages, though any pay increases beyond the inflation rate would be subject to voter approval.

Sacramento Rallies to Save the American Dream

Over 1500  union members and supporters rallied again  at the State Capitol in Sacramento  on Feb.26,  called by Move-, and Jobs with Justice 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 demonstrations by public employees and families there.  For example, 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.
 Several speakers, and several signs noted that the assault in Wisconsin is class war- by the rich against working people.
While Wall Street has recovered and returned to profitability, working people continue to suffer  15 million unemployed with at least 10 million more under employed.   It is more than a crisis - the reality is that the financial class has looted the U.S. economy.  The Oligarchs  took 13 trillion dollars  out of the economy and caused 4 million people to lose their homes and  another 4.5 million to fall into foreclosure.   Now they want you and I to pay for their greed by forcing budget cuts on the states. 
            In 2010-2011 the crisis is hitting state and local governments hard.  The AFL-CIO is tracking this assault at   

Friday, February 25, 2011


Rally to Save the American Dream
California State Capitol
12pm, Saturday, March 26

In Wisconsin and around our country, the American Dream is under fierce attack. Instead of creating jobs, Republicans are giving tax breaks to corporations and the very rich—and then cutting funding for education, police, emergency response, and vital human services.

On Saturday, February 26, at noon local time, we are organizing rallies in front of every statehouse and in every major city to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. We demand an end to the attacks on worker's rights and public services across the country. We demand investment, to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work. And we demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share.

We are all Wisconsin. We are all Americans.

This Saturday, we will stand together to Save the American Dream. Be sure to wear Wisconsin Badger colors—red and white—to show your solidarity. Sign up today to join in!

Defend the American Dream! The Koch Brothers Pillaging of Wisconsin

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jesse Jackson joins Ohio union workers in opposition to collective bargaining reform

Jesse Jackson joins Ohio union workers in opposition to collective bargaining reform

Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 1:19 PM     Updated: Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 5:17 PM
Jesse Jackson joins protesters last week in Wisconsin.

Joe Guillen, The Plain Dealer By Joe Guillen, The Plain Dealer

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson revved up union workers at a downtown rally today to oppose Senate Bill 5, a Republican-backed proposal to overhaul the state's collective bargaining law.
A few hundred laborers packed the basement of a Teamsters union hall, a day after about 5,500 union supporters descended on the Statehouse to oppose the bill, which is supported by Republican Gov. John Kasich.

"Workers must not be the scapegoat for a rather profound economic crisis," Jackson said, surrounded by local elected officials, union leaders and clergymen. "Tell the governor, 'We're going to act. We're not going back!'"

Ohio has joined Wisconsin and other states in a growing debate over unions' rights. Republicans pushing to weaken unions argue current rules are tilted in public workers' favor, pushing excessive labor costs on taxpayers.

Jackson visited with protesters in Wisconsin last week.

Today, Jackson said American workers are being unfairly blamed. Instead, he pointed at greed on Wall Street and companies that move jobs to cheap labor markets overseas.

"It's easier to attack workers than to attack cheap labor," Jackson said.

Throughout his 20-minute speech, Jackson led the workers in call-and-response chants. His words drew consistent applause and calls of "That's right!" from the crowd.

"We together make America strong," Jackson said.

© 2011 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thousands rally in Sacramento. Were you there?

Over 6000 union members and supporters rallied at the State Capitol in Sacramento in a candle light vigil to support the working people in Wisconsin in their struggle to defend their  union rights. The financial crisis that began  2007  is an assault on organized  labor, working people, and our democracy.  To date the corporate class is winning. 
While Wall Street has recovered and returned to profitability, working people continue to suffer  15 million unemployed with at least 10 million more under employed.   It is more than a crisis - the reality is that the financial class has looted the U.S. economy.  They took 13 trillion dollars  out of the economy and caused 4 million people to lose their homes and  another 4.5 million to fall into foreclosure.   Now they want you and I to pay for their greed by forcing budget cuts on the states. 
            In 2010-2011 the crisis is hitting state and local governments hard.  The AFL-CIO is tracking this assault at    Responding the  messaging of the right many liberals stayed home on election day. Republicans and the Tea Party  won a majority in the House, took control of several state houses, elected governors, and now dominate the main steam media with their messages.  Conservative forces, the Republicans, the Tea Party, and others use the crisis in the states to launch aggressive campaigns against public sector unions and the salaries and pensions of public sector workers.
            The Sacramento response, like rallies in other states condemned the anti union campaigns of Republican governors.  In Wisconsin Governor Walker's immediate attack is aimed directly at some 200,000 public workers in Wisconsin, -but the brave men and women taking to the streets for over a week now  come from every walk of life .
This fight is about far more than cutting salaries and benefits of dedicated public servants," said CTA President David Sanchez. " It is about fighting Governor Scott Walker's cynical attempt to undermine the rights of teachers and public sector workers to have a say in their professions."

   In the  Sacramento response on Tuesday,  union teachers, public service workers as well as local unions such as ILGWU and the Steelworkers, the Sheet Metal Workers, all  united to oppose the actions of  Wisconsin Governor   Walker  and the Republican majorities in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and other states.   David Sanchez, of the California Teachers Association, one of the largest union in the state, said that the attacks on teachers and public workers in Wisconsin were an attack on all workers and will be opposed.


Rev. Jesse Jackson Tells 50,000 in Wisconsin: 'This is a Martin Luther King Moment!'

Published on The Nation (

Jesse Jackson Tells 50,000 in Wisconsin: 'This is a Martin Luther King Moment!'
John Nichols | February 19, 2011

“This is a Martin Luther King moment!”

So declared the Rev. Jesse Jackson [1], as he finished addressing a crowd of more than 40,000 at that had filled the grounds of Wisconsin’s state capitol. A few minutes later, he would enter the capitol and address a crowd estimated at 8,000, which filled what has been called America’s most beautiful government building to capacity.

The capitol was never more beautiful than on Friday night.

Jackson, who spent most of Friday with the massive crowds that have filled downtown Madison since Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced a plan to end collective bargaining rights for the teachers, daycare providers, emergency technicians and all other state, county and municipal employees. He marveled, constantly, at what he was seeing,

“This is where it’s at. This is the epicenter of the struggle for America’s future,” he said, not as a grant pronouncement but with a hint of amazement in his voice as he promised an elementary school teacher who broke into tears when she saw that the veteran civil rights leader had come to join a struggle where crowds chant each night: “Labor rights are civil rights! Labor rights are human rights!”

“This is the first round of a longer battle to renew the integrity of our nation,” he told the crowds.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Join the Wisconsin Uprising

Stand With Wisconsin Workers



Support Workers’ Rights!Join us for a Candlelight Vigil in solidarity with Wisconsin workers.

Date: TUESDAY, FEB. 22, 2011

Time:Meet at 5:30 pm 

Vigil at 6:00 pm

graphic by David Roddy. 



Thursday, February 17, 2011

Class action in Wisconsin

Don Taylor
As I write this, we are in our fourth day of demonstrations against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget repair” bill and its’ provisions to effectively eliminate public sector collective bargaining. Today, the Democrats in the senate have fled the state, leaving the Republicans one vote short of a quorum to pass the bill. The Democrats say they will not return until the anti-union provisions are off the table.
Disguised as a bill to fix a shortfall in the current budget, this bill would:
  • Abolish public sector collective bargaining on all topics except wages. There would be no more negotiating leaves of absence, health and safety, discipline for just cause, or anything else. Negotiated wage increases would be capped at CPI; in other words, no real negotiation could occur.
  • Prohibit public employers from deducting union dues via payroll deduction. This measure is one of several that demonstrate the bill’s true intent, because it represents no savings whatsoever for the taxpayer.
  • Require all unionized units to hold annual decertification elections. Again, this relates to the budget in no way whatsoever, and is the most blatant example of the ideological agenda behind this bill.
  • Impose higher employee costs for health care and pensions for state employees.
  • Institute “right to work” for public employees.
In other words, an existing unionized unit would have to collect hand dues, would be unable to collect payment from free riders, and would be prohibited from negotiating anything except wages at some level below the rate of inflation. Then, as employee discontent grows over a perception that “the union can’t do anything,” along would come the state-mandated annual decertification vote.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

State owned banks- a time whose idea has come

In our earlier post on how to deal with the California budget crisis, we proposed a state owned California bank.  Here is what other states are doing.

Oppose the budget insanity

This week the House will vote on Republican scorched-earth budget cut proposals that would amputate critical government services working families rely on every day. They want to slash education--from Head Start to Pell Grants for college. Cut food safety inspections. Cut job safety inspections. Cut investments in infrastructure. Cut the money to send out Social Security checks. And eliminate hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs.

This isn't "fiscal responsibility" or "deficit control." It's a bald-faced attack on America's middle class as political payback to CEOs who poured millions into the 2010 elections. CEOs don't like job safety regulations, so the politicians they elected will cut the funding and fire the inspectors. CEOs don't want environmental safeguards, energy improvements or curbs on health insurance companies, so their politicians will just defund the programs. 

Sign the petition telling representatives to get to work creating jobs and reviving our economy and stop wasting time on outrages like this. Click here: [ ].

The Republican proposals would propel us squarely in the wrong direction--toward an America we do not want to be. If we don't stop this budget insanity now, services ordinary Americans count on could cease for months or fail to function at all in this fiscal year. 

Think about what America will be like with no occupational safety and health inspections or investigations of workplace fatalities and disasters. No National Labor Relations Board elections to enable working men and women to have a stronger voice on the job, collectively bargain, or choose whether to form a union. No certainty about when the Social Security checks will arrive. 

This isn't about deficit control. It's about legislating working America out of the way of limitless corporate profits. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

LAO identifies massive cuts if tax extensions fail

If lawmakers pursue a cuts-only budget to solve the state's $26.6 billion deficit, they could eliminate class-size reduction, require that kindergarten students be 5 years old at enrollment and hike university tuition by another 7 to 10 percent, according to a new review by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.
There's also a stark option for state workers: reduce pay by an additional 9.24 percent (equal to two furlough days) and reduce state contributions to employee health care by 30 percent.
The Feb. 10 letter responds to Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who asked the Analyst's Office what the Legislature could do if voters or lawmakers reject tax revenues proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The LAO offered $13.5 billion in alternatives, presuming under Leno's request that the ballot taxes would not succeed and other revenue ideas like eliminating enterprise zones would fail. (end Sac Bee blog)....
These are the cuts we warned about when the Sacramento Progressive Alliance sent an open letter to Governor Brown, and letters to our Senators and Assembly persons listing alternative revenue sources to avoid these kinds of cuts.  You can use that letter to go to Town Hall meetings and protest the cuts.- we did. 

The LAO list is revealing.  That is the kind of a state that the anti tax radicals  want. There are no quick nor easy solutions. We can not simply cut our way out of the crisis; budget cuts and lay offs make the recession worse.
School funding reveals the nature of crisis.  In the last two years the k-12 budget “solutions” have cut 4.6 billion dollars from the schools. We have larger classes and fewer teachers.  These cuts would devastate our schools ( your grandchildren), the police, the fire fighters, the county health workers.  Who is going to protect you from the West Nile Virus?
Instead of these cuts, we need to spend more state money to improve schools, to develop roads and infrastructure, and to create jobs. 

Friday, February 11, 2011


By Robert Borosage
February 7, 2011

The Democratic Leadership Council, according to press reports, is broke and closing its doors. For anyone who cares about working and poor people, this is a demise that should have come much sooner.

The DLC -- Democrats for the Leisure Class, in Jesse Jackson's inimitable formulation -- led the Wall Street-funded, corporate wing of the Party. The New Dems scorned the base of the Democratic Party -- labor, feminists, environmentalists, minorities, peace activists. Rather than resist conservative headwinds, they argued vociferously that Democrats should tack to them, adopting a muscular foreign policy, trimming social liberalism, posturing tough on crime and the poor.

They championed the likes of Sam Nunn and Chuck Robb as prototypical presidential candidates, arguing that only a candidate with demonstrated and muscular national security credentials, conservative social values and corporatist economics had a chance of being elected.