Battle of Wisconsin-Protests Continue-What is Next?

The protests continued today with Leo Gerrard of the United Steelworkers giving a rousing speech and noting that if Steeler and Packer fans can find common ground, then Walker can meet workers at the bargaining table.

Of course, this isn’t about making deals, this is about crushing worker’s rights: the right to assemble, the right to collective bargain and the right to have a collective voice in our Republic as strong as the collective voice of the corporations.

It was not the best day for protesting, yet several thousand managed to march through the freezing rain and snow.  Many schools continued to be closed (my step-daughter has now missed 6 consecutive days of school). But this is nothing compared to what will happen if this bill passes. And it might pass as soon as tomorrow–at least part of it.

There has been talk that when the Republicans reconvene tomorrow that they may attempt to attach the stripping of collective bargaining rights to a “non-fiscal” bill. This would mean that they could pass the bill with a simple majority and not need a 60% quorum. This would be a full declaration of war and also mean the time for protesting to give way to direct action.

The Budget Repair Bill has a lot of problems that go well beyond collective bargaining. The selling of state assets, the attack on Medicaid the reduction of public employee wages by at least 8.5%. All because of a sweetheart giveaway of $140,000,000 to Governor Walker’s donors in January. Because of this, the Democrats should make it clear that they will shut the state down if the GOP tries to split collective bargaining into a separate bill. They should make sure that they won’t be back until September–at the earliest–well after the new budget year begins on July 1st.

More importantly, we need to act beyond marching. The American Federation of Teachers will be coordinating the recall efforts and met yesterday to begin that process. We need to do more.

Worker Co-operatives across the country need to stand with Wisconsin and Ohio, the two states under the gun for gutting worker rights. Labor Unions in other parts of the state need to start making demands. If this bill goes through, Wisconsin should become a pariah. Wisconsin Cheese products should be boycotted unless the producers openly oppose the attack on workers: this means cheese, cranberries, beer, wine and a host of other products. It means that national and international organizations should not hold meetings, training, or other events in Wisconsin.

Today, ALL co-operatives (especially those who do business in Wisconsin) need to write the the Milk Marketing Board, the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly and the Senate Majority Leader at the following:

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.

8418 Excelsior Drive
Madison, Wisconsin 53717
FAX 608.836.5822

Governor Walker
Office of Governor Scott Walker
115 East Capitol
Madison WI 53702

Sentaor Fitzgerald:
Madison Office

Room 211 South
State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882

Speaker Fitzgerald
Madison Office

Room 211 West
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

About John McNamara

John spent 26 years with Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and currently helps develop co-ops in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and Masters in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary's University.
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