Thursday, March 10, 2011


By David Seth Michaels

I'm enraged. Last night, Wisconsin's union workers were temporarily outflanked by a legislative maneuver of questionable legality. And of despicably sleazy intent.

The Wisconsin State Senate decided that -- as all opponents have been saying for months -- the union-busting bill really wasn't a fiscal measure, their previous pronouncements that it was a fiscal measure be damned.

No, it wasn't a fiscal measure. It was a union-busting measure.

And therefore, the bill didn't need a quorum in the Senate. It could pass the Wisconsin Senate with no Democrats voting. Or even appearing.

So there. This wonderfully disingenuous piece of legislative legerdemain has-- let's call it what it is-- temporarily screwed Wisconsin's public unions by withdrawing their right to bargain collectively.

And now. And now, amigos, comes the real test. Will the unions and their supporters and the demonstrators and you and I all throw up our hands in defeat and despair and slink home? Will we say in words or actions, "Oh, we lost, it's over, let's just forget about it and move on?" Or will we stand up now and fight on (nonviolently) with ever renewed dedication to overturn this evil, unpopular, antidemocratic, antiunion measure?

I hope that hundreds of thousands of people show up in Madison today to demonstrate against Governor Walker and the Koch-funded Teapublicans. I hope an equal number will show up in Lansing. And in Union Square, New York. And in San Francisco. And Chicago. And in every town and city in America that recognizes the dignity of workers and their right to bargain collectively. I hope the recall efforts will be redoubled. I hope that the demonstrators inspire a nationwide high school strike tomorrow at 2 pm. And I hope the demonstrators will invite farmers to show their support, to come to Madison, to ride their tractors to and surround the capitol. And I hope that across Wisconsin and across America teachers and nurses and garbage collectors and firemen and bureaucrats and policemen will all link arms with other workers, students, progressives, anyone who supports the unions and sees that the withdrawal of public unions' collective bargaining rights is a step back, a regression into the darkness of the Nineteenth Century.

Yes, I'm enraged. But I'm also hopeful. I'm hopeful that we, you and I, amig@s, will not let Walker and the Koch funded Teapublicans get away with this. I'm hopeful that this is the beginning not of a demonstration, but of an actual, popular movement. I hope that the movement will continue with increased strength and focus to preserve the rights of workers to organize and to bargain collectively.

Yes, I'm idealistic. And maybe pretty unrealistic. And not particularly practical. That doesn't matter. I believe that what we are about to see is a real change. Coming from an organic movement. And that we will now begin in earnest to link arms and stand in solidarity in the struggle for what I believe is the survival of the middle class.

Writer David Seth Michaels is an attorney in Columbia County, New York. This piece appeared first on his blog, Dream Antilles.

1 comment:

joniwriter said...

I too am an idealist. Unrealistic. But very, very hopeful by the recent domestic and international movements I am hopeful that we are at the brink of a real movement toward change. Change that could result in not just basic survival, but eventually progress for workers, students, and every class of people who strive for individual dignity and value liberty and the right to pursue one's life purpose. Beware Teapublicans, dictators and all those who try to rule by fear and intimidation. Your days are numbered.