March 12, 2011
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In catching up with the news this morning I was struck by this gem of a quote from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker via TPM:
What we’re doing here, I think, is progressive. It’s innovative. It’s reform that leads the country, and we’re showing there’s a better way by sharing in that sacrifice with all of us in government
And now, a rebuttal:
March 11, 2011
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Here are some links I’ve been collecting. I’m afraid I have not been able to keep up with the fast pace of events in Wisconsin.
Via Huffington Post: An overview of the end run the Wisconsin GOP and Governor Walker used to move the anti-labor bill through the Senate as things stood last night.
Via Talking Points Memo: Gov. Walker states that the anti-union provisions are fiscal in nature. This would appear to be problematic since the method the GOP utilized to get the bill out of the Senate was a method that would be illegal if it’s a bill with fiscal . Also, the Senate Republicans declare that they did not need to provide notice for their surprise session to pass the anti-union legislation. Finally, a write up on the Wisconsin State Assembly’s passing of the bill.
A brief piece from Leigh Elion, a University of Wisconsin graduate student, about speaking at the Wisconsin capitol against the bill at the Boston Review.
The Wisconsin State Journal reports on the scene at the Wisconsin capitol after the surprise passage of the bill in the State Senate.
February 27, 2011
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I had to take a rather long hiatus from posting here over the last couple of days thanks to the increasingly hectic nature of the school term. Here are a backlog of links and stories in no particular order:
Via Huffington Post – Shep Smith on the politics of Wisconsin’s anti-labor legislation. As he notes, it’s not a budget issue. Also, Howard Fineman does the political math in the Wisconsin fight.
Meanwhile, TPM reports on the growth of the protests this weekend despite the bad weather.
At the New York Times Paul Krugman makes a compelling case about the Wisconsin legislation being a case of shock and awe that hides some disturbing trends regarding privatization. One of Krugman’s salient points is that the legislation and Walker’s handling of it suggests the cronyism and mismanagement that’s to come.
Closer to home, Saturday saw rallies of support for Wisconsin unions locally (via Matt).
Rick Ungar writes has a post at Forbes covering how public employee pensions work in Wisconsin. The short version is that Walker and his supporters are being disingenuous in how they’re presenting the issue. Ungar does a good job walking through the issue and I highly recommend taking a look at the post.
Via Boing Boing: An infographic following the Koch Brother’s contributions to Scott Walker’s campaign for governor and the potential payoff for their support.
February 18, 2011
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As events escalate in Wisconsin it’s becoming clearer and clearer that Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to do away with collective bargaining rights for state workers is a blatant attempt at union busting. It’s different than much of the union busting that I study in the literary and historical work surrounding my dissertation. Nevertheless it amounts to the same thing. Even his briefing of the National Guard harkens back to the days when state governors called in the Guard all the time to quell labor unrest.
My work has led me to a number of conclusions about labor unions in the United States. Unions do not always work. They do not always win. Nor do they necessarily fully represent the views of all their members. That’s the nature of any representative organization (including our political system). What is important in the presence of unions in a democratic society though is the right to bargain and the right to debate. However, what is happening with Walker’s proposal in Wisconsin is not bargaining or debate. It is the legislating away of the right to organize whole cloth. When the government refuses to debate and negotiate in good faith with its own citizens in the form of labor unions we stand on a very deep and disturbing precipice. Walker has steered his state directly to that precipice this week by refusing to acknowledge or enter dialogue with Wisconsin’s public labor unions.
Mother Jones, agitator for the United Mine Workers and famously labeled “the most dangerous woman in America,” famously said “pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” Since I began studying labor and labor literature I’ve taken it as a constant reminder of why I focus on labor literature and why it has lasting ramifications and importance for our society today. Looking deeply into the work of authors and agitators of the 19th and early 20th century leaves one aware not only of their sacrifices, but of the vast gains made to our society and our national standard of living through the right to collective act and negotiate with employers. Let me be unambiguous in this: people have died for the right to organize in unions. Many people in this nation have faced oppression in the form of crippling poverty, unsafe and exploitative work environments, and outright violence from employers and government officials on both the state and federal level. The right to organize has been built on sacrifice. It’s a history that is bitter in its numerous setbacks and perhaps overreaching at times in its more radical strains. Yet the legacy of labor organizations in the United States has helped improve the living conditions of millions of Americans. More often than not the conflicts, sacrifices and work that have gone into making these improvements is overlooked or forgotten in our popular conscious until it strikes home or until it grabs our attention as a nation as the protests in Madison have begun to.
So, Mother Jones: pray for the dead, fight like hell for the living. What’s happening in Wisconsin has deep ramifications not only for the workers in that state, but for the rest of the country as well. For these reasons and many more, I stand in solidarity with Wisconsin workers who are fighting for their rights.
New York Times.
TPM on the Wisconsin’s ginned up budget shortfall. More on Wisconsin’s budget. Walker’s early signals for his current proposal.
Rachel Madow on the stakes in Wisconsin.
NPR’s John Nichols on how Wisconsin unions will win.
Salon explains the significance of Walker’s suggestion of calling in the National Guard.
MSNBC reports on planned counter protests for tomorrow.
February 16, 2011
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Lila Shapiro at the Huffington Post has a story about the proposal in Wisconsin to do away with collective bargaining for state workers.
Meanwhile the Wisconsin State Journal reports on protests at the state capitol.
February 15, 2011
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From TPM the AFL add responding to Scott Walker’s proposal to doing away with collective bargaining for state workers.
February 12, 2011
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Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has recently proposed taking away all collective bargaining rights for state workers (exempting law enforcement and fire employees.) I first came across the story at Talking Points Memo here. More recently I saw this item reporting that Walker has stated that he hasn’t called up the national guard, but he’s briefed them in preparation for any disruption of state services. Maybe I’ve been reading about too many labor strikes during the 19th and early 20th century lately, but then again, maybe Walker has too. I mean, it’s never too early to call in the troops when those unruly workers get uppity and agitating. It’s not like teachers (for instance) deserve the right to bargain for retirement benefits.
To be fair to Walker, the article specifically mentions staffing prisons in regards to the guard. That said, Walker’s given a draconian proposition here and Wisconsin will be worth watching in the days to come.