MJ on Wisconsin

Andy Kroll of Mother Jones has a must-read account of the ongoing fight between workers and GOP Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. It’s a step-by-step walk through of Walker’s actions, labor’s responses, and how people moved into the streets to protest Walker’s attacks on unions. If you haven’t been paying attention, this is a good piece to get caught up. And if you have been paying attention, Kroll provides insight into how Wisconsin unions made decisions to act with conviction to protect public workers. Perhaps the most important part of the fight in Wisconsin is how it has brought different unions together in solidarity. Walker’s union-busting bill exempts the police and fire fighters – two unions that were politically supportive of him. He hoped to divide public workers and keep some of the best messengers for labor on the sidelines. But the fire fighters and police wouldn’t have it – they stood with other public sector workers and have been strong opponents to Walker’s bill. Beyond labor solidarity, Kroll identifies the radicalization of students as key allies in the fight as something which has helped sustain opposition to union busting. Given that labor unions haven’t had the best public perception broadly, seeing the positive support from youths in Wisconsin is encouraging for the long-term prospects of resistance to union busting. Demographics are important and it’s going to be hard for Republicans to succeed in destroying unions if young voters are not on their side. Hopefully what we are seeing in Wisconsin (and Ohio) is not a flash in the pan and labor solidarity with public support stays strong.

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