Wisconsin workers start tent protest

This video from the USA is called Argument for a tent city — “Walkerville” — in Madison, Wisconsin.

Like pro-democracy protesters in Taiz in Yemen, and other places, activists in Wisconsin, USA, are now starting a tent protest against anti-trade union Republican governor Walker.

It is to be hoped that, unlike dictator Saleh, the “Walker” of Yemen, Walker, the “Saleh” of Wisconsin, will not react with violence and arson against the peaceful camp protesters.

And it is to be hoped too, that, like Saleh quit today (though he claims that he wants to return. The people of Yemen will not accept that), Walker will quit.

From The Raw Story in the USA:

Protesters open ‘Walkerville’ tent city in Madison, WI

By David Ferguson

Sunday, June 5th, 2011 — 11:33 am

In a move meant to evoke the infamous “Hooverville” tent cities of the Great Depression, protesters in Madison, Wisconsin opened “Walkerville” on Saturday evening, a tent city in the heart of Madison intended as a protest of Governor Scott Walker‘s budget plan.

The Wisconsin Sentinel Journal calls the protest “the latest act in the 2011 political drama featuring the governor’s push to eliminate most collective bargaining rights for most public employees”.

By 9:00pm, an estimated 250 campers in up to 100 tents were arrayed throughout the designated protest area, with many campers pitching their tents on concrete sidewalks. City police, state troopers, and other law enforcement personnel were on hand, but on the whole a carnival air prevailed as families set up for the night, some intending to stay just for a night or two and others through June 20.

The protest was organized by We Are Wisconsin, a federation of unions, students and other groups dedicated to protecting the rights of public workers in the state. Police and firefighters retain the right to shut down the protest at any time, but retired librarian Larry Orr says, “We’ll be here day to day, I’m hoping it stays good-spirited.”

“Walkerville” tent city grows in Wisconsin: here.

Walker Removes Painting of Homeless/Low-Income Children from Gov.’s Mansion: here.

Wisconsin Judge Said to Have Attacked Colleague: here.

Tom Morello, guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, who performs solo under the name The Nightwatchman, was inspired by the huge struggle in Wisconsin against a savage anti-union law to release an benefit EP of songs dedicates to workers’ struggles. The Nightwatchman’s Union Town EP has been released by New West Records and can be purchased at iTunes. All proceeds go to the America Votes Labor Unity Fund. Below, Morello talks about the EP and its inspiration: here.

Can Wisconsin uprising grow nationwide movement? Here.

Tent Cities Pop Up in Trenton and New York City: here.

Elizabeth Whitman, Inter Press Service: “Calling their takeover and sleep-in Bloombergville – an allusion to the infamous shanty towns known as Hoovervilles that sprung up during the Great Depression – they are New Yorkers Against the Budget Cuts (NYABC), a coalition of different groups and individuals united by their opposition to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed budget for next year and their determination to press the City Council not to adopt it”: here.

Wisconsin’s most anti-woman budget: here.

“Prosecutors allege that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was at the center of a criminal conspiracy to illegally coordinate the activities of independent conservative groups during recall elections in his state in 2011 and 2012, according to documents released Thursday and first reported on by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.” Read the case documents here. And here’s how the state of Wisconsin believes the law was broken, in one chart. [HuffPost]

Is Parody a Felony? Latest Twist in Fight Over GOP Suppression of Wisconsin Labor Art Show. Roger Bybee, In These Times: “Konopacki and other artists were deeply offended when Republican State Rep. Steve Nass leaned on the University of Wisconsin School for Workers – the nation’s longest standing labor education program – to cancel an art exhibition displaying the enormous outpouring of creativity unleashed in artwork, signs, posters and banners by last year’s labor rebellion. With the School for Workers funding always vulnerable to being wiped out by the Republicans, the school saw no alternative but to cancel the exhibition”: here.

Greece: follow Syntagma square by livestream here.

16 thoughts on “Wisconsin workers start tent protest

  1. Tens of thousands protest outside Greek parliament

    Published: Sunday, 5 Jun 2011 | 1:14 PM ET

    ATHENS, Greece – Tens of thousands of protesters have gathered in downtown Athens to protest outside parliament against the government’s austerity policies and demand that the heavily indebted country stop paying its creditors.

    Sunday’s protest was the 12th in as many days, and organizers have vowed to make it the biggest in recent weeks.

    Greece was saved from default with a €110 billion ($160 billion) bailout package of loans from the International Monetary Fund and European Union. In return, it imposed strict austerity measures last year, including public salary cuts, pension reductions and broad tax hikes.

    The measures, however, have angered ordinary Greeks, sparking frequent protests.

    Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.


  2. Court revives law attacking unions

    United States: Wisconsin’s Supreme Court revived the governor’s anti-union law on Tuesday night by ruling 4-3 that the judge who struck it down had overstepped her authority.

    Judge Maryann Sumi had ruled that Republicans didn’t provide proper notice of a meeting that helped pass the original Bill after Democratic senators fled the state to prevent a vote.

    President of the Wisconsin state AFL-CIO Phil Neuenfeldt called it “an affront to our democracy.” The law would strip most of the state’s public-sector workers of their collective bargaining rights.



  3. MN State Shutdown: Make the Rich Pay for Their Crisis!


    FRIDAY, 01 JULY 2011 16:55

    A shortened version of this statement is also available as a half-sheet leaflet. Find a union printshop to make copies or add “labor donated” and print copies yourself. Leaflets are also available at Mayday Books (301 Cedar Ave. S. in Minneapolis). Pick up a stack and help us spread the word at rallies, in your union, workplace, campus, community organization, neighborhood, etc.

    Create Jobs

    Many believed it wouldn?t actually happen, but the Minnesota state shutdown is here. The political game of chicken being played by the Republicans and Democrats over the budget has plunged the state into crisis. Tens of thousands have been laid off, increasing state-wide unemployment by 20% overnight, and thousands more are in danger of losing their jobs as funding for their programs dries up. Parks, rest areas, road construction projects, and essential health and human services that working and poor Minnesotans depend on have been indefinitely suspended.

    The Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor (CMPL) is opposed to the shutting down of the government. In fact, far from supporting cuts and a shutdown, we believe government services need to be greatly expanded, starting with a multi-billion dollar program of useful public works to rebuild our state?s infrastructure and to provide everyone in Minnesota with a quality and stable job, at union pay and with full benefits and job protections.

    The Democrats have proven impotent to stop the cuts-and-concessions steamroller or to prevent the government shutdown. They have stood meekly by while the Republicans bullied and threatened the workers and poor of this state, and limited the negotiations to back-room discussions veiled by a so-called “cone of silence.” Why not put all the proposals that are being discussed squarely on the table for all Minnesotans to see?

    Governor Dayton has been praised for ?standing strong? against the Republicans? ?draconian? cuts. But what about the over $1 billion in cuts and concessions he has already given them? Far from “investing in Minnesota,” the Governor is on track to make billions in cuts. Cuts are cuts, no matter which party they come from. Studies show that cuts do not lead to greater prosperity. In fact, states that have cut the most also have the worst economic situation. The CMPL is against any cuts or concessions that negatively affect workers, young people, or the poor, whether they come from the Republicans or the Democrats. State workers and working Minnesotans generally did not cause this crisis, why should we have to pay for it? Why should we have to settle for a “compromise” that means billions in cuts to education, health services, and more?

    Minnesota is not a poor state. We have tremendous natural resources and a highly educated and productive workforce. But the bulk of the wealth is concentrated in just a few hands. The stunning fact is that those who make under $11,200 in the state pay 22.1% tax, while six billionaires in Minnesota average just 7.7% in taxes. The rich claim that making them pay more will lead to less investment and fewer jobs. But with tax rates so low already, where are the jobs? No wonder so many Minnesotans want to tax the richest 2% to cover the budget deficit! But we have to ask: who is going to pass such laws and enforce them?

    MN ShutdownIf we follow the money, it is clear that both the Republicans and Democrats are parties of big business. No wonder working Americans are left out in the cold! The Democrats have stood by and enabled the rich to slowly chip away at our state?s world-famous high quality of life. The bipartisan actions of both parties over the past few decades, at both the state and national level, have led us to this situation.

    For example, the biggest hole in the state budget is due to rising health care costs. If the Democratic Party nationally had fought for and passed genuine ?Medicare for all? universal health care reform, these costs would not have to be shouldered by the states, and everyone would have access to health services. Disappointment with the lack of real change after the 2008 elections led many to abstain in 2010, or vote for “the other guy,” for lack of an alternative. Minnesota voters deserve better than a choice between “evil” and “lesser evil!” The rich will fight tooth and nail against any encroachment on their wealth and privileges. Minnesota workers need a party that will fight in our interests, and not make “compromises” with the Devil. Compromises = cuts and concessions.

    For far too long, the unions have hung on to the coattails of the Democrats, giving them millions of dollars and getting out the vote for their candidates. In return, labor has received little except cuts, sell-outs and broken promises. No universal health care. No living wage. No Employee Free Choice Act. No repeal of anti-union laws like Taft-Hartley. No fully-funded state services.

    It?s time to end this dysfunctional and unequal relationship once and for all. The labor leaders alone are in a position to do what they are there to do: lead the membership in a mass movement to fight against the cuts and against concessions. To counter the billionaires and their bought-and-paid-for politicians, lobbyists, and media, we need a mass movement of Minnesotans on the streets, at the Capitol, and organizing in the workplace and on the campuses.

    The labor movement has tremendous resources and the capacity to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people. Imagine the possibilities if, instead of throwing that money down the black hole of the Democrats’ empty promises, we built a party of, by, and for working Minnesotans? The labor leaders must break with the parties of big business and build a party of our own: a mass party of labor based on the unions!

    The “blame game” is in full swing, as both major parties cynically look toward 2012, while ordinary Minnesotans suffer from the effects of what is in effect a bosses’ lockout. We don’t need political maneuvering or secret negotiations from our representatives. We need elected representatives who are directly accountable and will fight for the people that elected them. Toward this end, the CMPL believes we need to start running independent labor candidates and lay the ground work for a state-wide Labor Party to fight in the interests of working Minnesotans. The rich have two parties: we need one of our own! Contact the CMPL for more information and to get involved.



    Truthout carries a report today that as a result of Scott Walker’s assault on public employees, prisoners are now replacing union workers in Racine, Wisconsin.

    It might have been perceived as an hysterical exaggeration to predict that the GOP attack on the value of labor would lead to not just low-wage jobs, but to no-wage jobs. One commentator calls this the “new slavery.”

    This is not the first use of what is, in essence, modern slave labor in the US. Some of the Pentagon’s military contractors allegedly use prisoners to assemble military equipment at slave wages (e.g., 23 cents an hour).

    With the loss of illegal immigrants as farm workers, prison labor is soon to follow in the agricultural fields of the South.

    It was one of the great advances of modern civilization that workers were granted livable wages and that their labor was recognized as having inherent dignity.

    Now, we are moving backward to an antebellum society that believes the lowest cost labor is no-cost labor.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout


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