Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
The incident at
Over the past 30 years, the air traffic controllers were able to re-organize into the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), but their power is nothing like that of PATCO 30 years ago. One outcome of this reduced power is that their regular complaints of un-safe staffing levels have gone largely unheeded. On Labor Express Radio over the past several years, primarily through our WIN segment (Workers Independent News), which has had excellent coverage of this topic, we have continually addressed NATCA’s desperate calls for attention to sever staffing problems at our airport’s control towers. Nothing highlighted the problem better than the Aug. 27, 2006 incident at the airport in
Now we see the right wing pushing for severe budget cuts at the federal and state levels for everything from fire departments to nuclear power plant safety. At the same time they are attempting to savage public sector unions much like Reagan did in 1981. Infamous Republican Governor Scott Walker regularly attributes his inspiration to his hero Reagan. How many lives will be lost to the Reagan philosophy on government and public safety? How many families will pay the price of the right wing’s budget cuts and union bashing either through increased poverty or lost family members? And for God sakes, can we now rename Reagan National for a real American hero as opposed to the right wing’s favorite anti-labor cult figure? How about for Steve Wallaert, President of PATCO Local 292, the first PATCO member to be JAILED by Reagan when he resisted the firing of the air traffic controllers. Now there’s a hero for you.
Here is a link to NATCA’s statement on the recent incident at Wallaert (I mean Reagan) N
Monday, March 21, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
As is to be expected, with the 24 hour occupation of the capitol ended by a ruling of the Wisconsin courts, and attention being re-directed to the recall effort, the daily protests in Madison have waned in the past week. But that doesn’t mean people are not still mobilizing. Protests have dogged Governor Walker wherever he has turned up around the state, including a rally of thousands in Green Bay on Monday and hundreds of protesters who rushed passed security guards and occupied the lobby of a building in Washington D.C. where Wisconsin Republicans held a corporate fundraiser on Wednesday. There have been actions across the state and across the country over the past week in solidarity with Wisconsin’s public sector workers. And workers in Michigan and Missouri have held their own protests to try to stop similar legislative efforts in their states. The proposed legislation in Michigan is particularly disturbing as it would give the governor practically dictatorial powers to remove elected local governments and place them under the control of unelected “financial managers” who could than abrogate local union contracts. Truly scare stuff. For more on this see the following links…
An attempt to pass a “right to work” law in Missouri was defeated today after a rally of nearly 5,000 in St. Louis. Apparently Republicans there are also trying to repeal minimum wage and child labor laws. Yes, the good old days the tea baggers long for really are the days of the robber barons of the 19th century when kids worked in factory for 12 hour shifts.
The Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) are planning a big rally for Madison on Saturday. For more info on that check the following link…
There are also major public meetings planned for Madison on Sunday to discuss plans for continued direct action to defeat Governor Walker’s anti-labor agenda. One is organized by National Nurses United, the other by the IWW…
Much of the focus of the movement in Wisconsin at the moment is around the re-call effort. But talk of a general strike is still a hot topic as well, though it has received scant attention by the mainstream media and is being down played by most of the labor leadership. One exception to this is the Ed Schultz program on MSNBC which on March 10th discussed the idea of a general strike. Despite Schultz talking against the idea and suggesting it would play into Scott Walker’s hands, giving him an excuse to fire public sector workers, a phone poll on that same show resulted in nearly 70% in favor of a strike. The South Central Wisconsin Federation of Labor’s endorsement of a general strike really kicked off serious discussion of the topic. You can read there statement here…
The concept has received support from surprising quarters. Here is Madison Firefighters union President Joe Conway talking about his support for a strike…
But the Republican’s parliamentary trick to push through passage of the anti-union law caught the movement by surprise and has complicated the question as to the effectiveness of a strike and when to declare one. Nonetheless, militant activist in the labor movement continue to call for a general strike and are advocating that the movement start now to prepare for one. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) has been one of the leading voices in Madison pushing for a general strike. They held a meeting at the Madison Labor Temple last Saturday attended by roughly a 150 people to discuss the idea. Excerpts of that discussion aired on last week’s episode of Labor Express Radio. You can also here my interview with Farmer Randy Jasper on the program…
I recorded the entire meeting which is now online, minus a couple speakers who asked not to be recorded…
The topic of a general strike will be discussed at both of the public meetings planned for Sunday in Madison listed above.
One final personal note on the rally last Saturday in Madison. I am not the type to get excited about celebrities attending rallies, or to get excited about celebrities under any circumstances. I am certainly glad when high profile figures lend their support to social causes, as this can bring more attention to these struggles. Indeed it is frustrating that we don’t see this happen more often. But I rarely give celebrities much attention as the focus of attention needs to remain on the people who are at the center of the struggle – in this case the public sector workers in Wisconsin and their fellow worker allies. Despite this, I was, perhaps surprisingly (an embarrassingly) thrilled by the attendance of one celebrity at the rally. Not Susan Sarandon, whose attendance was not much of surprise as she is one of the few in Hollywood who has been a consistent progressive and lent her support to many social movements over the years. But by the attendance of Wisconsin native Tony Shalhoub. I don’t watch much T.V. and have almost no time to follow particular T.V. programs, but somehow I did devolpe an attachment for the USA Network show Monk, one of the very few contemporary TV comedies I actually found really funny. Perhaps because I myself had once worked for a very eccentric individual with sever obsessive-compulsive disorder. So I did get a kick out of his speech at the rally.
To see pictures from day 26 in Madison, including pictures of Farmer Jasper, the Wobblies and Susan Sarandon check out the following link…
Thursday, March 10, 2011
The rally in Indianapolis today helped draw some attention to a front in the current labor war that has been overshadowed by Wisconsin. Crowd estimates as usual ranged widely from a low of 8,000 to a high of 30,000. Somewhere around 10,000 seems a likely accurate guess. The numbers were lower than organizers expectations but were still massive for a state not known for mass demonstrations. Tune in to next Monday's episode of Labor Express Radio for more.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
My most lasting impression of the protests was the incredibly politeness of the protestors. After nearly 25 years of activism I have attended rallies on hundreds of occasions across the nation and in two other countries. I can’t remember another rally where folks were quite so friendly and concerned over their neighbors safety. At one point I tried to climb a top a snow pile to take photos of the crowd. The snow was quite slippery and I was having trouble with my footing. Instantly four sets of hands were supporting me to ensure that I didn’t tumble over. When I broke for lunch at a restaurant near the capitol, the place was crowded with union activist and their supporters. Individuals like my self dining alone sat with other single diners and quickly struck up conversations. My lunch companion Kathie Free was the subject of one of the interviews I aired on today’s episode of Labor Express. I like labor uprisings Wisconsin style, and its not just because of my love for good chesse.
You can hear more from the Great Wisconsin Labor Uprising on today’s episode of Labor Express Radio…
You can see pics from Saturday here…
On Thursday there will be a major mobilization to support public sector workers in Indianapolis. You can find out more here…
And on Saturday a massive protest is planned for Madison, including tractors this time! You got to be there…
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
JANUARY, 1915: 1500 people gather at Hull House to talk about the high levels of unemployment throughout Chicago, then march to City Hall, demanding hunger relief and public works projects. Police break up the parade and make arrests.