Friday, March 11, 2011

Workers Of The World Unite

I was shocked, pleasantly so, to hear this from Chris Matthews as he opened his show Hardball on Wednesday March 10, 2011. He quoted Marx and Engels in his pre-show opener as he discussed the attack by Republicans on union rights in Wisconsin.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Workers of the world unite. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight: The Ash Wednesday ambush. The Republicans have won their battle with the unions in Wisconsin....

But its not just Matthews who is expressing this its also the American left who allowed the Republican financed Tea Party movement to take the political lead in expressing outrage over government bail outs of Big Finance and Big Business, and identifying the problem as not being capitalism but Big Government, Big Unions along with its racist attacks on President Obama as NOT being an American like them.

US left finds its voice over Wisconsin attack on union rights

State capitol building under occupation as tens of thousands turn out for biggest demonstrations since the Vietnam war

Proudly displayed in a corner window of the Barriques coffee shop, a block from Wisconsin's state capitol building, is a poster advocating Workers of the World Unite – not the kind of sign normally seen in shops in America.

But the last fortnight has been unusual. Tens of thousands have been turning out in this normally quiet midwest city for the biggest demonstrations in the US since the Vietnam war, and the state capitol building is under occupation day and night.

After a year dominated by the Tea Party, the American left has found its voice, and a cause, united against a bill backed by the state's Republican governor, Scott Walker, to neuter public sector unions.

What needs to be done now is to Build The General Strike for Workers Rights! The fact both these old Class War slogans have been embraced by American Workers in the 21st Century, when we have been assured by the right wing and its media that unions are a thing of the past, well as the saying goes; the more things change.....

Calls for a general strike are growing among union members and supporters as the state Legislature advanced a law stripping public sector unions of almost all bargaining rights, but it remains unclear whether strikes or pickets will appear soon.

Union leaders say the Republicans' fast-track passage of the bill has fueled strike talk, but for now most are urging legal measures such as recall of Republican legislators as a way to repeal the law.

"A general strike would be playing the trump card, and you don't play the trump right away, you build up to that," said Jim Cavanaugh, president of the 45,000-member South Central Federal of Labor in Madison.

The federation endorsed a general strike on Feb. 21 and on Thursday began distributing educational materials on how such a strike can be accomplished.

Madison firefighters’ union president

calls for general strike

Joe Conway, president of the Madison firefighters’ union, said recently that the political situation has grown so dire in Wisconsin, he’d support a general strike.

“We should start walking out tomorrow, the next day … See how long they can last,” he told reporters with The Uptake. “This is a nation-wide movement to attack all working men and women in Wisconsin and the United States.”

His call mirrors one from filmmaker Michael Moore, who’s called on high school students and working people of all stripes to restart the American democracy movement and fight back in this latest round of “class war” against the middle class.

This video is from The Uptake, published Thursday, March 10, 2011.

When Is It Time for a General Strike?

"General strike" has been one of the chants that resounded through the Capitol during massive protests Wednesday and Thursday after the Legislature passed a bill that would remove bargaining rights for about 175,000 workers and create major obstacles to basic operations for unions representing teachers, state workers and local government employees.

As the Wisconsin State Senate rammed through their union-busting bill Wednesday night, people in the capitol chanted "General strike!" And I heard an echo. Not of 1934, the last time there was a general strike in the US, but earlier.

It was 1909, in the crowded Great Hall at New York's Cooper Union; a big union boss was talking about talks and a 16-year-old girl shouted out from the back: "WALK OUT"

More than 30,000 shirtwaist factory workers walked off their jobs after that. This week's International Women's Day celebrates the anniversary of that strike, by mostly young, immigrant women like 16 year old Clara Lemlich. 700 women were arrested, many more beaten and spat on for being "On strike against God."

They struck for eleven weeks. It was the first successful uprising of women workers in this country--but their success didn't go far enough.

And the General Strike is being proposed in the UK in response to austerity measures, again a nice term for attacks on public sector workers to pay for the bail out of the banks!

The threat of a general strike increases

As expected, John Hutton’s review of public sector pensions has recommended that final salary schemes end. Hutton was across the broadcasters this morning, explaining that he was reflecting an “inescapable reality”:

“The solution to this problem is not a race to the bottom, it's not to hack away at the value of public service pensions. It’s to manage the risks and costs sensibly. The responsible thing to do is to accept that because we are living longer we should work for longer.”

Beside realism, Hutton’s guiding principle has been fairness. Final salary schemes encourage a “massive cross-subsidy from low-paid public servants to high-paid public servants” to pay for the “sudden spike” in pay at the end of a career. Hutton is “deeply troubled” by a policy that forces younger generations of public sector workers to “shoulder the cost and burden change”. Therefore, pensions should be determined by career average earnings.

At the moment, opposition to Hutton is split. Dave Prentis, the General Secretary of Unison, shied from attacking Hutton. Instead, he condemned the government’s decision to increase contributions at a time of “massive increases in the cost of living and pay freezes." On the other hand, Mark Serwotka, the General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, nonchalantly promised that “strikes are inevitable”, which places him among the ranks of the militant with Len McCluskey and Bob Crow. Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT, was adamant that “public sector pensions are not 'gold plated' and they are affordable.” The threat of a general strike across the public sector is now more serious; not least because its pensions are protected by complicated legal contracts. This will be an arduous struggle.

Pension reforms: Public sector workers to pay more and retire later

The Guardian - 23 hours ago
All state employees in the UK will be affected, creating the first legal basis for ... less likely that the entire public sector will go on general strike, ...
Delegates: 'Go out like Wisconsin'- Morning Star Online
Now doctors and headteachers threaten to strike over pensions- Independent

The Guardian

'Secret plan' to counter general strikes in UK - 22 Feb 2011
By IRNA, London : A secret 'war plan' to counter a general strike has been drawn up by British ministers, with thousands of union-busting workers lined up ...

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