Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Brief Comment on The Protest In Wisconsin: General Strike or Get Off The Walker!

The biggest American labor protest in years is currently taking place in Madison Wisconsin.  Although it would undoubtedly be getting more coverage if it were another inane Tea Party rally, the mainstream media is starting to cover the event which has already seen a second day of protest (with 13,000 protesters at the Capitol building on Wednesday the 16th) to coincide with a strike by the local teachers union (which shut down the local school district).  People are camping at the Capitol tonight and Thursday is certain to see large numbers out protesting again.  The new Governor, Scott Walker, has already threatened to call in the National Guard to quell any potential disturbance to business as usual.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that people are reading the situation incorrectly (in terms of Governor Walker having made a political blunder by aggressively attempting to gut worker's rights so early in his term).  Perhaps he has blundered, and maybe he is the naive idiot which he seems to be, but his move may have been very calculated -- and the labor unions may end up getting suckered.  By making such an extreme proposal in the legislative terms which he has laid out... he is now in position to pull back from the legislation and appear to be moderating his position.  So the workers would then still end up taking a big hit but, because it's no longer quite so devastating in it's effect, the unions may be somewhat placated by the toned-down legislation -- and thus they might be likely to give up a little ground while thinking they've won the larger battle.  It's basic politics and Walker has put himself in a position to win either way.  If there was no protest, Walker would get everything his right-wing heart desired.  Since there has now been a protest... Walker can tone down the extremist legislation and appear to be somewhat reasonable as the legislation is modified from being terrible to merely awful.   

As this proposed legislation has energized labor unions more than anything else in recent years... they should make a point of not wasting the current opportunity they've created with their protest.  Rather than accepting a toned down version of the legislation, or even a complete scrapping of it, they should be the ones demanding concessions at this point!  They should be demanding even more labor rights and the right to organize more easily.  It's as simple as that.  Labor has held, and does hold, most of the cards in modern society.  If they choose to shut the city down, or even the entire state, there is little that can be done about it.  And then how will Governor Walker react?  It's quite possible that the National Guard, made up of workers, won't carry out his orders.

So my advice to the Wisconsin workers is this... General strike or get off the Walker!  If you accept any concessions with the currently proposed legislation you'll be opening the door for further concessions -- you'll be practically asking for them.  What you need to do is show the Governor who is really the boss in Wisconsin -- the people, the workers, the everyday Jane & Joe.  You have the power and the ball is in your court -- what are you going to do with it?