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Labor Uprising: Context & Analysis

This list of suggested articles was put together prior to the devastating updates in Wisconsin where Scott Walker and the GOP moved forward in passing the collective bargaining legislation that stripped most public employee’s of their rights as workers. Please see the post LATEST NEWS for updates on more recent articles.

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Labor Uprising: Context and Analysis

The protests in Wisconsin, Ohio, and across the nation have dominated the media scene in the last few weeks. There is a wealth of information and commentary available that explores the current situation, in the context of labor’s past and future projections. Below is a list of a few of these articles that help to explain the significance behind these labor uprisings.

“Crackdown on Organized Labor: States Call for Wage & Benefit Cuts, Urge Laws to Curb Union Influence” A Roundtable discussion on Democracy Now!

“In states across the country, elected officials and right-wing pundits are calling not just for cuts to wages and benefits in the name of austerity, but even proposing laws to undermine labor unions’ influence, and in fact, their very existence. [Democracy Now] host[ed] a roundtable discussion with New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse; Michael Zweig of the Center for Study of Working Class Life; and Art Levine of the Washington Monthly. “

This discussion was featured on the January 6th, 2011 edition of Democracy Now! The War and Peace Report!, over a month prior to the uprisings in Wisconsin and across the country. Video and transcript available online.

“Labor’s Last Stand” by Jane McAlevey

The entire house of labor and all progressives must understand that we have not had a moment as threatening as this in our lifetime. The right is making the connections—attacking public employee unions and public services at the same time in order to wage complete war on the poor, people of color, and the working and middle classes of this country. Sadly, the left has not made the connections. To the extent that public sector unions, private sector unions and those fighting budget cuts allow themselves to be divided, they are playing into the right’s hands.”

This article appeared in the March 7-14th, 2011 edition of The Nation.

“On Wisconsin and America” by Robert Weissman

The clashes in Wisconsin and other states, and in Washington, D.C., are dressed up in the language of budget debates. But these debates have nothing to do with “fiscal responsibility.” They are about what kind of society we want.”

This article was published through Common Dreams on February 26,2011 .

“Spirit of Wisconsin” by John Nichols

After three decades of attacks on public sector unions, dating back at least to Ronald Reagan’s breaking of the air traffic controllers in 1981, the mass uprising against Walker’s attack has revealed a popular understanding of the necessity of the labor movement that is far richer than even the most optimistic organizer imagined. The bonds are not just economic or political; they are emotional and personal. And when the determination of corporate interests and their political pawns to destroy unions—not by slow cuts, as is so often the case, but all at once—is revealed, all that talk of building coalitions, of creating movements linking union members with those who have never joined, suddenly moves from theory to practice.”

This article appears in the March 21st, edition of The Nation, published online on March 3rd, 2011.

“What Gov. Walker Won’t Tell You” by Stanley Kutler

“There is a kernel of truth in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s claim of a “budget shortfall” of $137 million. But Walker, a Republican, failed to tell the state that less than two weeks into his term as governor, he, with his swollen Republican majorities in the Wisconsin legislature, pushed through $117 million in tax breaks for business allies of the GOP. There is your crisis.”

This article was posted on The Huffington Post on February 23rd, 2011.

“Wisconsin is Making the Battle Lines Clear in America’s Hidden Class War” by Gary Younge

“Leaders like Walker are making it clear which side of the class divide they stand on. A growing number of Americans, it seems, have begun to understand that this is precisely the problem and are discovering the source of their own power.”

This article was posted on the website of The Guardian UK on February 27, 2011.

“The Dirty Secret of Public Sector Union Busting” by Alyssa Battistoni

“Amid all the rightful outrage over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to do away with collective bargaining rights for public sector unions in Wisconsin, one important point has been neglected: The demise of public sector unions would be most detrimental to women and African-Americans, who make up a disproportionate share of the public sector workforce.”

This article was published on Salon.com on February 24th, 2011.

“We Are All Part of the Labor Movement Now” by Robert Creamer

“The battle of Wisconsin — and all of the other states where right wing governors have trained their sites on public employee unions — is no longer just a struggle over wages and benefits. It’s no longer about the “state budget.” It has become a struggle about the dignity of middle class Americans — about the principle of whether everyday people have the right to sit at a bargaining table and have a say about their wages, their working conditions, and their jobs. It has become a symbol for the desperate desire of everyday Americans to stand up straight and fight back against the forces that are destroying the middle class. “

This article was posted on the Huffington Post on February 26, 2011

“Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Media Parroting Walker’s False Claims of Taxpayer ‘Subsidies’ for Workers’ Pensions” an interview with David Cay Johnston on Democracy Now!

“In their coverage of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to undermine public workers’ unions, many journalists have parroted Walker’s claim that unionized state workers get their pensions “subsidized” by the state. [Democracy Now! speaks] with investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winner David Cay Johnston, who counters the assertion that pensions are costing taxpayers by pointing out that the workers themselves contribute 100 percent in deferred compensation. “

This interview was featured on the March 3rd, 2011 edition of Democracy Now! The War and Peace Report.

“Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.” by Paul Krugman

“What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab — an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.”

This article was published in the New York Times on February 24th, 2011.

“The Epic Battle from Wisconsin” by Kabzuag Vaj

“The alliances at the Capitol have been as unexpected as an army of the dead. For example, the WI Police Association slept in the space to keep the occupation continuing. The firefighters also slept in and marched through the Capitol with bagpipes to support the protest, everyday during the occupation. During it’s closure, hundreds of firefighters, who had rallied with protesters, demanded in. These temporary alliances are matched with deeper and growing alliances between more radical flanks of labor and labor strongholds. Community organizations like Freedom Inc. have had more of an opportunity to meet with labor and see a broader agenda. Unaffiliated activists in this popular uprising have stayed connected, and are continuing this social justice movement.”

This article was posted at Organizing Upgrade and can be accessed online.

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4 comments on “Labor Uprising: Context & Analysis

  1. David Cay Johnston
    March 10, 2011

    In addition to the Democracy Now interview, my column which prompted Amy and Juan to have me as a guest is available free at tax.com

    • steatro
      March 10, 2011

      Thank you for the link, David! Look forward to checking out the column. And thank you for your important contributions to the dialogue on public employee unions, and their pensions. Keep us posted on any new articles or interviews you participate in!

  2. Pingback: ATTACK ON LABOR: LATEST UPDATES « the global grassroots

  3. Pingback: SPOTLIGHT ON LABOR: New ENGAGE Blog Posts Collection « the global grassroots

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This entry was posted on March 10, 2011 by in Labor and Workers' Rights and tagged , , , , , , , .
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