Wisconsin's Not Just a Place
Last weekend, on a snowy Wisconsin Saturday, crowds in Madison swelled to more than 100,000.
Working men and women, community activists, faith leaders, students and environmentalists gathered to tell their governor, Scott Walker, to stop the attacks on workers, middle–class jobs and our right to bargain for a better life. At the same time, working people everywhere joined solidarity rallies in all 50 state capitals and in many other cities around the country.
On Sunday, Gov. Walker ordered police to close the capitol. But the people held their house, as chants of “What do we want? Justice,” “Whose house? Our house!” and “This is what democracy looks like” filled the rotunda.
Later, Gov. Walker even bolted the windows shut. But, we prevailed in court, as a judge ordered the Wisconsin capitol opened.
In Wisconsin, protesters have been able to spend days and nights in the capitol because our movement is so strong on the ground.
The solidarity and energy of the people of Wisconsin and their brothers and sisters in other states where workers are under attack—and in all 50 states—is forging a new chapter for working Americans, and changing our politics for the better.
Solidarity from coast to coast includes ordinary Americans, famous Americans and athletes like the Green Bay Packers, who issued a statement of solidarity with Wisconsin workers early on in this fight.
Today, the Packers and all NFL players are facing their own unfair deal. Help the Packers, and all NFL players, block a lockout before their contract expires at 11:59:59 p.m. Thursday, by signing the “Block the Lockout” petition now.
Gov. Walker’s political attacks on working families are so extreme they’ve rightly galvanized a broad coalition of Americans who are fed up with losing ground while the rich get tax cuts and bailouts.
We are shifting the national debate as even multiple Republican governors have come out in disagreement with Walker and his tactics. Here are just two examples:
“We’ll begin negotiations with the public-sector unions and anticipate we’ll conduct those in good faith.”
— Gov. Tom Corbett (R-Pa.)
“My belief is as long as people know what they’re doing, collective bargaining is fine.”
— Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)
What’s happening in Wisconsin has been the start of a movement that keeps going and growing in ways we could not have anticipated two weeks ago. And last weekend was only the beginning.
In Ohio, 20,000 people gathered at the state capitol yesterday at a rally to save Ohio’s middle class.
And in Indiana, rallies are continuing every single day. Already this week, more than 25,000 working men and women rallied at the Indiana statehouse voicing their opposition to legislation that seeks to limit collective bargaining, lower wages and weaken the voice of workers.
In the coming days, more rallies are expected in Florida, Indiana, New York and Ohio. Workers from coast to coast have had enough of the scapegoating. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and find solutions—but we’re not willing to take the blame and bear the entire brunt of an economic crisis that was caused by Wall Street bankers.
As we fight to make America more balanced for workers, we will lose some battles. But when we can’t find the votes today, we will make it up with shoe-leather tomorrow. We will stand together. We will help workers organize. We will keep building our movement. We will win elections—starting at the local level and working our way up to the top. In the end, workers will win the day. But only if we fight harder and are more united than ever before.
Sign our statement of solidarity for Wisconsin workers—we’ll deliver your comments to the people on the ground.
Achieving sustained victories starts with making our voices heard. At the statehouse. At the voting booth. At the phone bank. At a town hall meeting. By writing to state or local officials.
Wisconsin’s not just a place. It’s a movement. Thanks for being a part of it.
Online Mobilization Coordinator, AFL-CIO