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FIST proposes national student strike: ‘FIGHT LIKE A WISCONSINITE’

Published Feb 23, 2011 3:23 PM
WW photo: Bryan G. Pfeifer

The following is a statement from the Fight Imperialism, Stand Together youth organization.

Workers and students in Wisconsin have joined together, igniting a valiant struggle against a bill designed to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in the state. Other features of the bill that Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has proposed are to raise health care premiums and the workers’ contributions to their pensions.

Before the bill went to committee, where it would have to pass before being voted on by the legislature, thousands of workers, students and community members converged on the statehouse in Madison. Since that very first day, the numbers have grown at every protest, reaching over 100,000, while thousands of students and workers have occupied the inside of the state Capitol building.

Fifteen school districts have been shut down, including in Madison and Milwaukee. Teachers have called in sick. Students began walking out of class last week. At high schools throughout Madison, students walked out in the hundreds per school before the schools were closed down. Students in the University of Wisconsin system have called for strikes and walked out of class.

Workers and students have blocked elevators and stairwells, shouted down meetings, occupied offices and engaged in other acts to disrupt business at the Capitol, in spite of Gov. Walker’s threat to call in the National Guard.

The militancy of the Wisconsin actions has inspired students and workers across the country. In response to a similar bill by the right-wing governor of Ohio, workers there have descended on the statehouse in Columbus. Dozens of solidarity actions are being held around the country and activists, unions and students, who are gearing up to fight austerity measures in almost 40 states, are watching and planning to fight back.

Like many other state governments across the country, the state of Wisconsin is crying broke. Walker has said that there is no money, and the state deficit needs to be fixed. Like many Democratic and Republican politicians, Walker, along with the corporate media, has painted public sector workers as greedy, as the haves, and private sector workers as the have nots.

In an ironic twist, the workers are being made pariahs and the cause of budget crises that are the latest manifestation of the overall crisis of the capitalist system.

Workers in the state where collective bargaining rights for public sector workers were first won in the late 1950s are to blame, it’s said, not the rich and superrich, not the bankers and financial institutions, not the hedge funds.

The reality is that the loss of revenue to the states and federal government is directly tied to the capitalist crisis, which has caused the economy to shed more than 8 million jobs. While companies have reaped record profits during the so-called recovery, jobs are scarcer than they have been for decades. Wages have gone down, and many of the available jobs are temporary.

Forty-four states are crying over deficits totaling more than $125 billion and are seeking to severely cut back on vital services and to lay off public sector workers.

These deficits represent the IMFization of the U.S. All the while banks and financial institutions have received trillions of dollars in bailouts, and hedge funds are robbing monies for education by bankrolling the charterization and privatization of the public school systems. Trillions go to wage war in the interest of corporations and the rich ruling elite of this country.

The rich, superrich and corporations continue to receive huge tax breaks. In Wisconsin, Gov. Walker gave tax breaks worth $140 million to Wal-Mart. This money would more than close the $130 million deficit that he is now claiming.

What must be done? A war has been unleashed on the workers. The rights and wages of workers are being viciously curtailed. There is no future in worrying about the profitability of corporations because profit is derived from exploitation. There is no future in workers and students worrying about the deficits of local, state or the federal government all the while that trillions are used to wage war on Third World countries to steal their resources.

Workers and students need to fight back, to mobilize and be in the streets. Fight like a Wisconsinite! Fight like an Egyptian! Fight for the wealth our labor creates! Build student and worker fightback committees to struggle for jobs, education and health care for all. Fight against racism, anti-immigrant, anti-Islam bigotry, sexism and homophobia! On to a student strike for March 31! On to May Day! All power to the workers and students!