Madison, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker and Senate Republicans shoved through right-to-work (-for-less) legislation on Feb. 26 following a day of worker resistance in Wisconsin’s capital. This legislation would greatly reduce the living standards as well as workers’ representation in the workplace here, just as it has done in every state where RTW has been implemented. RTW states are well known to be low-wage states with deep histories of racism and discrimination.
Union leaders and supporters as well as various activists participated in protests on Feb. 25, occupying the many floors of the Capitol building. While the Senate began voting, workers chanted slogans such as, “What’s disgusting? Union busting!” and “Don’t sell us out!”
The youth organization, Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST), joined the protest and spoke with members of the Steamfitters Local 601 from Milwaukee about the new bill. One member said: “I want my voice to be heard, and I won’t let what was fought for and sacrificed for in the past be in vain.”
Another said: “I lost money being here. I have no paid days off. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. I missed a day of work to support this.”
This is direct testimony of the attitude of working-class and oppressed peoples in Wisconsin towards RTW legislation and the politicians that the capitalist class has bought and paid for.
FIST members were on the scene to oppose Scott Walker’s incessant attack on unions and workers’ rights. This attack, if successful, will disproportionately damage the interests of people of color; the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities; and women, and will hurt all working people.
This is not the first time Wisconsin workers have come under heavy assault from the bosses and their lackeys. In 2008, General Motors management decided it would abandon the working class of Janesville, Wis., leaving many workers without a job or a means of providing for themselves and families. “For sale” signs now dot Janesville’s neighborhoods. With this loss of unionized manufacturing jobs, all that remains is dead-end service-sector jobs or low-wage factory work that is nonunion.
If RTW passes, this trend will continue. The working class will not accept this!
Every sector of the working class and oppressed is being attacked in Wisconsin and this has increased with bill after bill in the right-wing legislature since January. FIST calls on everyone being attacked to come to the capital to protest and occupy the Capitol again. And if need be, to occupy all of Madison to shut RTW down.
The writer is a FIST member from Janesville, Wis.