Hundreds of activists participated in the “Oppose Scott Walker’s Wall Street Agenda” protest July 13 at the Waukesha County Expo Center, where Wisconsin Gov. Walker officially announced he’s running for U.S. president. Beside the workers who make it run, the suburb of Waukesha near Milwaukee is a virtually all-white, right-wing, anti-union nest of racist politicians, bankers and bosses.
The day before Walker announced his candidacy, he signed the 2015-17 state budget. It contains possibly the worst austerity measures for poor and working people in state history. The attacks in the 157-page budget pushed by Walker and the right-wing Legislature include elimination of the state’s prevailing wage; $250 million in cuts to the University of Wisconsin System; evisceration of tenure via state statute; and gutting many environmental state agencies and programs. It also requires drug testing for FoodShare participants and codifies a wide range of attacks on women’s reproductive freedom and on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities.
The legislation is a continuation of union-busting Act 10 rammed through in 2011 and the implementation of the right-to-work-for-less law signed on March 9. Walker’s ongoing pro-Wall Street program has resulted in a plummeting standard of living for poor and working people in Wisconsin, especially people of color.
However, statewide people’s resistance has opposed Walker’s austerity program of racist union-busting, privatization, deregulation and attacks on women and LGBTQ communities — ever since he became governor on Jan. 1, 2011. To date, the high point of people’s resistance occurred when thousands of labor, community, student, other progressive and faith-based forces occupied the state Capitol in February and March 2011 to oppose union-busting Act 10.
Fight racist union-busting austerity
The Waukesha protesters showed the world that people’s resistance is alive in Wisconsin. They also appealed to all poor and working people to reject Walker’s program, which the governor intends to implement countrywide if elected president.
The Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement called on people to join the July 13 protest with their union-community signs, banners and ”some noise,” as they continue to resist Walker’s reactionary program — or to protest in their cities if they couldn’t make it to Waukesha.
The WBOPM flier stressed, “Since his election as governor, Walker — on behalf of big business and the banks — has waged unrelenting war on all poor and working people with the evisceration of a variety of progressive laws won in people’s struggles over the decades. Only a mass mobilization of all the people of Wisconsin and nationwide can stop and reverse the many attacks on us. We can and must tell those bankers, corporate bosses and their paid flunkey politicians “No more!” We say no to Scott Walker for president!” (tinyurl.com/njoeuor)
The protest’s comprehensive list of demands called for an end to police killings and jailing killer cops and emphasized that Black, Brown, Native and LGBTQ lives matter. Included was insistence on legalization for all immigrants. A crucial point called for attacks to stop on the disabled, women, seniors, children and youth. Also tax and mortgage foreclosures must be stopped and Hardest Hit Homeowners funds must be used to keep people in their homes.
Other strong, pro-worker demands were for repealing Act 10 and right-to-work-for-less laws; an end to union-busting, pension, wage and benefit cuts and for a living wage for all. While calling for an end to the destruction of public schools and universities, activists asserted that public education is a right and should be fully funded — instead of the government paying for prisons and wars. Protesters also demanded public lighting, expansion of public transit, free health care for all and an end to environmental dangers.
A diverse array of individuals and organizations urged people to protest Walker, his reactionary political cronies and his imperialist backers on July 13. These included the Coalition For Justice, the Latin American Solidarity Committee, the Milwaukee County Labor Council, Queers Against Scott Walker and Voces de la Frontera.
For more information see www.wibailoutpeople.org.