The Walker victory disappoints but it does not surprise me. One thing’s for sure, the Democrats are incapable of defeating the right. Does not the last 30 years demonstrate that? Every vote for a Democrat has meant the success of the Republican agenda, whether or not by rotten deals cut with Republicans or simply out of the mutual loyalty of both parties to the 1%.
In fact, Democrats, Obama in particular, have proven adept at advancing reactionary policies that would have gotten people into the streets had it been done by George Bush.
Wisconsin is just one more reason that we need a fighting labor party!
Right out of the gate in 2009, Obama took on the United Auto Workers, a powerhouse trendsetter for US labor. Floyd Norris, a New York Times columnist wrote, “It took a conservative Republican to open relations with the largest Communist country in the world, it took a liberal Democrat to break the UAW.”
Under Obama driven threats to bankrupt the government managed auto industry – thus shredding union contracts – new UAW members had their salaries cut in half and their healthcare and pensions dumped into the laps of the union, with reduced corporate contributions.
Chrysler and GM received billions in bailout bucks. The workers? Nuttin’.
The media says that Obama didn’t help much in the Wisconsin race, seeking to not alienate voters. Say what??? Alienate voters? Which voters, the anti-union voters? A great friend in indeed!
As a result of the right-wing victory in Wisconsin there will likely be a move to the right nationally and a green light for the likes of cut back king NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo. After Cuomo’ likely move to the right, next are the NY’s Democratic Party’s “progressives,” who prefer cutting you off at the knees instead of at the hip but will really accept anything in the name of ruling class unity.
True to form, the Democrats have been whining about how much the right bankrolled Walker. Well true enough, but according to polls most voters decided whom to vote for before May’s flurry of Walker’s expensive TV ads.
But, for all the Democratic Party whining about having less cash, money could not make up for the Democratic Party’s pro-boss politics. One of many indications was that the Milwaukee voter turnout was low. Why? As Milwaukee’s county chief, Tom Barrett, Walker’s Democratic opponent, attacked unions big time.
Moreover, according to some that I’ve read, the election was never really about union rights at all or “collective bargaining” but mostly about “budget balancing.”
So, where is the alternative for workers? Most people are workers. Most of the workers who bothered to vote cast a vote for Walker.
At root in this election, is the absolute treachery of the Democratic Party which squashed a mass movement of workers defending their the right to collective bargaining and the standard of living that they had fought for. Worker anger had reached a new high, not seen in the U.S. since the occupations of the 1930’s. Workers spontaneously took to the streets and occupied the Capital building in early 2011, like protestors in Egypt’s Tahir Square.
The movement was betrayed when the Dems and their union flunkies pulled the plug and sent workers, armed with clipboards, ringing doorbells for the Democratic Party’s 1%.
What the Dems and their apologists in the trade union bureaucracy avoid is that the big questions of working class power are really determined in the streets and in worker action, principally strikes, and not in the ballot box.
Anyway, below is a portion of a June 3 presentation at the Socialist Action conference in Toronto that dealt, in part, with Wisconsin. It is slightly modified here:
The recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker, the Tea Party corporate goon who legislated an end to collective bargaining in his “Budget Repair Bill,” faces a recall vote this Tuesday.
Walker’s bill, modified by a court decision, retained the elimination of bargaining rights on most issues and ordered unions to “re-certify” yearly. The Bill included the loss of automatic dues collection, a crippling measure that my union, TWU Local 100, faced at the hands of a Democratic Party judge.
Walker’s Democratic challenger, Tom Barrett, is a former Milwaukee county chief, who threatened 1,400 union jobs. In exchange for no layoffs, Barrett imposed a two-year pay freeze with four unpaid furlough days in exchange.
Many Wisconsin voters chose Walker in 2010 out of disgust with former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. After the 2010 election, Doyle cynically bragged, “I’ve made deeper cuts than any governor’s ever made.”
Obama made the same boast as president, mostly cutting services that are used by working people. A million public jobs were lost during the Obama years.
The union bureaucracy carefully limited the fight against Walker to only keeping collective bargaining rights, rather than a wholesale attack on living standards that it was. In the heat of the struggle in Madison I saw AFL-CIO President Trumka, a staunch Obama backer, make the very proposal on national TV, echoing statements by bureaucrats further down the food chain.
In reality, merely retaining bargaining rights and accepting zero wage increases and benefit cuts would insure bureaucrats their bloated salaries, but cut worker income between 6% and 12%.
To mount a fight against the full anti-worker offensive the “Kill the Whole Bill Coalition” was formed by labor leftists, later renamed “Wisconsin Resists,” whose rallies would eventually grow to thousands of workers.
The first official union called rally drew 20,000 and a second even more, surprising union leaders. Thousands of high-school students walked out of class in solidarity. The momentum was spurred by a popular teacher sickout, which violated antistrike law, and, like Akron rubber workers who first used the “occupy” tactic in 1936, the occupation of the Wisconsin State Capital building began.
As the occupation took on a more rank and file character union tops pulled the plug on mass mobilizations until they reset the strategy to a recall election. Unions held another big rally but with the dial reset to pulling people out of the streets – a source of real worker power – workers were redirected to ringing doorbells for Democrats.
The occupation was originally seen as a short-lived tactic to prevent voting on the Walker bill. But, when public and private workers poured into the capital, it was thrust onto the national stage as a test of will between labor and the 1%.
Early in the struggle, the South Central Federation of Labor tantalizingly put out a call to begin educating about a general strike but refused to take action. The idea caught on, but never materialized.
On March 3, bureaucrats and cops had colluded to throw workers out of the Capital building, a life-lesson on the class loyalties of cops. On March 9, 2011, when Walker’s bill was finally passed, thousands of workers were chanting “general strike” outside the Capital building.
In reality, the recall election sidelined the collective bargaining issue and, of course, worker mobilization. Once again, the Democratic Party became the deathbed of worker struggle.