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Poster: “General Strike Means Nobody and Nothing Works”

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Update #2: regarding the anti-austerity measure struggle in Wisconsin

The next few days and coming week may have a defining effect on the anti-austerity measure struggle in Wisconsin.

-To the surprise of many, the police union and many police themselves have declared they side with the protesters occupying the Capitol in Madison and not Scott Walker. They have also released statements urging their members to sleep inside the building along with those already doing so in order to protect the occupation. Even so, official statements are saying that the Capitol is going to be “closed for cleaning” starting on Sunday.  It is to resume its normal schedule and those occupying it are supposed to leave. We’re still waiting for more lines to be explicitly drawn. This possibly illustrates one of many fault lines among a series of identity crises that have necessarily come about within this event. Between the police and the mass, a rupture will take place as soon as what takes shape can be seen more clearly as a rejection of a mere return to normal and as soon as the monopoly of violence, which the state holds, is expropriated by the mass for itself. The police unions “solidarity” effort forestalls the elaboration of this realization. We do not doubt that police will resume their function within the community of capital and soon, but what will be the reaction?

-The Governor, Scott Walker, is set to release his budget for the state on Tuesday the 1st, which will most likely further inflame and incite more demonstrations across the state.

-March 2nd is a “national day of action” against tuition hikes. In Milwaukee there were already planned demonstrations and walkouts before any of this started, but the event will be greatly boosted by numerous TA’s, teachers, students and others set off by the heightening tensions. The last walkout was estimated to be upwards of 3000 people, which is 10% of the student population of UW-Milwaukee, so it is very likely this will be similar or more. People are saying everything but the words “strike” or “occupation” to describe what is more than likely to happen and what appears as increasingly imminent to many.

Poster for ‘A Message to Wisconsin’s Insatiable Workers & Students’

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New York ’75 and Wisconsin ’11: The Lessons of Austerity

Written by some friends offering suggestions learned from a similar anti-austerity struggle in New York in 1975.

All across the country, eyes have been set upon the struggles of Wisconsin’s public workers against the imposition of austerity and the abrogation of collective bargaining rights. The solidarity shown by broad segments of Wisconsin’s working class—from teachers to firefighters, from steelworkers to clerical workers—has been an inspiration. As of this writing, workers in Ohio have begun to mobilize against similar proposals by the Governor of their state. It is clear that the militant actions of Wisconsin workers are having, and will have, a resounding effect upon how others across the country react to savage attacks on public sector employees.

The situation in Wisconsin has reached an impasse. The most militant force in these protests, the massive wildcat sick-outs by rank-and-file teachers, has been reigned in by union officials. It is unclear if the momentum of the protests in Madison can be sustained as Democratic Party representatives essentially filibuster the ‘budget repair bill’ by refusing to attend the legislature. There are conflicting tendencies within the labor union leadership: on the one hand, officials have already consented to sweeping concessions on pay and benefits; on the other hand, the South Central Labor Federation has endorsed a call for a general strike in the near future.

The lives of tens of thousands of Wisconsin workers are in the balance. But it is not merely these workers and their families who will feel the consequences of this brutal offensive by politicians in the service of capital. The workers of Wisconsin are on the front lines of an assault that affects us all. Indeed, history has shown that attacks on public unions are an attack on the entirety of the working class.

After all, union participation in the private sector continues to decline, while concessions by labor leaders and service cutbacks are commonplace across the country. States like New York, New Jersey and California face even bigger budget deficits than Wisconsin. For this reason, the developments in Madison are a test case for what will happen across the country.

Fortunately, history provides important lessons on how to fight back against austerity. In New York City, in the mid-1970s, municipal workers faced a similar assault and, despite the heroic response of the rank-and-file, they failed to stem the tide.

What can we learn from their struggle?

And how can we use that knowledge to arm ourselves against this current onslaught in Wisconsin and beyond?

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General Strike Endorsed by Wisconsin Unions For When the Proposed Austerity Bill Passes
02/22/2011, 2:20 PM
Filed under: Milwaukee area, update | Tags: , , , , ,

From Channel 3000:

MADISON, Wis. — If Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators pass a union bill that restricts collective bargaining rights, some labor groups in Madison said they would endorse the entire of a general strike of unions around Wisconsin.

The South Central Federation of Labor endorsed the idea of a strike at its meeting on Monday night, but they didn’t “call” for a strike, since members said they don’t have the power to do so. However, members of the group said they now start needing to educate the public about the possibility, to explain why they feel this may be needed.

“We’ve set up a committee to set up the education process. We’ll be working with other labor bodies, and church groups,” said Carl Aniel, AFSCME Labor Federation delegate. “This action is designed to put control back in the hands of people doing all this work.”


UWM TA sick out: reports of spreading sickness

We’ve heard, from numerous sources and from talking to TAs at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, that a large and indefinite “sick out” is taking place among the teaching assistants. Exact numbers are unknown, but appears to be many. As state employees and students they are doubly effected by the new austerity measures proposed in the looming legislation at the Capitol. People who aren’t TAs or involved with teaching on campus are mostly hearing about this through rumors. Apparently there’s of a constant stream of emails in the email lists shared by the TAs, saying things like “It looks like I’m coming down with something. I’m not going to be able to teach my class. Can someone cover it?” To which others reply with “oh no, it looks as if I’m also coming down with something as well.” And this goes on and on. We can only hope that it continues, strengthening the resolve of others who are on the verge of their own collective sick outs, strikes or occupations.

A Message to Wisconsin’s Insatiable Workers and Students

We’re watching the RSS feeds and news sites like we watched Al Jazeera during the Egyptian Uprising. We’re looking for a sign. Hoping that the rage we share cuts through our daily routine. We’re hoping that what’s transpiring in Wisconsin is an internal error in their system, and that it’s irreparable. We’re praying at our grandparents graves that they, who fought for dignity or who bowed shamefully, will give us all the strength and resolve to push ourselves beyond our limits of politeness. Wisconsin, we’re looking to you like we looked to Egypt, like we looked to all the places that have recently flared up. We want you to say it’s on. To say we don’t have to be afraid anymore, and we don’t have to take shit. We want to be forced to stop watching, take sides, and join up.

What we need from you:

Never go back to work. Never go back to school. Spread the occupation beyond the symbols of power. Occupy and block what counts. Attack symbols, occupy infrastructure. Extend the scale and scope of the struggle by attacking what links the governor’s position with the misery of daily life. Fight, with all means, and through fighting make connections with others you never knew.

Teachers, elaborate your teach-ins. Tell your story, encourage everyone you touch to say why collective struggle (not just bargaining) is a necessary part of our position in this world. Talk about your dying grandmother. Talk about your difficult addictions. Talk about history. This law is an attempt to conceal the realities of our daily lives and to liquidate those stories from the future. Reveal this, and make possible the education that was never allowed in school.

Care-workers, your strike is extremely significant when most waged-labor now includes elements of care administration. For this reason, your participation in the most undocile parts of the struggle is needed, not simply to share the skills of your vocation, but to interrupt the ways in which care is structured as a passive and neutral force.

Students and young workers, you set the tone for what it means for our generation to struggle. Don’t limit your abilities; don’t restrain your rage. Expose the policing and pacifying elements in the demonstrations by refusing to limit yourself. When the National Guard comes or if the counter-demonstrators attack, you will need improvised barricades. If those forces need to be pushed back, you will need to be the ones to throw the first rocks. If you occupy a position you will need the means to feed yourself. The large Grocery Store owners have already sided with the Governor, take what you need from them. Refuse all concessions, refuse dialogue with union managers, and bosses. Expose and undermine those elements publicly. Humiliate them when they try to speak, make them run when they try to pacify and limit the struggle. Make the prison guards and law-enforcement workers choose between siding with struggle or siding with government. There is no middle ground.

Anon and techies, solidarity is a weapon. As we’ve seen in recent revolts in North Africa and throughout the Nile, the use of information-technologies, social-networking and DDoS against the ruling party, against government infrastructure is a pivotal dynamic of contemporary struggles. Tweet hard, flashmob. Get behind a proxy, and let the us all know you got our backs.

The struggle must become dangerous to those in power. If the demonstrations are docile, they will never connect with those who have already been excluded from the world of unions and job security. The demonstrations must change their tone in order to resonate with those who live on shit-wages and tips, with those who are murdered by police, whose entire neighborhoods are already excluded from the bargaining table. The police, either in blue or in National Guard attire will be standing between you and all the possibilities that can emerge from a fierce and diverse struggle. One way or the other, they must be confronted, and defeated.

Struggles have a short period of time when they appear to be the door through which possibility enters. As soon as these possibilities are perceived, the police will attempt to neutralize them. We must act quickly and with precision in order to defeat the police and open up the struggle, to keep it going. This sense of urgency is the single order when we are racing with the police to occupy these zones of possibility. But if we can take positions and keep them open, a new time and a new rhythm takes hold and spreads almost as hastily as the operations of the police to conceal it. If you can achieve this, Wisconsin, you will set the precedent for the rest of us. The new rhythm will put to rest everything normal about our misery and exploitation. And it will be heard, reverberated, and mashed up by all the worlds that open to it.

We’re anticipating your song Wisconsin,

Some insatiable service-industry workers in the South