Labor can win in Wisconsin: Time for a general strike!

ANSWERCoalition.org will feature live coverage from Wisconsin beginning on the morning of March 10. Check back regularly for for eyewitness accounts, Tweets, photo and video.

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A special legislative committee in Wisconsin convened on Wednesday night, March 9, to strip out the fiscal elements of Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill, in order to pass his anti-public employee union proposals. They pulled this procedural sleight-of-hand to get around the three-fifths quorum required on budget bills because the Senate Democrats are still boycotting all Wisconsin Senate proceedings.

This special committee met and passed Walker’s revised bill in approximately five minutes. Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D) attempted to make a motion to delay the meeting or make amendments. Barca was not recognized for a motion by the chair, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Barca argued, over Fitzgerald's attempts to say there would be no motions, that the conference committee violated the state's open meetings law, which requires at least 24 hours notice before a government meeting, unless there is good cause to act more quickly.

The bill then passed in committee on a 4-2, party-line margin. In a surreal sight, the online feed of Wisconsin Eye—the state equivalent of C-Span—faded out to tranquil music as the video was playing the shouting and ire of the meeting itself. The bill then went to the State Senate where Senate Republicans passed the anti-union bill by a margin of 18-1. Only one moderate Republican, Dale Schultz, voted no. The vote took place in absence of the Democrats who had fled the state in order to block budget quorum.

Now, the bill is headed to the Assembly for a vote. If it passes, as expected, most collective bargaining for public employee unions in Wisconsin will be stripped away.

The revised bill also increases health care and pension costs for public sector workers.

Since Feb. 14, there has been a massive outpouring of students, unionized and non-unionized workers, unemployed workers and progressives in the streets of Madison, Wis. and other cities across the country.

This new movement of people in support of public sector workers and unions shows that the people understand what is behind calls for cuts in city, county and state budgets.

It is evident that the energy of those in power is centered on stripping workers of their right to bargain collectively more than on balancing any budget.

Unions and working people are preparing to take the next step in the struggle. Every day people have come to the capitol building in Wisconsin to express their opposition to this union-busting bill.

Students, progressive people and union members are converging in Madison on Thursday morning. Solidarity demonstrations are planned for cities across the country.

But the next phase of the struggle is on the horizon. On Feb. 21, the Madison-based South Central Federation of Labor’s 45,000 members endorsed a resolution calling for preparations for a general strike should the bill pass.

If public and private sector workers engage in a general strike, it will be supported by workers and students across the country. Millions of people understand that this modified bill is a direct attack on working people and their right to stand united on the job.


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