When Walter Reuther and his fellow Union Organizers were brutally beaten by Corporate thugs on the Miller St. Overpass entrance to the Rouge Plant, the scene was captured with pictures which then became an iconic symbol of the struggle for the rights of workers to collectively bargain. That was 1937, and from those early battles for rights through the 1960s, the union movement was the primary reason for the growth of the American middle-class. The decline of union membership since the 1970s has also produced a similar decline in the middle-class. This is one reason why I believe that the battle in Wisconsin, now being televised non-stop, to protect collective bargaining rights, is really a corporate-led attack on the middle-class itself.
In the 1930s, Corporate America attacked the union movement by hiring armed thugs to attack organizers. Now Corporate America is attacking the middle class by hiring political thugs such as Wisconsin Governor Walker and GOP legislatures. The stakes are the same. In the 1930s the union movement survived by a thread and one could argue that the same is true in 2011. Multibillionaires have funded the campaigns of judges and legislatures across the country, successfully exploiting the anger of middle-class Americans who rightly feel that their way of life is threatened. Tea Party members have been led to focus their fear and anger on Government, when the real threat to their rights and to their way of living is coming from the very billionaires who are funding them!
How else can you explain why the Tea Party has supported Gov. Walker’s attack on citizen rights? I thought that their whole mantra was protecting liberty against big government? The real agenda in Wisconsin was revealed by the “prank call” discussion of Gov. Walker with the fake billionaire donor. After discussing tactics (which included hiring “troublemakers” to create violent confrontations at the demonstrations) they agreed that Wisconsin was the “first domino” leading to the destruction of unions across the country. Even after this revealing call, Tea Party members, Republicans and even some Democrats still side with the same people who are attacking their own liberties and standard of living.
Instead of collaborating with the real enemies of liberty, these libertarians, Tea Party members – whatever they want to be called – should be demonstrating with the unions.
What happened in Wisconsin is scary.
Yesterday I was at a union rally in Manhattan in front of City Hall protesting the budget cuts and layoff casualties (which included me). I came wearing a 1930s-style newsboy hat and I carried a bindle. No cigar for guessing who gave me the idea to protest something by dressing up in some way, albeit in a more subtle manner in this case…
Unions are great, and workers’ rights will be respected only as long as they’re around. As I speak, there is a week-long protest called “Bloombergville” (a parody of the term “Hooverville” but in reference to Mayor Bloomberg) outside of City Hall– these people are literally camping out there for a week. If I didn’t have a cat to feed, I might have done it too.