Monday, February 28, 2011

Where Have All The Journalist Gone?

Unless you are particularly plugged in to the labor movement, you would have no idea that the crowds in Madison, WI have steadily grown every day, surpassing 100,000 over the weekend.  So what was the pressing story on the news shows this morning?

Was James Franco under the influence at the Oscars last night?

You can't make this stuff up.  Quality reporting like this makes me wonder where all the reporters have gone?  Oh, that's right - they disappeared with the dying print media industry.  This is the biggest labor story in Wisconsin history, and the most galvanizing story for the labor movement since George Meany was still around over at the AFL-CIO, and the MSM doesn't even bat an eye. 

 Simple.  Follow the Money.

In Solidarity,


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Growing Numbers in Madison

According to Talking Points Memo, the crowd at the Wisconsin Capitol were larger than the 70k that gathered last weekend.  This should set up an interesting showdown tomorrow, as state officials have said they will attempt to close the Capitol building at 4pm on Sunday.  Prior to this point, protesters had been allowed to stay inside around the clock.

I will be headed to Columbus, OH, again on Tuesday for another rally in opposition to S.B. 5, which would strip state employees of their collective bargaining rights.  If you are anywhere near Madison, WI, or Columbus, OH, please consider joining us in support of workers' rights.

In Solidarity,


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Solidarity in Ohio

I just got back from spending the day inside the capitol building in Columbus, Ohio.  What I saw inside was a wonderful display of solidarity between many labor organizations.  This stood in stark contrast of the GOP's refusal to allow the citizens of Ohio to have their voices heard.  First, the locked down the capitol building, only allowing 500-700 people inside, while thousands rallied on the steps of the capitol.  Not to be denied, those of us inside made sure that they could hear us inside the chamber, as debate on Senate Bill 5 began. 

I got to shake hands with Rep. Dennis Kucinich, as well as former Gov. Ted Strickland.  I stood for several hours, and am tired, but all in all, this was an amazing first day with SEIU/1199 WV/KY/OH.  Hopefully, more people will continue to stand with the public service employees in Ohio and Wisconsin.  Today, Gov. Mitch Daniels in Indiana asked the state GOP to table efforts to strip collective bargaining rights from public service employees.  Gov. Rick Scott in Florida followed suit as well.  Now, someone just needs to get the memo through to Kasich and Walker.

In Solidarity,


Monday, February 21, 2011

Heading to Columbus

My first day on the job will be spent in Columbus to rally against Ohio Senate Bill 5, which would strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights.  Not a bad way to start off!

In Solidarity,


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Libyan Democracy

Apparently, Libya's 2nd largest city is under control of the pro-democracy movement, thanks to a brave division of the Libyan military:

Let's hope the rest of the military follows suit and forces this tyrant out!

In Solidarity,


Wisconsin Update

I got a call from my friend Chris Townsend, National Political Director for the United Electrical Workers(UE), who has spent the last several days on the ground in Wisconsin.  He informed me that he counted at least 37 national unions being represented in Madison.    Townsend also mentioned that what struck him was the amazing sense of solidarity between groups that you wouldn't normally expect.  Seniors and young people, and thousands of Wisconsin citizens who are not seasoned activists who have shown up to unmask what this really is - an attack on the right of workers to collectively bargain in the workplace.

AFSCME has agreed to the concessions Walker has asked for, but he doesn't care about that.  It was never about a budget gap - which Walker created purposely to bust up the union - it was always about taking away the collective bargaining rights.  The citizens of Wisconsin have realized that, which is why they are coming by the thousands to fight this thing.

Here are a few pictures from Madison:

In Solidarity,


Saturday, February 19, 2011

60,000 in Wisconsin

Apparently, Madison Police now estimate the crowd at the state capitol at 60,000.  As I said earlier, because of the implications this has for both public and ultimately, private sector employees, this is the biggest direct labor struggle in several decades.  Every labor organization I can think of is coming together to fight this battle.  From the AFL-CIO, to Change to Win, from UE, to IWW, labor is united once again.  I think it's overdue, but a great sign nonetheless.

It's not just labor this time either.  Religious groups and community action groups are coming together to stand in solidarity with their friends and neighbors in Wisconsin.  If you are anywhere near Madison, please consider going to the capitol.  If you are out of the area, please contact your legislators and ask them to publicly stand up for the good folks in Wisconsin.

In Solidarity,


Strikes in Bahrain

The Bahraini Teacher's Union, as well as the main trade union in Bahrain, have called for general strikes tomorrow, 2/20/10, in efforts to push forward the pro-democracy protests that have been ongoing for more than a week.  This will be an interesting balancing act for the US due to the large naval base in Bahrain.

تضامنا مع أخواتنا وإخواننا في البحرين


Friday, February 18, 2011

Why Wisconsin and Ohio Matter for All Workers

The ongoing events in Wisconsin and Ohio involving the attempts to roll back workers' rights for public employees should have the attention of all workers, public and private.  Why does this matter for those of us who either work in the private sector, or don't live in one of the aforementioned states?  This matters because if Gov. Walker in Wisconsin, and Gov. Kasich in Ohio are successful in nullifying decades of workers' rights, every other union busting, tea bagging, right-wing governor will be right behind them.

For those who are in the private sector, and think this doesn't have any importance to them, consider this:

If the collective bargaining rights are done away with in the public sector, which is much more organized than the private sector, how long do you think it will be before they come to take away your rights?

For my friends in the labor movement, especially my fellow young workers who have talked about being ready to fight, old-school union style:

The time is now!

If you are anywhere close to Wisconsin or Madison, I urge you to go join the protests.  There isn't a better opportunity or cause to get behind right now.

In Solidarity,


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Country Roads, Take Me home?

This past weekend, I accepted an Administrative Organizer position with SEIU/1199 WV/KY/OH, working out of their Huntington, WV office.  I am very excited to get started, although the next month will be a bit on the wild side, as my wife and I try to find housing, scrape together cash for movers, deposits, tie up loose ends, and enjoy several 5 hour drives back to Brunswick, MD.

This opportunity is the perfect match for my abilities and what I desire to do within the labor movement.  I will have the opportunity to represent members in the healthcare industry, which has been my background with the VA.  I will get to learn from the best about contract negotiations, and arbitration hearings.  1199 has a reputation for its militant, active membership, and I look forward to being a part of it.

Of course, I will continue my work on the Virtual Picket Line, as well as my coverage of the labor movement.

Here's to the next step!

In Solidarity,


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More Strikes in Egypt

If these workers can coordinate with the massive protests that are ongoing, this could be very useful in uniting areas of the country that have not been as involved so far.  If this happens, it becomes impossible for Mubarak to stay in office.

In Solidarity,


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Legislative & Labor Goals: 2011

As you may have heard, Punsxutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year, so it appears we are in for a little more winter before spring rolls around.  In similar fashion, President Obama did not see his shadow this past November, and it looks like we are in for at least two years of political winter.

Even with the House taking a hard right turn, we should not, as Dante said, "Abandon all hope, ye lost who enter here."  In fact, I believe that the labor community should push for the following incremental gains that I believe can be achieved:

1.  Striker Replacement Bill - This is an item that most of the GOP would rather have their granny kidnapped before they would support.  However, if the Democrats in the Senate wanted to, they could attach this item to the Senate version of any popular economic bill passed by the conservative House.  When the bill goes to conference, the GOP would have to pick between killing their very popular bill, or letting the striker replacement amendment through.  Obviously, it would be imperative to be wise with the bill selection.

2. Develop better relationships between union Locals and the University communities -  The SLAP(Student Labor Action Project) is a program designed to get students involved in the labor community.  Unfortunately, it has not been developed widely enough, and has not been integrated enough at the Local level.  Too often, we think of the University communities only at election time, and not enough on a regular basis for social action, etc.  One of the issues that kept surfacing during the AFL-CIO Young Workers' Summit last year was the fact that students are tired of the labor community(and the DNC, for that matter) only trotting them out when they need them for a general election or a photo shoot.  Students are both our future, and our most active participants.  Every union Local should have a liaison to the local youth and college communities.

More on this later.

In Solidarity,