FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The War in Madison

Day five and six in Madison and momentum continues to build as finally Milwaukee Public School teachers, the largest district in the state, called in sick en masse and shut down the district.  The nation has now been inspired by Wisconsinites as they put their jobs on the line to defend the right to collectively bargain for public employees.

Thursday’s “strike” by the Democratic Senators — they hopped on a bus and decamped to Rockford, IL to deny quorum in the State Senate —  showed that if the people act, the leaders will follow.  The same phenomenon has occurred within the teachers’ unions both in local unions and statewide.  The leadership of both WEAC (Wisconsin Education Association Council) the state-wide organization and the largest local, MTEA (Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association), have grudgingly endorsed job actions after members took matters into their own hands and starting calling in on the second day of the demonstrations (Tuesday).  In the case of WEAC, the leadership followed the lead of the Madison local MTI (Madison Teachers Incorporated), who went out on their own without any prodding from above.  Madison Teachers and support staff stayed out all week and meet Sunday in a mass meeting to decide what to do Monday and the coming week.  In Milwaukee one school took the lead on Tuesday and by Wednesday night the MTEA leadership had no choice but to endorse action, which led to a system-wide shut down by Friday.

35 smaller school districts across the state have also been closed or had opening times pushed back as teachers realized that now is the time to defend their collective bargaining rights.

Saturday morning broke with a crisp arctic cold but everyone in the movement was warmed by the realization we had now gone international.  One picture in particular inspired us all: that of a young Egyptian man in Tahrir Square with a sign stating “Egypt Supports Wisconsin Workers: One World, One Pain.”

By Wednesday MSNBC picked up the story and egofest was on as each of the liberal talking heads tried to position themselves as the savior of the people.  Big Ed and Maddow showed they have a little fight in them as they recognized the historic nature of the moment but by the end of the week the Oprah like narratives emerged and for Maddow it was all about the Democratic Party.  Even Ed knew this was baloney as he has rightly asked, again and again, where are the Democrats?  Jesse Jackson showed up on Friday and seems to be the only national Democratic stalwart with any links to the popular movement left.  Obama’s comments were typically milktoast in an interview with a Milwaukee TV journalist stating it “seemed like” Walker was going out of his was to bust the union.

The buzz on Friday was a little ominous as talk of a mass Tea Party rally irritated the crowd.  The local and national media salivated as visions of hippies in dreadlocks screaming at Joe the Plumber danced in their heads. Sarah Palin was rumored to be coming as she tweeted her “Union Brothers and Sisters” to come to Madison to support union busting Governor “Snot” Walker. But boy were they disappointed as “CHAOS IN MADISON” became 80,000 mild mannered middle of the road Midwesterners came to the capitol and packed the streets in an orderly fashion to show solidarity with the public sector workers of Wisconsin while a few befuddled white dudes told them they were making too much.

Even the Tea Party folk seemed quite humbled as their paltry numbers (a thousand or two?) were dwarfed by the mass of determination that encircled them.  The goal of the organizers and police was to keep the two sides apart by dividing the capitol in half but because our crowd was so large this became an impossibility and the crowd, like the rank and file members of the unions across the state, created their own path and made history in Madison once again.

This week will be a test as many will be pressured to return to work and the renegade Senators tire of phone calls from Good Morning America.

CHRISTOPHER FONS is a Social Studies teacher in Milwaukee and a member of the Milwaukee Teacher’s Education Association (MTEA). He can be reached at fonsca@gmail.com

 

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
Jessicah Pierre
A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide
George Burchett
Revolutionary Journalism
Dan Bacher
U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary
Nicky Reid
The Strange Success of Russiagate
Chris Gilbert
Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches
Todd Larsen
The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience
Kelly Martin
How the White House is Spinning Earth Day
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Guadalcanal and Bloody Ridge, Solomon Islands
David Kattenburg
Trudeau’s Long Winter
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail