Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spotlight on Solidarity

On April 4, actions will be taken by unions, student groups and human rights organizations across the country. The purpose of the actions is to show solidarity with all working people and to commemorate the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's death. (A shocking number of people don't know Dr. King died while supporting the Memphis sanitation workers' strike.)

Each group will commemorate the day in its own way, and we're likely to see some creativity. We've already seen some original tactics fighting the War on Workers (WOW) in Wisconsin. People from all over the world  ordered pizza for protesters from Ian's, a pizza parlor across from the Capitol.

Newlywed Heather Allen auctioned her wedding dress on eBay to raise money for the 51 Fund, which supports people on the frontlines in the WOW.  According to the NEA,
Remember the bride who, along with her groom, braved snow and an imminent wedding to protest alongside tens of thousands in Madison, Wisc., on behalf of public school teachers and other American workers a couple weeks ago.
Now she’s auctioning off on eBay the gown made famous on websites including this one and and the news, and donating all of the proceeds to a fund established to aid citizens protesting the attacks on the American worker and middle class.
Here's another cool action: Teamsters Local 364 participated yesterday in a rally (and press conference) at a church that runs a food pantry in South Bend, Ind. A Notre Dame professor told the press that a proposed right-to-work (for LESS) bill in Indiana would harm working families. Participants brought bags of groceries to help feed low-income wage earners who use the church's pantry -- and to show that food pantries will need lots more help if  anti-worker bills become law.

Shows of support from around the world have been electrifying. We've seen a photo of an Egyptian protester in Tahir Square holding a sign saying, "Egypt Supports Wisconsin." We read the statement of solidarity from the 700,000-member Polish union Solidarnosc to AFSCME that said,
...Dear Friends, please rest assured that our thoughts are with you during your protest, as we truly do hope that your just fight for decent working and living conditions, for the workers’ rights will be successful... 
Just this week we received a message of Solidarity from Bangladesh. Under a photo of Bangladeshi workers holding a giant banner that says, "Workers of the World Unite. Fighting Workers of the USA -- We Are With You. Uphold the Basic Rights. National Garment Workers Federation." A message from the president of the NGWF said,
...We applaud the workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere who have taken to the streets and Capitols to reject the attempts to deny them of their rights to collectively bargain, and to decide on the conditions of their labor.
Their resistance has been inspirational to the labor movement and to working people all over the globe.

Further, we reject attempts by governments to balance budgets at the expense of working people...