Monday, February 21, 2011

Teamsters Take Protests to 38 States

Teamster gathering place in Madison.
Teamsters throughout the country are mobilizing today to protest the assault on workers' rights even as an Egyptian union leader sent a message of solidarity from Cairo. There are more than 100 rallies planned this week in 38 states this week.

The protest continues in Wisconsin today. Wisconsin, though, isn't the only state where new governors and legislatures are considering right-to-work (for LESS) laws, eliminating project-labor agreements, killing prevailing wage laws and repealing minimum wage and child labor laws. In Congress, Republicans are pushing legislation to make it harder for workers to unionize.

Kamal Abbas, general coordinator of the independent Egyptian Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services (CTUWS), posted a video message from Cairo for American workers. It's on Michael Moore's website. Speaking from Liberation Square, where many Egyptian youths were killed, he said,
From this place, I want you to know that we stand with you as you stood with us.
I want you to know that no power can challenge the will of the people when they believe in their rights. When they raise their voices loud and clear and struggle against exploitation.
No one believed that our revolution could succeed against the strongest dictatorship in the region. But in 18 days the revolution achieved the victory of the people. When the working class of Egypt joined the revolution on 9 and 10 February, the dictatorship was doomed and the victory of the people became inevitable.
We want you to know that we stand on your side. Stand firm and don't waiver. Don't give up on your rights. Victory always belongs to the people who stand firm and demand their just rights.
Ohio is catching on fire as "No on SB 5" events are planned today in Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Youngstown and Toledo. A good summary, with details, can be found here.

In Indianapolis, Teamsters are among the crowd of workers lined up outside the Statehouse to protest a bill that would severely weaken unions, stripping many of the ability to negotiate wages and work rules. Our brothers and sisters from Indiana and Northern Kentucky locals will join the thousands expected to be there.

The protests are gaining support from all quarters (including Egypt). The president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce said he's siding with the protesters. He sent an email to his members saying
Given this state's long history of collective bargaining, policy changes of this magnitude should be thoroughly debated for an adequate period of time, in good faith by both sides, with all potential consequences considered. Currently, that is not happening.
We also learned from Twitter (don't know if it's true, but sure hope so) that Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got turned away from lunch at Merchant, a restaurant in Madison.