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As the son of a union organizer and as former union member, when I heard that the national guard was being called out I knew deep in my bones what it meant.   If you know the history you hear the dog whistle loud and clear. The governor was threatening to loose the attack dogs and break the union by force.   This Saloon article is much better written than I can do on short notice.  I'll tell you a little story then please read it.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has declared war on state workers, almost literally.  

 Saloon.Com-War Room  "What Wisconsin's Governor is Really Threatening- Feb-18.

I was born in a union family.  My father left the family farm before I was born to work in a defense related industry during WWII.  In his case it was a textile plant that made Rayon which was used to make tires and also parachutes.  Even with only and 8th grade education, which was very common at the time in the rural south, he quickly saw the benefits of being a union member.  Over time he was elected shop steward which if you don't know is the person who represents the union members of a shop, a department if you will.  In a big plant like this there are lots of shops.  

A shop steward organizes and educates the shop and represents members who have grievances about working conditions and the like.  He later joined the bargaining committee which is exactly what it sounds like.  They bargain with the company for the next contract and when they failed to win a good contract in 1961 he helped organize a strike that shut down the plant and lasted about three weeks as I remember.  

I was 13 and stood with him on the picket line which was a proud moment because I recognized it as a father to son torch passing moment.  I had learned union history and that union organizing and strikes were a dangerous business.  I learned that men and women had bled and died for the right to organize and collectively bargain for hours and working conditions we take for granted, for the end of child labor, and a living wage and an end to the "Company Store" that held people in virtual slavery, paid vacations, a pension so you didn't have to die in poverty, and for health care so we could go to a doctor when we were sick.  These are union innovators and never forget that those innovations came at a price.    

Goons, thugs, the dreaded Pinkertons, off duty cops still armed and in uniform, attacked people, killed people, over and over.  It was the patriotic thing to do.  Unions were Un-American, Communist, Socialist.  Laws were passed.  Speeches where given.  (Remember that business always got to organize.  Theirs are called chambers and associations and PACs which they use to obstruct, and lobby, to campaign and buy their seat at the table.  Nobody ever questions that.  Not then and not now.)  

And the National Guard was called in to break the strike though intimidation and force.  This is no different what-so-ever than the thugs that the Iranian government uses against the Greens who are Un-Iranian, and all that.  Or the thugs Mubarak against the demonstrations which were actually begun by mostly women union workers in 2008.   This is the history of labor in the US and around the world.  We fight over and over for the same rights.   It's what I hear, it's what I fear, it's what I dread when I hear the national guard is being called out in this context.  

This would be the first time in nearly 80 years that the National Guard would be used to break a strike by Wisconsin workers, and the first time in over 40 years that the National Guard would be used against public workers anywhere in the country. The last time was the Memphis sanitation strike in 1968, just before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

To understand the visceral, emotional nature of this outcry, you have to understand the history of the National Guard and the labor movement --

The governor's action in Wisconsin isn't about saving money.  It's about busting the unions.  If he just needed to make some cuts he could have done that through negotiation.  This bill is 144 pages long and only a couple of pages deal with the economics.  The rest are purely designed to take all rights to organize away from public employees (not just state workers) in Wisconsin.  That's the bottom line to the whole dirty business.  

Union workers do live in the real world.  Workers in Washington State have accepted cuts.  Nobody likes it but there are no riots, no demonstrations, no threatened strikes.  With a Democratic Governor and Legislature there is no attempt to bust the unions.  The legislature raised taxes last year and some of those was overturned by the initiative process with well funded lies told by big business.  Our governor and legislature tried to do the right thing but they were out flanked. This year there was no choice but to cut deeply but the unions are in tact.  They are still there to enforce work standards and when the economy turns around they know their turn will once again come.

Please read the article and learn what sicking the National Guard on workers means and why what's going on in Wisconsin is against everything we stand for as a nation.  

Tonight, while I'm afraid that this will not end well with when the Tea Party agitators show up on Friday, I am so proud of the people in Wisconsin and the guts they have shown.  Although it was co-opted by the civil rights movement in the 60's the song We Shall Over Come is is a union song.  I know that if we stand together, as we always have, working men and women will overcome and stamp out this fire before it spreads to state after state.    

Yes We Can.  Not Yes HE Can.  Yes We Can overcome these idiots.

 That's: Saloon War Room What Wisconsin's Governor is Really Threatening

Originally posted to Mentatmark on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 02:07 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Community Spotlight.


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