MADISON, Wis. – A sunny Saturday found thousands of workers rallying and marching, the conclusion to a week of activities leading up to the anniversary of the night Gov. Scott Walker pushed his anti-worker collective bargaining law through the legislature. Wisconsinites stood up and proved that once again, they are ready to fight back.
The goal is to ‘reclaim Wisconsin’ and ‘recall Walker.’ Signs emblazoned with such slogans could be seen even in the small neighborhoods that lay just outside of Madison – proof that Walker’s harsh cuts to public services and assaults on union rights have agitated workers far and wide.
With a reported 62,000 demonstrators, the rally was a sight to behold. Workers from all walks of life marched around the capital, declaring, “Workers rights are human rights!”
“I’m standing up and fighting back!” called one worker from the crowd. “I refuse to accept Walker’s bad choices for Wisconsin.”
Another worker added, “The only way to compete with the one percent is to stand together and form a network. It’s time for corporations to stop forcing the 99 percent to carry their burden.”
Jen Leonard, a student and mother, remarked, “It’s all about mobilization on a grassroots level; keeping up the enthusiasm.” She, like the rest of the working class, felt the pressures Walker has put on her. “I was going to be a high school teacher,” she added. “Now I’m two years behind [on reaching that goal]. Everything is so uncertain. It’s hard.”
That’s because a year of Walker’s anti-labor agenda has left its mark on Wisconsin. In addition to attacking collective bargaining rights, his policies have allowed tax cuts for corporations, at the expense of the 99 percent.
“You shouldn’t have to be wealthy or lucky to have healthcare,” said Kelly Albright, a mother of three. “If we don’t stop Scott Walker now, he will destroy Wisconsin. We must repeal the tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations, and make them pay their fair share.”
“For some of us, it’s not a matter of choice,” said Reza Mehrparasb, a scientist whose son suffers from a disability. “It’s a matter of life and death.” And if workers aren’t successful in kicking out Walker, he suggested, it may embolden the right wing to launch similar attacks on worker rights throughout the country.
“This is serious,” he stressed. “Walker is going for the jugular of the working class.
“Call your local union. Tell them to send their best organizers.” And, to the People’s World, he added, “All comrades from Illinois should come up here and help. This is a desperate situation.”
“If we don’t win this for workers now,” he concluded, “it’s going to set a bad example for the rest of the country.”
Photo: “Wisconsin workers march forward.” Blake Deppe/PW