Wisconsin Republicans and their extremist corporate backers may have pulled a fast one last night, but we predict their victory will be short-lived.
Thumbing their noses at the unprecedented, united outpouring of protest by the working people of Wisconsin, state Senate Republicans bypassed rules and democratic process to stage a Republicans-only vote to destroy collective bargaining rights for public workers.
Gov. Scott Walker launched the attack on worker rights as part of his state budget plan. Fiscal measures require approval by 20 members of the 33-member state Senate. The union-busting Republicans could not get 20 votes by the rules. So they separated the collective bargaining issue from the budget so that 18 Republicans could OK the bill in a rump, no-debate, session. Their action proved the hypocrisy of Walker's claim that his move to curb union rights was necessitated by budget problems.
"Senate Republicans have exercised the nuclear option to ram through their bill attacking Wisconsin's working families in the dark of night," Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt said after the vote.
With these actions, he said, Republican leaders "have demonstrated they will do or say anything to pass their extreme agenda that attacks Wisconsin's working families."
This latest cold-blooded backroom maneuver strikes a blow at deep-rooted American feelings about democracy and basic rights of working people.
And the people of Wisconsin have shown they will not take it lying down. Over the past month, their united, creative and determined grassroots Cheesehead spirit has electrified the nation. The key has been their "special sauce" - breadth and unity. Public workers, private sector workers, students, retirees, Democrats, Republicans, independents, farmers - "America's Dairyland" has marched and rallied in bitter cold temperatures, sat in, camped out, bought pizza for protesters, phoned their state reps, talked to their neighbors - you name it - everybody in, nobody out in this mass popular struggle.
And they are not about to stop.
A movement to recall Republican lawmakers and the governor is gaining steam. Just three state senators need to be recalled to end Republican control of the Senate. Another immediate focus is mobilizing to elect liberal assistant attorney general Joanne Kloppenburg to the state Supreme Court on April 5. She would replace a right-wing Republican and tip the court balance toward worker rights in key rulings. Expect mass actions of all kinds in the coming days and weeks. And as it has been for the past several weeks, the key ingredient will be that "special sauce." A broad and united people's movement can never be defeated.
Americans across the country need to keep the support going and growing for Wisconsin workers. And perhaps the best way to do that is to build the worker rights movement in every one of the 50 states.
Photo: People's World