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Preview: Industrial Workers of the World - Madison GMB

Industrial Workers of the World - Madison GMB

This is the news page for our Madison Central General Membership Branch. To get an overview about our contact info, news and events, please visit our home page.


Wisconsin's New Free Speech Restrictions

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 20:27:24 +0000

(image) Since the February uprising in Wisconsin, which began with a three-week occupation of the Capitol in Madison, the building has been home to a variety of demonstrations and political actions.  What perhaps stands out the most is the Solidarity Sing-along, which draws upwards of 100 participants and has been going on for more than 40 weeks.  The singers gather in the rotunda each weekday at noon to sing songs that include both traditional labor and protest songs and some new songs penned in the months since Governor Scott Walker first introduced his plans to bust the public employee unions and impose devastating austerity measures on the working class of Wisconsin.

In recent months police have begun arresting and ticketing people for trivial "violations", such as wearing hats or sunglasses in the Senate and Assembly galleries, holding signs, or exercising their right (protected by the Wisconsin constitution) to record legislative sessions.  These restrictions have apparently been a lead-up to the real crackdown.  Just last week, the Walker administration announced a new policy that will severely curtail the free speech rights exercised by the Solidarity Sing-along and other groups who use the Capitol building. 

The new rules require groups of four or more people to apply for a permit from the DOA at least 72 hours in advance “for all activity and displays in state buildings”.  Groups can be charged $50 per hour per police officer if law enforcement is determined to be necessary.  Payment for law enforcement could be required in advance as part of the permit process and protesters could face additional charges for liability insurance.  The rules are vague and arbitrary, and so far the administration has refused to clarify them or answer questions from citizens about how they will be enforced, leaving room for abuse by police and DOA officials.

These rules are obviously aimed at making free speech inconvenient and restrictively expensive for most people.  Free speech is a hard-won right for Americans.  Between 1907 and 1916, free speech demonstrations lead by the IWW swept the western United States.  In Spokane, the Industrial Worker published a call to all workers to defend their rights: "Wanted -- Men to Fill the Jails”.  And fill the jails they did!  As one Wobbly got dragged from the soapbox and arrested, another would take his place and the call would go out for more “footloose rebels” from all over the country to hop on a train and come join the fight.  The struggle can be seen as a victory as it eventually led to the founding of the American Civil Liberties Union.  The Wisconsin chapter of the ACLU is currently working to help defend the right of Wisconsin citizens to speak freely in the Capitol.

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Wisconsin: What now?

Sun, 19 Jun 2011 18:30:10 +0000

(image) By Juan Conatz -, June 19, 2011

Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled a lower judge's injunction against the collective bargaining law, allowing it to go into effect at the end of this month. The budget bill also passed the assembly and senate, marking it a twin defeat for the movement here that emerged in February.

It was April since the last time I wrote on what was going on in Madison, so this is a rough update of what has developed since then.

Supreme Court Election
As the cries for 'general strike' died down and became limited to smaller far left groups and isolated public sector workers, the strategy, tactic and rhetoric of the recall and Supreme Court election achieved almost absolute dominance.

Although the April 4th 'Day of Action' called by the AFL-CIO was worded vaguely enough to warrant a number of different interpretations1, in Madison, it was the equivalent of a get out the vote rally. Union leaders and even Jesse Jackson was wheeled out to give their canned speeches telling us to fight for our rights through the ballot box to vote for liberal Supreme Court candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg. Even MLK and the Memphis sanitation workers' memory was brought up.2

In the end, despite significant outpouring by the Democratic Party, the unions and their volunteers, Kloppenburg lost in a heavily contested vote that included a recount and accusations of voter fraud.

Recall & Demobilization
In tandem with the Supreme Court election mobilization, volunteers hit the state trying to get signatures to file for a recall election against several Republican state senators. The daily rallies trickled down to weekly rallies, which then became biweekly rallies. There was a near demobilization, as the collective bargaining law was hung up in the courts and the demonstrations attracted fewer and fewer people. Unions stopped busing people in from around and out of state. People stopped traveling to Madison on the weekends. The various groups stopped bringing speakers in. The meetings of the activist coalition groups seemed to stall as well, with a general feeling of 'What now?'.

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It Started In Wisconsin: Labor Fights Back Across The U.S.

Sat, 26 Mar 2011 16:49:15 +0000

By Diane Krauthamer When public school teacher Kathy Ponzer started protesting state budget cuts in February, she didn’t think she would be igniting a mass labor movement. But when she heard that the state would be taking away her rights and the wages and that she, her three children and her fellow teachers need in order to survive, she knew she had no choice but to fight this battle. “Most of us make less than $50,000 a year. We’re not living the fat life, we’re just making a living,” she said. Now, Kathy is protesting recently-passed legislation that imposes severe budget cuts and strips workers of collective bargaining rights, amongst other things. “It is going to hurt everybody,” she said. On March 11, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law a “Budget Repair Bill” which strips public-sector unions of collective bargaining rights regarding all workplace issues other than basic wages. With the new legislation, workers will not have a legal say in their pensions, their healthcare plans, workplace safety, or any other issue. Walker says the bill is estimated to save $30 million to help pay down a $137 million budget deficit, but the cuts are being taken directly out of the public sector. Workers, in turn, will be paying off the deficit out of their own pockets. Walker unveiled his budget repair bill on Feb. 11, 2011. In the days following, unions and public workers mobilized opposition to the bill, and by Feb. 15 large-scale protests took place, with thousands of demonstrators occupying the Capitol and millions more holding solidarity rallies in cities throughout the country. On Feb. 17, the situation escalated as 14 senate Democrats fled to Illinois to block passage of the bill. In order to pass any fiscal-related measure, 20 senators are needed to make quorum, and the remaining eight Republicans could not fit the bill. In the week that followed, massive protests continued with demonstrators and support spreading throughout the world. By Feb. 23, the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL), a federation of over 97 labor organizations representing 45,000 workers, endorsed to educate and prepare for a general strike—a resolution which the IWW played a key role in endorsing. As the people of Wisconsin continued to mobilize, so too did the politicians. At 1:00 a.m. on Feb. 25, the Republicans in the state assembly outnumbered the Democrats and abruptly voted to pass the bill, with Democrats and protestors chanting “Shame!” as they exited the chambers. Massive demonstrations followed, yet the remaining senators unanimously passed a resolution finding the missing 14 Democrats in contempt, threatening to layoff and arrest them if they returned back home. read more[...]

General Strike in Wisconsin!

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 03:18:08 +0000

(image) Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's move to deny public sector workers collective bargaining rights is nothing less than the latest round in the continuing and escalating assault on the working class by the forces of capital!

Recall elections and protest marches alone will not reverse this trend.  The only recourse is a General Strike!

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General Strike Pamphlet

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 00:32:01 +0000

(image) What Does Any of This Have to Do With A General Strike & With Wisconsin?

In the recently released prank call by a journalist pretending to be billionaire David Koch, Scott Walker said, “All week there's been 15-30,000 [protesters] a day, but I remind our lawmakers that there's 5.5 million people in this state and just because a bunch of guys who can jump off work because of their union[s]...doesn't mean the rest of your people are with you.” The truth is that these protesters are not “guys who can jump off work” – they are students, activists, union and non-union workers from the public and private sectors, Wisconsin families, and members of the religious community. Additionally, unionized and non-unionized workers both risk job security by taking time to protest. Essentially, Governor Walker doesn't think that the protesters represent the rest of the state. He thinks that the majority of Wisconsin agrees with his attempt to strip workers of basic rights. He is wrong. Despite facing opposition from millions, Walker still won't budge from his position on this issue. It will take something bigger from the unions, and from the working-class as a whole: a general strike.

A general strike will show Walker that millions of people are willing to fight his agenda

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CNT solidarity with Madison

Sun, 27 Feb 2011 18:28:46 +0000

(image) The National Committee of Confederación Nacional de Trabajo CNT, Spain would like to take this opportunity to greet the American workers who have taken a stand against aggressions to their rights as laborers and especially to their right to organize. We believe the workers' struggle has to take place in their own midst, not dictated from above by their bosses, not from the upper hemispheres by their governmental “representatives” and not from their union “leaders”. As Madison is showing, the workers' can defend themselves just fine, all by themselves, are not lacking in solidarity and know how to react when attacked.

As anarchosyndicalists we believe in that the workers need to join and fight together, pick their own battles, decide how to fight those battles and, ultimately, control their own jobs and work-places. Our revolutionary aims – the overthrow of capitalism and its faithful servant the state and the establishment of anarchy – do not prevent us from standing with and behind any grass-roots workers' struggle, anywhere in the world as and when they arise and we would like to do so now, with the public servants of Wisconsin who have rightly rejected Governor Walker's poorly veiled assault on the rights they earned through more than a 100 years of battles in the streets and in the shops.

We hope that this battle succeeds in stopping the Governor's plans and that it rides the momentum to go one step further and ask for more, take more, take what is rightfully its own. To do that, you don't need leaders telling you what to do, not leaders in the big establishment unions, not leaders on the capitol. You just need each other, you need horizontal organization, mutual aid and self-management. The right to organize is the right to control over our own work and, fundamentally, the right to a free human society.

Buenventura Durruti said in 1936 that the workers weren't worried about “the ruins, because we're destined to inherit the earth and we carry a new world in our hearts...a world that is growing right now.”

All of our solidarity in your struggle to plant the seeds for that new world.

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Mr. Block lives! - Joe the wannabe Scab Plumber in Madison

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 00:10:50 +0000

(image) By Arthur J Miller, IWW

I was watching the TV news about the protests in Madison last Saturday, they conveniently did not not mention there were far more pro-union protesters than they were anti-union protesters. I guess that fact was not news worthy to them. The news showed a short clip of Joe the scab plumper speaking and the damn fool said "We owe the unions nothing!" Looking at his bald head I had to think the man had more hair upon his head than he had brains.

First off Joe is not a real plumper, at best he is a plumber's helper. By union standards he did not go through a plumber's apprenticeship nor is he a licensed plumper, so he is not qualified to work as a plumber.

Yes, there are little plumping shops that under bid union shops and for less money you get less quality work. And even someone like Joe doing the work that he was never trained to do. I hope he is a better plumber than he is a politician.

Well Joe, the wannabe plumper, meet me, Arthur the pipefitter. I am rated by the union as a journeyman and I have over 30 years in the pipe trades. Yea, the media likes a fool like who they play up as a worker and kisses the bosses backside. But you sure the hell don't speak for me, a real pipe trades worker.

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Fri, 25 Feb 2011 21:24:34 +0000


Police in Madison REFUSE Walker's command to remove demonstrators from the Capital.  The Police have vowed to sleep at the Capital tonight!  Gov. Walker has a history of using private security forces, specifically Wackenhut .


Open Letter To Stephen Colbert

Fri, 25 Feb 2011 20:12:49 +0000

Madison IWW

For Immediately Release:

The Working Class is the Colbert Nation.  We are assembling in Madison, WI.  Come and stand with us in our hour of need?

And that's the word!


South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL) delegates endorse a General Strike!

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 23:33:11 +0000

(image) Fellow Workers and Supporters:

The following motions were passed by the SCFL Monday February 21st:

Motion 1: “The SCFL endorses a statewide general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his ”Budget Repair Bill,” and requests the Education Committee immediately begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a general strike.”

Motion 2: “The SCFL goes on record as opposing all cuts contained in Walkers ”Budget Repair Bill,” including, but not limited to, curtailed bargaining rights and reduced wages, benefits, pensions, funding for public education and Medicare.”

Please pass supporting motions in your council and organize committees to begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a general strike.


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