Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Union-Busting in the Midwest

Call me what you will, but I hear "union" and it makes me think of the US's days of manufacturing strength, of the power in numbers, and of the little people banding together to support each other against those wishing to exploit them. This class struggle is something that is particularly pertinent  to remember, in my opinion, when we know that it's the billionaire Koch brothers who have been financing the governor of Wisconsin and encouraging him to take down the unions there.

So when I hear on the radio about various Tea Party-led efforts to take unions down in Wisconsin and Ohio, with a focus on the public sector, it makes me wonder how our supposedly democratic values have led us to this. And simultaneously, in Michigan, the Detroit schools are getting their legs cut out from under them -- just as I marveled about California's cuts to the UC system: when has cutting back on education ever helped a people succeed?

I may be especially sensitive to these events because I have been in a TA union for the last six years, and that union has made sure I was paid fairly, received health care, and has generally made me feel that in a big system, I have a voice.  I feel lucky, as what happened at New York University under President Bush, stripping grad students of the right to organize,  removes most of the few rights we have as employees, and any pull we might have.

The Huffington Post has a cool feature: best signs from the protest in Wisconsin! I think the first one is my favorite. I just hope that the power of the protests in the Middle East and the American Midwest sends a message that a nation is not a group of individuals, but a collective, and that we are powerful when we stand together.

Some inspiration from Norma Rae:

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