March 11, 2011- Unions and progressives suffered a tremendous defeat in Wisconsin this week. Out of this defeat, however, may come significant victories – if a broad-based social movement emerges.
En route to Madison, I listened to Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) strenuously objecting to the Republicans' maneuver to strip pubic employees of collective bargaining rights. I listened to 18 Republican Senators vote to kill public employee unions.
Absolute despair engulfed me – my forty-seven years on this planet seemed for naught. I grew up in a union family. My dad struck for teacher rights in 1973. My mom enjoys a comfortable retirement because of the teachers union. I once worked as a union representative for public employees. In the blink of an eye, Republicans wiped out my family's history.
I arrived at the Capitol just before access was shut down to the public (full access was later restored when pro-union workers successfully maneuvered through windows and doors obstructed by police, until the police relented and allowed everyone into the Capitol).
"We are a gentle, angry people," I thought as I entered the Capitol's rotunda.