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Egyptian Union Leader to Wisconsin Protesters: ‘We Stand with You as You Stood with Us’

Egyptian Union Leader to Wisconsin Protesters: ‘We Stand with You as You Stood with Us’

The role of labor unions in the Cairo demonstrations was one of the most underreported stories about the pro-democracy movement in Egyp.  Many were protesting against neoliberal right-wing economic policies just as much as they were protesting against the Mubarak dictatorship.  
During the uprising in that country, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka praised the role of organized labor, saying, “The people’s movement for democracy in Egypt and the role unions are playing for freedom and worker rights inspires us and will not be forgotten.”

Now, as tens of thousands of union members and other Wisconsin residents are taking to the streets to protest against Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) attempt to abolish collective bargaining rights for most public workers, a leader of Egypt’s largest umbrella group of independent labor unions is praising the Wisconsin movement. 

From Cairo to Madison

In a videotaped statement, Kamal Abbas, the General Coordinator of the Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services, tells the Wisconsin protesters, “We stand with you as you stood with us.” He says “no one believed” that the revolution against the Mubarak regime would succeed, yet they were able to bring the dictator down within 18 days. He encourages demonstrators to stay strong, saying:

I am speaking to you from a place very close to Tahrir Square in Cairo, “Liberation Square”, which was the heart of the Revolution in Egypt. This is the place were many of our youth paid with their lives and blood in the struggle for our just rights. From this place, I want you to know that we stand with you as you stood with us. [...]

No one believed that our revolution could succeed against the strongest dictatorship in the region. But in 18 days the revolution achieved the victory of the people. When the working class of Egypt joined the revolution on 9 and 10 February, the dictatorship was doomed and the victory of the people became inevitable. We want you to know that we stand on your side. Stand firm and don’t waiver. Don’t give up on your rights. Victory always belongs to the people who stand firm and demand their just rights.

Watch it:

Last week, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said there are “similarities” between the movements in Egypt and Wisconsin, in that “that people are wanting to be heard, and they are taking direct action.” Additionally, Ian’s on State Street, a pizza place near the Wisconsin capitol building, has taken orders from Egypt for Wisconsin activists. 

While the actions that Walker and Mubarak are taking are far from directly analogous, many demonstrators have taken to drawing satirical comparisons. Following Walker’s threat to call in the National Guard to deal with a labor strike, activists launched the site Mini Mubarak, humorously comparing the governor’s threat to the actions of the now-resigned Egyptian autocrat. (H/T: Michael Moore)

This post first appeared on ThinkProgress, a publication of the Center for American Progress.

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by lemontage
By Zaid Jilani 

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114 comments

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4:11PM PST on Feb 28, 2011

Those Egyptian kids that gave their lives from freedom will always be an inspiration for us to not take anymore shit from our bosses and CEOs that are making all the extra bonuses while the government approves it.......Wisconsin Stay Strong, Fight for your Rights!!!

6:40AM PST on Feb 28, 2011

Individuals need to contact John Boehner and express your distress at the way the GOP is heading. Instead of Jobs they are attacking women's health issues, the unions and protecting the wealthy. Write your grievances to AskTheLeader@mail.house.gov
Please spread this email address to your friends, ask them to write a polite but pointed letter to this guy. He won't care but he won't like emails pointing out the stupidity of their stance on everything and failure to act like responsible citizens and public employees. (we do pay their big fat wages, cadillac healthcare and bloated pensions)

12:57PM PST on Feb 26, 2011

Hi From Madison, WI. As lovely as this is, and as much as I appreciate it, this does detract from the reality here in Wisconsin. The analogy is not Egypt, or Libya. We, in Wisconsin, are witnessing history, and it isn't pretty. This is the birth of American Fascism. Hitler, in 1933, was elected. Then, he used the legislature to go after communists, then trade unions, then intellectuals, the Jews, Gypsies and Slavs, then Christian clergy. He created lots of jobs - took hands to build those camps.
Germany was a highly evolved, democratic society. It happened there, it is happening in Wisconsin. This is about much more than union bargaining.

7:34AM PST on Feb 25, 2011

The one thing that can put walker in the "can" would be what teachers in one area in Ontario Canada did, they ALL RESIGNED!
If all so called "state" employees were to resign, teacher, firemen, police, office workers, janitors were to resign en mass, who would keep the government going??
Parents would have to stay at home with their kids because there would be no teachers in the schools, who would enforce the laws without the police, who would fight fires without firefighters, who would do office work for walker and his dummies, who would clean up after the idiot, who would drive ambulances?
This is one way that YOU, the workers of Wisconsin can put ( I refuse to capitalize the idiots name) walker and his billionaire buddies in their place. You may not get rid of them, but you will certainly wake them up.

walker, don't screw around with the workers.

11:46PM PST on Feb 23, 2011

We are one - Human. Thanks Egypt

5:39PM PST on Feb 23, 2011

Well.

11:31AM PST on Feb 23, 2011

Revolution is coming the USA. YEA!

It is about time. I was wondering HOW LONG would Americans be willing to see their wages being cut, their jobs be outsourced and taken overseas until the corporate power machine drove us into third world status.

I am glad to see Americans not only standing up for our rights but willing to take to the streets. for a while I thought it was only going to be undocumented that were demonstrating.

My faith has been restored in demonstrating for the people's cause.

GO WISCONSIN...maybe the rest of the nation can get some inspiration and join the revolution.

10:39AM PST on Feb 23, 2011

Very nice, but isn't it sad too.

4:19AM PST on Feb 23, 2011

George F,
Green star for you!!

2:07AM PST on Feb 23, 2011

I have never been part of a union, but I love it when people who hate collective bargaining, whine about the benefits gained by those who were willing to stand together and fight for more a living wage. A wage which supports their family and their communities local businesses and contributes to the tax base local, state and federal. Yes they pay taxes and help pay for services that make a community safe and pleasant to live in. But, the whiners and complainers - WAAAA they get better benefits the I do - waaa. If you want better benefits join a union and collectively bargain for it. Otherwise your on your own. But, that seems to be the way you like it - one your own. And if that leaves you with less leverage, so less pay and benefits.That is your choice - quit whining that's how you wanted it. Otherwise join a union an support your fellow workers. Or stay on your own and quit complaining when that gets you less.

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