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Then They Came for the Trade Unionists

Society & Culture  (tags: abuse, americans, business, consumers, corporate, corruption, dishonesty, ethics, finance, government, investments, labor, law, lies, marketing, money, news, politics, society, Unions battle back )

- 2934 days ago -
I am a trade unionist, and yesterday in Wisconsin, they came for me. They came for you. They came for every working person in America, and their intent could not be more clear. Governor Scott Walker, along with the Koch Brothers and the right-wing -->


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Past Member (0)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 1:46 pm
The assault will continue until we all join together and beat them back.

Kit B (276)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 1:50 pm
On this day, it behooves us to remember the words of Martin Niemoller.

"First they came for the communists," he wrote,
"and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and
I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."

I am a trade unionist, and yesterday in Wisconsin, they came for me. They came for you. They came for every working person in America, and their intent could not be more clear. Governor Scott Walker, along with the Koch Brothers and the right-wing radicals of the Republican Party, moved in darkness and with shameless deceit to gut the ability of dedicated laborers to bargain on an equal footing for the right to earn a living wage and to have access to decent health care.

Among other things, the bill as passed allows the state to fire anyone who participates in a strike. The story of the 20th century was written by workers who dared to face the truncheon in order to fight for their basic rights, and the strike was integral to that struggle. Any Wisconsin worker who dares to stand in defiance of The Bosses now faces personal annihilation, not just for themselves, but for their family. America was made in the struggle of union workers standing shoulder to shoulder in defiance of the idea that being rich means being right. That struggle is now in mortal peril, and the outcome affects all of us.

Fairness and the rule of law had no place in Wednesday's filthy action. This move was done in secret, without notice or announcement as required by Wisconsin law, and bears the stamp of the cowards and cretins who are responsible. Similar anti-worker legislation has been unfolding in Ohio, Indiana, Florida and more than a dozen other states. Those responsible claim such actions are necessary because of economic concerns, but the Wisconsin perpetrators tipped their hand. They stripped the bill in question of anything having to do with the state budget, so as to give them the chance to vote without a quorum...but the entire premise of their anti-union attack was that the destruction of collective bargaining was needed to salvage the state's financial situation. By gutting the bill of any semblance of budgetary issues, all they were left with is what they were after in the first place: the end of collective bargaining, the end of unions altogether, and by proxy, the end of the Democratic Party.

Eric Kleefeld, the excellent reporter for TalkingPointsMemo, and a Wisconsin native, exposed the endgame thusly:

The Democratic Party in Wisconsin is, to an extent that is not true in most other states, a genuine labor party -- a party that is intertwined with unions at the institutional level, with many politicians who have also been union officials or done legal work with unions, and which speaks for organized labor in key debates. They in turn compete with the Republican Party, which represents business interests as embodied by the state's Chamber group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, in what has until now been a sometimes uneasy but nevertheless predictable political system.

In short, unions in Wisconsin are not just economic organizations made up of their respective workers - they are political institutions that are a major part of the state. As such, a change to the state's union laws that would threaten the existence of organized labor would in turn threaten the existence of the Democratic Party itself in Wisconsin, as people have known it for over half a century -- something that state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) may have accidentally alluded to earlier today.

On top of that, the class consciousness was especially ignited by Walker's phone call two weeks ago with blogger Ian Murphy, who was posing as Republican financier David Koch. During that call, Walker discussed his ideas for tricking the Democrats into coming back by pretending to negotiate, his ambition to bust the public employee unions in the mold of President Reagan firing the air traffic controllers, and that he had considered (but ruled out) planting troublemakers in the crowds of protesters. But beyond the specifics, the optics alone were amazing: The state's governor was seen buddying up to someone he believed to be a mega-rich donor from out of state.

Say what you will about the Democratic Party. For my part, I can say plenty, especially about President Obama's total absence during the three weeks this struggle has been going on, and about the White House's angry insistence that the fight in Wisconsin is merely "a distraction."

All Party nonsense aside, this is about a governor attacking people who work for a living, because they have the gall to believe standing together to fight for simple things like fair wages and basic health care is more important than a failing governor's ego or political aspirations.

The fact of the matter is that Governor Walker has unleashed a frontal assault on working people in his state because wealthy corporatists believe "Because I Say So" is enough. Make no mistake, friends. This is class warfare. It is brazen, unmistakable, and now out in the open. They have so much, but they want more. It has been made all too clear that they will gut your life, your rights, your everything, in order to get what they want, and what they want is absolute and total control.

Mr. Niemoller wrote his poem decades ago. It might read like this today:

First they declared corporations were "people," and
I didn't complain because I'm already a person.

Then they made unlimited money "speech," and
I didn't complain because the American Dream
says I'll be rich someday, too.
Then they commandeered the means of production by shipping our greatest strength
- manufacturing - overseas, because they don't have bothersome unions over there, and
I didn't complain because WalMart has cheap stuff.
Then they bought Congress so they could write the laws, and
I didn't complain because I canít be bothered to vote.
Then they bought the Supreme Court so they could cement their rule, and
I didn't complain because I don't have time to pay attention.
Then they bought the news so they could convince everyone it's always been this way, and
I didn't complain because it's always been this way.
Then they manhandled an election and I didn't complain because I'm not from Florida.
Then they lied us into wars and I didn't complain because I'm not a soldier,
or an Iraqi, or an Afghani.
Then millions died for profit and I didn't complain because
the graphics on the news were totally awesome.
Then they started locking people up because they said they could and
I didn't complain because nobody locked me up.
Then they started spying on everyone because they said
they could and I didn't complain because I'm a real American.
Then they came for the worker, but thanks to supply-side trickle-down economics, I don't have a job.
This truth is self-evident.
They are coming for you, and they are relentless.

Stand up.

For your country, for your family, for yourself.

Stand up.

Be heard.



By William Rivers Pitt an Op-Ed for Truthout

Kriti S (26)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 1:53 pm
Martin Niemoller words are poetic but more important these are strong words of solidarity and encouragement.
His poetic words are full of wisdom, but what I like about this man is his vision, and his belief that we have not fallen as heroes, but we still march on as the heroes.

Kriti S (26)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 1:54 pm
This article is so well written that I may come back to read it again.

Kit B (276)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 2:03 pm

I completely agree Kritik the article is beautifully written and speaks to the important cause of the day. Who would expect any thing less from William Rivers Pitt?

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 2:30 pm
Before you judge me as 'off topic' my point here is that YOU are next. Those of us who chose marijuana over alcohol already know what it means 'when they come for you'. We have been dealing with this for 40 years, nobody has stepped up to stop it. How long do you think YOUR families will have to live under these conditions when Homeland Security declares dissatisfied citizens are 'Seditionists'?
Americans better speak up now or forever lose their right to speak.
'The government has as much right to tell me what I can put into my body as it has to tell me what I can put into my mind.' Judge Jim Gray
Here are two examples:
American Storm Troopers Murder Family Dog

American Storm Troopers Murder

Will you sit by idly until they are at your door?

Join the fight for your country!
America is being taken over by New World Order Fascists, will you defend her?
The Great Geithner Coverup
Sen Sanders gives the hard questions to Bernanke
Tell Attorneys General to hold the big banks accountable for mortgage fraud!
PETITION: Make Wall Street Pay!
Our children are going hungry.
Please Sign the Petition to Stop the Teapublicans Budget Cuts
Senator Richard Shelby proposes a balanced budget 'except in times of war'? The 'Drug War' has been going on for 40 years, does that count too? There is always an excuse for NOT balancing the budget. Last year of Bush the Republicans were bragging about the budget being balanced 'except for the war'. This video is older but presents some graphs and info that is still relevant:Republican Tax Cuts Caused the Deficits
Slide Show: 8 Corporations That Owe You Money
George Carlin ~ The American Dream
The Road to Revolution: 99% Uprising
Get up! Stand up!
A hungry man is an angry man.
A hungry mob is an angry mob.
- Bob Marley

Get up! Stand up! Stand up for your rights!

Vallee R (280)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 2:41 pm
Lots to think about - they go after whoever - I am a member of the Humanist Party - considered Communist in this USA so after I went to Chile for a month and returned - my phone was tapped for white a while. We have lost freedom of speech - we have lost our constitution - people always blame Obama yet he has been more in the limelight than Bush ever was - Bush was too active behind the camera starting things that Obama is talking the hit for.

Kathy B (106)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 3:27 pm
I read a sound bite just the other day, couldn't go to the site because it was Faux, the gist of it was that this union busting is part of a plan - break up the unions so they have no money to contribute to political races. I hope their little 'plan' backfires on them big time.

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 3:48 pm
Are they going to come for me? I'm a seditionist. Liberals need their own country. We can't continue to live with the stupid and the fascists. There is no turning their hateful minds and there's no stopping the wealthy and their fascist agenda. Our best option is to draw a line from Va across the top of AZ and every one get to your place. We have two distinct enemies. Fascists and the idiots that believe them.

Sedition - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition. Typically, sedition is considered a subversive act, and the overt acts that may ...
History in common law ... - Civil law jurisdictions - See also - Notes

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 3:50 pm
They said it, Kathy! That is their plan. They have the hate of us on their side so they don't try hide it.

Mandi T (366)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 5:15 pm
What a well written article.
Tk you Kit.

Terry King (113)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 5:49 pm
I am a 40 year trade unionist and I'm spitting mad! I have recommitted to fighting this right wing madness with every resource at my command!

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 6:46 pm
Noted and thanks Kit. I read this article this morning !
I think you might have a point Jason. I think those of us who are progressive need to suceed from the government and make our own . Most of us live in the North and east . So lets get together with Vermont who once tried to suceed and form our own country . If that doesn't work then we better prepare to fight for our rights and do whatever it takes to stop these right wing fanatics and their corporate backers.

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 10:33 pm
Well, Cecil B DeMills would do this......get everyone a UNION sweatshirt......everyone that's the NORMAL that's alot of Millions of Sweatshirted UNION people, eh? We wear our UNION Sweatshirt all over town.....everywhere and with all our other brothers and sisters with their UNION sweatshirts.....NOW you tell me that there isn't going to be some SUBSTANTIAL influence with everyone (mostly) in the country with this going on? I mean like EVERY DAY AND EVERYWHERE?????? UNION sweatshirted people everywhere you look...24/7. Let's see how quiet they get and how scarty cat they get then......wanna?

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 12, 2011, 10:34 pm
......and that's ONLY THE BEGINNING !

Walter Firth (45)
Sunday March 13, 2011, 3:07 am
Noted That prose by William Rivers Pitt is a great and classic work.It is what democracy stands for.As a democratic socialist and a firm believer in the trade union movement I support you in your struggle.I cannot understand your politics and why you vote these people into office. Surely these undesirable polies must have opponents with opposite views,why not support them and vote en masse as we do in Australia. The best form of revolution in a democracy is the votes we cast on polling day. Our former liberal party tried to weaken union power by dividing workers by introducing what they called "work choices"and worker contracts, their ploy failed ;they lost the next election.. I wish you luck in your cause.

Jae A (316)
Sunday March 13, 2011, 3:11 am

You cannot currently send a star to Roger because you have done so within the last week.

They, their families and friends/supporters wearing them everywhere...sounds like something the Unions should be looking into fast...I like the idea Roger R. How long it would take to get them made and distributed might take awhile but who knows how long until someone looks into it and the Unions get behind it.

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 13, 2011, 3:39 am

In Wisconsin they are wearing union jackets and I think as form of solidarity, Roger has a good point. This however, will not stop because of a choice of clothing. We must be prepared to do more. To actually take a stand. I too am a union member though this is not just about unions, that seems the hardest part for people to understand. The union is symbolic of the rights won by union organizers, this is a battle for the country, for our way of life, for all the things we hold dear. This about not having our lives ruled and dominated by the corporations. They are eroding this republic, some things still look normal, for how much longer? It's important to remember this didn't begin in November with an election, this goes back 30 years and has been progressing since. Now we are confront by the well laid plans and must be ready to join as one voice.

Susan L (150)
Sunday March 13, 2011, 3:55 am
Great article, great new "First they came" (2011) by William Rivers Pitt, and great comments, everyone. I think Roger has a fabulous idea - everyone start wearing the Union shirts. I am going to ask my Son-in-Law if he can get me a t-shirt from his local pipe-fitters union, and start wearing it! I will also promote the idea because this could become quite the statement if it were happening all over the U.S. In fact, I have a friend in WI that has been very active in the picketing in Madison, and a brother too, and will ask them if their unions might be interested in selling their union shirts to the country in support of the cause... I think it is a great idea, Roger!
Thank you for giving us this article, Kit.

Sheryl G (359)
Sunday March 13, 2011, 11:34 am
Excerpt of Chief Seattle spoken in 1854:

It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indian's night promises to be dark. Not a single star of hope hovers above his horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man's trail, and wherever he will hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.

A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.

The American Indian were the first "Trade Unionist" upon this land. No one listened, few cared, and so a full cultural impact of destruction and many lives lost happened to a people who did nothing but want to live upon the land of their birth in a gentle way with the Earth Mother....Turtle Island.

They saw, that if this type of mentality continued, that it was a disease of the Heart, and that it would bite back and destroy those who at that time it was not affecting. Chief Seattle knew then, that this was not to be limited to the Red Man, this would turn upon itself and eat it's very own. This is what we have today.

When you do not stand up for the injustice of one, the injustice will come after you at some point. As I said to the Teachers I stood in solidarity with, when asked, are you a Teacher? No, but I have a grandchild soon to use the school system, and I would also stand out here for the Disabled and the Elders too as we all need to stand up for each other. I got kind of a blank stare. I should of got an, why yes, you are right, we stand up for each other.

Is the problem we have in this Country that pushed the rugged Individualist, we only seem to take notice or stand up when it is our personal cause, but as those of us with Indian heritage have always known, this has been coming for a long time, it is just now finally affecting many families of all ethnic and social backgrounds.

We should be standing up for all our sisters and brothers and even today the Powerful try to pit us against each other, divide us with our religion, our color of skin, our geographic location, our occupations, our gender, our sexual orientation.

As Russell Means said of the Lakotah Reservation, "Welcome my sisters and brothers to the Reservation." There was much thought behind those words, as more and more have their homes taken, have their pensions stolen, are denied an ability to earn a living, have limited or no medical care, and the list everyone will know some of what has been done to other people, because the majority failed to stand up to the injustice that already existed. Now will the people begin to understand the extent of this? Or once their cause is taken care of will they stop and ignore the others who are still being hammered into the ground?


LeMoyn Salmonsen (88)
Sunday March 13, 2011, 11:40 am
The warning signs could not be clearer. And the words of Martin Niemoller can not be any more descriptive and worthy of repeating. Therefore I take liberty to copy and paste, read them, repeat them to all you know. It will require all our courage and commitment to not have them be echoed here.

"First they came for the communists," he wrote, "and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."

Roger Skinner (14)
Sunday March 13, 2011, 1:19 pm
Unions aren't perfect and have sometimes been misused but they are the primary, if not only, way that the average worker has of getting a fair deal. Business interests and even the government have been trying to destroy and weaken their power from the beginning, well over 100 years ago. It is due to unions that we have such things as 40-hour work weeks, paid vacation/sick-time, retirement programs, child-labor laws, safer working conditions among other things.

Deborah L (70)
Sunday March 13, 2011, 2:06 pm
Gov. Walker should have been fired from the position has currently has the second he betrayed America an the people,of Wisconsin. The very idea of placing "trouble makers" among the protesters should have done it, but especially when he thought he was talking to David Koch on the other topics that were outed in that bogus phone conversation. He is a liar and America has no pace for liars holding public office. Sure, most politicians lie, but it seems the lies brought to us by the right-wingers do the most damage to America, the people. jobs and the environment all in the name of greed.

Looking at Walker talk on the TV, his eyes are just black empty spaces showing no spark of life or humanity, it almost is like looking at a robot speaking with no emotion or empathy that is the core of every human being. Walker is nothing more than a corporate drone, doing what his bosses tell him with no more thought of his actions than a worker ant. Soulless, cold and indifferent seems to sum him up perfectly.

Sheryl G (359)
Sunday March 13, 2011, 2:48 pm
Perfectly stated Deborah. Why should he be allowed to stay in Power to undo all that the citizens of the State had spent the last 50 or more years putting in place. There should be more expediate measures to remove those who abuse their power, and he has certainly abused his power. I'm tired of the culprits always getting every chance in the world at the expense and suffering of everyone else.

Yvonne White (229)
Sunday March 13, 2011, 6:52 pm
RepubliCONs have always vilified unions - so I think it's time to Fight Back, bust heads, whatever!! If they get to say whatever they want to about us, then we might as well DO what they SAY we do ANYWAY!:(

Carmen S (69)
Sunday March 13, 2011, 9:55 pm
Believe it or not this is our last stand. If we do not win this one it will bring us back to Charles Dickens time and then their might be a new Revolution in the US.
People have got to stand together against those Republicans and defeat them and then they will truly know the American People have spoken.

Past Member (0)
Monday March 14, 2011, 12:50 am
Rallies Planned for
Tuesday All Over the Country! Find One Near You!

Resist the War
Machine! March 19, 2011

Americans + Bailout =

Reserve Protests Beginning March 24

Past Member (0)
Monday March 14, 2011, 7:38 pm
Noted, thanks Kit...nothing left to add except "Vive la revolution!".

. (0)
Tuesday March 15, 2011, 10:44 am
finely crafted article, I read it and the comments twice, you are all so right, thanks!
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