Monday, November 14, 2011

Ohio Voted

Ruth Conniff of the Progressive Magazine has a story about the major "upset" in Ohio where working people voted down anti union proposals. That vote is giving strength to progressives in Wisconsin:

We were sitting around the dinner table when we got the call. Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO was on the line with 45,000 union families around the country, giving us a live update from Columbus.

We put the phone on speaker, and listened with our children, with the feeling that we were witnessing history. Trumka, Ohio AFL-CIO president Tim Burga, and Ohio union members talked about what was happening there.

"We've risen up in Wisconsin, Ohio, and all over the country with the Occupy Wall Street movement," Trumka said. "There is no better time to be in the labor movement than right now."

We explained to the kids how Ohio was voting to recall the same kind of law that took away public employees' collective bargaining rights here in Wisconsin. This was the issue, that their teachers walked out for, that all of us went to the Capitol on Madison last spring to protest.

It gave us all goosebumps to hear how the people of Ohio were fighting this same attack on working people--and winning.

Talk about knitting it all together--the invocations of the 99 percent, the sense that the same people--teachers, firefighters, librarians and prison guards, as Burga put it, were being blamed for the bad bets of Wall Street banks.

In Ohio, Citizens United, the group that brought us unlimited spending in elections, poured six figures into TV ads.

Mother Jones called it "cash warfare," as conservative groups poured $20 to $40 million into pro-union-busting-legislation ads.

The money was overwhelmingly on the other side. But last I checked, the people of Ohio had soundly defeated SB5 by a margin of 63-to-37.

That should shake up Governor Kasich, and his buddy, Governor Walker of Wisconsin. It's time to take back "Way to go Ohio" and Chrissie Hynde's booming bass line from Rush Limbaugh. Play it loud.

Kudos to the AFL for seizing the opportunity to link arms with Occupy Wall Street and take the battle nationwide (I assume it is my state employee husband who is responsible for us getting on that call).

The victory in Ohio will give a big boost to the fight in Wisconsin. Wisconsin doesn't have Ohio's law that allows a specific piece of legislation to be recalled. But an organized group of citizens is going after the governor.

As Ohioans were going to the polls, United Wisconsin the group running the recall effort against Scott Walker, was training volunteers for a historic, statewide petition drive. I talked to a police officer, a retired university employee, and some of the other folks who jammed the room, planning to hit the streets as soon as the November 15 start date allows.

There will be house parties on November 15, where you can sign a petition a minute after midnight. There will be signature drives at rallies, festivals, at shopping malls on Black Friday, and door-to-door. There will be "drive through" signature drives, where cars can pull over during their morning and evening commutes. There will be people blogging and tweeting their locations at coffee shops so folks can stop by and sign. There will be a huge network of grassroots, neighborhood organizations, all turning in their petitions to 50 organizing centers around the state that will check them before handing them in.

On the wall at the shabby, hastily occupied downtown office, there was a picture of one of the massive crowds that jammed the Capitol square last spring, and the words, "Don't Give Up the Fight."

On November 19, the recall organizers are hoping to get the same kind of crowd to a rally at the Capitol to kick off the recall.

They invite people to post their own invitations to recall events on the Wisconsin United web site.

One of the recall trainees expressed concern about the fake recall announced last week by a friend of Governor Scott Walker. What effect will it have? The answer is that it gives the governor eleven extra days to raise unlimited corporate cash to fight the recall effort. But technically it will have no impact on the citizen effort.

"I'm worried about all that money," the local cop said. "But we just have to remember, we have the people on our side."

Ohio just showed exactly what that means.

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