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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Solidarity Rally Today at State House

Later today, February 22nd, at 4:30 PM, there will be a rally in front of the State House in solidarity with embattled state workers in Wisconsin. In keeping with labor's long-time rallying cry, "an injury to one is an injury to all," Rhode Island's labor movement and its allies will join dozens of other such events around the country to show our support for the stand state workers in Wisconsin are taking against Republican efforts to strip them of the fundamental right to organize. MORE INFORMATION HERE. Several of us from Charlestown are going.Despite the First Amendment right of free association, trade union membership was considered a crime until the 1930s. Before the passage of the Wagner Act that made union membership legal, courts frequently convicted labor union activists on the charge of "criminal syndicalism." Some labor activists were executed, including labor legend Joe Hill, under laws designed to squelch workers who wanted to organize unions for better wages, an end to child labor and decent working conditions. But the Wagner Act did not grant the right to organize to all. It left out many large labor groups, among the largest being government workers. Government workers had to fight an on-going and separate battle for the right to organize and that is what the Wisconsin battle is all about.

It is not an accident that Wisconsin was the first state to grant state workers the legal right to organize. It is a target of right-wing Republicans determined to teach organized labor a lesson.
Using Wisconsin's modest budget problems as the pretense, Tea-Party backed Republican Governor Scott Walker is using the state budget as the opportunity to revoke the right of public workers in Wisconsin to organize. And that cannot be tolerated.

Long-time Charlestown progressive Robert Malin
wrote a posting in RI Future, the principle statewide progressive blog, where he links the battle in Wisconsin to the challenges to old and corrupt regimes in the Middle East.