Our winter of discontent

By Emmanuel Santos

It has been a brutal winter filled with news about government cuts in education, healthcare and subsidies for families too poor to afford paying for heat. The Obama administration –in alliance with the Republicans –is behind these austerity measures. For example, in the state of Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has launched a fierce assault on public-sector unions.

But just when it was beginning to look grim, class struggle made a comeback.

It began on February 16 when ten of thousands of workers and students in Wisconsin mobilized to oppose anti-union legislation that will curtail collective bargaining. Protesters carried signs that echoed the Arab revolutions that recently toppled two US backed- dictators. That was an inspiring moment that brought back the best internationalist traditions of the US working class.

Solidarity rallies have sprung up in other states. In Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, professors rallied in support of Wisconsin workers. One member of the professor’s union wore an Uncle Sam costume, a symbol of US imperialism and capitalism. Protesters expressed their anger at  anti-union legislation and state cuts by chanting “Go, Uncle Sam, go,”

Wisconsin has already planted the seeds of future struggles

It is undeniable that the ruling class recognizes that Wisconsin is leading the way in the fight against state cuts. This new labor struggle is re-shaping US politics in the process. Workers are mobilizing in other states where both Democrats and Republics are planning their attack on public unions.

Meanwhile, the ruling class is organizing counter-protests. To that end, several contingents of strike breakers from the well -funded right wing Tea Party organization have been sent out to Wisconsin and other states. Big capitalist businessmen like the Koch Brothers –who funded Gov. Scott Walker’s race for governor–are also funding the anti-union campaign.

In support of workers in Wisconsin ―and beyond

Class unity is crucial to defeat anti-union legislation. Unity is strength. That is why workers in Wisconsin need to extend their solidarity to undocumented immigrant workers who lack basic democratic rights. As workers and socialists, we demand a repeal of  Arizona’s racist law that targets Latino immigrants and other immigrants of color. We stand in solidarity with public-sector workers and say enough is enough: workers and students will not pay for the crisis.