“The Fight Is Not Over”

Phil Neuenfeldt

Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker apparently thinks he’s home free with his union-busting bill.

Phil Neuenfeldt begs to differ. He’s president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

Says Neuenfeldt: “We recognize that this is just one piece of a broader political fight vs. Scott Walker and his extreme agenda — a fight that we are winning.”

My guess is Walker thinks time will make him the winner.

The governor is not subject to Wisconsin’s recall law until at least January, 2012. Recall drives, against some of Walker’s Republican senators, can’t bear fruit for weeks. Court challenges to the senators’ shenanigans will take time, too.

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

Even if the Democrats flip the Wisconsin senate through recall, they won’t have a chance to retake the GOP-majority Assembly until November, 2012.

Hence, Walker and the Republicans are counting on the fullness of time to cool labor’s ardor.

Says Stephanie Bloomingdale, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer: “The fight is not over….This is a setback, but Gov. Walker has chosen to take on the people who teach our kids to read, who plow our roads during blizzards, who help the sick live with dignity and who rush into burning buildings. These are people who do not give up easily.”

Even so, I can almost hear Walker bragging to the Koch Brothers, his billionaire backers: “Don’t worry, the unions might be hanging tough now, but they’ll throw in the towel sooner or later.”

Walker must be banking on union members turning out to be what Thomas Paine called “summer soldiers” and “sunshine patriots.”

In The Crisis, his famous Revolutionary War pamphlet, Paine warned that “the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

Paine, my favorite American revolutionary, penned The Crisis during what he called soul-trying times. Ours are similar times. Unions are under all-out attack from far-right-wing Republicans not only in Wisconsin but in several other states.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

When The Crisis came out in December, 1776, the British figured Gen. George Washington’s patriot army was all but finished. Washington had lost many men and many battles. Many of his troops were deserting.

Paine hoped The Crisis would light a fire under the hard-pressed troops: “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Washington ’s troops triumphed gloriously in the end.

Berry CraigWashington understood thatwhipping the British would be a long, hard fight. It will take a long, hard fight to defeat bare-knucks union busters like Scott Walker who believe the end justifies the means, even when the means are undemocratic, if not unlawful.

Says Joanne Ricca, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO legislative research director: “It’s up to all of us to prove Walker wrong.”

I’ll add a Presbyterian “amen” to that.

Berry Craig

Author Spotlight: Berry Craigamp

Published by the LA Progressive on March 12, 2011
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About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.