Populist Backlash Against GOP Anti-Union Legislation, Cannot by Itself Reverse Labor’s Decline

After weeks of enormous demonstrations in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana as well as other states, people from all walks of life challenged Republican governors attempting to weaken workers’ rights. Union activists protested across the country on April 4 in what they called “We Are One” rallies. Over 1,000 protests, teach-ins and other events marked the day 43 years ago when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. The civil rights leader was in Memphis to support the city’s unionized sanitation workers who were on strike for fair wages and treatment.

The coordinated assault by conservative governors on public employees’ right to collective bargaining has resulted in a nationwide backlash. Recent pubic opinion polls have found that a large majority of Americans oppose the GOP campaign to scapegoat teachers, firefighters, policemen and other middle-class workers for large state deficits produced by the nation’s economic meltdown, triggered by Wall Street’s unethical speculation.

The labor movement and their allies are fighting back on a number of fronts, including the collection of signatures for recall campaigns targeting eight Wisconsin Republican senators who backed Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union bill, and a statewide referendum in Ohio to reject legislation gutting workers’ rights initiated by Gov. John Kasich. Between the Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Andrew Kroll, a reporter in the D.C. bureau of Mother Jones magazine, who discusses labor’s response to the corporate-backed conservative political and economic attack on unions and the middle class, explored in his recent article,“Return to Wisconsin: the Beginning or the End?”

Interview with Andrew Kroll, reporter with Mother Jones and associate editor of TomDispatch.com, conducted by Scott Harris


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