February 21, 2011

To Whom It May Concern:

As the many thousands of protesters in Madison, and around Wisconsin, the United States, and the world have been demonstrating for days, the bill currently up for consideration by the Wisconsin State Senate known as the “Budget Repair Bill” is not genuinely directed at repairing the state budget. By its provisions, it would destroy nearly all public sector unions with its provisions that prohibit collective bargaining on even the most basic provisions of their members’ working conditions. The three unions exempted from this assault are the police, firefighter, and state patrol unions that supported Governor Walker during his candidacy, and it is this fact that makes clear the bill’s true intent: destroying the voice of those public workers of Wisconsin who challenge Governor Walker’s neo-liberal policies. If the destruction of unions were necessary to the fiscal health of the state, as Governor Walker seems to believe, surely these three exempted unions ought to be included. The obvious conclusion is that this bill is a euphemistically-named means to an altogether different end that would return Wisconsin to labor policies not seen in the state since the middle of the 1800s. It would mimic the labor policies for teachers in the states which perform among the worst in education on nearly every statistical measure.

For all these reasons, with the goal of protecting the voices of the public workers of Wisconsin, protecting public education and other government services, and preserving the democratic right of all people to speak out against oppression, we, the Graduate Employees Organization at the University of Illinois at Chicago, stand with our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin who will not back down from this fight. We applaud their spirit, their tenacity, their message, and their methods, and we join in their battle because it is also our own. Right now it is the workers of Wisconsin who have been targeted. But those of us who fight for the same causes of justice, equality, and democracy in other locations understand that this is not just an attack on the working people of Wisconsin. An injury to one is an injury to all, and we add our voices with theirs to say that we will not stand for this! Not in Wisconsin, not anywhere. We applaud those union members and activists who led the march to take over the capitol building.  We applaud those Senators who have taken a stand to prevent this bill from being rammed through the legislature. We applaud all those who stand for a democracy in America that has actual meaning behind it, rather merely than a hollow appeal to an empty symbolism.

We call on all who share these goals of justice, equality, and democracy to join with the workers of Wisconsin and their friends in this struggle against oppression.

In solidarity,
Steering Committee
UIC Graduate Employees’ Organization