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  • Eyes on Trade is a blog by the staff of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch (GTW) division. GTW aims to promote democracy by challenging corporate globalization, arguing that the current globalization model is neither a random inevitability nor "free trade." Eyes on Trade is a space for interested parties to share information about globalization and trade issues, and in particular for us to share our watchdogging insights with you! GTW director Lori Wallach's initial post explains it all.

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February 25, 2011

Workers Fight Back in the Rust Belt

Working families are taking back the heartland, out in the streets and even occupying the Wisconsin's state capitol building to demand their rights and demand that government work for them again.

For those who haven't heard, the fight is about a backwards budget bill that seeks to exploit budget difficulties to strip public workers of most all their collective bargaining rights, rolloing back +60 years of hard-won rights for working families - rights first won in Wisconsin. Former GTW staffer Mary Bottari and her new crew at the Center for Media and Democracy can get you all the latest news at their liveblog.

 

As you'll surely read if you check out CMD, it's a manufactured crisis. Big giveaways to the rich and to corporations have exacerbated the budget shortfall in Wisconsin, and now the governor there is pretending he has no choice but to take drastic measures. He disingenuinely faults people's rights for the fiscal mess caused by corporate giveaways, bailouts, and tax breaks.

It's a manufactured crisis, and it's linked to the manufacturing crisis. United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard spoke this past Monday at the state capitol, connecting the dots between this attack on workers, and unfair trade deals.

I was lucky enough to be on hand for his speech earlier that day in Madison, where Gerard specifically noted that the loss of manufacturing capacity and of our productuve economy that resulted from NAFTA and the WTO is at the root cause of this crisis. "It's about revenue", he said. "If we dont make anything in this country, then what can we possibly tax to fund for schools, hospitals, police, fire protection?" It's a great point. 

Wisconsin is inspiring us in the fair trade movement. Those of us with roots there (we Cheeseheads are over-represented in the fair trade movement - another sign of our deep-seated progressivism!) are proud to see working people standing up for good government and against attacks on workers rights - whether at the WTO or in the Wisonsin Budget Repair bill.

We are all Wisconsin!

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