This video is part of our special coverage from the workers’ protests in Madison, Wisconsin — a result of collaboration with Free Speech TV and WORT FM in Madison.
The fight in Wisconsin has national implications, and national leaders have made the trip to Madison to express solidarity with the workers and join their struggle. Perhaps none more prominent than Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has been speaking to rallies, and led a march of students back to school today after several days off supporting their teachers.
Rev. Jackson spoke with Laura Flanders about the need to support the rights of workers when they are under attack, and to remind everyone of the connections between the civil rights struggle and the struggle of working people everywhere.
“Wisconsin has a proud tradition in terms of labor, the environment, of people standing up to the power and money of big corporations,” says Spencer Black, former chair of the Wisconsin State Assembly Natural Resources Committee. And those big corporations don’t like that tradition one bit. The Bradley Foundation, a right-wing organization with connections with the billionaire Koch brothers, has poured money into Walker’s anti-union, anti-worker campaign, and they’re not stopping with union busting.
Spencer and David Newby, former president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, join Laura in Madison to discuss the big business backers behind Walker’s campaigns not just to gut workers’ rights, but to rig the next election.
“People are very concerned about what will happen next if their right-wing governors and legislatures are emboldened by something in Wisconsin,” says Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. She notes that while she was in Washington last week, colleagues told her that Wisconsin had to win its fight because if not, their state was next–and she got on the first plane she could to get home to her state and stand with the protesters.
Rep. Baldwin joins Laura in Madison to discuss the larger national context for the fight over workers’ rights in Wisconsin–and why it’s connected to the larger fight over reproductive justice, health care, and rights for LGBT people.
The fight against Scott Walker’s attack on working people isn’t just in Madison–and it isn’t just about a budget repair bill, say Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now and State Assemblyman Cory Mason. Hundreds of people are protesting and attending town halls in towns across the state, sometimes towns with only a few thousand people living in them. And if you think the fight is messy now, just wait until Walker rolls out his actual budget.
Scot and Cory join Laura in Madison for a discussion of the depth and breadth of the fight working people face in Wisconsin–and to note that they are up for the challenge.
“Today on the Capitol steps, what we did there was create a little bit of the world we’d like to see,” says Tom Morello, musician with Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave and solo performer as The Nightwatchman. He joined the protests in Wisconsin to help lift the spirits and support the protesters, and he notes that this struggle is historic. “This is a shining example, for working people across the United States to not just hold dearly to the rights they have, but let’s do some advancing of those rights as well.”
Tom spoke with Laura in Madison about the role of musicians and artists in the struggle for rights, the role of independent media, and why it’s time to take back the narrative around workers’ rights.