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Monday, November 07, 2011

Pro-Labor Occupiers About to Win Big

Wisconsin protesters occupying the state capitol
It's not difficult to show the evolution of the "town hall mobs" of rightwingers angry healthcare reform to the Tea Party. It was basically the same people who listen to the same radio shows and fell for largely the same BS. But where the town hall rowdies were focused on one issue, the Tea Party came about when complaints broadened to other issues. "Healthcare reform sucks!" became "healthcare reform sucks -- and I like guns and Obama's a Kenyan Muslim and when government spends money on anyone other than me, that's just like Nazi Germany!"

Sure, both the town hall mobs and the Tea Party were astroturf creations, but look at why people joined. What happened was that people with other concerns were drawn to the coverage the town-hallers were getting and wanted in on the action. The movement grew and the focus broadened.

There's a clumsy parallel on the left with the Occupy movement. It may just be that I'm from ground zero, but I see an evolution from the Wisconsin union protests and the ongoing recall effort to Occupy Wall Street. People saw the occupation of the State Capitol, thought about their own issues, and wondered if that would work for them as well. The left was electrified by the Wisconsin activists and the "hit the streets and take over" method of protest spread out to other states.

One of those states would be Ohio, where Gov. John Kasich and state Republicans jammed through a union-busting bill similar to Wisconsin's. But Ohio is not Wisconsin -- the laws are quite different -- and state Democrats were able to put the question up to the voters. Where Wisconsin only has recall as an option, Ohioans are able to put repeal on a referendum. And that referendum is not going Kasich's way.


Talking Points Memo:

A new survey from Public Policy Polling (D) shows Ohio Democrats and public employee unions likely to win a big victory on Tuesday in the referendum on Republican Gov. John Kasich’s anti-public union bill, SB-5.

The poll shows only 36% of Ohioans will vote to support the law, while a decisive 59% oppose the bill and will vote to repeal it.

Kasich’s own approval mirrors those numbers, with only 33% approval and 57% disapproval. Kasich was elected in the 2010 Republican wave, defeating incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland by a 49%-47% margin. However, when asked if they could vote again, the respondents in this poll chose Strickland by a 55%-37% margin.

"Democrats are almost unanimous in their opposition to SB 5, supporting repeal by an 86-10 margin," PPP reports. "Meanwhile there’s division in the Republican ranks -- 30% are planning to vote down their Governor’s signature proposal while only 66% are supportive of it. Independents split against it by a 54/39 spread as well."

"It’s a stretch to call this part of the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon," writes David Dayden for Firedoglake. "But it springs from the same position of dissent against extreme tactics by corporate-backed politicians. In Wisconsin protesters camped out at the Capitol Building in Madison. In Ohio, thousands came to the Capitol in Columbus. And then, using the referendum process, they gathered ten times as many signatures as needed to get the citizen veto of SB 5 on the ballot, entirely through volunteer efforts. And now they’re going to defeat those same corporate forces at the ballot box and score a victory for worker’s rights, stopping the tide of anti-union actions. It’s a pretty big moment."

It may be a stretch to call tomorrow's expected win in Ohio part of the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon, but it's not a stretch to call Occupy Wall Street the offspring of the movement that set that win in motion. It's even less of a stretch to say that the repeal of Ohio's SB 5 will be a win for the 99%.

Here's hoping it's the first win of many.


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