Learning the Lessons of Wisconsin

International President Tom Buffenbarger called on delegates at the 2011 MNPL Planning Committee meeting to meet with members, face-to-face, and explain the scope of the right wing’s anti-union and anti-middle class agenda currently underway in the United States.

International President Tom Buffenbarger addressed the 2011 MNPL National Planning Committee this week and described the midterm elections results as a direct consequence of both political parties’ failure to address the core concerns of American voters.

“In the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, voters wanted bold programs and concrete proposals to create jobs and revive the economy,” said Buffenbarger. “It’s what the voters are still waiting for, and it’s what this country still needs.”

Despite the election of a slew of right-wing extremists, the results are also providing a wake-up call for the millions of Americans who stayed away from the polls last year.

“The people of Wisconsin learned an important lesson and now they’re teaching the rest of us,” said Buffenbarger, who described the extraordinary mix of farmers, office workers, students and families who turned out for the protests there. “It’s not just about unions any more, it’s about what’s right.”

Nationwide, more than 200 rallies and marches have taken place in support of workers’ rights in Wisconsin, or in response to nearly 400 pieces of anti-union legislation being proposed by right-wing GOP governors in other states.

“States like Wisconsin and Ohio are being used as proving grounds to find out how willing you are to fight back,” said John Winston, National Political Director for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC). “And make no mistake, you’re fighting against people who fundamentally do not believe in your right to exist.”

In addition to Winston, MNPL delegates also heard reports from representatives of the Democratic Governors Association, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the AFL-CIO and the Union Veterans Council.

The four-day MNPL meeting concluded with territorial action plans and the annual awards ceremony where local and district lodges were honored for their political activism in support of candidates and legislation that support workers’ rights.

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