The Battle for Unions in Wisconsin - How You Can Help

Kathleen McElroy

National Writers Union/ UAW Local 1981

Folks from outside Wisconsin are contacting me and asking how to help with the battle to save collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin.


People of generally modest means, including many college students, are continuing the occupation of the Capitol and the daily picketing in resistance to the Governor's plans. Most teachers have had to have chosen to return to their classrooms, but many other union members remain, people from private sector unions and public unions including police and firefighters. There are many private citizens, often seniors. Those remaining in the capitol and on the picket lines need food, water, transportation and housing. The Wisconsin AFL-CIO is coordinating much of that support. No matter how small, financial support is welcome:

ONLINE: The AFL-CIO is accepting donations online through PayPal or any major credit card. Please go
to for the link.

CHECKS can be made payable to the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Defense Fund, 6333 W. Blue Mound Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53213 (Please indicate the purpose, e.g. "Capitol protests" or "Madison rally", on your check.)


These two close-by shops will supply food and water to those in the Capitol or on the picket line:

Ian's Pizza 608-442-3535 minimum order $20.00 These folks are now taking orders only for delivery to the resistance, they've stopped all delivery to the general public. They tell me they deliver to wherever the people are -- if they're inside the Capitol, they go in. If people are marching and picketing, they take the food to the picket line.

Subway on the Square 608-255-1636 NOTE: minimum order $100.00 They have set up a fund there for your orders, and they are giving free food from that fund to any union member or pro- union demonstrator who requests food. Thank Pat for arranging that, I'm sure this is the first time they've done anything like this.

Madison, Wisconsin


I'm sure you've heard by now that the Wisconsin GOP has forced the budget repair bill through with some legislative jujitsu. There are now calls for a general strike to begin tomorrow, most prominently

from president of the Madison Firefighter's Association. Students across the state are also organizing a strike. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I stand in full support of a general strike in solidarity with Wisconsin public workers.

Does NWU have a position on the possibility of a general strike? Can you offer me any advice or guidance as I consider whether to strike? Thanks for anything you can help me with. – A.


A. - Personally, I am all for a General Strike to answer Walker's attacks on Wisconsin's workers. And I am equally sure that such a bold action would have the full support of the National Writers Union and the UAW. Collective bargaining was won through struggle and apparently, it will take even more struggle to keep it. A General Strike would up the ante, build unity among all workers and inspire workers around the US and the world. The fact is, that is what really happened in Egypt, as tens of thousands of workers struck from Cairo to Alexandria to the Suez Canal. With the army in control and their demands still not met, many are still on strike today.

I know that the Madison-area Central Labor Council has voted for a General Strike and I hope they stick to their guns. It isn't clear that the national AFL-CIO leadership is ready for that. I just received an email burst from them saying that the WI unions were beginning a recall petition of all the politicians who voted to strip them of their rights, and asking us to contact our elected officials around the country. Frankly, that would not be my first reaction.

I'm with the Madison Firefighter's Association and the students who are organizing for a strike. If you have a "day job" in addition to your writing career, my advice is to urge your co-workers to join any strike that takes place. If you can't win them all and there is a group of you willing to walk out, do it. Maybe that will help others to see more clearly. If you are a full-time freelancer, do whatever you can to support and spread any strikes, and I can send you a list of other NWU members in the area you can call to take action.

If you have a day job and are the only one ready to walk, you have to seriously consider the situation. Usually better not to act alone, but not always. Call me if you need a second opinion.

If you're interested in contacting other NWU members let me know. If you go the website,, you will see an NWU couple featured in front of the WI capitol and a cartoon from our member.

Good luck. Be bold. Solidarity.

Larry Goldbetter, President

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