American unions will fight till the end
“We’re going to stay strong until the end,” said protesters in the Midwest.
For over two weeks, major protests that kicked off in Wisconsin and spread to other states have been raging on in a fight for workers rights.
“You’re seeing protests emerge in small little towns that nobody organized. People just showed up at city hall. You’re seeing this spontaneous action, and i think this is going to start spreading throughout the United States,” said journalist and activist Mike Elk in Wisconsin.
To begin with, the demonstrators were not asking for much.
“The only message is just not to take away the collective bargaining rights,” explained protester Jay Allen.
But as state politicians proved set to chop up union laws that gave stability to government workers, the people’s outrage grew stronger.
“That’s scary. There needs to be oversight. There needs to be a democratic process,” explained Kristen, who has been demonstrating in Wisconsin for days.
The Congress building in Wisconsin has become a symbol of a working class fed up, and as politicians – both state and federal – continued to ignore the calls of the people, their voice has only been getting louder in the biggest middle class uprising America has seen in years.
“Why isn’t the President getting more involved? Because it is affecting a lot of the states, and it’s going to keep spreading,” asked Sarah Thomas, a student who has been protesting inside the capitol building for over a week.
During his election campaign, Obama promised to walk in lock step with America’s workers, but in reality he has stayed far away from the people who have been begging him for support.
“Probably because he is forced to play politics like everybody else. Forced to pander. I voted for Obama, but I am tired of democrats turning their backs,” said Eric Wallman who drove in from Canada to be part of the protests with his baby son.
This sentiment grew even stronger as Americans remembered Wall Street not being similarly ignored when its actions spun the economy out of control.
“If we allow the right wing media, and the Glen Becks to convince us that this problem is about state workers, and not about JP Morgan Chase – Jamie Dimon got 17 million in bonuses – then we might as well pack it in. We're here because of Wall Street reckless gambling and greed. People are suffering," said Mary Bottari, Director of the Real Economy Project of the Center for Media and Democracy.
As days of protesting turned into weeks, a realization of being left to fend for themselves hit many.
“When the President took office, there was this feeling that someday the President would just save everybody. People don’t feel that way anymore. They feel like they have to fight for themselves,” said Elk.
Some began stressing that if the massive uprising continues to be ignored, the tide could turn on Obama.
“President Obama will not win 2012 without states like Wisconsin,” explained Bottari.
An end to the battle of the workers is nowhere in sight. It opened up wounds that are unlikely to heal in an America now so divided along political and class lines.