Labor Organizer Calls for a Nationwide Workers' Strike

Last week, the local AFL-CIO federation in Wisconsin decided to "inform" their members about what a general strike would entail. It was a big deal -- general strikes are illegal in the United States, which is why we have not experienced one since the 1930s.

Over at the Huffington Post,Corey Hutchins reports that "a high-profile South Carolina union leader said Wednesday that he doesn't see any other way for the labor movement to win the battle against an anti-union bill in Wisconsin than to call for a general workers strike if such legislation passes."

Kenny Riley, who heads up the Charleston local 1422 of the International Longshoremen's Association - the largest and most powerful union in the Palmetto State - is a bright star among the national union leadership.

He's heading to Cleveland today for the Emergency Labor Meeting.




Riley's main worry is what will happen after all the rallies and protests that brought the debate over workers rights and collective bargaining onto the front pages of newspapers and prime-time TV broadcasts.

In Wisconsin, for instance, if Republican Gov. Scott Walker ends up passing a bill that strips collective bargaining rights, what good was all that noise?

"I don't see any other way than [proposing] a general workers strike," Riley says. "I would actually want to have a call for a general strike before the bill is passed."

Riley plans to say as much during the Cleveland meeting tonight.

Riley says he's tired of having feel-good meetings and isn't looking forward to listening to labor experts or historians talk in the abstract.

For his part, Riley is ready to move forward with warnings about the prospect of a nationwide general workers strike in response to the anti-collective bargaining legislation in Wisconsin, even if workers never actually have to pick up a picket sign.



AlterNet / By Joshua Holland

Posted at March 3, 2011, 9:41am

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