As the protesting spirit spreads in Wisconsin, one tactic that union members are now adopting is to take aim at institutions that have donated heavily to Governor Scott Walker.
Members of the Wisconsin firefighters union set out for a local branch of the M & I Bank on Thursday to withdraw their personal savings. The UpTake, which describes itself as “a citizen-fueled, online video news gathering organization,” reports that “on Thursday members of the union withdrew close to $200,000 from the bank.”
A website titled “Keep on eye on Marshall & Ilsley Bank” had been targeting the M & I Bank since last month. “After working families gave Marshall and Ilsley Bank (M&I) a $1.7 billion bailout in 2008,” the site explains, “their executives did an about face and funded Governor Scott Walker’s attack on our right to collectively bargain. In fact, their financial help combined was more than what the Koch Brothers contributed. And while Governor Walker was demanding austerity from working people, M&I CEO Mark Furlong got an $18 million golden parachute. Even after the bank was having difficulty paying back its TARP loan.”
Good idea. Don’t launch costly strikes that might alienate nonunion workers. Go after entities that channeled funds to the creep behind the bill that crushed your collective bargaining rights. It’s the sort of tactic that might force the fickle mainstream press to keep the issue in the news and make a big difference in efforts to recall Walker and state senators who thumbed their noses not only at organized labor but at the democratic process.
The story began when Walker, not content to cripple the unions, decided to kill them. Arguably, he forced people to pay attention and realize Republicans were attacking unions not because of budgetary concerns but rather to scuttle the main funding source of Democratic candidates.
Union leaders are saying the boycott will target all businesses perceived as being Walker allies. Susie Madrak in Crooks & Liars noted the bank boycott was supposed to start March 17 if the bank — which claims it didn’t contribute to Walker’s campaign — refused to publicly withdraw its support of Walker’s attack on collective bargaining. But things got off to an early start Thursday after the bill was sneaked through and angry workers converged to close their accounts.
Maybe Walker’s power grab will turn out to be not only a gift to Wisconsin’s labor movement but a wake-up call for working people all over the country. Does anyone reading this think PA Gov. Tom Corbett or NJ Gov. Chris Christie aren’t as beholden to corporate anti-unionists as Walker?