Mitt Romney jetted into Poland Monday, as part of a push to win Polish-American votes in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and other battleground states. And how does an American presidential candidate “do” Poland? By posing for photos with Lech Wałęsa, the former Polish president who—like Ronald Reagan—was once a union leader.
But don’t think that the grip-and-grin session with Walesa signaled that Romney, who has run a militantly anti-union campaign (even airing television commercials that promote so-called “right-to-work” laws and assaults on public employees), is moving toward a more mainstream stance as regards the rights of labor. Wałęsa long ago abandoned the union movement for politics, and like Reagan he’s tended toward the right side of the political spectrum.
So what do the heirs to the Polish labor activism of the 1980s say? What do the hundreds of thousands of activists who maintain the Solidarność (Solidarity) union as a major force in today’s Poland say?
“Solidarność is in no way involved in the organization of this meeting nor had the initiative to invite Mitt Romney to Poland,” the 700,000-member union announced Monday.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka put the pieces together with a stinging rebuke of Romney.
“The story of the Polish resistance is one of a country gaining strength from bottom-up organizing on behalf of the whole country,” said Trumka. “I wish Romney would pause and learn the lessons of the Polish labor movement’s courageous resistance to communism rather than just treat Poland as yet another photo op. Romney needs to step back and reject the George W. Bush/Bain Capital model of top down economics and recognize that we are all stronger when we stand together.”
Joseph Williams moved more than 30 times as a child, living in homeless shelters, church basements, and the homes of family friends. Now Williams, a junior safety on the University of Virginia football team, is taking up a cause supporting university workers who are barely making enough to get by.
Williams is one of 18 Virginia students participating in a hunger strike — now more than a week long — to protest the poor wages paid to many of the university’s service employees. The strike, organized by the school’s Living Wage Campaign, began on February 17 with the goal of getting a living wage for underpaid employees. “I know first-hand what the economic struggle is like for many of these underpaid workers,” Williams wrote in an essay explaining his participation.
This is a marvelous display of solidarity. Good on the UVA students and Joseph Williams both.
By far the most mind-blowing thing I’ve ever watched.
This literally made me grin like a fool: solidarity ♥
I support unions because I believe in basic things like safe working conditions and fair wages, and because I’m a fan of weekends and not a fan of child labor. But I also support unions because I appreciate how much they’ve done to improve working conditions for women.
Unions have pushed for equal pay for equal work, taken a stand against sexual harassment in the workplace, and helped women bargain for child care, maternity leave, and reproductive health care coverage. Union women have helped to fight these battles on behalf of all women, and for that I am grateful.
According to the Journal Sentinel:
Gov. Scott Walker is expecting a recall attempt and already trying to organize his supporters to prevent it.
There’s a march planned for Aug. 25th. For more info, visit their new Facebook page.
Who’s ready for all the poll-watching parties? This lady.
Wisconsin is FIRED UP.
We’re going to set an example for the rest of you and show you how grassroots progressivism is done. Apparently, the country forgot.
I will be live-blogging the results as they come in.
Starting to trickle in now. Watching Maddow. Ed Schultz is in WI so will be covering until the deals are done.
Dancing at the Wisconsin Capitol building today during the solidarity sing-a-long. I love this!
For the past six years, the Steelworkers have been motivated by the idea that fighting for better wages and conditions in Mexico is not only an act of solidarity, but could also protect U.S. jobs by bridging the chasm between labor costs and relieving the pressure for northern migration.