The Battle of Wisconsin in early 2011 against the attempt to strip public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights was an event of enormous historical significance for the American labor movement. Directly inspired by the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, this mass movement of workers and youth in Wisconsin was part of the global uprising of 2011.
Despite ending in defeat, Wisconsin laid the basis for Occupy Wall Street later in the year and potentially marked the beginning of the end of the long, deeply demoralizing retreat of the U.S. working class.
Written by an active participant in the struggle, this pamphlet addresses why the Wisconsin uprising went down to defeat and why this was not inevitable. It recounts the role of the Democratic Party and the trade union leadership in diverting the movement into the "safer" channel of recall elections and away from class struggle. We examine the popular call for a general strike, the role of more militant labor leaders, and the role of various left organisations involved.
The defeat of the Wisconsin uprising holds bitter lessons, but it is far from over. Through their example of determined mass struggle, the workers and youth of Wisconsin ignited something that has gone far beyond their state's borders.