by: Paula J. Gallo (Kenosha, WI - APWU)
My father is a retired UAW worker. He has been a proud member of the union for over 60 years including as a retiree. I was raised learning from and about the struggles of the working class all my life. I remember my Dad picketing and even striking, and yes, I even walked the picket line with him; for wages and improved working conditions. I have been a union member for almost 34 years and a union officer for over 25 years.
I have also witnessed the apathy of workers and union members over the last 30 years. We have become complacent, and let our rights slowly begin to slip away. We have accepted the status quo, busy with our lives and families and trying to get by. But now, that time is over. Workers woke up and saw the battle that needs to be fought. The line can never be clearer than it is today regarding what side you are on; you’re either for the rich or for the middle class.
I am so impressed by the people of Wisconsin that have finally said “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.” I have attended several rallies in Madison as well as locally. On Saturday March 12th I was in Madison and helped cheer for and welcome back our heroic “Wisconsin Fabulous 14.” Never have I been so moved by the outpouring of pride and thanks that these men and women were shown, and rightfully so. They had the courage to do what so many people only hoped that we could do. To stand up against what is wrong and fight for what is right. Now hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin citizens are awakened to fight the battle that we have ignored for years. To see all ages of people from seniors to little children, men and women, people of different religions, and ethnicity. It wasn’t just teachers, nurses and other state employees. It did not matter what your job is. Wisconsin workers and families stepped up to support all employees, not just in our state but also across this country. It was so awesome to be in Madison! Words can never describe the feelings I had. I will remember this forever.
This is our generation’s time in history to pay thanks for all that our grandparents and parents did for us in fighting the early battles. Those battles that gave us the rights to form Unions, collectively bargain, gain safety in the workplace, 40 hour work weeks, weekends, vacation pay and overtime, just to name a few. Past generations fought hard, many with their lives, to pursue the rights that we enjoy today.
Now it is our time to carry and lift that torch; to thank past generations and fight for future generations. This is our time to stand up, to be proud and fight. We are making history and I am proud to be part of it here in Wisconsin.
Actress Susan Sarandon (Top Right Photo) participated in the welcoming back of the DEM 14 in Madison on March 12.
(Photos by Paula Gallo) Click on photos to enlarge.