Bringing Change: Middle Class Mobilization
Earlier this year, Wisconsin’s public employees faced a total revocation of hard-earned collective bargaining rights. As we pointed out in June, collective bargaining and a well-organized workforce protect the middle class.
Wisconsin has epitomized the struggle of the modern middle class: pro-worker organizations from across the country rallied behind the public employees to help them fight for their rights. Soon, anticipated 2,000 person rallies organically became 10,000 person marches and when it came time to hold politicians accountable, the pattern continued.
Wisconsin’s middle class movement recalled two conservative state senators last week, slimming the conservative majority down to one seat in their State Senate. Because two out of six Senators were recalled in the special election, many are quick to dismiss this as a loss for Wisconsin workers’ groups and the middle class. In reality, it’s a huge win.  12,000 volunteers worked for months to contact over 1 million voters in recall districts and knocked on 125,000 doors the last weekend alone. This grassroots mobilization to fight for middle class values, even when facing a $35 million opposition from mostly corporate funders, exemplifies how change can come through solidly organizing the power of real people who are on the ground and have something at stake.
Oregon has experienced similar mobilization: In 2010, 250 organizations across Oregon stood together to protect vital services that the middle class depends on, such as public safety, education and healthcare. By marginally increasing taxes on Oregon’s wealthiest and raising the state corporate minimum tax for the first time in nearly 80 years, the middle class was able to keep treading water against the floods of recession. The passage of Measures 66 & 67 was a victory for Oregon’s middle class and a valuable lesson.
When the middle class stands together, change happens. Harnessing the power of volunteers and various organizations into a collation has proven to work, both here in Oregon and across the nation. This leaves an infrastructure of relationships and alliances that can quickly re-form to defend the middle class, should attacks on workers’ rights or vital services happen again.
 Defend Wisconsin: http://www.defendwisconsin.org/
 The Wisconsin Voter: http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/127270843.html
 Wisconsin Working Families Win 2 of 6 in Recall Elections: http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/08/10/wisconsin-working-families-win-2-of-6-in-recall-elections/
 Oregon Voters Deliver Victory for State's Middle Class: http://voteyesfororegon.org/