Friday, March 30, 2012

Taking on the 1%.... SB469 Timeline.

To some degree it matters who's in office, but it matters more how much pressure they're under from the public.    --Noam Chomsky

Well, we killed the bill.

Roger Sikes, from Atlanta Jobs with Justice just sent out this fantastic timeline of our SB469 efforts.  

Personally its an utter blur--I'm not sure if my wife remembers what I look like or not.  I've got to quickly shift gears and salvaged the grade in my Nietzsche class (and that pesky Marx paper I'm working on) as best I can.  

But great work to all who took part!  We took on the 1% and won.   Lets learn from this, improve, grow and push forward.  Its time to give the 1% a full court press.  No one will do it for us--and personally I wouldn't want to live in a world where all the solutions come down from on high (as that's how we've gotten into the mess we are in now).

Below is a recap of the successful campaign launched by a broad coalition of every day Georgians to stop SB469.

February 22nd, 2012. Word got out about the frontal assault of SB469 on the people of Georgia.

February 29th, 2012. Community allies and Occupy Atlanta held a rally with about 75 in attendance at the capitol to highlight SB469, Senator Balfour (introduced the bill) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC-they crafted the bill- ). 

March 2nd, 2012. Jobs with Justice exposes Senator Balfour as a Vice President of Waffle House. 7 Waffle House locations are targeted in Metro Atlanta and Snellville (Balfour's District) with fliers informing customers that Waffle House Execs are attacking Georgians right to free speech (  It was noted during this outreach that Georgians of all stripes -- including tea party folks -- were against this bill. 

March 5th, 2012. Georgia AFL-CIO, local unions and community partners organize a rally at the GA capitol against SB469.  About 300-400 were in attendance. The rally spontaneously marched to the closest Waffle House and held a huge picket in Balfour's honor.  Servers inside the Waffle House were tipped heavily so they know that no community angst was directed towards them. 

March 13th, 2012. 1st Mass Community Meeting was held to discuss collective strategy to stop SB469.  Over 75 folks came to this meeting and almost 40 organizations were represented.  The infrastructure for a large act of civil disobedience including bail funds and civil disobedience trainings began at this meeting.  This meeting helped to build the largest Labor/Community mobilization we have seen in Atlanta in years.

March 17th, 2012.  Mass Mobilization with 2,000+ in attendance.  Labor came out big as well as the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and other community allies.  It was great to see an undocumented student sharing her story with thousands of trade unionists.  This is when we broke through the media bubble and took control of the narrative around SB469.  It was critical to change the perception from a "bill that would stop union thugs from targeting private residences" to "a broad coalition of Georgians standing up for our 1st amendment rights and for working families." Community members contributed over $1,700.00 to bail funds and authorities started to get nervous about our plans moving forward.

March 20th, 2012. Unions and community members pack the Industrial Relations Committee meeting to give compelling testimony from union members, grandmothers, civil rights leaders, Occupy Atlanta, legal experts the tea party and more.  Media coverage is amplified through the novel alliance of the tea party, labor and Occupy.  Collective action occurred while leaving the committee hearing with participants putting free speech stickers over their mouths ().

March 26, 2012. Georgia labor organizes "Welcoming Party" for anti-worker governor Scott Walker (also backed by ALEC) who paid a visit to Georgia on this date.  Interesting that Walker came to town while the union killing SB469 was on the agenda in this state. (

March 29th, 2012. This was the last day of the legislature and last opportunity to pass SB469.  A community prayer took place in the morning followed by a press conference that garnered significant media attention.  The commitment from our coalition was huge, we had strong numbers from 9:00 am until 12:00 pm midnight.  The day/night were chaotic to say the least... The multiple amendments and committee meetings called to discuss SB469 revealed the cracks among the ranks of those pushing the corporate agenda.  There was constant communication between tour "inside strategy" which included lobbying our representatives and getting inside information on the status of the bills/votes and the "external strategy" that was mobilizing to commit non-violent civil disobedience if needed to garner national media attention and public backlash against the bill.  Over 45 police officers were present with zip ties in the house gallery while our internal allies were furiously organizing representatives against the bill.  The discipline and communication between all of our forces was significant and an example of community/labor power focused on a pragmatic and unified goal: killing the bill.  The bill was never brought to the house floor before the clock struck 12:00 midnight. We stopped this bill.  We stopped some of the most powerful political and social players including Senators Balfour, Hamrick, Cowsert and Tolleson all of whom are members of ALEC. We stopped them in Georgia.  Georgia was to be the test case for the rest of the nation.

There was much more work that went in to stopping this bill and I apologize for what I did not highlight.  We need to claim this clear victory and continue to build so that next year we can mobilize our forces to fight back against the assault on women, immigrants and the un and underemployed in this state.  With our unified victory against SB469, we have the tools and the beginnings of a strong and broad coalition to do so.

A note on the bail funds that have not been used.  We plan to hold this money in reserve to be used for future acts of non-violent civil disobedience in our state.  There is currently about $3,500 of funds. A deep thank you to all of our community members that helped to build these much needed reserves and latent power.

Much love y'all!!!!!  Let's claim this victory and continue to build moving forward.

Below are my blog posts as they appeared.... 

Thank you's go out to everyone who RT'd on twitter, spread the word on Facebook, came out to actions, and called their Rep's.   It was a blast yesterday which for me mostly entailed helping people find the restrooms and snack machines, show people how to pull their legislator from the floor, try to keep up and tweet the ever changing updates on the bill--with a sprint over to GA State to catch my philosophy class mid afternoon.

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."     ---Calvin Coolidge 

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