This is the final podcast installment of our special series of conversations with teachers, organizers, scholars, and activists in Wisconsin that TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez , Cameron Granadino (TRNN), and Hannah Faris (In These Times) recorded in the summer of 2021 as part of a special collaboration between The Real News Network and In These Times magazine for “The Wisconsin Idea.” To round out the series, we drive straight into the heart of darkness with an in-depth discussion with veteran educators and organizers Frank Emspak and Adrienne Pagac about the passage of Act 10 in Wisconsin under Republican Governor Scott Walker, the statewide protests against it, and the devastation that it has left in Wisconsin for the past 11 years. Frank Emspak is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School for Workers and a labor activist based in Madison, Wisconsin. He is a regular contributor to WORT Labor Radio, Progressive Magazine, and a range of other media outlets. Adrienne Pagac is a scholar, organizer, and former co-president of the Teaching Assistants Association. 

The statewide protests against Act 10, known as the Wisconsin Uprising, comprised one of the largest sustained collective actions in the history of the United States, and anyone who was there in 2011 will attest to the collective spirit of resistance and solidarity that the uprising embodied, and the lasting impact it left on all who participated. But the protests were ultimately unsuccessful in beating back Act 10, and the short- and long-term effects of its passage have been a disaster for working people and organized labor. How did this coordinated assault on labor come to pass in Wisconsin? And what lessons can the rest of us around the country learn from the 50-year war on workers that has changed the state of Wisconsin for generations?

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Featured Music (all songs sourced from the Free Music Archive: freemusicarchive.org)

  • Jules Taylor, “Working People Theme Song”

Pre-Production: Maximillian Alvarez, Hannah Faris, Alice Herman, Cameron Granadino, Eleni Schirmer (research consultant), John Fleissner (research consultant), John Yaggi (research consultant), Harvey J. Kaye (research consultant), Jon Shelton (research consultant), Adam Mertz (research consultant)

Studio: Cameron Granadino

Post-Production: Cameron Granadino, Stephen Frank, Kayla Rivara, Jules Taylor, Maximillian Alvarez

The Wisconsin Idea is an independent reporting project of People’s Action Institute, Citizen Action of Wisconsin and In These Times.


TRANSCRIPT

The transcript of this interview will be made available as soon as possible.

Maximillian Alvarez

Editor-in-Chief

Ten years ago, I was working 12-hour days as a warehouse temp in Southern California while my family, like millions of others, struggled to stay afloat in the wake of the Great Recession. Eventually, we lost everything, including the house I grew up in. It was in the years that followed, when hope seemed irrevocably lost and help from above seemed impossibly absent, that I realized the life-saving importance of everyday workers coming together, sharing our stories, showing our scars, and reminding one another that we are not alone. Since then, from starting the podcast Working People—where I interview workers about their lives, jobs, dreams, and struggles—to working as Associate Editor at the Chronicle Review and now as Editor-in-Chief at The Real News Network, I have dedicated my life to lifting up the voices and honoring the humanity of our fellow workers.
 
Email: max@therealnews.com
 
Follow: @maximillian_alv