Friday, March 30, 2012

How David Beat Goliath. Georgians United Defeat SB469.


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

Art Courtesy of Shab
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) that 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.

Officers stationed outside of House Gallery
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.


Clock Strikes Midnight, We Killed This Bill.