Wisconsin Poor People’s Campaign holds teach-in

On June 13th, the Wisconsin Poor People’s Campaign (WI-PPC) held a virtual statewide discussion analyzing three major areas of Governor Evers’ proposed State Budget impacting the lives of working class Wisconsinites: health care, housing and worker justice.

While there is much the WI-PPC supports in the Evers proposal, it is simply insufficient to meet the needs of the over two million poor and low wealth Wisconsinites, particularly after the pandemic.

At best, Evers’ proposals offer only incremental progress when bold, transformative changes are needed instead to counter the thirty year assault on the working class and the poor that has been perpetrated by both political parties. We have a wealth disparity of tens of trillions of dollars between the top one percent and the bottom 90%, disproportionately hurting women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), Asians, Native, and Pacific Islanders.

Over 313,000 Wisconsinites are either under insured or uninsured. The U.S. spends twice as much on healthcare than other industrialized nations, yet we suffer worse health outcomes, especially in life expectancy and maternal/infant mortality. Over 60% of all bankruptcies are  due to medical bills. Evers cannot pass Medicaid expansion and his idea of a public option would leave tens of millions uncovered; it is also costlier by $600 billion compared to a single payer approach (i.e., Medicare for all). Evers has no plan to cancel medical debt.

Housing costs and large scale acquisition of homes by multibillionaire asset manager groups such as Black Rock, as well as a gross miscalculation of the number of true homelessness — by half — paint a bleak future for working and low income people securing a safe abode or buying a home and building equity.

Forty two percent of Wisconsin renters now pay more than the accepted 30% of their income on rent. Up to 75,000 Wisconsinites could be facing eviction once the moratorium lifts. Evers’ approach is not large enough to address the actual need for affordable secure housing either through monetary assistance or construction/remediation of structures to be converted to homes. He does not cancel rental/mortgage defaults or late fees.

On wages and worker justice, we are experiencing the longest period for which minimum wage has remained unchanged, while worker productivity and corporate profits have soared.

If workers’ share of the national wealth had been maintained from the years prior to the 1980s, our median income would be double what it is now. This gap has widened while union representation has dropped precipitously, particularly in Wisconsin. Four of the nation’s top 15 cities where membership has dropped the most have been in Wisconsin, ranking between second and eighth on the list. Right-to-work laws are not challenged in Evers’ proposal and a gradual increase to $10.15 minimum wage is terribly inadequate to meet peoples’ needs.

The Poor People’s Campaign, with key support of unions, is building a national fusion movement of BIPOC, immigrants (documented and undocumented), and white people to overcome systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, inadequate healthcare, the war economy and the rise of a destructive moral narrative based in religious nationalism.

Our demands follow the principles of acknowledging harm and undoing it (justice); everybody is deserving of our nation’s vast abundance. Lifting from the bottom up will raise everyone — no trickle down; all debt that can’t be paid must be relieved, and leadership of  poor and low income workers is needed to solve these immoral inequalities. The struggle persists after the votes in the legislature have been counted.

As expressed through our Jubilee Platform document, we demand:

  • Single payer healthcare for all with expansion of health care clinics and hospitals
  • Secure housing for all
  • $15/hr minimum wage, increasing to a more comprehensive housing wage of $23/hr, indexing annually to inflation
  • Institution of major job programs to address our housing shortage and transition to green energy promptly —  much of the infrastructure improvements will be started within communities most impacted historically
  • Expand workers’ abilities to organize and work safely

We are organizing around support for passage of the 3rd Reconstruction Resolution currently on the floor of Congress, a comprehensive remedy to poverty and systemic inequality. We will be holding a National Assembly of poor and low wage workers June 21 virtually, building to an in-person National March on Washington June 18, 2022.

Please go to the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival website or Facebook page for more information on this resolution, the  National Assembly, and our Jubilee Platform.

Contact the Wisconsin Poor People’s Campaign at wisconsin@poorpeoplescampaign.org to find out more about your area of the state and to get involved.