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The Madison-Raleigh Non Stop

Labor Rights Article in the N&O

Article sur la demande du droit de grève
Raleigh, Caroline du Nord

On February 22, I was invited in the Forum du Mouv," a Radio France Broadcast from Paris, to talk about the evolution of the migration of the Arab revolution on the U.S. front. That day the news had arrived that there had been some protests in Raleigh asking for the rebirth of the right to engage in collective bargaining in North Carolina. the podcast is linked below, and the translation follows. The podcast of my prior intervention on the original development in Wisconsin, is in the post below, or here.

Le 22 Février 2011, j'ai été invité dans le Forum du Mouv' pour parler de l'évolution de la transmission de l'esprit révolutionnaire arabe sur le front Américain. Ce jour là, la Caroline du Nord avait fait l'objet de manifestations demandant la réinstallation du droit de grève, perdu depuis 1959. Le Podcast est ci-dessous, celui de mon intervention précédente lors du déclenchement du mouvement dans le Wisconsin, est dans le billet précèdent ou ici.

La traduction du podcast est bien entendu pour le bénéfice des anglophoones.


: 01 45 24 20 20 to join us, we are going to talk about the sitcom "Skins" in a moment, but before that we are going to take a short trip to the U.S.A., isn't it, it is Jean-Christian who is here with us? ... How are you doing Jean-Christian ?

J-C : Yes, I am doing fine thank you, good evening.

ERIC LANGE : We come for some news, because a few days ago you were announcing to us that a revolution had started in Wisconsin.., nobody believed me here... it's funny, it is not talked about much here in the media ...

J-C : Well, you know, it is as always, even more so in France which is a country relatively conservative from an ideological point of view, ... not politically ... the French mind structure is conservative, which is why they always elect Presidents who are beyond 50 years old or even beyond 60, and consequently, I think that people have a hard time admitting to themselves that a movement.., how should I say, .. political, revolutionary, which begins in the Middle East, in the Arab world, may contaminate a Country as developed, as superior, as.. whatever as the U.S.A, but that is nevertheless what is going on...

ERIC LANGE : What is indeed going on.. I precise in two words who you are, Jean-Christian has a long history with us in the show, he has been living in the U.S. for ... a very long time, he is a photographer, and the other day you told us about this story in Wisconsin, where the Republican Governor wanted to pass a bill lowering State Employees compensation, and taking away some of their benefits, and consequently, in a surprising fashion for the U.S., there are thousands of Americans who marched in the streets in Madison.. where are we about that...?

J-C : The situation is rather in stand by if you will. In English we would say "stalemate," things are stagnating. We have on one side the Governor who is hunkered down on his position, and on the other side we have the protesters who do not back down either, because in fact, the most contemptuous aspect is that the Governor wants the abolition of right to strike for public employees, although in fact it is not as much the right to strike that he is after. In English there is something called "collective bargaining," and in France we do not dissociate the two, as evidently one goes on strike when demanding something, is the U.S. it is not as much the right t strike that would be withdrawn, as the right to get together to negotiate collectively: "collective bargaining." Is there a name in French for that?..

ERIC LANGE : The right to negotiate.. no..

J-C : Collective negotiations, if you will, what the C.G.T. the C.F.D.T. and Cny do.. and so, he wants to abolish that, because he is explaining us that otherwise things get too expensive, because State employees can then exercise pressures that are unbearable,,. .. and if we were to buy what he says, we would think that the State always has to backdown facing the pressure from its employees, and is always forced to pay them more. So we the wonder then how it is that all those employees are not millionaires, because if that is so, might as well ask for the same pay as in Wall St.... But.. that's how he sees it..

ERIC LANGE : But you, in your own look at things, from your own prism, it is evident that those movements in the U.S. are influenced by what has happened in the Magreb?

J-C : Well yes, in fact is not even I who demonstrated that, it is you....

Laughs ...

J-C : When we spoke Friday, it is you who fetched--I would love to have that picture--you told me that yu found that photograph in the Canadian press in which some guy was holding a sign in arabic that meant "Get Out" (as in Tunisia)...

ERIC LANGE : yes, that's right, a guy who had copied in arabic the sign "Get Out" which he had presumably saw on TV or on the net, that's right..

J-C : So, you saw the photograph ?

ERIC LANGE : yes, I saw the photograph, i need to fetch on which blog, site that was ...

J-C : Please retrieve it, send it to me, I would like to put that photograph on my own blog..

ERIC LANGE : I think it was on Cyberpress.ca, you know, that site which regroups press from Canada

J-C : Cyberpress.ca, I'll look for it....

ERIC LANGE : ..But has it grown now..

J-C : ..Well, I don't know if you recall, Friday at the end of our conversation I was saying that "Yes with a little luck, the movement will spread all the way to North Carolina .. one may always dream." these are my words from Friday. And this morning, the dream turns reality, I see, front page in my paper, the Raleigh paper, the North Carolina State's Capital. It was a little on the side, but it was nevertheless front page, that there had been a protest yesterday in Raleigh, asking for the reinstallation of collective bargaining rights in North Carolina (see article here), and clearly the article was linking that to what is going on in Wisconsin. There is therefore a snowball effect if you will, what is going on in Tunisia influences Egypt, what is going on in Egypt influences Wisconsin, what goes on in Wisconsin now influences people in North Carolina, on the whole those folks are black, because blacks in North Carolina, in the South as a general matter, are the ones who have the most.. have the most interest.., the largest tendency, to be pro-unionist, .. sorry, that's English, pro-union, they are the most likely to have "ethnic" opinions .. no, that's no correct either, well.. you know what I mean, they have a strong sensibility for a vision of society which would be more "Socialist" than wild Capitalism, if you will...

ERIC LANGE : "Socialism" is a bad word in United States...

J-C : "Socialism" ? Oh yes, it is a very very bad word ...

ERIC LANGE : Jean-Christian, I am surprised, I have been wondering since the beginning of this story, if really ... Because you know, we talk of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, China, Bahrein, .. and now we talk of the United States.., I don't know what is going on... Is there really something...

J-C : We need TV crews to re-focus on the United States, because here is the main field of operation now..giggle...

ERIC LANGE : You are going to see that we are going to be guilty of .... giggle...

J-C : Yes, well, I don't know if we are going to be responsible for it, but I think that... Everything is there.., there are pressures, political ones, social ones, which are strong,.. in the United States at the end of the day, as there was in the Arab world when all this started,.. maybe a little less strong in the U.S. .. but no matter what, if one wanted to look into it, .. much stronger than one imagines I think, in France anyhow, .. and then .. that creates.. that allows, .. that motivates people in doing something, I mean after a while .. enough is enough.. and...

ERIC LANGE : Well, .. Americans are starting to change. Jean-Christian ? Thank you, thank you for the news, we keep in touch, and we follow this, I am going to follow this up close...

J-C : Well, very well, and send the TV crews will you?

ERIC LANGE : Ok, I am going to send teh TV crews, ok. Hey Jean-Christian, that's it, Anneka put a link to your blog, on our blog, if the listeners want to discover your work and all your photographs.

J-C : Thank you very much.

ERIC LANGE : you are welcome, thank you very much Jean-Christian...

J-C : Talk to you soon Eric.

ERIC LANGE : Talk to you soon. 01 45 24 20 20 of course if you want to talk of the United States with us, and Jean-Christian's blog, you go on the forum's blog, ericlange.org, you will find the link to go see everything he does.


The Cairo-Madison Express

Pyramide 1972

The Cairo-Madison Express

On February 18, I was invited in the Forum du Mouv," a Radio France Broadcast from Paris, to talk about the possible contamination of the Egyptian revolution into the U.S. through Wisconsin. the podcast is linked below, and the translation follows.

The photograph above is rather unremarkable, but is one of the very few I have left from what I photographed in 1972, the only time I ever went to Egypt, and my early debut in photography. My mother, step father and your immodest reporter, took a two week cruse around the mediterranean that summer, organized by the "benefit bureau" of the State company that they were working for. It is the same organization that in 2009 allowed us to spend "
A Socialist Vacation among Princes and Divinities" but that is a different story, for later. The cruse brought us in several Arab countries, our first encounter with that culture otherwise present in our streets, but with which we never interacted. It is during that trip on a Russian cruse liner (yes, the benefit bureau was a little run by communists) that I started my companionship with photography. My father had lent me his Foca, a 1950's French take on the Leica, and all was captured on Kodachrome 25.

In those days I listened to a lot of Crosby Stills Nash & Young ....


ERIC LANGE : 01 45 24 20 20 If you would like to add some opinion about the reliability of information on the web.... The revolution has started in the United States and we'll talk about it in a minute, just after the announcements, please stay with us ...

ERIC LANGE : 01 45 24 20 20 If you would like to continue, and this time it is indeed Jean-Christian who is with us, good evening Jean-Christian ...

J-C : Yes, good evening, good evening Eric. It was weird earlier to hear my name, I thought "but I am not on the phone" ... (Eric had announced the previous caller as "Jean Christian" while his name was really "Christian")

ERIC LANGE : But yes, what is going on ...? Tell me Jean-Christian, you sent us an email earlier on, and I therefore looked on the net, and as we were talking earlier in the show of verifying infos on the net, I looked around, and all this seems perfectly true, there would be like a perfume of revolution in Wisconsin, a State of the U.S.A. ?

J-C : Yes, yes, the ways of the lord are unfathomable are they? Who would have guessed that a revolutionary movement or a revolutionary aspiration that would have originated in the Middle East or in the Magreb, would end up so quickly contaminating the U.S.? Who would have guessed that?

ERIC LANGE : We need to briefly recount the story. In Wisconsin, stop me if I am wrong, there is a Republican Governor, who yesterday wanted to pass a budget that was going to restrain public services a lot, and consequently, there has been some protests.

J-C : Yes, well if we wanted to develop the analogy, we could say "A governor/Dictator" because, sure, he has been elected, but he was elected in a State, Wisconsin, which is traditionally a State more or less to the left of the political spectrum, on the whole, just as there are some districts in France which are more traditionally Socialist than U.M.P (President Sarkozy's party). And one day they made a mistake, they voted Republican, in the last election, because they were seduced by some sirens, but nevertheless, Wisconsin is not Alabama or Oklahoma. And here we have a Governor, who like many Governors nowadays in the U.S. is forced to.. has to deal with some atrocious budget circumstances because with the crisis they have less and less revenues and yet there is still just as much expenses to face.

Something needs to be done, but the only thing he can think of doing is proposing to eliminate positions, and distribute pay cuts. And on the top of that, which is already plenty controversial, and to spice the sauce, that Governor adds to the bill a provision that will take away bargaining rights. That is something that already exists in a number of States in America, notably in the South where I live. In North Carolina, folks like my wife who are State Employees, since she is an elementary school teacher, do not have bargaining rights, and God knows that is not good. In Wisconsin they have kept that right, and they are threatened to have it taken away. so they are not happy at all and they take it to the streets.

But there is something that is even more hilarious, although what preceded was actually not funny, so it becomes hilarious when we learn that there are 19 Republican Senators in Wisconsin, and 14 Democrats. 19 vs. 14 the Republicans are bound to win all the times, except that in order for a vote to happen, there needs to be a quorum of 20. So yesterday, the Democrat Senators of Wisconsin, that's unbelievable, they left.

ERIC LANGE : They left the State altogether to prevent the vote to take place!

J-C : They left the State and as of this morning in my paper, nobody knew where they were. For all I know they are in the studio next to yours, or in Canada, we don't know, because they left Wisconsin since if it was possible to apprehend them, they could be forced to take a vote.

ERIC LANGE : You are telling me that in an American State called Wisconsin, the Republican Senator in place, huh.. the Governor, sorry, wanted to pass a list of reforms, of bills, that the population is protesting in the streets, that opposition Senators have left the State in order to prevent a vote to take place. But when I looked I saw some photographs, it seems that some folks were occupying the place, aren't they?

J-C : Yes! Necessarily, all this creates a synergy. When I make an analogy with Egypt or Tunisia, it seems a little stretched at first ...

ERIC LANGE : huh, yes, a little ...

J-C : But in fact it not that much stretched, because the problem is still along the same lines. If you want, we have in the U.S. ... The top one percent in the U.S. owns 40% of the wealth, and 22% of earnings, these are official statistics, I don't make them up, and if were declining the whole picture--we might not have time on the air right now--we would discover that there are discrepancies in revenues, in wealth, and therefore in power that are unbearable. Consequently when we arrive in crisis situations such as now, when there is a real issue of revenues (for the State), we deal with some characters who are eventually in position of power like this Wisconsin Governor, who would rather resort to pass bills that would be already unbearable due to the pay cuts, that if they were implemented in France, I mean, would set the Country on fire ... And then as if that wasn't enough he wants to modify laws as to take away the right to strike and to collectively bargain... I don't know, where are we now, Burkina Faso ?...

ERIC LANGE : What is crazy is that for once Americans have come down in the streets. It is rather rare, that they protest, occupy places, that they start such a political action to counter a decision ... it is rather crazy stuff...

J-C : it sure isn't common, and we can't help wonder ... maybe the Egyptians have inspired the folks in Wisconsin....

ERIC LANGE : Well, I don't know, I saw somewhere, .. it was in the Canadian Press. they were explaining that they had noticed an American protester who was there, in Wisconsin, it's Madison huh, the town's name, he had a little sign with written in arabic "Get Out" (what folks were writing and saying in Tunisia). And so I imagine that the guy had seen the news, and he copied ... it is a real acknowledgement from one protester to the ones in Egypt.

J-C : It is not possible to state that the spirit of Egypt or Tunisia ...

ERIC LANGE : no no but ...

J-C : And still ....

ERIC LANGE : And still one may wonder ...

J-C : Yes, we may wonder because, it is also true that in the U.S. as in France and practically anywhere, a lot of attention has been paid to the events in Egypt, above all, because they understand (the Americans) the implications that this has about the relationship between the U.S. and the Arab world,, if you wish, it is talked about all the time, even last night in the news there was a ton on Egypt, so somewhere no, it is not innocent ...

ERIC LANGE : it does not come out of nowhere, no. Jean-Christian, in any case, thank you for telling us, and keep us informed, next week, so that we know what is going on.

J-C : My pleasure, and maybe by contagion it will spread everywhere and maybe even in North Carolina, one may always dream huh?

ERIC LANGE : Thanks a lot Jean-Christian, thank you, we'll follow it. Is Wisconsin becoming the Tunisia of the United States? It is crazy!

Le Cairo-Madison Express

Le 18 Février 2011, j'ai été invité dans le Forum du Mouv' pour parler de la possible contamination des Etats Unis par la révolution Egyptienne au travers du Wisconsin. Les similitudes ne sont pas si fortuites que cela, comme on le découvrira dans le Podcast ci-dessous.


La photographie à gauche n'a rien de particulièrement remarquable, mais a l'avantage d'être l'une des rares qu'il me reste d'une brève escale en Egypte en 1972, à mes tout débuts en photographie. Cet été là, ma mère, mon beau-père et votre immodeste reporter, avions fait une croisière autour de la Méditerranée, croisière organisée par le comité d'entreprise d'EDF, la CCAS dont nous bénéficions. C'est cette même CCAS qui nous permettra en 2009 de passer "Des Vacances Socialistes parmi les Princes et les Divins" mais cela est une autre histoire. Le paquebot était Russe, et c'est durant ce périple qui nous emmenait pour la première fois en visite notamment dans le monde Arabe, que je découvris la photographie. Mon père m'avait prêté son Foca, que j'alimentais avec du Kodachrome 25.

En ce temps là j'écoutais beaucoup de Crosby Stills Nash and Young ...

La photographie ci-dessus me viens grâce à la vigilance de mon ami Rodrigo Dorfman, et appartient à
The above photograph arrives here thanks to my friend Rodrigo Dorfman's vigilance, and belongs to http://twitpic.com/419nfm