The Line 5 oil pipeline that snakes through Wisconsin and Michigan won a key permit this month: pending federal studies and approvals, Canada-based Enbridge Energy will build a new section of pipeline and tunnel underneath the Great Lakes despite widespread Indigenous opposition. You may not have heard of Line 5, but over the next few years, the controversy surrounding the 645-mile pipeline is expected to intensify. The 70-year-old pipeline stretches from Superior, Wisconsin, through Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario, transporting up to 540,000 gallons of oil and natural gas liquids per day. It’s part of a network of more than 3,000 miles of pipelines that the company operates throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“We need to avert an oil disaster in Lake Superior. We need to save our water and our future.” That was water protector Gina Peltier’s message this summer. Peltier is one of many water protectors in the Midwest organizing against Line 5 tar sands oil pipeline in a growing movement against Canadian energy corporation Enbridge, which runs the largest oil export pipeline network in the world. On August 5, 2023, water protectors coordinated a rally and flotilla at the Fish Creek Landing in Ashland, Wisconsin at the site of one of the original Anishinaabe camps on Lake Superior.
Appleton, Wisconsin – On Saturday, September 23, students, faculty, and other members of the Fox Valley community gathered at Lawrence University’s Warch Cinema in defense of the Tampa 5. In their second stop on their national tour, Lauren Pineiro and Chrisley Carpio of the Tampa 5 spoke to the LU community. Opening with chants of ‘drop the charges now!’ and ‘fight back!’, the Tampa 5 representatives spoke in detail of their case and its repercussions to the group of 35 people. For some, it was their first time hearing of the infuriating case, where the five protesters are facing five to ten years in prison on false charges.
Ashland, Wisconsin — Canadian oil corporation Enbridge has been ordered to shut down its Line 5 tar sands oil pipeline and pay the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians $5.1 million. Chief Judge William M. Conley of the U.S. District Court for Wisconsin ruled on June 16, 2023 that Enbridge must adopt a more conservative shutdown and purge plan for its remaining time on the Bad River Indian Reservation. Water protectors gathered on the day of the ruling in Ashland, Wisconsin to demand the immediate emergency shutdown of Line 5. Unicorn Riot heard from water protectors on the state of the Line 5 fight and why they actively protest.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed a budget package Tuesday that includes what could be the biggest voucher school expansion since the program started 30 years ago. You would be excused for having flashbacks to the work of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who championed school privatization and greatly expanded the state’s voucher program in 2014. The deal that Evers, a Democrat, supported is a package of bills that were signed along with the state budget and which could increase private school voucher enrollment by 40% statewide. It could effectively be such a strong push toward privatization that it would put the state’s public schools in crisis, pulling students and the funding the goes with them out of already cash strapped public school districts.
The Canadian oil company Enbridge has been ordered to pay the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa $5 million in damages for trespassing and to gradually shut down part of its Line 5 pipeline in Wisconsin after a federal judge found that the company has placed the tribe's sacred land at risk of an environmental disaster. U.S. District Judge William Conley of the Western District of Wisconsin handed down the ruling on Friday after the Bad River Band argued in court that there are now fewer than 15 feet between parts of Line 5 and the Bad River following the partial erosion of the riverbank in recent months.
The Fritz Food Pantry in Madison prides itself on providing a wide variety of foods and ingredients to accommodate as many diets, allergies and food preferences as possible. Their approach speaks not just to the continuing hunger crisis exacerbated by the pandemic; food pantries like The Fritz have also been shown to have an important influence on the dietary health of their customers. But just because a variety of healthy foods and ingredients are offered doesn’t mean that every visitor has the ability to put recipes together at home. So Abby Warfel, a volunteer turned part-time pantry assistant, had an idea: assembling step-by-step, HelloFresh-inspired meal kits.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - On April 20, after two years of fighting by the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and victimized families, a new policy that guarantees the public release of police camera footage after critical incidents was passed by the Fire and Police Commission (FPC). This policy requires the Milwaukee Police Department to release video footage of any critical incidents to the victim’s next of kin within 48 hours and to the public within 15 days. While the Milwaukee Alliance and their allies were demanding the 48-hour public release of footage and 24-hour release of the names of police officers involved, it is a massive step forward towards police transparency and accountability in Milwaukee.
Madison, Wisconsin - People gathered at Truax Field in Madison early Monday morning to oppose the F-35 fighter jets that are scheduled to arrive this spring. Madison Veterans for Peace, Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin and Madison for a World BEYOND War hosted the demonstration. They are calling on Gov. Evers to change the mission of Truax Air National Guard to a peaceful one. And the group plans to go to the Wisconsin Capitol building at 8:45 a.m. Monday to continue its demonstration. The fighter jets have been a point of contention for years.
Madison, Wisconsin - The American Dream never seemed real to Justin Smith, who grew up in Ohio’s Akron-Canton area. Factories had vanished, taking well-paying blue-collar jobs with them. Watching his single-parent mom do her best to survive on low-wage gigs, he got used to dreaming small. Then came the pandemic, which wiped out Smith’s hotel concierge job in Madison, tossing him into a year of unemployment and depression. In 2021, at the age of 34, he found a warehouse job at a retail gaming store for $11 an hour — much less than he’d earned before. It was a financial heartbreak millions of workers know well.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - The Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals (WFNHP) Local 5000 held a rally and picket outside of the Milwaukee home of Bernie Sherry, the CEO of Ascension Wisconsin, one of his many houses. The January 4 action was in response to the abrupt announcement of the December 23 closure of St. Francis Hospital’s Labor and Delivery (L+D) Unit. The staff losing their jobs as a result of this closure wants their union to back them in fighting to have their services reopen. WFNHP- a union of fighters- will do whatever it takes to reopen St. Francis’s L+D unit. This is not just standing up for the union jobs lost, but the fatal risk it will bring to the predominantly Latino, Chicano, immigrant and uninsured populations that this hospital mainly serves.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - More than 60 workers and union members from Ascension St. Francis Hospital (SFH), together with community supporters, gathered outside Milwaukee’s city hall on the evening of December 20. The event was called for by the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (WFNHP) Local 5000, the union which represents nurses and technical and service employees at the hospital. The purpose for the rally was to raise awareness around the services being cut at the hospital, specifically management’s decision to close down the labor and delivery department. This closure isn’t only significant because of the jobs being lost, but because it is the only unit of its kind on Milwaukee’s South Side, home to many working Chicano/Mexicano families.
Oneida, Wisconsin – On November 9, over 50 people gathered on the Oneida Indian Reservation in northeast Wisconsin to show solidarity with the Oneida people and all indigenous people as a Supreme Court decision regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) looms. The crowd included members of the Oneida Tribal Nation, concerned community members and several organizations that helped facilitate the event. The gathered community members, both tribal and not, were met with hospitality from the Oneida hosts, with homemade corn soup and community-building conversation being shared before the speakers began. The first speaker had firsthand experience seeing the effects of harsh U.S. policy concerning the children of oppressed groups.
Madison, Wisconsin - At Madison, Wisconsin’s nine public libraries, residents can check out books of all kinds, from hardbacks and paperbacks to ebooks and audiobooks. They can check out movies as DVDs and Blu-rays. And since last year, library card holders can also check out electric bicycles. Madison’s public libraries are part of a growing number of bike libraries in cities and towns from coast to coast. A list of U.S. bike lending libraries curated by StreetsblogMASS reporter Grecia White documents 35 such programs, from Vermont to Texas. While they all look a little different and work a little differently, they all do the same thing — increase free access to bikes.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison was a hotbed of student radicalism in the 1960s. Unlike some other centers of campus opposition to the Vietnam War, left-wing activists there were among the first of their generation to organize around issues related to their own mistreatment as workers. In 1963, undergraduates employed in campus jobs formed a Wisconsin Student Employees Union to force the administration to raise their wages to the federal minimum (a 50 cent per hour increase). Seven years later, the UW Teaching Assistants Association organized the first TA strike in U.S. history, a 24-day walk-out that won union recognition. UW graduates shaped by that experience went on to play key roles in the labor movement, locally, state-wide, and in others states.