This article will appear in the Summer 2018 issue of New Politics.
This article will appear in the Summer 2018 issue of New Politics.
The Supreme Court’s long-anticipated – and feared by progressives – decision outlawing the collection of fees in public employee unions equivalent to costs of collective bargaining was met with indignant or defiant words, rightly decrying this attack on organized labor. The response, though, has mirrored what has been missing in labor’s understanding of how we got to this point and what we need to climb out – and win.
Reprinted from New Politics, Spring 1967, pages 95-97
Making It, by Norman Podhoretz, Random House, New York, 1967. 360 pp. $6.95.
Tynan Left and Right by Kenneth Tynan, Atheneum, New York, 1967. 479 pp. $8.95.
When I write for New Politics, I tag my blogs with key words. I wonder how many other Left publications include "teachers unions" under "labor" or include "education" as a separate topic and run critical analyses—as we do?
Teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky massed in their respective state capitols on April 2, to demand GOP legislatures revoke bills damaging to education passed in virtual stealth. The spark plug in Kentucky is a group of activist parents with teachers, #SaveOurSchools Kentucky. In both states the movement has been organized outside the official teachers unions, using social media as well as traditional organizing techniques of talking with colleagues and neighbors about the issues. Another struggle of teachers is simmering, near boil, in Arizona.
For some, the decision to support workers who strike is a given. We defend the right to join a union and exercise the right to strike in every country, as a human right. Defending the rights of workers to organize and withhold their labor when they need to use this weapon is as much a social justice issue as fighting racism, battling sexism, or protecting immigrants from deportation.
National City, CA teachers, in a contract fight themselves, show solidarity
As the AFL-CIO holds its day of action across the US, protesting what has been cast as a likely loss in the Janus case, which the Right intends to use to destroy labor and the Left, a movement of school employees in West Virginia is showing organized labor what it means to be a union without the right to strike and without collective bargaining.
In its January meeting, after a pro-forma discussion, the Delegate Assembly of the UFT (United Federation of Teachers), which still has the legal right to bargain collectively on behalf of New York City's teachers, voted down a resolution to work with community groups to support Black Lives Matter in the schools in February. LeRoy Barr, UFT's assistant secretary, co-staff director, and Chairperson of the Unity Caucus, gave the UFT leadership's rationale for rejecting the motion. Support for BLM was, he contended, a splinter issue, divisive, at a time when the union had to stay focused on what was key, the Janus decision and the threat to collective bargaining rights.
Though we wouldn’t know it from mainstream media coverage, the sigh of relief many progressives will breathe at Moore’s defeat should be tempered with the knowledge that Jones will likely not be a reliable ally on issues on which the Democrats should all be expected to fight the GOP and Trump. An exit poll of voter opinions showed over 40% of Alabama voters, Democrats and Republicans alike, gave an unfavorable rating to both parties.
The Janus case before the Supreme Court will deny public employee unions the right to require non-union members to pay their share of the union’s costs to negotiate on behalf of everyone in the bargaining unit.
The #MeToo campaign on social media, women sharing of experiences of sexual harassment, shows how a new generation of women, with male supporters, demands that we examine systemic sexual oppression. We will undoubtedly hear complaints that #Me2 is unwarranted. One predictable trope from the Right is what we heard in response to Trump’s pawing and groping: "These are personal matters, not issues that our society has to address. This is life. Get over it."
Labor Day 2017 is a sobering moment for people who care about human dignity, social justice, peace, and a life-sustaining environment. While powerful elites who control government so as to safeguard capitalism are driving civilization towards barbarism and the planet to extinction, Trump’s election has spurred widespread protests. Vigorous social movements are challenging Trump’s and the GOP’s retrograde policies and politics: corrupt, xenophobic, racist, misogynist, malevolent. Sparked by Bernie Sanders’ campaign, we’re seeing a new embrace of socialism, especially among younger activists.
Amidst so much to read and digest about events in Charlottesville and Trump’s response to them, and what seems (but is not) a new, highly violent emergence of neo-Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacist organizations, this blog by Adam Shatz on the website of the London Review of Books seems to me one of the more eloquent, insightful analyses.
In June, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) proudly announced that teachers at Cesar Chavez Prep Charter School in Washington, DC charter school were the first to vote to form a charter school union in DC. What the AFT has not discussed was the decision of AFT organizers to withdraw a petition for a vote at a larger DC charter school, at Paul Public Charter School, one of the first charter schools in DC. Meanwhile, teachers in the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff have voted overwhelmingly to merge with the Chicago Teachers Union. Their statement foregrounds the need for union democracy: “If you trust teachers, then you should trust their democratic voice — their union. Unions make schools, both district and charter, work better.”
Sarah Chambers is an award winning special education teacher in Chicago’s Saucedo Academy. Sarah is a local leader a national figure in the fight to defend and transform public education against the corporate education reform attack. She is a relentless advocate for special education students and LGBTQ students. Sarah is a published author, organizer, and speaker on issues of education reform and social justice.
During the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) spring break, Sarah Chambers, beloved to her special needs students, well-known (to staff and parents of her school), notorious (to CPS labor relations officials), received a letter saying she was suspended and had to stay away from the school. Though Sarah was an early member of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) that is now the CTU’s elected leadership, she remained a teacher of special needs kids who represents her school in the House of Delegates and serves on the union’s Executive Board.
Public education is truly at a crossroads in the US, as are both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA).
In this guest blog, Rick Baum, who teaches Political Science at City College of San Francisco and is a member of AFT 2121, reports on the struggle over accreditation and the continued attempts to destroy the institution.
The Women’s March was glorious. Yes, I disagree with much said in the speeches, but that wasn’t an issue because like the vast majority of people who participated, I didn’t go to hear celebrities or politicians talk. I participated to show my rage and frustration at Donald Trump and the policies he and the GOP are preparing to impose on us. Women like me, disgusted, dismayed, enraged at Donald Trump’s misogyny, which the GOP has endorsed, flooded to this demonstration.
We brought family, friends, supporters, male and female, protesting the human rights and climate deniers whom Trump has brought with him into office. There was some diversity but this was primarily a march of young White women who carried signs about their bodies, “Pussy power” being the most prominent at the New York march. “Pussy power” strikes me as especially apt. Like women who fight patriarchy, it’s naughty. It evokes the strength in numbers. Most of all, the march birthed a new social movement which will owe its life to pussy.
Michael Hirsch, Saulo Colon, Murray Schneider, and Lois Weiner respond to an exchange between Larry Cohen and Randi Weingarten and Leo Casey in New Labor Forum about what organized labor could and should have done differently so as to avoid Donald Trump’s victory. We hope to encourage wide-ranging debate among labor activists and supporters about these issues. You can reply on our blog, below, or in the comments section of the New Labor Forum reprint of our article.
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