Resistance to Trump

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First fast food union wins national recognition in the United States

In a major win for workers’ rights, workers at a United States fast-food chain, Burgerville, in Portland, Oregon, have overwhelmingly voted for a federally-recognised union. This will make it the first fast food union in the country.

“Today workers at 92nd and Powell overwhelmingly voted yes, making the the only formally recognized fast food union in the country,” the Burgerville Workers Union, said on its Facebook page after the vote on April 23.

“For a long time, people have dismissed fast food as unorganizable, saying that turnover is too high, or the workers are too spread out. Today Burgerville workers proved them wrong.”

eta: 5.5 min video

The Burgerville Workers Union's an iww organization. awesome!

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Our Vision

We want Burgerville to do right by their workers. We want:

  1. A $5.00 raise for all hourly Burgerville workers
  2. Affordable, quality healthcare
  3. A safe and healthy workplace
  4. Fair and consistent scheduling with ample notice
  5. A supportive, sustainable workplace including paid maternity/paternity leave, free childcare and transportation stipends
  6. An independent organization for and by Burgerville workers

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The Burgerville Workers Union is affiliated with the Portland general membership branch of the IWW and endorsed by:

  • ILWU Local 5
  • IATSE Local 28
  • SEIU 49
  • Portland Association of Teachers
  • OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
  • PDX Solidarity
  • Jobs With Justice
  • Blue Heron Collective (Reed College)
  • Portland Central America Solidarity Committee
  • Alberta Co-op Collective Management
  • Marilyn Buck Abolitionist Collective
  • People’s Food Co-op
  • Cascadia Collective Hood and Duct
  • Portland State University Student Union (PSUSU)
  • PSU Student Labor Action Project (SLAP)
  • Right to Survive/Right to Dream Too
  • Oregon Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals (OFN & HP)


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Union Benefits

The BVWU is excited to announce the start of the Union Benefits Program! Food boxes, discount bus passes, and monthly free babysitting services are now available to Union members, and a grievance hotline and GED tutoring are available to all Burgerville workers. This just goes to show what the Union can accomplish when workers and community members come together in solidarity.

If the all-volunteer Union can serve Burgerville workers with this much love, a multimillion dollar corporation certainly can afford to. Until Burgerville agrees to negotiate, though, the Union will continue to support its workers in their struggle for fair treatment and a living wage. We will hold each other up as we fight for the respect that we deserve.

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Teacher strike wave in America: What’s next for Kentucky?

Some 5,000 Kentucky students, unionists, social justice activists and others rallied at the state Capitol building in Frankfort on April 13 to stand up for public education.

Shutting down schools in 30 counties, teachers led the way as hundreds filled the inside of the Capitol. When state troopers tried to enforce limits on how many could enter, a deafening chant of “Let us in!” rose up from the crowd.

Thousands more people covered the statehouse grounds, carrying placards with slogans like: “Fund our future,” “We are not a math problem: You cannot divide us” and–referring to notorious Tea Party Gov. Matt Bevin–“Students, students what do you see? We see Bevin taking our money!”

The rally was a powerful demonstration of teachers’ voices and commitment and a day for other unions, students and activists to show solidarity.


Since then, the militancy of the movement has been dampened by the unwillingness of the official leadership of the teachers’ union to forge ahead in the face of a legislative impasse.

On April 9, Bevin vetoed Republican-sponsored bills that imposed an anti-worker budget and tax “reform.” But Bevin’s vetoes came from the right–he demanded that the legislature consider deeper spending cuts and bigger tax breaks for the rich.

In the fight between the Republican governor and Republican legislators, the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) threw its weight behind the legislature, supporting the successful effort to override Bevin’s vetoes.

In the process, teachers’ growing anger and resolve was demobilized after April 2, with union officials speaking out against further walkouts and school shutdowns and in favor of a lobbying and electoral strategy.


But the problem goes beyond Bevin. The entire strategy of seeing legislative policy as the ground upon which teachers have to struggle leaves them at the mercy of the whims of politicians.

After all, these are the same Republican legislators who underhandedly passed a Bevin-supported proposal to restructure pensions–leaving public employees’ retirement savings at the mercy of the financial markets–by sneaking into a sewer construction bill considered late in the evening on March 29.

These are the same Republican legislators who passed HB 169 on April 14, a racist anti-gang bill that the social justice group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth calls the “Youth Incarceration Bill.”


In fact, the April 13 rally showed that teachers and many others recognize the deep social crisis impacting everyone–and they want to widen and deepen the struggle.

The rally was led by non-teacher groups like Save Our Schools Kentucky and co-sponsored by dozens of others. They raised slogans about defending public education–but also against the regressive tax bill, against cuts to higher education in the budget bill and against the racist anti-gang bill.

Participants included student activists who had clearly been radicalized by the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against gun violence. These young students of color got on bullhorns and chanted: “West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and Kentucky,” “Don’t cut it, fund it” and “Black Lives Matter!”

In fact, some of these students said they had attended rallies organized by teachers at their own schools the day before the Frankfort protests–a clear sign of a growing effort by teachers to build wider solidarity.

Socialists from the International Socialist Organization and Democratic Socialists of America coordinated their efforts and spent the protest days talking to teachers and activists about conditions in schools, their motivation to keep agitating and how they understand the forces arrayed against them.

Teachers and supporters told us that in the wake of a decade of statewide cuts to education, local counties are trying to increase property, utility and business taxes to fill in the funding gaps. The poorer parts of the state haven’t been able to raise as much from these taxes, and their schools have crumbled as a result.

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Teachers In Arizona, Colorado Stage Mass Walkout For Better Pay

Encouraged by similar protests in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, organizers said the action would send a message to political leaders about their dissatisfaction.

Tens of thousands of teachers in Arizona and Colorado walked out of public school classrooms on Thursday to demand better pay and more education funding, in the latest revolt by educators that has spread to the U.S. West.

At least 50,000 teachers and their supporters wearing red T-shirts streamed down city streets in Arizona’s capital of Phoenix, carrying placards reading ’35 is a Speed Limit NOT a Class Size’ and ‘The Future of Arizona is in my Classroom.’

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Why Young People Are Joining Unions Again

At the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., rays of sunlight break through an unseasonably cold March, through the ordered, brutalist buildings that line Pennsylvania Avenue. Hundreds of thousands of people crowd the avenue, just as they have been crowding legislators’ phone lines and email inboxes in recent weeks. On a stage strategically positioned in line with the Capitol building, 17-year-old Cameron Kasky, a Parkland shooting survivor, delivers this proclamation:

To the leaders, skeptics, and cynics who told us to sit down and stay silent, wait your turn: Welcome to the revolution. It is a powerful and peaceful one because it is of, by, and for the young people of this country. Since this movement began some people have asked me, do you think any change is going to come from this? Look around, we are the change. Our voices are powerful, and our votes matter. We hereby promise to fix the broken system we’ve been forced into and to create a better world for the generations to come. Don’t worry, we’ve got this.

Kasky’s statement was, of course, about guns. Seventeen of his classmates and teachers had been taken from him, and from their families, friends, and their own futures, five weeks earlier by a gunman who used an automatic weapon to kill 17 people in 6 minutes and 20 seconds. But they were also taken by a system—a political system wherein a vast majority of Americans, and particularly young Americans, support policies to clamp down on gun deaths but politicians, bought off by the NRA, do not listen.


For the first time in decades, union membership is on the rise among young people. Historically, younger people have not been unionized, and their rates of union membership trail older adults by wide margins. But, just like the gun laws that are already being amended, that too is beginning to change.

According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), in 2017, there were 262,000 new union members in the United States. Seventy-five percent of this increase came from young people (which EPI considers those aged 34 and under, but for the purposes of this article, broadly refers to the older subset of Generation Z and most Millennials, ages 16 to 35). Young people also hold the most favorable attitudes towards labor of any generation, and their support for political parties skews heavily towards those that support pro-worker policies (like standing against “right-to-work” laws), including the Democrats and, increasingly, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

But for some reason, unlike previous generations, young people’s workplace organizing isn’t seen as an integral part of their organizing, writ large. While plenty of people are documenting the rise of young people’s union membership and plenty more describing young people’s leadership in activist spaces, what’s missing is the idea that these two phenomena are actually one: Young people are turning to outside outlets that allow them to exercise their politics in the wake of a political system that, by and large, does not.

In a piece for Jacobin Magazine, Micah Uetricht sketches out the ebbing relationship between democracy inside and outside the workplace, and, relatedly, the relationship between economic and political democracy. To Uetricht—a sociology graduate student who focuses on labor, member of the DSA, and associate editor at Jacobin—activism is activism, whether it takes place at the workplace or outside of it. “It’s a relatively recent development that we think of what happens at work as some kind of separate sphere of our lives in general,” he says. He adds: “Young people understand that and don’t like living in a dictatorship in the place where they spend 8 or 10 hours of their day.”

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..this pic from the #58 piece

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May Day in Puerto Rico: Police Attack Anti-Austerity Protesters with Pepper Spray & Tear Gas

In Puerto Rico, thousands marked May Day by joining a general strike in the capital of San Juan to protest austerity measures, from the closing of public schools to increases in university tuition. When protesters tried to converge on the building where the federal oversight board has its offices, police fired tear gas and pepper spray. The board has called for the implementation of 10 percent pension cuts, eliminating mandatory Christmas bonuses, reducing required vacation and sick time, and allowing businesses to fire employees without having to first prove a just cause. This comes as at least 30,000 people still lack power almost eight months since Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Last month, an excavator downed a transmission line, blacking out the entire electrical grid. We air a report from the streets of San Juan filed by Democracy Now! correspondent Juan Carlos Dávila.

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Making People’s History in Arizona: Educators Rise Up

My house has recently become muddled with protest signs, event flyers, red T-shirts, and simply, chaos. How it came to this point resides in the story of how I decided to volunteer to be a liaison for the #RedForEd grassroots movement in Arizona.

I decided to move to Arizona from British Columbia, Canada, 18 years ago to teach. My decision would take me on a journey of unforeseeable experiences that entailed teaching on Native American reservations, in charter schools, in public schools, and having a second job as an adjunct professor for Northern Arizona University.

I eventually found myself involved in a powerful, historic, educator-led grassroots movement that has revolutionary possibilities....

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The Outcome in Arizona


Before Red for Ed, we weren’t going to see anything from the governor. Then he started talking about a 2 percent pay raise, $65 million dollars. We kept on mobilizing. Then the governor started talking about a 20 percent raise eventually — 10 percent immediately — to try to prevent us from walking out.

But people need to remember that before the walkout, the governor’s plan was still up in the air, nobody was sure whether it’d happen or not because the legislature initially didn’t support it. Now we’re looking at over $400 million in total additional educational funding — that’s huge.

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More than 1 million students to miss school as teacher revolt sweeping nation heads to new state

A wave of teacher revolts sweeping the nation is set to hit North Carolina on Wednesday as thousands of educators are expected to swarm the state's capital in a quest for higher pay and more money for education.

The scheduled one-day walkout has prompted school districts across the state to cancel classes for Wednesday, leaving more than 1 million students with an unexpected day off.

The labor action is the latest in a string of teacher uprisings across the country this year that have prompted strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Educators in Kentucky and Colorado have also taken action, staging walkouts and sick-outs in hopes of pressuring lawmakers to stop a decade of cuts in education funding the teachers say have hurt students.

In Puerto Rico, thousands of teachers walked out of classes in March to protest the cash-strapped government's plan to shut down more than 300 schools this year as the unincorporated U.S. territory struggles to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September.

Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said up to 15,000 teachers are expected to march and rally at the state Capitol in Raleigh on Wednesday morning.

The teachers will be marching "to let our General Assembly know and our elected policymakers that this is really about accountability," he said.

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Oklahoma City teacher rally

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After Six Days, Portland’s ICE Blockade Is a City of More Than 80 Tents

Like the child detention camps it opposes, Portland's ICE blockade has grown into a tent city.

The occupation of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters on the South Waterfront has over six days expanded from a scattering of chairs to a village of more than 80 tents, four portable toilets, six couches, a commissary and a medic's office.

The protest now closely resembles the Occupy Portland camps that seized two downtown parks in 2011. Once again, a Portland mayor has sanctioned the takeover—but this time, the target is a federal agency, and the goal is to directly impede its work.

Mayor Ted Wheeler has pledged to not intervene with Occupy ICE, saying he considers the work of federal immigration agents "un-American" and doesn't want Portland police to aid ICE's operations.

The blockade would now be difficult to dislodge anyhow.

"We've seen tremendous support," says Mary Ann Warner, an occupation organizer. "We're seeing so much food. I don't think anyone's going hungry."....

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Cops plead ‘allow ICE employees to go home to their families’ after protesters blockade prison in Portland

In Portland, Oregon, the prison used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement is housed in a nondescript building tucked between a highway and the waterfront south of downtown. The tan three-story structure has darkened windows and no identifying marks. It’s surrounded by an 8-feet high metal fence, guarded by a security checkpoint, and cameras outside cover every angle.

Since Sunday night, dozens of protesters under the banner of #OccupyICEPDX have been maintaining a round-the-clock vigil outside the prison. They are demanding an abolition of ICE and an end to the Trump administration’s policy of forcibly separating children from parents fleeing across the U.S. border from violence-ravaged countries.

On Monday ICE personnel showed up as usual to implement Trump’s deportation policies. By the end of the workday, the number of protesters swelled to about 70 and they sprang into action.

Three cars with darkened windows exited a garage and attempted to drive out the entrance. Some twenty protesters formed a line and locked arms. Staring down the drivers, “They blocked them from leaving the facility,” said Jacob Bureros, an organizer with the Direct Action Alliance.

The vehicles went back inside the ICE garage. Two officers with the Department of Homeland Security showed up to negotiate with the protesters. Jenny Nickolaus, another organizer with DAA, said a couple of dozen people engaged with the police in bulletproof vests. The two cops asked for “reasonable accommodation from the protesters.”

When asked what that meant, says Nickolaus, the DHS police pleaded with protesters “to allow nine ICE employees stuck inside to be able to ‘to go home to their families.’”

The protesters exploded with outrage “at the ridiculous irony in that statement,” says Nickolaus.

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Puerto Rico:  U.S. nurses’ unions continue to be at the forefront of the struggle to defend vital services.

New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez recently testified before a session of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization about the dire health crisis facing Puerto Ricans in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which hit the island in September 2017, and the ongoing aftermath of “disaster capitalism,” which continues to hit the island daily.

Sheridan-Gonzalez’ testimony was based on her active participation and leadership in multiple delegations sent by NYSNA to Puerto Rico in the months since Hurricane Maria swept across the island, killing more than 4,600 people, as recently contended in a paper by researchers at Harvard University and published in the New England Journal of Medicine—findings that were a major challenge to the official death toll of just 64.

In her testimony, Sheridan-Gonzalez reviewed the appalling legacy of neglect and abuse of Puerto Rico and its people at the hands of the U.S. Government and corporations: a legacy that spans extensive environmental waste and toxins; medical experimentation and surgical sterilization of women without informed consent; the enforcement of industrial agricultural practices that compel Puerto Ricans to import food despite the island’s immense productivity; the continuing destruction, neglect and attempted privatization of public services, including schools, hospitals and the island’s electrical system; and the depopulation and deskilling of the island as professionals and younger people increasingly leave.

According to Sheridan-Gonzalez, the conditions created by that legacy of neglect and abuse, when compounded by the loss of the island’s electrical system, amounted to a form of genocide:

This untenable situation transformed into a form of genocide, given the US government’s apathetic and incompetent response to the devastation after Hurricane Maria in 2017. The austerity-imposed disintegration of the electrical grid and the criminal neglect of its repair, post-Maria, directly contributed to the deaths of thousands of people.


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In 'Stunning Indictment', ICE Officers Call for Own Agency to Be Dissolved Amid Growing Outrage Over Immigration Policy

As the demand to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spreads across the country—and with community members building protest encampments outside ICE facilities in several cities this week—some officers with the 15-year-old agency have now added their voices to the growing call to dissolve it.

Want to know how rapidly #AbolishICE has gone mainstream?

19 ICE agents are now calling for it.

— Matthew Chapman (@fawfulfan) June 29, 2018

The agency's targeting of undocumented immigrants has weakened its employees' ability to carry out other work, argued 19 officers who signed the letter, which was obtained by the Texas Observer.

The agents work in ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit, which focuses on crimes including drug trafficking, human smuggling, and child pornography.

"The perception of investigative independence is unnecessarily impacted by the political nature of civil immigration enforcement," wrote the agents to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. "Many jurisdictions continue to refuse to work with HSI because of a perceived linkage to the politics of civil immigration."

The officers suggested that ICE be dissolved and its work divided among two new separate agencies, one focused on HSI and one focused on Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)—the unit which has enforced President Donald Trump's hardline immigration policy.


The call from ICE agents drew attention from Trump critics on social media, who said it put on clear display the fact that the president's immigration policies have centered on persecuting immigrants, contrary to his claims that ICE is focused on protecting U.S. national security.

This is a stunning & unsurprising indictment of Trump’s claimed purpose behind the crackdown on “illegal immigration.” It was never about crime. Never about MS-13. Always just about hurting less privileged people of color. All at the expense of *actually protecting America.

— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) June 29, 2018

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Hawaiian Kingdom Files Lawsuit Against President Trump in Washington, D.C.

On Monday morning, 25  June 2018, the Chairman of the acting Council of Regency for the Hawaiian Kingdom, H.E. David Keanu Sai, Ph.D., filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia a Petition for an Emergency Writ of Mandamus against President Donald John Trump. This Petition concerns the illegal and prolonged occupation of the Hawaiian Islands and the failure of the United States to administer the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom as mandated under Article 43 of the 1907 Hague Convention, IVRespecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (36 Stat. 2199) and under Article 64 of the 1949 Geneva Convention, IVRelative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War(6 U.S.T. 3516). The United States has ratified both treaties. The case has been assigned to Judge Tanya S. Chutkan under civil case no. 1:18-cv-01500.

Under American rules of civil procedure, a petition for writ of mandamus is an administrative remedy that seeks to compel an officer or employee of the United States or any of its agencies to fulfill their official duties. It is not a complaint alleging certain facts to be true. The Hague and Geneva Conventions obligates the United States, as an occupying State, to administer the laws of the occupied State. There is no discretion on this duty to administer Hawaiian Kingdom law. This duty is mandated under international humanitarian law.

Furthermore, according to the U.S. Constitution, treaties, such as the Hague and Geneva Conventions, are the supreme law of the land, and the United States is bound by them just as they are bound by the U.S. Constitution or any of the laws enacted by the Congress. Consequently, the failure of the United States to administer Hawaiian Kingdom laws has created a humanitarian crisis of unimaginable proportions where war crimes have and continue to be committed with impunity. War crimes have no statutes of limitation....

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epaulo13 wrote:

Americans are heartless savage beasts. Over the last 2 years this red white and blue Repuglican fascist state's high crimes and misdemeanors is the total undoing of the American Empire. Thank you,Jesus

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The Rising of the Women

Sometimes a single protest can change the whole mood of a movement. There have been more than twenty thousand demonstrations all around the United States since Trump took office, far more than at any prior time in American history. Record numbers of people have marched and rallied—anywhere from ten to fifteen million have taken to the streets over the past year and half to express their disgust and anger with the racism, misogyny, corruption, and cruelty of this rogue Administration.

But until June 28, when six hundred heartsick and fed-up women took over the vast atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building, chanting “Where are the children?” and “Abolish ICE,” there hadn’t been a single truly mass civil disobedience action in the Trump era. There have been a number of direct actions under Trump, but they’ve mostly been modest in size and organized by what you might call the usual suspects: veteran activists with long protest experience. The #WomenDisobey action on Capitol Hill against Trump’s immigration policies marked a major departure from this pattern and a crucial shift in the resolve and tactics of the anti-Trump resistance. It was, by a factor of three, the largest women’s civil disobedience action in US history, and it was by far the largest direct action of any kind since Trump took office.

.The protest was thrown together in just ten days by organizers from the Women’s March and the Center for Popular Democracy, and they were joined by some of the country’s most seasoned direct action organizers. (Full disclosure: I served as a tactical coordinator on the day of the action.) It came at the end of a brutal week filled with grim Supreme Court rulings on the travel ban, labor rights, and reproductive freedom, and the devastating news of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s impending retirement....

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Voters Just Killed Right to Work in Missouri, Proving Labor Still Has Power Under Janus

After a string of victories across the country in recent years—including this summer’s Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court ruling—the anti-union “right-to-work” movement has met its match in Missouri. 

In Tuesday’s primary election, Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected Proposition A, a ballot measure that would have made the state the 28th in the nation to adopt a “right-to-work” (RTW) law. Designed to bankrupt organized labor, the deceptively named legislation would have prohibited private sector unions from collecting fair share fees from workers they are legally required to represent....

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In a Historic Move, Los Angeles Educators Vote To Strike

Today teachers and education workers in Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the country (after New York), voted 98 percent to 2 percent to authorize their first strike in nearly 30 years.

Last spring’s strikes and school walkouts by educators from West Virginia to Oklahoma, Arizona and more, took place in so-called red states. This school year, the strikes have moved to blue states, with teachers in Washington state school districts already on strike and Seattle teachers approving a strike vote earlier this week. The LA educators will likely go on strike, if they can’t negotiate a settlement through mediation, in mid-to-late October.

They have been working under an expired contract for over a year, since June 30, 2017. At the top of the educators’ list of demands are reducing class size; less testing and more teaching time; basics such as new textbooks, and restoring essential support structures that students need, including school nurses and guidance counselors.

California, despite being one of the wealthiest states in the nation, ranks 43 out of 50 in funding per pupil, according to the union. Julia Lathin, an art history teacher at Hamilton High, says, “Our school has over 2,000 students and one nurse, but she was only hired to be here part time. Because of this, I let my students know that I have a cabinet in my classroom that’s always stocked with pads and tampons. I need these kids focused on their education and not worrying about if they’re going to bleed through their pants at school because there isn’t always a nurse on campus.”

Out of dozens of teachers interviewed for this article, not one placed wages at the top of their priorities list. When asked, “If management offered to meet your salary demands and nothing else, would you still plan to strike?”, all said yes. Among the top concern voiced by teachers is the need to eliminate Section 1.5 of their contract, which allows teacher-to-student ratios of 1 teacher—alone in their class without assistance—to up to 46 students. That’s right: one teacher responsible for up to 46 students....

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Thousands came to the #Allin4Respect rally in downtown Los Angeles in May, part of the lead-up to the strike. (Photo from UTLA Facebook)  

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture! more on the la teachers' epic struggle. awesome union by the sounds of it. very democratic. very commited. listening to this real news report they reminded me of my time with cupw. watch or read if you get a chance. it's a very uplifting struggle.

Los Angeles Teachers Prepare to Strike: An Organizing Drive Long in the Making


SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Jane, as I mentioned in my intro, last year we saw a number of teachers unions going on strike in West Virginia, in Oklahoma, in Kentucky, in Colorado, Arizona, Washington State. And in fact, just last week in Seattle they managed to avert a strike. Now, today we’re going to talk about LA district. But let’s start with this phenomena of teachers unions across the country finally putting their foot down, saying “enough is enough.”

JANE MCALEVEY: Well, and I think you kind of hit on the head. The finally part is the key word. I mean, look. We are experiencing, in this country- really if we take it back to sort of the Ronald Reagan era and then definitely the Bill Clinton administration, we’ve been experiencing sort of a thirty to really thirty-five year attack on public education. And it’s been pronounced, it’s been specific, it’s been deliberate, it’s well funded.


So, but what we’ve seen in this country, to make it simple, is what they simply in Europe often refer to as austerity. We tend not to use that word very much in the U.S., but I want to break it down like this: corporations and the super wealthy have steadily paid less, less, less, less and less to the tax base in this country and the rich people are taking more and more away from the public coffers. And in the education sector there is a deliberate strategy to defund public education. It’s funded by Wall Street.

We now have Betsy DeVos, who’s been key to the strategy with her multibillionaire husband, sitting and as Trump’s Secretary of Education. So, now we’ve got sort of the commander in chief of the destruction of public education sitting in the cabinet. And you can take a through line from her to the hedge fund billionaire takeover of the LAUSD, the Los Angeles Unified School District, in last year’s elections. The billionaires and Wall Street- and this has been going on for- you know, it didn’t just start last year, but they took control of the school board. This is very important. They took control the school board, the big money Wall Street folks decided they’d be worth twenty, thirty million, just to to make it the most expensive school board race in history. They installed some folks who have come from the billionaire class, the Eli Broad Foundation and company.

And now they’ve installed a superintendent named Austin Beutner, who all evidence suggests is actually trying to destroy the public school district so that the entire district can look more like what happened to Louisiana after the hurricane, which is to turn it into a private, corporate, charter education system, which frankly is terrifying. Given what we know about the private charter school industry at this point, they forget about the Black people, they forget about the low income kids, they forget about the kids in need, they don’t have any room for children who have special needs of any kind. And this is essentially the agenda that’s being run in Los Angeles.


SHARMINI PERIES: And I understand the district is accusing the United Teachers of Los Angeles, the union, of acting in bad faith. In fact, it’s taken legal action against the union because it went ahead and got strike authorization from the membership before the negotiations even began this time around. Now, why did the union get this authorization and why is it important?

JANE MCALEVEY: Okay, first of all, the district is playing a public relations game, to be perfectly clear. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the authorization. All they’ve done so far is authorized the union leadership to call a strike vote. So, the vote that was taken, it was an incredible strike vote. It was over seven days, conducted in nine hundred and fifty schools. I was personally there witnessing the strike vote in several schools last week. It was methodical, democratic, open. It was really as well run a strike vote- and I’ve run a strike votes- so, it was as well run a strike vote as I’ve seen in a very long time in this country.

There was overwhelming turnout and it resulted in a ninety eight percent approval with more than, last I knew they were still counting last week because there was late ballots coming in, et cetera, the same way that it takes the final vote to come in in US elections sometimes on delay, right, and you have extra ballots coming in, et cetera. So, it was an amazing strike vote. So, let me just be clear. The district is just playing a public relations charade. Importantly, the important legal charges have been filed by the union against the Los Angeles school district. So, there’s what’s called an unfair labor practice charge filed by the UTLA, the teachers union, which is really an educators union, there’s more than just teachers in there. But the teachers union filed charges against the district for their interference in their strike vote.

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Collins’s Office Received 3,000 Coat Hangers Protesting Kavanaugh

Activists have sent Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) 3,000 coat hangers, referencing back-alley abortions, in their efforts to persuade her to vote against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The mail-ins accompany TV ads aimed at swaying the senator’s vote and pledges to fund her Senate opponent in 2020 if she votes to confirm Kavanaugh, The Associated Press reports.

The centrist Collins is seen as a critical swing vote in Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing and has said she wouldn’t vote to confirm a nominee who was hostile to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortions....

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Tens of Thousands of People Raising Money to Defeat Collins If She Votes for Kavanaugh Is Not "Bribery," Say Her Opponents, It's Democracy


Efforts to convince Collins to vote against Kavanaugh for a lifetime appointment are intensifying this week, with healthcare activist Ady Barkan amassing more than $1 million in small donations in a grassroots campaign and Planned Parenthood launching a six-figure ad buy targeting the senator.

"Senator Collins asked to hear from Mainers and here they are, loud and clear, asking her to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court," said Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

The ads will appear online and on TV starting Wednesday, featuring Maine women expressing concern about Collins's potential vote for Kavanaugh. Should all 49 members of the Democratic caucus march in lock step against Kavanaugh's nomination, the Republicans won't be able to lose more than one GOP vote, making Collins—a so-called moderate who had claimed to hold pro-choice views despite voting for numerous anti-choice judges—a crucial target for Kavanaugh opponents.

Collins has thus far dismissed the steady calls for her to vote against Kavanaugh, as Barkan has traveled across the country promoting his "Be a Hero" campaign.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote Tuesday that Collins had brushed off 3,000 coat hangers which pro-choice protesters had sent to her office, as a reference to dangerous at-home abortions that thousands of women died from before the Supreme Court legalized abortion care with their decision on Roe vs. Wade in 1973: 

"I am pleased to say," Ms. Collins says with a small chuckle, "we had a group that has a thrift shop that helps low-income women ask us for 300 of the hangers. So at least 300 of them have gone to a very good cause."

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Teachers’ Strikes Are Escalating in Washington

Washington teachers have taken the lead in spreading the public education strike wave to the so-called “blue states.” Inspired by the examples of West Virginia and Arizona, and emboldened by the Washington legislature’s court-mandated infusion of $2 billion into the school system, educators across the state have begun the school year with over a dozen successful strikes that have forced school board and superintendents to concede important pay increases ranging from 10 to 20 percent.

Yet a number of school districts remain recalcitrant — and have actually turned to repression to force their educators back to work.

With roughly 400 educators and 6,000 students, Tumwater, Washington is not a large school district. But the town’s work stoppage, begun on September 1, has important implications for the broader strike wave currently sweeping public education.

On Wednesday, September 12, a local judge declared the Tumwater walkout to be illegal and ordered educators back to the classroom. But immediately following the ruling, a two-and-a-half-hour mass union meeting overwhelmingly voted to defy the injunction by continue the strike. Tumwater Education Association President Tim Voie explained that they would not return to work until educators’ demands for better pay, lower class sizes, and safer classroom conditions were met:

While there is nothing we’d like more than to end this strike and be back where we are most comfortable, after a lot of individual reflection and group discussion, we’re not giving up on our students, our community and ourselves. We will go back to school when the district is ready to give us a fair and reasonable contract that will attract and retain great teachers and keep our students safe.

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West Virginia Teachers Launch Rank-and-File Caucus

A group of West Virginia teachers, including rank-and-file leaders of the nine-day strike earlier this year, have launched a cross-union caucus.

WV United aims “to keep people fired up and keep working together,” said Jay O’Neal, who teaches eighth grade in Charleston.

The caucus includes members of the West Virginia Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia (AFT). It’s an affiliate of the national network United Caucuses of Rank-and-File Educators.

Among its founders are the presidents of several locals, as well as O’Neal and Emily Comer, who together initiated the “WV Public Employees UNITED” Facebook group that helped spur the statewide strike.

“We need a caucus because we’ve seen time and time again that some of the best organizing comes from below,” said Comer, a Charleston Spanish teacher, in a Facebook video introducing the caucus.

“During the walkouts, I noticed that a lot of rank-and-file educators wanted to have a more active role in their unions at the local level, at the state level,” said Monongolia County social studies teacher Brendan Muckian-Bates in the video, “but they felt like a lot of the effort had been pushed toward lobbying tactics and wait-and-see politics.”

“Right now all the unions are saying ‘Remember in November,’” said O’Neal. “We’d love it if we flipped both houses, but we know that the politicians are not going to save us. We want to have a plan beyond November, and we want to get teachers in schools more organized, so that if we need to take action, we’re ready.”...

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..headline from democracy now. video from c-span.

CodePink’s Medea Benjamin to Iran Envoy: “You Are Making a Case for War with Iran”

And CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin disrupted an event at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank where the U.S. special envoy to Iran Brian Hook spoke on Wednesday. Benjamin took to the stage shortly after Hook ended his speech.

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How Milwaukee Teachers Beat Back Cuts and Busywork

Collective bargaining is all but illegal for public sector workers in Wisconsin. So how did Milwaukee teachers not only block major cuts to public schools but also make gains on workload and health care?

At the height of the red-state teacher strikes in April and May, teachers and school employees in Milwaukee passed around a petition at school committing that to win their demands, they were ready to “do whatever it takes.”

The clear subtext: illegal or not, teachers might walk out. “We were assessing our collective willingness to step out further than we have before,” said Milwaukee Teachers Education Association President Amy Mizialko, “including shutting down schools.”

In May the district blinked. Management backed off its proposed 5 percent cut to schools budget and cuts to health care, and it reduced the hours of administrative busywork. It even added health care for full-time substitute teachers and accelerated a path to $15 an hour for school employees.

That peak came after months of escalating actions. This spring teachers packed school board meetings, occupied the school board’s office, and mobilized thousands of union members and allies to protest outside district headquarters....

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Dozens Arrested as Survivors Flood Capitol Hill to Share Trauma of Sexual Assault, Demand Senate Reject Kavanaugh

Ahead of a 1pm national walkout on Monday to support Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez—who have accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault—and demand that lawmakers oppose him, hundreds of critics flooded Capitol Hill to target specific senators such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose responses to the women's claims have outraged advocates for survivors of sexual violence....

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US Mail Is #NotForSale: Postal Workers Nationwide Stand Together Against Trump's Privatization Plan

"Our postal system has never belonged to any president, any political party, or any company. It's belonged to the people of this country."

As the United States Postal Service (USPS) closed on Monday for a national holiday celebrated by many municipalities as Indigenous Peoples Day, workers across the country held a day of action to protest President Donald Trump's proposal to privatize the postal service.

Under the proposal—unveiled in June as part of a 32-point plan (pdf) to significantly reorganize the federal government—USPS would "transition to a model of private management and private or shared ownership." The White House argued that "freeing USPS to more fully negotiate pay and benefits rather than prescribing participation in costly federal personnel benefit programs, and allowing it to follow private sector practices in compensation and labor relations, could further reduce costs."

Critics warn that such a transition would not only negatively impact service but also bring awful consequences for postal workers, who demonstrated on their day off in cities across the United States on Monday to tell the president that USPS is #NotForSale....

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The Teachers’ Strike Wave Comes to Charter Schools

Yesterday, 98 percent of unionized teachers and staff in the Acero charter network in Chicago voted to authorize a strike. Acero, the largest network of unionized charter educators in the city, represents over five hundred members at nineteen schools across the city. Four schools associated with the Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS) network will take a strike-authorization vote this Friday.

Contrary to most media reports, this would not be the first time charter teachers have gone on strike. In 2011, roughly two dozen teachers at Philadelphia’s Khepera charter school staged a wildcat sick-out, as former teachers union organizer Shaun Richman explained in 2016. But a strike of this kind would still be historic — the first time hundreds of charter educators across two major networks have walked off the job en masse.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that this would first happen in Chicago. With an unusually high thirty-four unionized charter schools among the city’s 128 charter schools, charter unionization in Chicago has made significant headway in overturning one of corporate education reform’s hallmarks: cheap, nonunion labor.

Co-opting Corporate Education

As Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, has ruefully noted, “Chicago has become the epicenter of charter union organizing in the country.” The militant Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has been instrumental in this process, allying with charter teachers and voting to merge with the charter teachers union, Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (Chi-ACTS), in January.

CTU, long a bulwark against corporate school reform and privatization, has taken up a confrontational and aggressive organizing strategy against charter schools — which, as this article from Philanthropy Magazine illustrates, has instilled fear in the minds of elites.

While some public education advocates view charter teachers as scabs, the CTU doesn’t share that view. The union argues that teachers’ unions should be organizing charter teachers rather than shunning them. But at the same time, the CTU isn’t afraid to name charter schools as tools to dismantle public education. They’ve even managed to get charter school teachers on board with this agenda: the union is officially opposed to charter school expansion.

In the process, the union has sought to reverse the weakening power of teachers’ unions, one of organized labor’s last strongholds. By unionizing teachers at charters, CTU has wagered, elite support for charter expansion will diminish. The billionaire donors and neoliberal politicians who push for charters will no longer be able to use them as a weapon against union power....

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50,000 teachers take over LA streets as union votes to strike

2018 has been the year of the teachers in the United States. It began with the statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia in February, which was followed by walkouts in Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kentucky in April and May. Even in traditionally anti-labor states with conservative, pro-business local governments, teachers have made a historic stand, asserting the rights of their students to a just and progressive education system and of all teachers to treatment with dignity and a good standard of living. Voting with a 98 percent majority August 31 to authorize a strike, the 35,000-plus members of United Teachers Los Angeles joined this wave of actions later in the year.

A March for Public Education was held December 15, in solidarity with all educators and students. It drew over 50,000 teachers, administrators, students, parents, and supporters, making it one of the largest demonstrations in Los Angeles since the election of Donald Trump in November 2016. UTLA teachers haven’t gone on strike since 1989, and their current position makes it clear that they will strike if necessary in early 2019. Their demands include regulation of the Los Angeles charter school sector, wages for educators and staff that reflect the city’s rising cost of living, mental health services for students, an end to overtesting, smaller class sizes, participatory budgeting by parents and educators, and resources to be directed towards immigrant families, special education, green spaces on campus and materials for teachers, who have to personally spend an average of $500 on supplies for their students each year.

Speeches and chants were directed mainly at the Los Angeles Unified School District and its Superintendent Austin Beutner, a former investment banker with personal ties to the charter school industry (privatized charter schools have grown 287 percent statewide since 2008, and now enroll 1 in 10 California students). He has supported an agenda of privatization and dividing up the district, one of the country’s largest, into smaller ‘networks’ since his appointment earlier this year. Beutner has gone on record saying that LAUSD does not have the funds to meet all of the teachers’ demands and ensure the district’s financial solvency, despite UTLA’s arguments that the district’s $1.9 billion in savings can be easily used to fulfill its contract demands, not to forget the annual $550m being spent on unregulated (private) charter schools.....

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Teaching assistants’ strike stops rehabilitation of Confederate statue

On Dec. 14, striking Teaching Assistants won a key battle against the rehabilitation of a Confederate statue on the Chapel Hill Campus of the University of North Carolina. Their refusal to submit final grades was a key factor in the North Carolina Board of Governor’s decision to reject a proposal to put the symbol of white supremacy and slavery back on campus.

The war continues to rage at the Chapel Hill campus over the statue of a Confederate statue known as Silent Sam.  For decades students have demanded that the monument to slavery and racism be removed from this public campus, and over the last few years the struggle has only intensified.  Finally, in August, days after the first anniversary of anti-racist demonstrator Heather Heyer’s murder at the hands of a white supremacist in Charlottesville Va., students here in Chapel Hill took matters into their hands and toppled Silent Sam.

The administration, however, is fighting back. On Dec. 3, it asked the Board of Governors for $5.3 million to build a shrine that would house the bronze statue in perpetuity.  Following the proposal, at least 79 outraged teaching assistants responded by withholding almost 2,200 grades in resistance. Even though faced with serious repercussion including threats of losing their positions and livelihood by the university administration, these brave strikers and other supporters marched on the site of the Dec. 14  Board of Governor’s meeting that would decide Sam’s fate. Ultimately, the Board rejected the administration’s proposal to bring back the statue out of “concern over cost.

There is no doubt that the concern over the price tag for construction played a role for these traditional advocates of austerity.  But the Board would never have rejected the proposal were it not for the action taken in felling Silent Sam and the subsequent TA strike putting pressure on the Board....

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Blue-State Revolt


Though school privatization today is currently associated more with Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, Democratic Party leaders have been just as responsible for the decimation of public education over recent years. And from Colorado to New York, top officials of the Democratic Party continue to promote the charter school agenda.

Los Angeles is no exception. Austin Beutner may look and act like the evil villain in a children’s movie, but like most of the enemies of public education in Los Angeles and California, he’s a liberal, a longtime party funder, and a proud Democrat.

So are Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez, the swing-vote school board members who rode into office last year in the most expensive school board race in US history; billionaire charter school backers like Eli Broad and Reed Hastings made over $9.7 million in contributions to ensure their election. Both Gonez and Melvoin worked in the Obama administration and are supported by Arne Duncan, Obama’s infamously anti-union, pro-charter secretary of education.

On a statewide level, California’s Democratic governors and legislators — who currently have a supermajority in Sacramento — have done little to stem the tide of privatization. Nor have Democrats taken steps to fully fund education by pushing to reform Prop. 13, the regressive anti-tax policy that has gutted state coffers since 1978. As a result, to quote UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl, “California, supposedly the pride and model for the Democratic Party, is at forty-three out of the fifty states in per-pupil funding.” Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles isn’t the only city in California on the verge of a teachers’ strike — Oakland educators will very likely be going out in early 2019 as well.


California just elected a charter school opponent as Superintendent of Public Education.

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..good. we'll see if this will make a difference.


TRNN: Dr Cornel West on the Global Shift Right (and vid)

"Well, I think at the present moment we're seeing the imperial meltdown in the American empire. It takes the form of the relative collapse of any integrity, honesty, decency, generosity, compassion, among the vast majority of those who rule...We're losing the sense of 'we-ness'. We're losing the sense of collective project. And we on the left we're so fragmented. But it's got to be solidarity in the face of the empire."

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Nation's Top Teachers Will Hold 'Teach In' at Child Detention Camp

In February, educators will gather outside a massive detention camp for migrant children and stage a 24-hour "teach in." 

The upcoming protest at the Tornillo, Texas detention camp is organized by Mandy Manning, the 2018 National Teacher of the Year, who teaches newly arrived refugee and immigrant students in Washington state. When she met President Donald Trump at the White House in a May ceremony, Manning gave him a stack of letters from her immigrant students. (She also wore buttons supporting women's rights, LGBTQ rights, and other political causes in a silent rebuke.) 

Several other state teachers of the year are joining her in speaking out against the separation of families and child detention, Manning said. (One of those teachers is Ivonne Orozco, the 2018 New Mexico Teacher of the Year, who immigrated from Mexico as a child and then received protection by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.) 

This spring, the Trump administration began enforcing a "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which led to about 3,000 children being separated from their parents or other adults who had accompanied them in crossing the border. Those children were detained in federal detention facilities.


She has formed a coalition—Teachers Against Child Detention—and said the group's work will come in three phases and will continue indefinitely until the children are all released and reunited with their families.

The teach in will take place outside the gates of the Tornillo detention camp (which was profiled by NBC News) sometime over Feb. 16-18—President's Day weekend. Manning said teachers, retired teachers, paraprofessionals, and other educators will deliver lessons about "what's happening and who these kids are" for 24 hours. The lessons will be broadcast live. Hopefully, Manning said, one educator from each state will attend the demonstration.

"We'd love to be able to go inside and do a day's worth of lessons and bring teaching materials and books for the kids so we can ensure that they're at least having some quality education," she said. 

But if they're not allowed in, Manning said it is critical for educators to "raise our collective voice" and call for the government to properly educate the migrant children and ultimately release them.

Trump reversed the policy in June after public outcry, and a federal judge ordered all separated children to be reunited with a parent. But the deadline for that order has long passed, and hundreds of those children still remain in federal custody.

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“Public Education Is Not Your Plaything”: L.A. Teachers Strike Against Privatization & Underfunding


AMY GOODMAN: You were formerly a teacher in the Bay Area. Why do you think teachers are now on the front lines of a radical working-class resistance today?

ERIC BLANC: Right. I think the most important thing to keep in mind there is that public education is like the last bastion of the public sector in the United States. They’ve taken away most of everything else we had, and put it into private hands. And so, really, what you’re seeing is working people really concentrating around public education as the last right that we have for all people in this country. And so, at the same time, big business wants to dismantle this, because they know that if they can lower people’s expectations—

CECILY MYART-CRUZ: That’s right.

ERIC BLANC: —that they don’t deserve anything, then it’s going to be much harder to fight for other gains that we need, such as Medicare for all or a Green New Deal. So, really, what we’re seeing is: Is this going to be a country that uses its vast wealth to fund human needs, or is it going to be using this wealth to fund, you know, really big billionaires?

And I think it’s a very hopeful moment, because Los Angeles teachers are showing that it’s possible to change these policies. I think a lot of times people feel that things should be different, but they don’t have a sense of power. And really, what Los Angeles, like the other strikes that have come before it, is giving working-class people a sense that they can change the world, and it’s showing them the means through which they can do that.

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A Mighty Wind

Democrats are endorsing striking teachers. That doesn’t mean the party’s abandoning its education agenda, but it does mean that the working class is making itself harder to ignore.


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hedged uncomfortably for months as the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) negotiated with the district, preparing for possible strike action. In December Garcetti said, unconvincingly, “I agree with the teachers, and I think with our district, our class sizes are too big …. But we have to live inside our means too.”

The district, of course, is sitting on a $1.86 billion reserve. And UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl, at a union rally Monday, noted the irony of the strikers teaching “in the richest country in the world, in the richest state in the country, in a state as blue as it can be, and in a city rife with millionaires, where teachers have to go on strike to get the basics for our students.” Teachers clearly aren’t the ones who need a lecture about living inside their means.

This week, however, Garcetti’s spine stiffened slightly. “I’m immensely proud of Los Angeles’s teachers today for standing up for what I believe is a righteous cause,” he said.

Garcetti’s shift should be viewed with strong suspicion, of course. He’s given some praise to the union and showed up at a picket line, but most of his rhetoric has been mealy mouthed, and he (and most other Democrats) don’t mention critical strike issues like charter schools. Still, his expression of approval is a slap in the face to Garcetti’s gala wingman and occasional donor Eli Broad, a determined school privatizer and one of UTLA’s archenemies. The mayor’s willingness to jeopardize that lucrative relationship is a sign of the immense power that teachers can wield when they withhold their labor.

Then there’s Kamala Harris, who until recently had mostly confined her education advocacy to fighting absenteeism and truancy, in one case by championing a law that threatened the parents of absent children with a $2,000 fine. Despite her most recent campaign receiving multiple donations from Eli Broad’s foundation, Harris came out swinging for the Los Angeles teachers on Monday.

“Los Angeles teachers work day in and day out to inspire and educate the next generation of leaders,” she said. “I’m standing in solidarity with them as they strike for improved student conditions, such as smaller class sizes and more counselors and librarians.”

This decision to cross the billionaire California Democratic Party funders who are hell-bent on privatizing Los Angeles schools demonstrates just how successful the striking teachers have been in influencing party insiders’ calculus.

And behold the Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Tom Perez, who said on Monday, “I stand with the Los Angeles teachers marching for the pay, resources, and working conditions they deserve.”

The DNC is the official governing apparatus of a party that receives massive funding from charter school interests. Austin Beutner, the charter-bankrolled Los Angeles school superintendent and the teachers’ number-one antagonist in this fight, is a major DNC donor. In 2012, the year of the Chicago Teachers Union’s historic strike, the DNC hosted a screening of a film by Michelle Rhee, the leader of the “education reform” movement and a militant opponent of teachers’ unions.

While Perez himself hasn’t voiced strong education opinions in the past, this is his milieu. He was a cabinet member in Obama’s administration, which provided cover to the school privatization movement intent on breaking teachers’ unions and lowering taxes for the rich. Perez made regular appearances with Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education, who championed school closings, charter proliferation, and negative incentives for teachers.

“Los Angeles teachers are fighting for the children they teach to have the resources they need to achieve and flourish,” Perez said on the day the strike began. It was astonishing to see a representative of the party cadre that was recently openly enamored of corporate education “solutions” now explicitly backing teachers who oppose those solutions — even if he didn’t have the guts to make the connection to his former boss’s “education reform” initiatives.

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A Letter to LA Teachers From Greece

Dear sisters and brothers in UTLA,

We send you solidarity greetings from Greece.

Since December, thousands of teachers in Greece have been striking and demonstrating against a proposed government bill that will regulate the way that teachers — both permanent and substitute ones — will be appointed.

2010 was the last time permanent teachers were hired in Greece. Since then all vacancies in our schools have covered by substitute teachers, hired with the maximum of a nine-month contract. Currently, we have 30,000 substitute teachers working in our schools, mostly women, with the vast majority of them constantly moving from school to school with no sense of stability or continuity.

For the last three years the Syriza–Anel government has been promising to create permanent teaching appointments. Nothing has been done yet. Instead, now, they are passing a bill, which in the name of defining the way that teachers will be appointed, means that thousands of our substitute teachers will be fired, since the bill has raised the bar for teaching qualifications. Those not fired will be forced to work hundreds of miles away from their homes and families, because they won’t have the required “points” needed in order to work where they have been teaching for many years. The bill requires teachers to have postgraduate diplomas and other comparable qualifications — it costs thousands of euros to acquire these. In effect, the government is calling on teachers to fiercely compete with each other in order to find a teaching position.

This bill has caused the real anger among teachers. This anger has been aggravated by years of austerity policies which have all but dismantled public education in Greece. On December 11 and December 14, a strike was called by the teachers unions, demanding the withdrawal of the bill and the permanent appointment of all substitute teachers. The government believed that because the bill was actually announced during the Christmas holidays, the educational movement would not have the time to prepare the strike. They were wrong. Thousands of teachers all around Greece closed their schools and demonstrated against the bill. The demonstrations in Athens were some of the largest and most militant in years. The Syriza government ordered a massive police force to break up the demonstrations resulting in serious injuries for teachers, most of them women.

It is necessary to point out that the leaderships of the national teachers’ unions were obliged to call a strike under the pressure of the grassroots movement. Many local unions and substitute teachers’ collectives occupied the Deanery of the University in the Centre of Athens in order to use it as the “headquarters” for our movement. We have been organizing various activities and we are calling the students and all the working people to support and join the teachers’ movement.

We have been watching since last year the impressive mass movement of educators in the US and see that Los Angeles teachers are currently on strike. We express our solidarity to your movement and we are certain of your victory! We know that the attack on public education and teachers is common to both our countries! We also know that only a militant, persistent movement will finally win!

In solidarity,

Substitute teachers, local teachers unions, and students from the occupied Deanery of the University in the Centre of Athens.

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You Need the Rank and File to Win

Across the nation, from Puerto Rico to Kentucky and Colorado to California, a powerful teachers’ movement has been growing. The potential of this movement first became apparent when West Virginia’s teachers went on strike in February and ultimately won a 5 percent raise for all public employees. Following this, Oklahoma’s educators mobilized and won raises and additional funding. After that strike, teachers in my own state of Arizona went on a six-day strike and won $406 million in funding. (Arizona teachers then went on to collect 277,000 signatures for a ballot initiative for further funding.) And already this school year, thousands of teachers in Washington went on strike and thirty-three thousand educators in Los Angeles are getting ready to walk off the job....




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“This Was About the Survival of Public Education”: LA Teachers Claim Victory After Week-Long Strike


ARLENE INOUYE: Yes, thank you, Amy. This was a historic agreement and, actually, much—even gave us more than we had expected, although we had very, very strong demands, and we were clear that we had—these demands needed to be met. And they included, basically, investing in our students, a respect for educators and to stop the privatization of our schools.

So, specifically, we were able to lower class sizes by anywhere from up to seven, one to seven students in a class, depending on which kind of classroom you have, and to eliminate a provision that was in our contract that allowed the district to unilaterally increase class sizes. So, that’s out. And we were also able to get a nurse at every school five days a week, which was exactly what we asked for; more academic counselors, so that there’s a ratio of 500 to 1. We also asked for teacher librarians to be brought back into our middle and high schools, so that’s hiring of 41 additional teacher librarians. Mental health professionals—we were able to get funding for different sources so we can lower the ratio for psychiatric social workers, psychologists, pupil services attendance counselors. There were gains for a lot of our—the diversity of our unions, a lot of the different groups, such as substitutes, such as early educators, such as adult educators. We have bilingual education in there.

We have a provision to stop the—to allow for a charter cap to be introduced at the state level. We have a state law that allows unregulated charter schools to be, you know, started up anywhere, and it’s an unlimited number. So now we have a cap on that, and also, for the very first time, a co-location article in our contract, meaning that we’ve set—we put the educators involved in the process that allows charter schools to come onto our public school campuses and to take over the space that the district says is unoccupied. And this is a state law that’s been very difficult for L.A. Unified, because we have basically segregated campuses where we have charter schools on one side and our public school on the other hand. And sometimes the charter schools, very often, have lower class sizes. So, we’re able to compete with the charter schools by making our conditions better. We’re also able to put into the contract community schools, which is our alternative to charter schools. And that’s bringing the investments into the neighborhood school and allowing the parents, the educators and students to have a say in the curriculum, whether it’s music, art, dual language, ethnic studies, whatever it is that that community will be able to develop and be connected with parents.

So, this is our vision for public schools. And we are so excited that we’re able to move this vision forward and to address the unregulated charter school growth in L.A., which we’re ground zero for here. And we have over 270 unregulated charter schools. And we knew that this is about the survival of public education. It’s about the desperate resources we’ve needed in our classrooms. We’ve had classes, I think you’ve heard, you know, in the thirties in our elementary school, and forties and fifties and even sometimes sixties in our high school. We have kids sitting on window sills.

A Blue State Teacher Rebellion: Denver Teachers Vote to Strike as L.A. Educators Win Big Victory

As Los Angeles teachers agreed to end their strike on Tuesday, Denver teachers voted to strike for the first time in 25 years. The strike could begin as soon as Monday. Meanwhile, teachers in Oakland are planning to vote on a strike next week. We speak with Arlene Inouye, chair of the bargaining team for United Teachers Los Angeles.


ARLENE INOUYE: Yes, and we’re excited for the educators in Denver that they’ve taken this step.

And I feel like what we’ve learned through the years is that when you communicate clearly what the message is and you reach out to parents and community, our collective power is what got us to win. We have a chapter leader in every single school. And we have teams now, organizing teams, at every school. And we have constant communication. I think, as you see, Amy, when you talk to anybody, any teacher or parent out there that were on the picket lines, they will tell you the same message, why we’re fighting. And it’s very clear to us.

And I think by being able to organize across the board and bring in the voices, the ordinary voices of our parents and our educators—and I, myself, by the way, am a speech and language specialist. I worked 18 years in L.A. Unified. And we have a diverse work—diverse membership, including speech and language, including health and human services, OT/PT, you know, psychiatric social workers, and so forth. And sometimes these little groups feel like their voices aren’t heard. But we were able to give—we were able to draw attention to all of the needs in our schools, all of the professionals, and also the students, of course, and what they need, and really lift this up and to see it as an issue of social justice in our schools.

We were also able to bring in some nonmandatory subjects of bargaining into our schools, which we call common good issues, like green space on campus, stopping the criminalization of youth through the wanding. We were able to bring in an immigrant defense fund. We’re making a statement of our values and of what’s critical for how our schools need to address the needs of our students.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think that the district and Superintendent Beutner—what do you think they miscalculated when it came to the power of the strike? I mean, again, in Los Angeles, you went out for the first time in 30 years.

ARLENE INOUYE: Yes. And thank you for that question, Amy, because I do believe—I kept saying all along that Beutner has no idea of who he’s fighting with, because we have very, very strong emotions, very—a tenacity in our members and parents, as was reported earlier. They even went to his home to give—to let him know how they feel and how serious this matter is. I think when you come together with all of the voices, and including our students, I’ve got to say—students are coming out in record numbers on the picket line. And as was mentioned in the earlier interview with Alex, it’s a beautiful sight to see. I have never seen a strike like this, where you’re actually celebrating. It was like a love fest. And I think it’s because of the affirmation and the validation that our educators felt and the connection with our parents and communities.



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Sickouts and Strike Threats Stopped the Government Shutdown

As recently as Thursday evening, elected officials were engaged in theatrical, go-nowhere resolutions with no real chance of reopening the government.

But by Friday afternoon, President Trump abruptly announced a deal to reopen the government, at least temporarily. What changed in less than twenty-four hours? Massively disruptive worker sickouts and the threat of strikes.

Earlier this week, Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) international president Sara Nelson raised the possibility of a general strike to fight the shutdown, and a group of aviation unions issued a dire warning that the aviation system’s safety was degrading.

Then on Friday, the second missed payday of the shutdown, a significant number of air traffic controllers called out from work, temporarily grounding all flights at New York’s LaGuardia airport and causing flight delays across the East Coast. A source inside the White House told CNN Friday that the flight delays were a “contributing catalyst” to the hasty deal.

As news of the delays spread, Nelson immediately raised the possibility that her union members might engage in a “suspension of service” due to safety concerns in an interview. She also told New York, “We’re mobilizing immediately …. If air traffic controllers can’t do their jobs, we can’t do ours.” She carefully avoided claiming the union was preparing to organize a strike, but the implication that there was a very real possibility of a work stoppage was clear.....

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West Virginia Is Set to Strike Again

West Virginia is on the eve of its second teachers’ walkout in less than a year. Only ten months after the state’s educators sparked what has now become a nationwide teachers’ revolt, a brazen attempt by Republican legislators to ram through a pro-privatization, anti-union bill has again set school workers on fire.

Political developments are moving extremely quickly — it’s as if the months leading up to the 2018 strike have been compressed into a few short days. Like last year, word about the Republicans’ latest attacks on educators spread late last week over the West Virginia Public Employees United Facebook page founded by Charleston educators Jay O’Neal and Emily Comer. And yet again it’s the southern, coal-mining county of Mingo — with its proud traditions of labor militancy — that has taken the lead in firing educators up to walk out.

On Monday evening in Williamson, an emergency cross-union meeting for all Mingo County school employees voted unanimously to support the authorization of a one-day strike to stop the bill. All school employees will vote by secret ballot on Tuesday, but as firebrand rank-and-file leader Katie Endicott explained to me in a text from the meeting, the walkout authorization is “[e]xpected to pass by a huge margin. [The] energy is crazy. We will be in Charleston soon.”

Educators in other regions also met on Monday and more countywide emergency meetings are planned for Tuesday evening. It’s very possible that other counties will soon join with Mingo in organizing work stoppages. “Most of the teachers and school service personnel at my school are ready to walk,” notes Charleston’s Emily Comer.....

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What the Government Shutdown Told Us About Worker Power

“Do we have your attention now, Leader McConnell?” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, posed this question after shutdown-related staffing shortages at the Federal Aviation Administration all but halted air traffic in the Northeast. The longest-running federal government shutdown came to an end just hours later, fittingly brought to an end by government workers, the people most impacted by the ordeal.

Nelson made waves among the labor community at an AFL-CIO awards ceremony earlier in January when she called for a general strike in support of furloughed workers. “Federal sector unions have their hands full caring for the 800,000 federal workers who are at the tip of the spear,” Nelson said. “Some would say the answer is for them to walk off the job. I say, what are you willing to do?”

The solidarity from flight attendants was all the more remarkable given that they’re private sector employees. Though they might have received their paychecks throughout the shutdown, Nelson pointed out that they depended on the public sector workers that make up the backbone of aviation safety. “Our country doesn’t run without the federal workers who make it run,” Nelson told Slate, “and there’s no industry where that’s more evident than the airline industry, where our private airlines work in tandem with the federal agencies.”....

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Denver Teachers Strike Back

If there were any lingering doubts over whether the United States is in the midst of a teachers’ strike wave, developments over the past few days should put these to rest. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the official strike data for 2018 and the verdict is clear: “The number of workers involved [in work stoppages] was the highest since 1986.” Of these strikers, the overwhelming majority were educators.

No less significantly, unionized teachers in Denver this weekend decided to move ahead with their work stoppage, which begins on Monday. Denver’s strike underscores that the recent victorious blue-state teachers’ revolt in Los Angeles was not an anomaly. Like in LA, this is fundamentally a strike against the austerity and “education reform” agenda imposed by Democratic Party politicians for well over a decade. Under the inspiration of the nationwide teachers’ upsurge, and the initiatives of a new rank-and-file caucus, Denver’s educators have successfully pushed their union to fight for the schools that students — and teachers — deserve.

Corporate Education Reform

The roots of Denver’s strike can be traced back to decades of stagnating wages and pro-corporate “education reform.” But, above all, it’s been the policies imposed since the Great Recession that have pushed Denver’s teachers to the brink.

On the most immediate level, this is a conflict over wages. Over the past ten years, teacher pay in Colorado has declined by 7.7 percent. Justin Kirkland, a Denver public school teacher and Democratic Socialists of America member, explains that “since the recession, we’ve gone over ten years with almost no real pay raise. Housing costs here are really high and we’re not making a living wage — so it’s no big surprise why there’s such a teachers’ shortage.”

In response to the educators’ salary demands, district leaders are pleading poverty. Yet part of the reason for this budget crunch is that years of privatizing policies have massively expanded the number of school administrators in Denver. Indeed, as Chalkbeat reports, “Denver has 1 administrator for every 7.5 instructional staff — far above [the] state average.”

Though salary questions are at the center of the current round of bargaining, Denver’s strike is fundamentally an expression of teachers’ rejection of the corporate reform agenda. After years of being scapegoated by district leaders and media pundits, education workers see the current strike as a means to assert their worth and dignity — and to push back against the “portfolio” model that has degraded the city’s public schools....