Category Archives: Teachers Unions

Labor Needs a Different Kind of “Ground Game”

November 20, 2012

Published at Common Dreams and CounterPunch.

After suffering almost two years of ramped up union-busting, the labor movement came out swinging in the recent elections. It swung its hardest in swing states like Ohio, delivering the 2012 presidential election to President Obama and propelling other labor-endorsed candidates to office.

Labor’s decisive role in reelecting Obama and boosting dozens of other Democrats in key races was acknowledged in the national press. And it was acknowledged by labor. Read the rest of this entry

Decision 2012: Austerity vs. Austerity

November 6, 2012

As this year’s election finally reaches its conclusion, working-class people will soon know who will drive the agenda of austerity over the next four years. Whether it’s Obama or Romney, the underlying priorities remain the same, and at the center of those priorities is a commitment to cut the deficit on the backs of workers and the poor.

Up to this point, the campaigning on either side has sought to lead voters into a state of mind in which substance and style bleed together as one. Because beyond style, both Obama and Romney share more in common on policy than they disagree. Even if Democrats and Republicans differ on how to get there, the goal is the same: safeguard the dominance of corporate power and point to the deficit as reason enough to march forward with the assault on the working class.  Read the rest of this entry

Winning the Strike: How Chicago Teachers Made History

October 1, 2012

Last month, the Chicago Teachers Union did something that no one thought possible a few years ago when the Great Recession took hold. Back then, the economic crisis and devastating budget cuts gave corporate-backed school “reformers” the conditions they needed to thrust the war on public education into high gear.

The Chicago teachers strike is a groundbreaking event in the fight to defend public schools and resurrect a fighting labor movement. Months of preperation went into the victorious strike that forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to back down from his most damaging attacks against teachers. The union knew it needed to build alliances beyond labor and win the support of parents and communities before moving to strike. Its success in doing so was central to winning the standoff.  Read the rest of this entry

The One Percent Targets D.C. Schools

March 29, 2012

Students and Parents Protest the Demolition of Bruce Monroe Elementary
(Grassroots Media Project, Empower DC)

Published at Socialist Worker.

In 2010, Washington D.C. residents ousted the much-maligned former Mayor Adrian Fenty, in what was largely considered to be a referendum against his notorious union-busting Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Fenty’s replacement, Vincent Gray, opposed Rhee’s reforms while Gray served on the City Council.

But as mayor, Gray has done little to reverse the damage that Rhee inflicted on D.C. schools. In fact, the mayor – along with Deputy Mayor for Education De’Shawn Wright and the current Chancellor Kaya Henderson – has mostly continued Rhee’s policies and is now poised to make things much worse. Read the rest of this entry

Labor Politics and the Captive Electorate of 2012

March 14, 2012 

Published at Common Dreams and CounterPunch.

Back in 2010, Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers (AFT), lashed out at President Obama who she said was part of the “blame the teacher crowd” of education reform.

“I never thought I’d see a Democratic president, whom we helped elect, and his education secretary applaud the mass firing of 89 teachers and staff,” she said – referring to the firing of all teachers at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island earlier that year.

Last month, the AFT executive council unanimously voted to endorse Obama for reelection. Read the rest of this entry

Workers’ Power from Puget Sound to Goose Island

February 29, 2012

[SubDisp Exclusive]

For anyone wondering where I’ve been lately, I apologize for my literary absence at Subterranean Dispatches. A combination of day-job work, organizing in the local Occupy movement and other preoccupations have prevented me from finding sufficient time to write a solid dispatch column worthy of publication here or elsewhere. February has been a busy month.

But it’s also been a busy month for organized labor and workers’ struggle in general. The following articles are highly-recommended essential reading on two crucial battles in labor in the month of February – one that may set the stage for a larger union rights struggle in an industry that desperately needs it; and the other, a swift and salient reminder of the possibilities that exist when workers come together and take bold action. The first article discusses the two-week strike among 500 non-union port truck drivers in Seattle. The second chronicles a factory occupation last week led by the same workers at the same facility who occupied their Republic Windows and Doors plant back in 2008. In their own terms, workers were victorious in both cases, though their long-term battles continue. In an era in which workers are under the gun, from teachers in public education to manufacturing workers across the board, the lessons from these two recent struggles are profound. Read the rest of this entry