Friday, September 11, 2015

Why Seattle Teacher Strike Matters - MORE and Port Jefferson Station Express Support

There's no little irony that social justice oriented teacher unions are leading the way in militancy and a willingness to strike while UFT/Unity type unions are passive. That's why I love it when so-called action oriented UFTers opposed to the leadership try to put down MORE as too "social justicey". They just don't get it.

They should take a good look at Seattle - and Chicago where SJ caucuses - MORE brothers and sisters - CORE and SEE are leading the way against ed deform -

MORE people are informing their chapters about these events so UFTers who want to fight back understand what it will take - teachers at the school level must go out and work with parents and community to build the kind of support necessary for us to fight back effectively. Or MORE's support for the #FightForDyett – Support the Hunger Strike against School Closings - in Chicago where parents are fighting to keep a school from being closed and savaged by ed deformers. (Chicago teachers lost 10,000 jobs over the past 15 years of deform).

MORE's Lauren Cohen, Chapter leader at PS 321K, one of the leading opt-out schools in the city, helped organize this support photo:

MORE/ST/UCORE/UFT Chapter Leader Lauren Cohen and her PS 321K chapter
When I began teaching the UFT had a "no contract, no work" mantra - meaning that the day after a contract expired we would be on strike. That only happened in 1967 - and not long after that mantra disappeared, thus leaving us go years without a contract.

Not since 1975 has the UFT been on strike. We know all about the Taylor Law 2 for 1 penalties, the removal of dues checkoff and severe financial - if not crippling - penalties against the union. All these rules came as a result of the 1967 and 1968 UFT strikes. The 1975 strike was an anomaly - no contract on the table - but massive cuts - the leadership did not want to go on strike but was forced to by an outraged membership who saw their schools crippled by massive budget cuts that resulted in the loss of 15,000 jobs. Shanker even went to jail - which we, part of the opposition (Coalition of School Workers - CSW) - considered a rigged show so he could end the strike and make a crippling deal to save the city with our pensions while the working teachers got screwed (shortened school days, loss of preps, frozen everything - like no repairs). The system didn't begin to recover for 15 years. And soon after came ed deform. Unity Caucus has been the steward of 40 years of disaster - 47 if you add in the '68 strike.

Since then our own union leaders have used the threat of a strike against the members -- giving up the major weapon. 

Either other states don't have such onerous penalties or the unions just don't worry about it.

The Chicago Teacher Union 2012 strike as schools opened was a major event and they are talking about going on strike again - but this time, as my pal George Schmidt urges, it will be a winter strike which will have a bigger impact that one in balmy fall days. Male teachers are already beginning to grow their winter beards.

It is no accident that the Social Justice unionism movement in Chicago has caught on in so many other cities - as evidenced by our national UCORE coalition from 15 states. A growing SJ oriented caucus in Seattle, where Jesse Hagopian came within a hair of winning the recent election as president, has played an important role in the strike - gaining parent and community support - and how ironic it is in the home territory of Bill Gates - and how delicious that the State of Washington courts ruled charter schools unconstitutional?

When we were in Seattle for the Bill Gates AFT convention in 2010, the local union, which I believe is NEA, has minimal presence - though some of them did hold an anti-Arne Duncan demo when he came to lunch at a restaurant. Due to the work of a caucus - Social Equality Educators (SEE) - there is a world of change as evidenced by the strike.

Socialist Worker has an article summing it up: Teachers draw the line for Seattle schools

Beth Dimino and Brian St. Pierre of Port Jefferson Station come out strongly on Seattle Teacher Strike and call for NYSUT to do the same.

Seattle Teachers On Strike!

The Seattle Education Association is ready to strike tomorrow, on the first day of school in their district, if negotiations tonight do not reach an agreement. In a situation reminiscent of the Chicago Teachers Union's 2012 strike, the teachers in Seattle are ready to strike for more than just typical "bread and butter" union issues. While things such as salary increases and length of work day a... See More

PJSTA Passes Reso in Support of SEA; Launches Solidarity Campaign

At today’s Representative Council meeting the PJSTA’s governing body passed a resolution in support of the Seattle Education Association who are currently on strike in Seattle as they fight for the schools Seattle’s students deserve.  Additionally the PJSTA pledged to launch a solidarity campaign in our schools and asked NYSUT to similarly support the SEA while encouraging it’s locals to issue their own resolutions in support of the SEA. Details on the solidarity campaign will hit the buildings tomorrow.
Here is the text of the resolution…


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