Wednesday, March 21, 2018

West Virginia, Oklahoma Strike Lessons – Right to Work does not have to be a Death Sentence

I wrote this up for the March edition of Another View in the UFT which we were going to hand out at today's postponed Delegate Assembly and will hand out next week. I had to squeeze this on so I didn't say a whole bunch of stuff I wanted to touch on. One of my thoughts was that the strike in WV, possible upcoming ones in Oklahoma and elsewhere
strikes fear into union leaderships like Weingarten and Mulgrew because they will never have the stomach for a strike and if there is a day when the rank and file revolt (as we did in 1975 when Shanker opposed striking) they wouldn't be able to control things -- though Shanker managed to manipulate things to end the strike.

If you want to know more about both states watch this must see video: Video feed of the March 10 event at the Jacobin FB page:

West Virginia, Oklahoma Strike Lessons –
Right to Work does not have to be a Death Sentence
By Norm Scott, MORE, Education Notes blog

On the Saturday evening of March 10, 2018, about 300 people showed up at the meeting hall of the NY State Nurses Association (NYSNA) on West 33rd St to hear a presentation by three West Virginia teachers who played key roles in the recent victorious strike. Starting with the idea of a sickout, termed “the blue flu”, in a few counties, the movement turned into a full-fledged wildcat strike in every single county in the state that led to the closing of every school in the state. A right to work state. A state where strikes by public employees are illegal.

Yet, despite all, they struck. And won. Not only did they win the 5% raise they asked for plus an agreement to control rising health care costs, but attempts by the state legislature to impose charter schools was also turned back. The state is one of the few without any charter schools. After the presentation, one of the teachers leading a similar movement in Oklahoma called in and told their story, which includes enormous resistance of the state union leadership which is being dragged kicking and screaming by the rank and file towards taking actions they clearly are not comfortable with.

With the Janus decision on the horizon, the stories coming out of West Virginia and Oklahoma have been remarkable, especially since both states are the heart of what is considered heavy Trump territory and most probably many of the teachers themselves are Trump supporters or centrist Democrats. While local activists here often assume that the most militant voices come from the left, these stories prove that militancy can come from any segment of the labor movement when conditions reach a breaking point.

Even more impressive has been that the actions in both states seem to be led by actual classroom teachers, as state and county union leaders (and maybe national too) urge greater caution.

An immediate thought was that the actions coming out of these states, and maybe more to come, is the threat they represent to the top teacher union leaders who won’t even whisper the “S” word. How often have we been warned about the Taylor Law over the past 40 years since our last strike in 1975? No matter how difficult it may be to face the truth, the greatest gains we have made often came out of strikes or the threat to strike. With the people running the city assured that we will never strike, de Blasio can refuse parental leave or any other improvement of working conditions without demanding give backs. It will be certainly interesting to watch how Mulgrew and other union officials dance around these stories as they offer cheerleading support for them while also trying to tamp down similar moves that might come from the UFT membership. I have been posting stories about the strike at:

Video feed of the March 10 event at the Jacobin FB page:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.