Friday, April 6, 2018

School Scope: Red State Teachers in Revolt – Can It Happen Here?

Published at on Friday April 6, 2018

School Scope: Red State Teachers in Revolt – Can It Happen Here?

By Norm Scott
April 2, 2018

As I write this on Monday morning, teachers in Oklahoma are on strike, following up on the 9 day strike in West Virginia and last Friday’s walkout by teachers in Kentucky (over pension cuts) which is continuing today. Arizona teachers are also threatening to strike. Many of these actions are wildcat strikes, meaning they are not being called by the unions themselves but by a membership in revolt, not only against the state, but their own union leaderships which have been forced to go along. “Union leaders haven’t been aggressive enough. We need to be more aggressive,” said Kentucky teacher Nema Brewer, one of the organizers.

That all these states are right-to-work (RTW) red states who voted for Trump by vast margins is no accident. Super majority Republican control of these states have cut taxes so much, especially on the energy companies, education has been cut to the bone, including teacher salaries. And since union members in RTW states don’t have to pay union agency shop fees, the union structures in these states are weakened, thus not having the infrastructure in place to control the members.

I assume most of the teachers in revolt are not left wing or even liberals. A number of them may have even voted for Trump. Usually in strikes you hear attacks against outside agitators. Not in these cases, as the revolts are truly from the grass roots. Are some of the deplorables engage in a militant revolt, including their own leadership? I know people who voted for Trump just because they were generally pissed off and are very militant against the Democrats who sold out teachers and the teacher unions that support them. This militancy may be carrying over into their unions.

The Supreme Court, in the Janus case, is about to make every state, including NY, RTW. One of the arguments used against Janus is that the unions are often partners with the states and in essence help restrain the members. I wonder if these red state teacher revolts, coming so soon before the Court rules, will influence the Justices.

What does that mean for militancy here in NYC where we have the largest and most entrenched union leadership in the nation, where Unity Caucus has enormous reach? Now if 30% leave the UFT, that is a massive reduction in incoming dues. The patronage machine and possibly the high salaries that keeps them coming to Unity take a hit and Unity begins to lose some control - and if people in the schools get pissed off enough, who knows? But I'm a realist. But my guess is that the politicians in NYS know better - to make sure the UFT leaders remain as strong as possible to assure there are no teacher revolts here. Watch Cuomo and the Democrats figure out ways to help the unions keep collecting dues since they know full well the leaders of the UFT are their friends.

Hear an audio feed of a conversation with West Virginia and Oklahoma teachers at:

Norm is always revolting at

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