Teacher Strikes and Solidarity

May 15, 2018 by

Neither word nor whimper of a contemplated teachers strike has been reported or rumored here.  New York State is not Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kentucky or Arizona, where teachers, in collectively noble gestures, withheld their labor lately.

Even among the traditionally anti-union GOP, we don’t have a full-blown “right to work” mentality in New York.  But the wildfires that have ignited elsewhere may migrate to the parched labor landscape closer to home, if there is not a correction of an environment that increasingly seems fixed on the idea that the best that educators can aspire to is economic stagnation.

The pressure may be reaching a “critical mass” when teachers will reject the insult of never any more than a bare “cost of living” increase plus the insult of having to yield benefits won generations ago.

Union membership must be thoroughly prepared. It is essential that they be coordinated, focused and have in their possession and be familiar with full, detailed and organized proof of the state and City’s finances. They are already maddened by the persistent and pervasive denial of subsidies and supports to our schools. Rank-in-file must be in total control of the information and of themselves.

Lord knows that having truth on their side is no guarantee they will be treated fairly, even by “progressive” negotiators representing management. Justice must be driven by the compelling power of evidence, the tapping of legitimate assets of influence and even then there is no certainty.

The recent teacher strikes have sparked a revival of the labor movement, which by definition extends even beyond teachers unions. Last month, the Queens area local of the American Postal Workers Union, posted a bulletin to its members in which it praised the actions of teachers unions, acknowledged their leadership and the awakening fighting spirit of workers.

The Bulletin refers to tax cuts and state windfalls going to businesses instead of public services. It point out that some public school systems have been forced to operate on a four-day week schedule because of the sting of austerity. They also cite “debilitated facilities”, textbook shortages, and teachers paying for basic classroom supplies because otherwise their students would be deprived of them.

The Bulletin  says that “the education workers’ actions ( strikes) are a part of a growing movement for fair salaries, access to effective training, quality learning materials  and safe facilities for students, staff and teacher alike–a true sign of solidarity for all.”

Ah, to hear the word “solidarity ” again!  For years it seemed to have gone the way of archaic words like “forsooth”.  It’s encouraging that the American Postal Workers Union in Oklahoma  coordinated  with teachers in their recent struggle, declaring “when we support each other, we can go further”.

Way to go!

Ron Isaac

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.