A Labor Based Movement for Medicare for All

Source: Blog Post | Blog | Issues | The Sanders Institute

Michael Lighty. CNA.


Statement from the DSA Labor Commission Steering Committee on West Virginia Teachers Strike

DSAMarch 8, 2018

This Tuesday, through collective action and solidarity, West Virginia’s public school teachers and support staff won a 5% pay raise for themselves and all state workers, a freeze in health insurance premiums, and the end of a punitive “wellness” program. Together, these rank and file educators also stopped a charter school bill, and beat back a bogus anti-union “paycheck protection” act.

By going on strike, and holding fast when state leaders failed to take real action on these demands, they defended a minimum standard of life not just for themselves but all West Virginians. They have also been an inspiration to state employees, and the public they serve, facing similar austerity budgets across the country.

Read the entire statement

What You Can Do To Support West Virginia Teachers’ Strike

Democratic Socialists of America


There is a full-on rebellion in West Virginia.

20,000 teachers and school support employees have been on strike for a week over wages and health care. Since Wednesday, when workers decided the deal their union leadership had struck wasn’t good enough, it has been a wildcat strike, meaning the workers went ahead and did it on their own.

This could be the most important labor action in years. The West Virginia state senate refuses to meet strikers’ demands. DSA chapters across the state are mobilized in solidarity with our members who are teachers and public employees. And DSA chapters across the country have sent them group pictures in solidarity all week. Now the West Virginia teachers need your support.

Three things you can do right now:

Let’s make sure West Virginia workers know we have their backs!

Maria Svart

DSA National Director

PS: The West Virginia strike is inspiring teachers across the country to stand up for better conditions in schools. Are you a K-12 teacher? Sign up for the National DSA Teacher Network here.

West Virginia Teachers Are Showing How Unions Can Win Power Even If They Lose Janus

Source: West Virginia Teachers Are Showing How Unions Can Win Power Even If They Lose Janus

Janus is Designed to Cripple Unions

JANUS ARGUMENTS: The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in Janus v. AFSCME, a case that could shrink the coffers of public-employee unions by as much as two thirds if – as expected – the conservative-dominated high court rules for the plaintiff, POLITICO’s Andrew Hanna and Caitlin Emma report. The case addresses the mandatory “fair share” or “agency” fees that unions charge union non-members to cover their portion of collective bargaining costs. A 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service found that private-sector union membership in right-to-work states was one-third the membership in states that aren’t right-to-work. A ruling for Janus by the high court, if it had the same effect on public employee union membership, would reduce political spending by the big four public-employee unions–AFSCME, SEIU, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association–from the $166 million it gave federal candidates in the 2016 cycle to something closer to $55 million. That would deal Democrats a serious blow. “Government unions,” Hanna and Emma report, “account for about 6 percent of the money spent on Democratic candidates in federal elections – and that doesn’t include significant in-kind contributions like phone banks and canvassing.”

Public-employee unions are barred from spending fair-share fees on electoral politics, but attorneys for the plaintiff, an Illinois state worker named Mark Janus, argue that any action by a government union – even collective bargaining – is inherently political, because it involves the expenditure of state money. Ergo, spending Janus’s money on anything constitutes forced political speech and violates his First Amendment rights. AFSCME counters that since the law requires it to bargain collectively for an entire bargaining unit–including union non-members like Janus–then depriving AFSCME of fair-share fees would make it possible for Janus and others to enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining without having to pay for them. Members’ resulting stampede to quit the union and become free riders, says AFSCME, would devastate AFSCME financially–and that’s the real goal.

From Politico’s Morning Edition.

And, one group of labor activists argued that it was not important to defeat Trump.  Remember?

In the past decade, a small group of people working for deep-pocketed corporate interests, conservative think tanks and right-wing foundations have bankrolled a series of lawsuits to end what they call “forced unionization.” They say they fight in the name of “free speech,” “worker rights” and “workplace freedom.” In briefs before the court, they present their public face: carefully selected and appealing plaintiffs like Illinois child-support worker Mark Janus and California schoolteacher Rebecca Friedrichs. The language they use is relentlessly pro-worker.

From the March 2018 issue

Behind closed doors, a different face is revealed. Those same people cheer “defunding” and “bankrupting” unions to deal a “mortal blow” to progressive politics in America.

A key director of this charade is the State Policy Network (SPN), whose game plan is revealed in a union-busting toolkit uncovered by the Center for Media and Democracy. The first rule of the national network of right-wing think tanks that are pushing to dismantle unions? “Rule #1: Be pro-worker, not anti-union. … Don’t rant against unions. … Using phrases like ‘union fat cats’ and ‘corrupt union bosses’ and other negative language reduces support for reform.”




Working People’s Day of Action

Have you heard about the Working People’s Day of Action this Saturday, 2/24?

Join DSA’s Democratic Socialist Labor Commission to affirm the right to strong worker organizations and to protect the voices of workers on the job. You can find actions near you here. And there will be more on Monday, February 26.

So why am I asking you this now? On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Janus v. AFSCME case. Our public sector workers’ rights to run their unions and bargain with employers are at risk. So we need to fight back together!

This case is part of an on-going attack on collective worker power through the expansion of so-called “right to work” laws. Since their implementation in the mid twentieth century, these laws have been used to pit workers against each other. You can read more about the racist history of these laws here.

As socialists, we must stand united against efforts to divide the working class. At our convention this summer, DSA members voted to affirm the importance of “a militant and powerful labor movement” to a successful socialist movement. That’s why West Virginia DSA chapters are standing together with striking public school teachers in their state.

Continue reading

Statewide Teachers Strike Planned for West Virginia


Caity Coyne  February 17, 2018
Charleston Gazette-Mail

School teachers and service personnel from all 55 counties will participate in West Virginia’s first statewide walkout on Thursday and Friday, union leaders announced Saturday.

The announcement came at the end of a rally featuring thousands of teachers and others at the state Capitol, and follows weeks of growing tension between public employees, educators and the state Legislature regarding concerns with pay and health care.

“The entire state of West Virginia will be shut down,” said Dale Lee, president of West Virginia Education Association. “We are standing united — all 55. Will you stand with us?”

The work action is a last message to legislators at the Capitol “to do your jobs or we’ll vote you out,” said Christine Campbell, president of the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers. Continue reading