A New Teacher Union Movement is Rising

Bob Peterson
Common Dreams

Teacher unions must unite with parents, students and the community to improve our schools—to demand social justice and democracy so that we have strong public schools, healthy communities, and a vibrant democracy.

Chicago Teachers Union rally in Daley Plaza in 2012. The nation’s public schools, writes Peterson, “must become greenhouses for both democracy and community revitalization.”, pbarcas / cc / flickr,

A revitalized teacher union movement is bubbling up in the midst of relentless attacks on public schools and the teaching profession. Over the next several years this new movement may well be the most important force to defend and improve public schools, and in so doing, defend our communities and our democracy.
The most recent indication of this fresh upsurge was the union election in Los Angeles. Union Power, an activist caucus, won leadership of the United Teachers of Los Angeles, the second-largest teacher local in the country. The Union Power slate, headed by president-elect Alex Caputo-Pearl, has an organizing vision for their union. They have worked with parents fighting school cuts and recognize the importance of teacher–community alliances.

In two other cities –Portland, OR, and St. Paul, MN – successful contract struggles also reflect a revitalized teacher union movement. In both cities the unions put forth a vision of “the schools our children deserve” patterned after a document by the Chicago Teachers Union. They worked closely with parents, students, and community members to win contract demands that were of concern to all groups. The joint educator-community mobilizations were key factors in forcing the local school districts to settle the contracts before a strike.
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70 Protestors Disrupt Gov. Walker Speech on Budget “Reform”

Chicago, IL—Seventy protestors, representing the Stand Up! Chicago coalition, attended a Scott Walker breakfast presentation Wednesday morning on “Taxpayers, State Budget Reforms and the New Realities,” in order to deliver a reality check to the Wisconsin Governor made infamous by his union-busting and job-killing policies.

Attendees of the event, held by the Union League Club of Chicago in the Loop, were greeted at both entrances to the Club by another 100 or so community protestors, including members of Occupy Chicago. The protestors both inside and outside the building denounced Walker’s pro-big-business, anti-working-family approach to what he terms “budget reform.”

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Scott Walker’s Favorite Bank Runs But Cannot Hide

by Paul Garver

Workers from Wisconsin will be joined by New York firefighters, construction workers, public employees, and other union and community supporters in a demonstration in front of the Marshall and Ilsley (M&I) Shareholders’ Meeting on
Tuesday May 17th at 12 noon (at the NY Marriott Marquis, Times Square Manhattan).

M&I Bank moved its shareholders’ meeting from Milwaukee to New York City to try to avoid protests by Wisconsin citizens. M&I executives donated at least $46,361 to Scott Walker during the 2010 election and have donated $347,148 since 2000 to the
Wisconsin GOP politicians who helped Walker push his anti-worker
measures.    

The M & I Bank received a $1.75 billion bailout from the Troubled Asset Relief Program of which $1.3 billion still has not been returned to taxpayers.  By agreeing to have the M & I Bank acquired by the Bank of Montreal (BMO), M & I executives will receive $71 million compensation payments when M&I is acquired by BMO later this year.   Thus the same executives who are financing the right-wing attack on unions are brazenly circumventing the law that prohibits bonuses to bank executives until the TARP funds are repaid.

An earlier article in Talking Union reports on the action of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO closing its account at the M&I Bank in protest.

For more information on the demonstration at noon Tuesday 17 May contact Paul Pimentel, Sheet Metal Workers’ International
Association, AFL-CIO, Mobile: 202 812-8159.

Kill Public Employee Unions; Erase the Middle Class

By Dmitri Iglitzin and Carson Glickman-Flora

It’s not like we didn’t see it coming.

At the very start of this year, January 2, the New York Times warned us of the coming battle with a front-page story, “Public Workers Facing Outrage in Budget Crisis.” The Economist, in its January 8 issue, gave us “The battle ahead: confronting the public-sector unions.” And the January Time Magazine? “Public Employees Become Public Enemy No. 1.”

So nobody should have been surprised when public employees became enemy number one in Wisconsin, whose governor and Republican-dominated Legislature are pressing a bill that would eviscerate most of the unions representing that state’s employees.

Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Ohio are likewise all considering legislation to ban various types of collective bargaining, and in Indiana, almost every Democratic member of the state’s House of Representative recently boycotted a legislative session to stop a bill that would weaken collective bargaining.

What has not been clearly noted, however, despite the thousands of barrels of ink that have been spilled about this topic, is the underlying motive behind these attacks. Why, exactly, has the governor of the Badger State made destroying public-sector unions his number one goal? Why are similar efforts being made in numerous other states? Why target public sector workers and their unions? What put this on the top of the hard Right’s agenda? Especially because, as the New York Times noted, “A raft of recent studies found that public salaries, even with benefits included, are equivalent to or lag slightly behind those of private sector workers” with a similar education.”

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Thousands protest Wisconsin Governor’s proposals

More than 15,000 people, including public employees, union activists and community supporters, jammed into the Capitol Square in Madison, Wis., yesterday to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) plan to strip away state workers’ rights and decimate family-supporting middle-class jobs. Some 3,000 massed inside the Capitol building where a hearing on the bill was under way.

Many of those at yesterday’s rally camped overnight and are continuing their vigil today.

Public workers and their allies held other protests around Wisconsin. Some 1,000 people gathered outside Walker’s suburban Milwaukee home carrying signs that read “Stop the Attack on Workers’ Rights.”

AFSCME President Gerald McEntee told the cheering crowd in Madison:

For 75 years, we’ve fought to make our voices heard, and we’re not going to be silenced today. We’re not going to let this happen, We won’t let him break the back of the middle class of Wisconsinites. We are strong. We are united.

Walker vows that he will not negotiate any changes to his plan and if the state legislature doesn’t pass it, he will force massive layoffs, crippling state services and costing thousands of jobs.
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Join the Wisconsin Campaign for justice

Public employees and their allies are taking action to fight Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) proposals to cut pay and benefits and take away nearly all collective bargaining rights for state workers. Walker has alerted the National Guard in case state workers strike or rise in protest. Help fight this outrage.

* Join a Facebook campaign here:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=200777516604842

* Sign a Twitter petition here.

* If you’re in Wisconsin, find out about rallies here.