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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Labor Day: Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento

Bishop Jaime Soto cites challenges of global economy at Sacramento religious, labor event

Bishop Jaime Soto

Bishop Jaime Soto

By Julie Sly

Pope Benedict XVI’s new encyclical, “Charity in Truth,” calls on people of all nations and faiths to recognize the great need for solidarity amid the challenges of globalization, Bishop Jaime Soto told a diverse group of religious and labor leaders Aug. 25 in Sacramento.

“Many of the issues that have been spoken about by the church with regard to labor, inequality and the ability of the market to be able to respond to the needs of people have been changed by the increasing global reality that we live in today,” he said. “The global economy is here – whether or not one is in favor of or against globalization – and we’re dealing with that in a significant way in the economic crisis we face in our country.”

The bishop urge religious and labor leaders to be at the forefront of current legislative efforts on the federal level to reform health care and to revise current immigration policies to improve human rights for immigrants. Continue reading