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California Educators Can Follow West VIrginia's Lead.

Started by Richard Mellor, December 16, 2018, 11:01:53 pm

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Richard Mellor

California Educators Can Follow West VIrginia's Lead.

They will and you should.
We have stressed on this blog that the strategy and tactics, that were used by the teachers from West Virginia, to Kentucky and Arizona and other states should be built on throughout the trade union and workers' movement. That is, rank and file control, by-passing the opposition of the established leadership, willingness to violate anti-worker laws and including all workers in education in the movement and in the decision making process. This movement should also draw in to it all workers union, non-union an as well as our communities. Unfortunately, the DSA with regard to the Oakland and LA situations has likened them to the West Virginia strikes and this is absolutely not the case. At this point there is no sign of a repeat in CA.

The union hierarchy, much stronger in California will most likely move to ensure that what happened in West Virginia, Arizona etc. will not occur in California, it will be assisted in this by those lefts who refuse to wage a campaign against the concessionary policies of the bureaucracy. It is inevitable that any activists wanting to improve public education in a serious way will be brought in to conflict with the present union leadership, it cannot be avoided. 

This obstacle of the trade union hierarchy can be overcome by a mass rank and file movement willing to brush this obstacle aside and lead from below.  But it is DSA's and any other socialist's obligation to warn workers of this, educators or otherwise, and help ensure the right side wins that battle. Militants in the trade union movement should not simply be cheerleaders.  See three short videos of presentations by veterans of the West Virginia, Kentucky and Arizona  strikes at the end of this article. RM

Facts For Working People share this article from the World Socialist Website for our readers interest. Facts For Working people has no affiliation of any kind with the World Socialist Website.  

Los Angeles teachers and the fight for social equality
       By     the WSWS Teacher Newsletter     
          14 December 2018   
This statement will be distributed at a mass demonstration of  teachers and their supporters in Los Angeles, California on Saturday.

As  Los Angeles teachers, students and parents converge this Saturday in a  mass rally in downtown Los Angeles, they are part a growing movement  worldwide of teachers, students and workers against social inequality  and austerity.

This week, hundreds of thousands of ?yellow vest?  protesters in France were joined by teachers and high school students  denouncing education ?reforms? and the reintroduction of the draft.  Giving voice to this struggle, one student said, ?I want a merging of  the movement of students, railway workers, yellow vests, of the entire  world to put an end to this world of inequality and injustice.? This is  exactly right.

This is one fight, the world over. On one side are  hundreds of millions of workers and young people. On the other side is a  tiny oligarchy of billionaires who are demanding the destruction of  public education, healthcare, and pensions.

In the US, Los Angeles  educators take their place alongside Oakland teachers who engaged in  wildcat ?sickouts? this week demanding wage increases, smaller class  sizes and better conditions; Fremont teachers who are pressing for  strike action after receiving an insulting one percent pay raise offer;  and Chicago charter school teachers who struck for similar demands.  Teachers in Virginia, Indiana and South Carolina are now threatening to  strike after walkouts in the state of Washington and the wave of strikes  earlier this year in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, North  Carolina, Colorado and other states.

Allied with the Democratic  Party, the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and the California  Teachers Association have kept Los Angeles teachers on the job for more  than a year without a new contract, despite a 98 percent strike mandate  from educators. The unions and the Democrats have kept teachers tied up  in endless mediation and fact-finding schemes even though the school  district continues to offer insulting pay increases and demands for more  takeaways.

It does not take a rocket scientist to know what the  facts are: educators need good wages and benefits in order to cope with  rising housing, health care and other living expenses. They need a  substantial increase in school funding to make class sizes smaller, hire  more nurses, counselors and special education teachers and adequately  supply their classrooms. Educators need increased social services to  address chronic poverty, homelessness and other social ills that afflict  their students.

The entire corporate and political establishment,  headed by the Democratic governor, state legislature and mayor, insists  there is no money for any of these basic necessities. If they get their  way, California will remain near the bottom of all US states in per  pupil spending (46th) and the student-to-teacher ratio (48th).  Standardized tests and rigged evaluations will continue to be used to  scapegoat teachers, close schools and divert money to for-profit charter  businesses.

The WSWS Teacher Newsletter and the  Socialist Equality Party urge teachers to take matters into their own  hands by electing rank-and-file committees at every school and in every  community. These committees should set a strike date and build up the  broadest support among staff, students, parents and other sections of  workers for a struggle. Committees in Los Angeles should link up with  educators in Oakland and across California to prepare a statewide strike  to defend public education.

The trade unions like the UTLA and  its national organization, the American Federation of Teachers?headed by  Randi Weingarten, who has an annual income of more than $500,000?do not  unite workers; they divide them. This was the role of the unions in  every struggle of teachers this year, which emerged outside of the  unions themselves. The AFT plays the same role as the United Auto  Workers, which has imposed decades of concessions contracts, and the  Teamsters, which imposed a sell-out contract on 250,000 UPS workers this  year despite a majority ?no? vote.

The UTLA and CTA are opposed  to a strike because that would quickly develop into a direct political  confrontation with the state Democrats and inspire teachers around the  country to follow suit. That is why the UTLA has kept teachers on the  job and offered no resistance when LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner  fired 15 percent of district staff and announced plans for further  privatization of the district under the cover of ?autonomy? for  individual units and ?greater parental engagement.?

The formation  of independent organizations of working class struggle must be connected  to the building of a political leadership in the working class, opposed  to both the Democrats and Republicans, based on a socialist and  revolutionary program.

There is plenty of money to improve teacher  salaries and public education. California is the home of 143  billionaires on the Forbes Rich List. A 100 percent wealth tax on  fortunes above $10 million on just the top four?Facebook?s Mark  Zuckerberg ($71 billion), Microsoft?s Larry Ellison ($58.5 billion),  Google?s Larry Page ($48.4 billion) and Tesla?s Elon Musk ($19.9  billion)?would resolve the school funding crisis overnight and provide  the resources to guarantee living wages for teachers and a healthy  learning environment for their students.

Jerry Brown,  governor-elect Gavin Newsom, Mayor Eric Garcetti, US Congressional  leader Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats, no less than Trump  and the Republicans, serve the interests of the rich, not working  people. Far from encroaching on their grotesque fortunes, they insist  that teachers and other workers accept even more sacrifices in order to  fund more corporate tax cuts, bailouts of banks and corporations, like  PG&E, and endless wars for conquest and profit.

An improvement  of conditions for working people, whose collective labor produces all  of society?s wealth, is only possible through a frontal assault on the  corporate and financial oligarchy, the seizure of their fortunes and a  radical redistribution of wealth. Tens of millions of workers and young  people are opposed to inequality, militarism, anti-immigrant attacks,  police brutality and other forms of state repression, and there is a  growing support for socialism in the US and around the world.

The  WSWS and SEP are spearheading the fight to organize the working class,  including through the formation last weekend of a steering committee of  auto and other workers to oppose layoffs and concessions, independent of  the unions.

Rank-and-file committees of teachers and other  educators will link up their struggles with every other section of  workers?auto workers, hotel, garment and health care workers, Amazon and  UPS workers, oil workers and others?to fight for the social right to  good-paying and secure jobs and fully funded social programs for all  workers and young people. This must be combined with a political  strategy to unite all workers, black, white, native born and immigrant,  in the US and around the world in a fight for socialism.

Source: California Educators Can Follow West VIrginia's Lead.