Trade Union News and Views, plus the Chicago Teachers and Reverend Wright
(Sure, and ya fell for the Click Bait, but since it’s such great fun, I’ll let ya eat dessert first.)
Snippets via Politico.com:
‘The Chicago Teachers Union wants a louder voice in the political world — and to kick off that campaign, it’s turning to a public figure every bit as combative as the union itself: the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Wright will give a keynote address Wednesday at a breakfast the teacher’s union is holding in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. The union has invited local pastors to the breakfast in the hopes of building a coalition of Chicago clergy to support its causes. In particular, union officials are seeking allies to fight the city’s policy of shutting down dozens of neighborhood schools and opening charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately managed — and often, nonunion.
CTU President Karen Lewis — herself a fiery speaker, prone to the occasional incendiary remark — said she hopes Wright’s speech will be “stimulating, interesting, provocative” and fully in tune with King’s legacy as a crusader for social justice and union rights. She said she is “not concerned at all” that Wright might repeat some of his more inflammatory comments or reiterate controversial stances such as his embrace of Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic views. “He’s a theologian and a scholar,” Lewis said of Wright, who is pastor emeritus at Trinity United Church of Christ. “He is highly respected in this town amongst the clergy.”
Let’s see how CNN Covered it, ha! (I won’t put you through Gretta VanSneerStern, or whatever her name is.)
From CTU’s website, ‘Martin Luther King Breakfast’:
Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Pastor Emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ, joined CTU officers and a gathering of more than 200 clergy and retired CTU members from across Chicago for the third annual Martin Luther King, Jr. P.E.A.C.E. Breakfast. It includes a slideshow of the event.
In other related news, ‘CTU Seeks to Tip Balance With New Political Org’:
Faced with what it sees as increasing pressure on public education and issues critical to its members, the Chicago Teachers Union has decided to wade directly into Chicago and Illinois politics with its own independent political organization.
The move comes as range of issues such as charters schools, poverty, the state’s minimum wage, TIF reform and more are increasingly at the forefront of political campaigns and voter’s minds in Chicago and across the state.
More labor news and views:
Mark Brenner’s ‘Public Sector Unions Win When They Preach ‘Tax the Rich’ argues that far too many public sector unions buy into the conservative theme that their pensions and wages are to blame for budget caps. He mentions several cases in which ballot initiatives that require ‘shared taxation pain’, including raising rates for those who can least afford it, fail. But, on the other hand, when the California Federation of Teachers put up an alternative ‘tax the rich’ measure, it forced Jerry Brown to prune back his $6 billion tax revenue to raise taxes by a paltry 2% on only those making a quarter of a million dollars a year.
He mentions other unions and grassroots actions that are following suit, and is confident it that the protests as both education of the issues of the public will lead to greater opportunities for enacting both city and state wins for workers.
Writing for Occupy.com, Matt Stennard’s ‘Now Is the Moment to Save Our Postal Commons’ is a great synthesis of underlying capitalistic Shock Doctrine privatization of the USPS, easy fixes, and (ha!) better performance than UPS during the holiday rush. The subject deserves a new post of its own, but you can read more about Shock Doctrine and the Post Office here, as well. (And by the by, fuck you, DiFi and Richard Blum…and Congress.)
One major piece of good news is that the Loud Suggestions to force the end of Saturday mail delivery didn’t make it into the Omnibus spending bill just passed into law.
At Labor Notes, Alexandra Bradbury asks ‘Could a New Union Leadership Stop Sell-Off of Post Office?’, she makes her case, including:
“We have not seen anybody at this point able to stop the postmaster general,” said Debby Szeredy, local president in Mid-Hudson Valley, New York, and running for vice president.
Plus, the union made dramatic concessions in 2010—including a three-tier system that funnels new hires into low-paid, perma-temp positions. [snip]
Despite calls from member activists, the four postal unions haven’t staged national action together since 2011. Guffey has “openly abdicated the fight to save six-day delivery,” seeing it as a letter carriers’ issue, Dimondstein said. “The idea that we have different fights, it’s the classic divide and conquer.”
Union solidarity is a tough one, especially for the Big Unions like the AFL-CIO that umbrellas boatloads of varied vested interests among its affiliates. Traven Leyshon writes that without movement, local activism, not to mention being financially captive to and fundraisers for, the Democratic Party will continue to bleed membership. He reckons young workers won’t see any upside to becoming members, and is urging local worker education and alliances in communities so that unions might seem relevant to more workers.
We’ve been witnessing labor protest green shoots from Walmart workers, both retail and supply-chain, fast food ‘Fifteen or Die’ employees, and whether or not they need to be, or will be, organized under a Union banner is open to opinion. But as the Oligarchs continue to drive wages down, decrease benefits, cut employment hours, and shred the last vestiges of the social safety net, something’s going to need to provide some heavy leverage to Jam the Capitalist Machine, as in: General Strikes, which seem to be such a long way off as to be absurd to contemplate right now, but as times get harder for almost all of us? You might ask yourselves how far you might help striking workers and their families either financially or in solidarity.
Ah, and more good news from Lorain, Ohio: ‘Independent labour candidates elected to city council in Ohio’. From WorkersLiberty.org:
‘Union-dense Lorain County, Ohio, is now home to an independent labor slate of two dozen newly elected city councilors—recruited and run by the central labor council there. All labor’s candidates had strong showings last month, and all but two were elected.
“This was a step we took reluctantly,” said Lorain County AFL-CIO President Harry Williamson. “When the leaders of the [Democratic] Party just took us for granted and tried to roll over the rights of working people here, we had to stand up.”
A series of disputes between organized labor and the Democratic leadership led the labor council and its allies to recruit and run their own slate in this Democratic stronghold, home of Ohio’s largest steel and auto facilities.’
The ‘don’t reform the system, build a parallel world outside it’ is being widely touted, and it’s a good idea , but for the vast numbers of working USians, but there really isn’t time to, is there? The crisis is immediate, if not sooner.
What do you see on the ground where you are, and what ideas do you believe would find traction in aid of a Workers Party?
Yeah, Candidate Obomba swore to ‘make Card Check the Law of the Land’, but…ha; not so much.
(cross-posted at Cafe-Babylon.net)