Building the March 4 Strike/Day of Action in Defense of Public Education and all Public Sector Services

Workers Action

Introduction by Workers Action

The resolution below, passed by the San Francisco Labor Council on January 11, 2009, represents another important step in the creation of a powerful statewide California coalition, consisting of students and labor unions, aimed at defending quality, accessible public education and public social services, given the massive cuts both sectors have suffered during this economic crisis.

The politicians have attempted to pit one sector of the working class against another. For example, in response to massive demonstrations on university campuses, the governor recently expressed his desire to exempt education from further cuts, while opting to end welfare entirely, privatize the state’s prisons (thereby eliminating unions), reduce state workers’ pay by 5 percent and so on.

The following resolution, however, seeks to unite the working class so that it may wage an effective struggle in defense of its own interests. It demands that additional revenue to fully fund both public education and all social services be generated by taxing the rich and the corporations and amending Proposition 13 (which effectively shifts taxes from commercial property to homes). By framing the struggle in this way, working people are able to come together in pursuit of their common interests by creating a powerful coalition, as opposed to fighting among each other for the crumbs. And given that the income of the rich is at historic highs while their taxes are at historic lows, this proposal represents the only logical alternative.

[Note: Also of interest is the recent Workers Action flier below, addressing the need for the movement to defend public education to include demands on reforming California’s Proposition 13 and to Tax the Rich. This fier was distributed to attendees of the Northern California Coordinating Committee for the March 4, 2010 Defend Public Education Actions.]
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Building the March 4 Strike/Day of Action in Defense of Public Education and all Public Sector Services

Resolution Submitted To Jan. 11, 2010 Delegates Meeting of the San Francisco Labor Council

Whereas, a powerful labor-student-faculty coalition to defend public education has formed statewide in the aftermath of the Sept. 24, 2009, 5,000-person-strong mass student walkout and university workers’ strike at UC Berkeley — organized around the main demands of “No Budget Cuts! No Layoffs! No Fee Hikes!”; and

Whereas, on October 24, 2009, more than 800 students, unionists and activists from more then 50 cities across the state gathered at UC Berkeley and issued a Call for a March 4, 2010, Strike/Day of Action to Save Public Education; and

Whereas, the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), the California Faculty Association (CFA), and dozens of public education and public-sector unions have endorsed the March 4 Strike/Day of Action; and

Whereas, AFT 2121 and UESF, among others, have called for a 5 p.m. rally at Civic Center in San Francisco on March 4 to impress the demands upon the public; and

Whereas, the January 4, 2010, Executive Board meeting of the San Francisco Labor Council voted unanimously to endorse the March 4 Strike/Day of Action, and the March 22 March in Sacramento (spearheaded by the Community College students and unions); and

Whereas, the attacks on public education and all public-sector services are deepening as a result of the growing state budget deficit, with public education workers being pitted against other public-sector workers, with the threat of increased privatization of services, and with more so-called “reforms” aimed at gutting union contracts and destroying essential services; and

Whereas, the January 4, 2010, SFLC Executive Board meeting affirmed that the Council must call upon all public-sector unions to join in the fight on March 4 to defend public education and all public-sector services, and to secure essential funding by taxing the rich and the corporations, by (1) breaking with the tyranny of the 2/3 vote in the State Assembly and reinstating majority rule, and (2) restructuring Prop.13 (to separate commercial property rolls from residential property rolls, as Phil Teng has proposed); and

Whereas, securing funding for public education and the public sector demands redirecting bailout funds to the state — not to the bankers and speculators; and ultimately requires calling for an end to war funding in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Therefore be it resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council calls for a citywide mobilization of affiliated unions and community allies on March 4, 2010, in defense of public education and the public sector — with day-time actions to be carried out in the manner deemed appropriate by every union and local, and with a 5 p.m. Rally at the Civic Center; and

Therefore be it further resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council will form an ad-hoc committee, open to all delegates, in close consultation with the teacher/faculty unions and the Council’s Executive Board, with the aim of (1) preparing or distributing existing educational materials on the impact of the budget cuts on the city’s public education and public sector, (2) organizing a speakers’ bureau to make outreach presentations at the membership and/or leadership meetings of the Council’s affiliates, and to affected community groups, and (3) coordinating the actions on March 4 and building the 5 p.m. Civic Center Rally; and

Be it finally resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council asks all Bay Area Councils to take similar action on March 4, and calls upon the California Federation of Labor to promote a statewide Day of Action on March 4 in defense of public education and the public sector, so that we can expand the unity and increase the power of the movement to halt and reverse the attacks on public sector unions in California.

Respectfully submitted by

Alan Benjamin, delegate OPEIU Local 3

Allan Fisher, delegate AFT 2121

Denis Mosgofian, delegate Local 4 GCC-IBT

Ann Robertson, delegate CFA (San Francisco State University)
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Why include TAX THE RICH, ELIMINATE CORPORATE TAXBREAKS AND AMEND PROPOSITION 13 among our demands?

Almost all our other demands will require additional revenue in order to be implemented. For example, lowering or eliminating tuition will mean that additional revenue willbe required to compensate for the loss of income through tuition. Hiring more staff and teachers and eliminating furloughs will require additional revenue.

If we do not demand that the new revenue come from the rich,whose taxes now stand at a historic low and whose wealth stands at a historic high, then the legislature will take from the poor, who lack the powerful lobbying machine owned and operated by the rich.

For example, as the Los Angeles Times reported (“Business the big winner in California budget plan,” February 14, 2009) last February the state legislature, when confronted with a huge budget deficit, slashed vital social programs (3 million people lost their health care), increased taxes on ordinary working people in five different ways, but voted to give corporations an additional $1 billion in tax breaks!

Ordinary people in California support accessible, quality public education. But they do NOT want their taxes raised and therefore will withdraw their support if threatened with higher taxes. However, we need the support of the majority of the people of California to help us win this battle..

On the other hand, the rich can afford to pay. Their taxes have declined steadily during the last three decades, but their income has surged off the graph. During the past four decades the income of the richest Americans rose 758 percent while the income of the bottom 90 percent of the population remained stagnant.

Despite reports of a recovery, for most of us the economic crisis continues. But investing in education is one of the best ways to stimulate the economy. As The New York Times reported (August 5, 2004): The data is “overwhelmingly convincing.” Investing in education is “the best way to address the nation’s economic problems.” In other words, investing in public education is in everyone’s interests.

We should demand that California operate in the interests of the majority:

Tax the Corporations! Tax the Rich!

Full Funding for Public Education!