A recent New York Times article, “Curious Grade For Teachers: Nearly All Pass,” finds incredulous the idea that, “In Florida, 97 percent of teachers were deemed effective or highly effective in the most recent evaluations.” The author goes on to cite similar percentages in other states and concludes: “The teachers might be rated all above [...]
With less than transparency, the AFL-CIO just issued a statement endorsing “expanding the nation’s pipeline system.” Although it did not explicitly endorse the Keystone XL pipeline, the labor federation nevertheless managed to extend its blessing to the project while hiding behind vague generalities. However, the logic of its position is unambiguous: the federation is in [...]
The attacks on the public domain, particularly public education, social services, and the public sector unions that are linked to these services, are coming in rapid-fire succession, sometimes in an overwhelming barrage where the victims have little time to comprehend what is happening and respond effectively. This should come as little surprise. The attacks are [...]
It has become an entrenched trend: corporations approach government officials and demand tax breaks, threatening to abandon the city, state or country if the politicians are not forthcoming. In 2011, for example, in San Francisco, Twitter demanded a tax break as a condition for locating in the city and won a $22 million break over [...]
In his recent New York Times op-ed piece, Princeton professor and regular columnist for The New York Times, Paul Krugman observed: The American economy is still, by most measures, deeply depressed. But corporate profits are at record high. It’s simple: profits have surged as a share of national income, while wages and other labor compensation [...]
Many crucial issues are at stake in the Chicago Teachers Union strike. But the school district’s insistence that student test scores constitute a major basis of teacher evaluations seems to have become a particularly contentious point, leading to the vilification of teachers by the mainstream media, particularly The New York Times.
The International Association of Machinists just succeeded in negotiating a humiliating defeat with Caterpillar after a 15-week strike. Workers lost considerable money by striking, and then lost even more with the new contract, accepting almost every concession the company demanded despite the fact that the company was sitting on a record $4.9 billion in profits. [...]
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer Thanks to Occupy, most working people are well aware of the growing inequalities in wealth. But for those who lack the specifics, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich provides a useful overview: “…the rich have been getting a larger and larger portion of total income. From 9 [...]
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer In a recent article, “Pensions Under Attack in America?,” Mr. Leo Kolivakis took issue with a proposal by Mark Vorpahl, a union steward, to defend pensions by taxing the rich in order to create jobs (see Pensions Under Attack). Both authors agree that solving the jobs crisis is indispensable to [...]
When it is a question of the efficacy of money in politics and workers fail to put up a fight, money prevails. The moral is: money counts — but only if we let it.
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer Unions were originally built on the principle of solidarity. Workers soon realized that as individuals they were powerless when trying to defend their interests in relation to their profit-maximizing employers. But when they were organized and stood together, their combination gave them the upper hand. Under the banner of “an [...]
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer In the wake of the Wisconsin elections and the failure to unseat Governor Walker, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued a victory statement of sorts, resorting to the most tortured and convoluted logic.
There has been much talk about attempts by various organizations such as the Democratic Party and some top officials in organized labor to co-opt Occupy in order to steer this movement in directions beneficial to themselves. Such attempts can hardly be surprising, given the use that many in the Republican Party made of the Tea [...]
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer Current political developments in California highlight the gaping chasm that divides the established political process — which is routinely mislabeled as “democratic” — with the positions embraced by the vast majority of Californians. Unfortunately, California is to the United States as Greece is to Europe: both are fiscal basket cases. California has [...]
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer When homeowners have fallen behind in their mortgage payments, whether because of a job loss or because the interest rates just shot up, the bankers have responded coldly. Led by their economic interests, they set their robo-signers working overtime on foreclosures, forcing millions of people out of their homes. Back during the [...]
The following op-ed article that appeared in The New York Times, May 12, 2012, cites hard evidence for beliefs that revolutionary socialists have held for years: the rich are morally degenerate. According to the article, a recent study concluded that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are “clinical psychopaths. Another study noted that the rich [...]
Unfortunately, there are some who regard themselves as Marxists who insist on squandering these opportunities. They argue that all such struggles must be linked to the goal of socialism on the grounds that any working class gains within the framework of capitalism are simply illusory reforms — they will eventually be eroded by the capitalist system in its unrelenting push to maximize profits. A few even refuse to work within the trade unions, because of their limited economic goals, while others refuse to work with the reformist trade union officials.
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer This winter the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) sent tremors of hope through its ranks by announcing it was going to spearhead an attempt to place an initiative on the California ballot — appropriately called the “Millionaires Tax” — that would raise taxes only on millionaires (3 percent on those [...]
Bill Leumer and Ann Robertson After decades of losing ground and feeling helpless, working people are beginning to fight back. This development has emerged in part because the Occupy Wall Street movement has thrown a national spotlight on the growing inequalities in wealth and the mainstream politicians who have enabled this trend to continue for [...]
Although they bill themselves as “friends of labor” and many in the labor community accept this fraudulent packaging, Democrats are at best entirely unreliable allies of workers and at worst determined opponents. Truman, who claimed he opposed Taft-Hartley and initially vetoed the legislation – only to be overruled by Congress – nevertheless made recourse to it not less than 61 times during his administration
This is the text of a leaflet which Workers Action distributed at the April 4, 2011 demonstration in San Francisco in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin. Working people are confronting a historic crisis. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a job are facing unrelenting attacks on our wages, our benefits, and our pensions, [...]
Ordinary people get it immediately when presented with the facts about the growing inequalities in wealth, the ever-decreasing taxes on the rich and the corporations, and the increasingly difficult struggle of working people to maintain a dignified standard of living. Instead of capitulating to the polls, unions must launch their own offensive, stand up for what is right, educate the public by purchasing one-page ads in Wisconsin newspapers across the state, lay out all the facts clearly, and then let the people of Wisconsin make an informed decision. Union officials must not abandon public opinion to the corporate-owned media.
At the outset of the struggle, many Wisconsin union officials signaled that they were prepared to accept concessions, which are being demanded in many states by Democrats and Republicans alike. But when Wisconsin public workers themselves were interviewed, one after another rejected the concessions. They know better than anyone that the concessions are not affordable, especially when they come on the heels of earlier concessions they felt compelled to accept.
What can be done? The tension resulting from these growing inequalities is rapidly approaching an explosive climax. But organized labor officials, who are in a position to mobilize massive numbers of working people to put up a fight, are giving the impression that they are suffering from a state of complete paralysis. Of course, every two years they come to life and furiously expend huge amounts of money and energy to elect Democrats to office, only to see the Democrats fail to throw anything their way except a few crumbs. And in another two years, all the broken promises are pushed under the rug, and this self-defeating ritual repeats itself.
The united front, then, is the necessary approach that workers use to unite themselves, as members of the same class, in order to put up a fight. It lies at the heart of class struggle. Here, workers put their political differences aside and come together because of their common grievances over a single or a few immediate issues, based on their common class membership and the economic oppression it entails. Their political perspectives are too divergent to unite them at this early stage. The necessity of the united front flows from the fact that the economy is the most fundamental determining factor in people’s lives; political perspectives ultimately are based on this economic foundation, but not as a simple, mechanical reflection.
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer With the November elections rapidly approaching, most Americans are unimpressed and uninvolved, having concluded that elections have changed little in their struggling lives, despite all the promises of politicians. But a minority of the population is intensely immersed in partisan politics, doing whatever they can to promote the politicians of [...]
The following passages, written by Leon Trotsky, appear in “A Letter to the Convention of the French Communist Party” (October 1922) and is included in The First 5 Years of the Communist International, Volume 2. Virtually all parties in the U.S. today that call themselves Marxist are guilty of the error that Trotsky is describing [...]
A recent New York Times article (March 23, 2010) — discreetly tucked in the back pages of the newspaper — reported that Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education, kept a confidential log of names of the rich and powerful who were trying to take advantage of their political connections to get their children admitted into Chicago’s best [...]
In Part I of this essay we looked at strategies in defense of public education that are referred to as “ultra-left,” meaning that they veer so far left that they sever ties with the working class and consequently lose all traction when it comes to influencing the movement. Here we will examine strategies that veer to the [...]
The massive turnout across the state of California on March 4 in defense of public education provides indisputable evidence that this movement is just at the beginning stage. And much credit is due to the countless number of students, staff, and teachers who committed many, many hours of their time, tirelessly organizing for March 4; [...]
On March 4, students, staff, teachers, faculty and their unions on all levels of public education created history by uniting and pouring out onto the streets to engage in what were overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations to defend public education. The movement swept through small towns and large cities with demonstrators, including young elementary school students, carrying [...]