Public School Teachers: New Unions, New Alliances, New Politics

By Michael D. Yates | Published 24 July 2013 by truth-out.org

The U.S. working class was slow to respond to the hard times it faced during and after the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Finally, however, in February, 2011, workers in Wisconsin began the famous uprising that electrified the country, revolting in large numbers against Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to destroy the state’s public employee labor unions.  A few months later, the Occupy Wall Street movement, which supported many working class efforts, spread from New York City to the rest of the nation and the world. Then, in September 2012, Chicago’s public school teachers struck, in defiance of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s attempt to destroy the teachers’ union and put the city’s schools firmly on the path of neoliberal austerity and privatization.

These three rebellions shared the growing awareness that economic and political power in the United States are firmly in the hands of a tiny minority of fantastically wealthy individuals whose avarice knows no bounds. These titans of finance want to eviscerate working men and women, making them as insecure as possible and wholly dependent on the dog-eat-dog logic of the marketplace, while at the same time converting any and all aspects of life into opportunities for capital accumulation.

The public sector is still, despite the effort of capital to dismantle it, the one sanctuary people have against the depredations of the 1 percent. Through struggle, working men and women have succeeded in winning a modicum of health care and retirement security, as well as some guarantee that their children will be educated, all irrespective of the ability to pay for these essential services. They have also found decent employment opportunities in government, especially women and minorities. The public sector, then, is a partial barrier to the expansion of capital in that it both denies large sums of money to capitalists (social security funds, for example) and protects the workers in it from the vagaries of the labor market.

Read more: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/17756-public-school-teachers-new-unions-new-alliances-new-politics

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