Friday, March 9, 2018

West Virginia Educational workers defy union tops and defeat bosses. The shape of things to come.


West Virginia Educators show the way. 
Sean O'Torain.

There is an article in today's New York Times (NYT) Friday March 9th  page A 13. It is titled "Striking Teachers defied West Virginia, and their own union, too". The authors are Jess
Bidgood and Campbell Robertson. This article has useful information. 

The strike in WV and this article in the New York Times make it clear that the weakness of the apparatus of the union was initially a plus once the union membership took action, once the union membership had had enough. The more the bosses weaken the unions the more they weaken the pro capitalist privileged bureaucracy that presently control the unions and the more they open the door to rank and file movements from below. Consider a few quotes from teachers and education workers rank and file union members and union officials in West Virginia. A union official says her phone exploded with "We cannot go back to school. Our union sold us out." This bureaucrat of the union is quoted as saying when the members refused to go along that she was in tears and called the superintendent and "I had to ask him to turn around and call school off"!! This shows the way in which the union bureaucracy have come to see things from the side of the bosses. This bureaucrat was crying because she had to tell the boss the teachers and education workers were staying on strike!!!!!!!!!    

The journalists write that with no collective bargaining rights and their leaders against them the teachers and education workers mounted a "state wide stoppage anyway and made their demands heard and marshalled public support and stuck together until they won. And the rank and file, not union leaders, came to call the shots". Exactly. A labor historian, a bourgeois academic, is quoted as saying: "Unions have tended throughout most of their histories to be forces that seek stability, not unrest.When they are weakened, we're more likely to see the re- emergence of instability and militancy, and the kind of model we're seeing happen in West Virginia." This academic was talking about the union leadership not the unions. 

The Republican leader of the state senate in West Virginia said that "the decentralized aspects of the strike made it difficult to reach a settlement that would satisfy the teachers". He also said " There's just this sort of organic - I don't know what to call it. More like an uprising". Precisely. 

This is in line with what Facts For Working People (FFWP) the organizers of this Blog have been saying. That there will be huge movements of the working class in the US and the more the bosses weaken the union bureaucracies and the more the union bureaucracies cave to the bosses the greater will be the "organic"  as the capitalist politician says - "More like an uprising".   

The union leaders took a vote and calling for a limited state wide walkout. But as the article in the NYT says quoting a school superintendent: "It started out with the membership following their state leaders. But when the state leaders made a decision that the employees didn't like they took it in a different direction".  One union member, a bus driver, speaks of a meeting the workers held at the capital. He is quoted as saying: "None of our union reps were over there. We just did it as a whole, because we felt we were being lied to". One of the teachers unions is now talking further about a state wide lock out as its "leadership try to catch up with its membership". They will have a time catching up. As one teacher said " We have proven this is long overdue. The  union they don't know how to do this". Again as FFWP have been explaining there will be a great movement of the US working class in the coming period. The union bureaucracy will seek to prevent it. But they will be incapable. 

In considering the situation of US labor at this time we should remember that the biggest general strike and occupations ever in an advanced industrial country were in France in 1968 when only 10% of the workers in that country were organized. It is wrong to be pessimistic for the US workers movement.

When this becomes clear they will try to catch up with this movement to control this movement. When this is impossible there will be splits in the union leadership and some will seek to play a more positive role. However this cannot be depended upon. A rank and file movement must be built in the unions and the workplaces. It must be based on the following principles: End the so-called team work concept, that is end working with and capitulating to the bosses. For an independent fighting democratic union movement. Organize the unorganized. For this movement to fight for:  A living wage for all.  A $15.00 an hour minimum wage or a $5.00 wage increase for all whichever is the greater. Free health care and education for all and a cancellation of student debt. A guaranteed job for all, a job is a human right. Union rights and union organization in every workplace.

The capitalist parties are fragmenting. For the building of a mass workers party to represent working peoples' interests. For an end to racism and sexism, build a united working class movement. An end to all wars and occupations, use the military expenditure for human needs. An end to the destruction of the climate and the environment. An end to the dictatorship of the corporations over US economic life and society. For a democratic socialist society in which the collective power and the collective brain of the working class will own and run society on a democratic socialist sustainable manner. The West Virginia teachers and education workers showed that US workers will increasingly challenge the status quo which is in favor of and controlled by the corporations. The task is for movements such as these to build a different society.  

1 comment:

Les Evenchick said...

Good set of demands except 15 per hour is not a living wage in many areas.