A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists
News in all languages
Last 30 posts (Homepage)
archives of old posts
The last 100 posts, according
The First Few Lines of The Last 10 posts in:
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours
Links to indexes of first few lines of all posts
of past 30 days |
of 2002 |
of 2003 |
of 2004 |
of 2005 |
of 2006 |
of 2007 |
of 2008 |
of 2009 |
of 2010 |
of 2011 |
of 2012 |
of 2013 |
of 2014 |
of 2015 |
of 2016 |
of 2017 |
Syndication Of A-Infos - including
RDF - How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups
(en) black rose fed -- WEST VIRGINIA ISN'T OVER YET: EXTEND THE STRIKE, BUILD LONG TERM POWER
Sat, 3 Mar 2018 12:59:53 +0200
What follows is a proposal, released as a leaflet you can download, for how to extend the
strike unfolding in West Virginia. This is followed by a February 27 press release from
opposing the attempt by union leaders and the Democratic Party pushing teachers across the
state to end the current strike and return to work for a small raise. ---- This posting
originally appeared on It's Going Down. ---- Donate Here ---- Listen to an interview with
a striking teacher on It's Going Down podcast Here ---- Download and Print PDF leaflet
Here ---- Connect with the West Virginia IWW on Facebook Here ---- The statewide strike of
teachers in West Virginia that started on February 22nd is a model for teachers and other
working-class people across the US of how we can struggle together for what we need. It is
a desperately needed example of mass working-class solidarity in a time when the rich are
attempting to fracture us even more. It is also an important model of the kinds of strikes
we can wage when we realize that the existing labor laws (the same ones that the rich are
trying to destroy anyways) are traps designed by the rich to tie our arms behind our backs
and hold us back.
Some teachers and supporters in West Virginia are organizing through the IWW to spread a
revolutionary unionist perspective in the current strike, to expand the strike and
strengthen the militant mood of the teachers, and to build for long-term organization that
is not reliant on politicians or bureaucrats. They will begin by distributing a leaflet to
encourage teachers and other members of the working class to extend and expand the current
struggle, and they will be looking for openings to expand on that organizing.
You can support their organizing by donating here. Funds raised will be used to print
agitational materials, to cover travel costs related to organizing, to rent spaces or
cover child-care for meetings, and to cover other costs related to building a militant and
organized presence among teachers and working-class people in West Virginia.
The text of the leaflet they will be distributing is below. We also welcome anyone in West
Virginia, or any teachers anywhere, or anyone else, to download the PDF and distribute it
in your workplaces, schools, churches, and neighborhoods.
The Power of Working Class Solidarity
What Do We Face?
Jim Justice and the Republican-dominated legislature seek to cut state funding to the
Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), increasing premiums over the next several years,
and eliminating teacher seniority while opening up the possibility of charter schools to
privatize public education in areas in most need of quality public servants. The goal for
this legislature is to utterly decimate public sector labor, reap obscene profits through
private charter school investments which lack accountability measures, and ultimately
reduce the quality of education in the state.
We know that both Democrats and Republicans no longer have a need for a highly-educated
workforce. Instead, they seek to create a system of obedient workers who can perform the
menial tasks asked of them by their corporate masters without questioning the powers that
be. Careers that provide meaningful employment with a steady wage and quality health care
no longer exist for the many. They have been replaced, over the course of the past few
decades, with a series of half-hearted promises by both parties. If we do not act NOW to
halt this reactionary legislation, we will ultimately lose our future - our children's
future - to big business and the corporate-controlled parties.
In sum, we face the daunting challenge to confront elitism in our political party system
and the legislation they seek to create. BUT, we cannot create a new destiny simply by
voting out one party and replacing it with another. For substantive change to occur, we
must FIRST organize around our common destiny as workers.
What We Have Done
Almost as soon as Justice and the Republicans announced their plans to cut funding to PEIA
while refusing to negotiate a public employees' pay raise, everyday workers jumped into
action without waiting to be told what to do. The capitol building saw an influx of
teachers dressed in scarlet red as independent mutual support networks began to grow to
serve the needs of people in those communities.
The everyday union member gave a shining example of what can be done when anger is coupled
with education and organization. Through independent, grassroots means, common teachers
began developing strategies for providing food to families in need, chartering buses to
travel to the capitol, and begin mass picketing across the state.
The capitol rotunda was inundated with a sea of red as educators flooded into its halls to
demand action for ALL public employees' concerns. Solidarity efforts across the state
continued as food, water, and coffee was distributed to picketers who equally demanded
that the legislature listen to the concerns of public sector employees and fully fund PEIA.
From the Maine to California and the Philippines to France, educators around the world
have shown that they support the efforts of ALL public employees in West Virginia. The
eyes of the world are watching the people of West Virginia, hoping for a working class
victory. It is not enough to hope, we need to believe. If enough of us are united, we will
What We Still Have to Do
We must build on what we've already accomplished.
We must look at the legislature's plan in the context of the last several decades. Nearly
every job that can be automated or sent overseas has been outsourced, so that what 10
workers once did in Charleston or Wheeling in 1970 is now done by 3 or 4 poorly-paid
workers in Mexico or China, pitting "us against them" in a race to the bottom. Workers in
retail and service jobs, some of the only jobs in the US that can't be outsourced, have
usually been defeated when they've tried to organize for decent pay and benefits. These
decades of defeat have created the "Rust Belt," a region with few living-wage jobs where
many people rely on social assistance.
Justice and his Republican lackeys are trying to destroy support networks for those whose
communities are already in crisis and they are working to crush the power of public
employees, one of the last groups of workers that has managed to resist cuts and retain a
decent standard of living.
We didn't create this situation, but we can change it, as long as we remember where our
strength lies: in our UNITY. "Workers united will never be defeated," we chant - for good
Educators across the state have continued on a walkout in opposition to Republican
legislation that would harm ALL public employees in the short - and long-term. Educators
realize that other public sector employees may not have the resources available to strike,
and thus have determined that they will continue to fight until ALL public employees
receive the demands they so justly deserve.
With the rollout of Go365 - a privatized model of health care - public employees began a
sustained campaign to defeat this reactionary model for health care, one that would award
"points" to those who had the privilege to attend gyms on a regular basis. From there,
public employees have been on a sustained campaign to force the legislature to increase a
natural gas severance tax so that a permanent revenue stream for PEIA can be found, while
increasing pay for ALL public employees - including school cooks, janitors, bus drivers,
Department of Highway workers, etc.
The problem is that Democrats have now begun using this grassroots energy to claim that
their party "stands with public employees" and will continue to fight for teachers when
elected. We know that the Democrats in this state, too, have allowed for this system of
oppression to continue, doing little to increase funding for PEIA or teachers' salaries
over the decades of their dominance in the legislature.
We CANNOT allow either party to co-opt the strike and transform it into their own
narrative. The strike was begun by everyday teachers and public employees - its course
should be determined by them as well.
Workplace-centered collective action is the strongest way to move forward, and would be
far more effective than simply switching one group of politicians for another.
Before laws were passed in the ‘30s and ‘40s that institutionalized labor unions, the most
effective organizing tactics avoided formal union recognition and automatic dues
check-off. Unions were less of a faceless service provider and more connected to the
Solidarity unionism affirms the central role of rank-and-file initiative in workplace
change. It stands in opposition to what has been termed "business" or "service-provider"
unionism: the idea that a worker joins a union to obtain material benefits in exchange for
monthly dues payments, much as the worker might buy an insurance policy.
In solidarity unionism, workers carry out their own organizing. There are three
fundamental principles: 1. Rank-and-file control (every worker has an equal say in the
positions/actions of the union); 2. Direct action including, but not limited to, strikes,
work slowdowns, and pickets; 3. Members carry their union membership with them, regardless
of majority status, when they move on to other jobs.
With the end of formal collective bargaining, solidarity unionism may be the only route
public sector workers have to address grievances in the workplace. Sit-ins, confronting
management in large numbers, slow downs, work-to-rules, pickets, "quickie strikes"; these
are all successful tactics that were used by auto workers and longshore workers in
Michigan and Califonia in the 1930s and continue to be used by fast food and retail
workers in Oregon and North Carolina today. These tactics, up to and including a general
strike, can help us to rebuild the working-class solidarity that will be necessary for us
to eventually defeat the ruling-class agenda imposed on us.
Who Should Organize and How
Public-sector workers are the primary targets of this Republican legislature. If we allow
them to strip us of our rights, it will destroy the power of one of the last group of
workers in the U.S. who have been able to maintain a decent standard of living by
resisting cuts during the economic upheaval of the last thirty years. Additionally, the
consequences of these actions will affect anyone who uses public services. That is why we
must fight back. The protests in Charleston gained significant momentum after the Martin
Luther King, Jr. Rally Day. If all public-sector workers take action, they can inspire the
rest of the state to move with them. Try to identify people who are sympathetic to the
idea of collective action. Form mobilization committees and link up with like-minded
groups or individuals. Build a contact list. Discuss strike preparations at your local,
but be prepared for opposition from the international. Organize mass meetings with your
co-workers, regardless of which union they're in, so that you can strategize together.
Private-sector workers are being told that our economic problems are a result of ‘greedy
public employees' defending their health care and pensions. These ideas are being pushed
in order to divide us; with workers pitted against each other, we are all weaker, and the
politicians and bosses know it. Instead of blaming each other, we should be united by our
common interests. We should all have decent health care, living wages, and a dignified
retirement - and we can, if we fight together for these demands. Unionized workers can
mobilize at their local to support collective action, and all private-sector workers
should begin meeting with their co-workers to discuss their own demands and strategy. With
all of the public discussion of unions and workers' rights, non-unionized workers have a
perfect opportunity to organize at their own jobs - especially if they use the "solidarity
unionism" tactics discussed above, rather than the legalistic strategies that have led us
to the current mess. This is an important moment in history; let's seize this opportunity
to go on the offensive. Unionized workers can build their power and show that they are a
force to be reckoned with. Non-unionized workers from any sector, industry, or company can
organize and demand the living wages, rights, and benefits that so far have been denied to
Students can play a vital role in mobilizing for working-class solidarity. The economic
crisis is shortening the gap between students and workers - many students are also
workers, and prospects for graduates are becoming bleaker. Already, West Virginia students
have been threatened by their universities for supporting educators. Students must
continue their support in order to protect our teachers, our university staff, our
families, and our futures. Our tuition and tax dollars fund the universities, so let's
reclaim the campus for ourselves! We should begin organizing for student strikes, build
connections with co-workers where we hold jobs, organize rallies in defense of students
targeted by the administration, and prepare to walk picket lines in solidarity. It is us,
the young people, who have to live with the future consequences of today's cuts, and for
that reason alone, we MUST step up with all workers.
Everyone - union and non-union workers, students, unemployed, farmers, retirees - is
affected by this legislature, and we can all begin preparing to support collective action
in other ways. Religious communities can prepare plans for "Freedom Schools" alongside a
teachers' strike or kitchens to feed strikers. People should also begin organizing
mobilization committees within their communities and make plans to support eventual picket
lines, in order to show any scabs or police that strikers have community support.
We Have the Power
We can defeat this anti-union legislature and all of Justice's attempts to divide us, and
change our society for the better, if we continue to act together and return to the roots
that our unions were built on. This will not be easy, and may even be scary, but if we
just sit on our hands those in power will cut until we have nothing left. Those in power
can intimidate us and pit us against one another, but, as Ralph Chaplin said in Solidarity
Forever, "without our brain and muscle not a single wheel could turn." If we act together,
we have the power to resist these cuts, we have the power to go on the offensive, and we
have the power to win.
Workers Reject Justice Proposal While Union Leadership Caves
Released on February 27, 2018
Earlier today, Governor Jim Justice (R) announced that he had reached a compromise with
the leadership of the three main teachers unions - West Virginia Education Association
(WVEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the West Virginia School Service
Personnel Association (WVSSPA).
Justice announced that he would work with the Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates
Tim Armstead, and the Republican Senate President, Mitch Carmichael, to finalize a deal
that would, over the year, provide a 5% pay increase to educators, table bills that
affected teacher seniority, and create a task force to examine funding routes for the
state's Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA). Justice proclaimed at this meeting that
teachers would report back to their schools on Thursday, March 1st and the strike would
Crowded around Justice were Christine Campbell and Dale Lee, presidents of the AFT-WV and
WVEA, respectively. While leadership has touted this agreement as a victory for educators
across the state, who have been on strike since Thursday, February 22nd, workers across
the state ultimately reject leadership's compromise.
An overwhelming number of public employees on the West Virginia Public Employees UNITED
page have voted on a poll in opposition to the current deal. At last count, over 1,000
voters rejected the deal outright, over 400 said the deal was a start but ultimately
rejected it, and only 21 said they accepted the deal as is.
Workers in this state have shown the power of rank-and-file control over their counties'
actions, while many brave counties engaged in direct action prior to union leadership's
calling for a statewide walkout. The workers of this state will reject and continue to
reject any and all compromise with this reactionary legislature that does NOT meet the
1. A natural gas severance tax that creates a self-sustaining source of revenue for PEIA
and public employee pay.
2. No regressive taxes, which ultimately affect working-class families more than the
3. A permanent tabling to any and all legislation pertaining to co-tenancy and joint
development, which allow large natural gas industries to engulf local landowners.
4. A pay raise of 5% per year over the next half decade.
5. A permanent tabling to any and all legislation pertaining to charter schools, voucher
systems, and any attempts to privatize public schools.
It has been 28 years since West Virginia teachers have staged a statewide walkout. In that
time, workers in this state have seen the erosion of their rights progress over these past
past two and a half decades. West Virginians cannot wait another 28 years for another
opportunity like this. We demand that the strike continue until all demands have been met.
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
By, For, and About Anarchists
Send news reports to A-infos-en mailing list
A-Infos Information Center