According to labor journalist Micah Uetricht, it’s high time for trade unions in the United States to decide whether they want to wither away and follow a “business unionism” model of concessions and shrinkage, or follow “social movement unionism,” a bottom-up, democratic organizing strategy that is aligned with social justice movements throughout the country. The Chicago Teacher’s Union [CTU], Uetricht writes in his book, Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity, is a prime example of the latter, a feisty, transparent, activist-led group that is willing to fight the good fight and challenge the entrenched attitudes that have made unions irrelevant to far too many workers. Uetricht makes clear that the CTU was not always a beacon and charts the union’s transition from a staid, top-down organization to one that engages teachers, paraprofessionals, students and neighborhood residents in community betterment efforts throughout Chicago.
In a recent posting on DC Women Kicking Ass, sources have confirmed that comic artist Jeff Lemire has followed through on his projection from last year that he would be creating a new superherobased on deceased Indigenous teen activist Shannen Koostachin. They will be appearing in Justice League #1 which comes out this May. Shannen and other Indigenous youth launched the Students Helping Students campaign for a school for Attawapiskat.Koostachin spoke out about the experiences of her community in newspapers, at conferences, and on the steps of Parliament Hill in 2008. In 2009, at the age of 14, in 2009 she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Tragically, Shannen died on May 30, 2010 in a car accident. Her legacy to improve the conditions of First Nations communities–particularly youth and students–lives on in a campaign called Shannen’s Dream.
First of all, we should put aside any idea that there was once a “golden age.” Things were different and in some ways better in the past, but far from perfect. The traditional universities were, for example, extremely hierarchical, with very little democratic participation in decision-making. One part of the activism of the 1960s was to try to democratize the universities, to bring in, say, student representatives to faculty committees, to bring in staff to participate. These efforts were carried forward under student initiatives, with some degree of success. Most universities now have some degree of student participation in faculty decisions. And I think those are the kinds of things we should be moving towards: a democratic institution, in which the people involved in the institution, whoever they may be (faculty, students, staff), participate in determining the nature of the institution and how it runs; and the same should go for a factory.
A few months ago, the Afghan Peace Volunteers began planning to send a small delegation of young women to India as guests of Barefoot College, a renowned initiative that uses village wisdom, local knowledge and practical skills available in the rural areas to improve villagers’ lives. After several suspenseful weeks wondering if families and governments would give permission for travel, we were finally able to tell hosts at the Barefoot College that we would soon be on our way. Now we are beginning the last day of our brief but rewarding visit to Tilonia, the small village in India’s Rajasthan State, where two Barefoot College campuses are thriving. One of the villagers, Ram Niwas, has helped us learn about Barefoot College by telling us parts of his own life story and introducing us to people who have become barefoot dentists, accountants, solar engineers, radio broadcasters, teachers, water treatment specialists and puppeteers.
The scene at the undergraduate library one night last week was quite different, as hundreds of students and faculty members gathered for a 12-hour “speak out” to address racial tensions brought to the fore by a party that had been planned for November and then canceled amid protests. The fraternity hosting the party, whose members are mostly Asian and White, had invited “rappers, twerkers, gangsters” and others “back to da hood again.” Beyond the immediate provocation of the party, a sharp decline in Black undergraduate enrollment — to 4.6 percent of the student body in 2013 from 6.2 percent in 2009 — and a general feeling of isolation among Black students on campus have prompted a new wave of student activism, including a social media campaign called “Being Black at the University of Michigan” (or, on Twitter, #BBUM). Members of the university’s Black Student Union have petitioned campus administrators to, among other things, increase enrollment of Black students to 10 percent.
UC has been negotiating with both employee groups for more than a year and both groups held a two-day strike last May and a one-day strike last November. Stenhouse said the service workers’ bargaining team decided to stage a five-day strike this time because of “a desire to send the strongest possible message to the university.” Stenhouse said the union has agreed to 80 percent of the university’s proposals during the lengthy bargaining process but wants the university “to do the right thing on wages and staffing.” Union leaders say the pay of UC Service workers is so low that 99 percent of them are eligible for some form of public assistance, with some full-time workers forced to live in their cars.
The deal came after a marathon 23-hour-long bargaining session, but the critical factor in putting pressure on the school district–after 10 months of negotiations without much movement from school officials–was the union’s thorough preparation for a strike, which culminated in a near-unanimous vote on February 5 to authorize the walkout. In a February 24 report about the agreement to the union’s contract organizing committee, PAT officials said that they had forced the school board to concede on a number of fronts, including probably the most prominent demand of all–hiring additional teachers to allow for a meaningful reduction in class sizes. The district has promised to add a “minimum” of 150 teachers–a significant victory given the district’s prior refusal to even address the issue. Throughout bargaining, and until the last few days before the strike, officials had stuck with their offer of only 88 additional full-time employees (FTEs), claiming that the union’s demand of 175 was “unreasonable.”
President of Sonoma State University RubenArmiñana explained two funding alternatives that could be used to increase class availabilities. Firstly, chancellor of the California State University (CSU) System, Timothy White, is introducing new funding in the form of graduation initiatives in next year’s budget. Secondly, next year’s budget will provide more funding for campuses toward enrollment growth. “We will use the money we get in the next budget for enrollment growth and whatever we get from the graduation initiative from the chancellor toward hopefully increasing classavailabilities,” Armiñana said. Armiñana said both the graduation initiative and extra funding for enrollment in next year’s budget would not prove to be as effective in supporting increased class availabilitiesas the proposed Academic Success fee, an annual student fee increase of $500. “Those two measures would not be as vigorous as what would have happened if the fee got approved,” Armiñana said. Community Service Advisor and sophomore Veronica Saxer described the administration’s decision to drop the Academic Success fee as “bittersweet.”
Hundreds of students attended, including some professors with their classes. This past week was dubbed “Outrage Week” by many of the students and faculty upset by the impending budget cuts set to affect the upcoming 2014-2015 Academic Year. On Wednesday students and faculty organized a protest they titled, “Enough is Enough: UNCG Walks Out.” This protest took place on the EUC lawn and was prefaced by an email sent out to all UNCG students inviting them to join. One of the student organizers of the event, Emma Troxler, said, “The purpose of this protest is to gather students and faculty together to create a bigger movement and to fight for a better university.”
Under the union’s proposals, both units would receive a 4.5 percent raise. Even this won’t meet increases in the cost of living, since faculty last received raises in 2011. Yet administration is only offering 3.25 percent—while giving raises of more than 4 percent to faculty at the downstate Urbana-Champaign campus, who are not in the union. Administration claims it can’t offer more than 3.25 percent. But an independently audited financial report shows the university has more than $1 billion in expendable reserves. Employers are notorious for dragging their heels on negotiating first contracts—hoping members will give up and abandon their new union. The union is also asking that the minimum salary for full-time, non-tenure-track faculty be raised from $30,000 to $45,000 and that they receive multi-year contracts.
Our project with the Chicago Teachers Union’s CORE Caucus and other allies ran long — the final supplement is 118 pages, more than the 50 we had budgeted for. But it was so fantastically designed by Remeike Forbes, and the photography by Katrina Ohstrom and written contributions by CTU President Karen Lewis, economist Dean Baker, Jacobin editors Megan Erickson and Shawn Gude, Joanne Barkan, Lois Weiner, and many others were so strong, we couldn’t bring ourselves to cut it down more or reduce our planned run. Unfortunately, this produced a budget shortfall, which we hope to overcome through the sale of a limited set of print booklets and the help of our readers.
The Medford School District and its teachers union reached a tentative agreement late Friday, effectively ending a 16-day strike that sidelined more than 500 teachers and affected 12,100 students. After nearly a year of negotiations, including four marathon mediation sessions this week, the bargaining teams came to a tentative agreement late Friday. And that means teachers will be returning to their classrooms on Monday. “At 10:05 today, we reached a settlement agreement with the Medford School District, and our teachers will be back in their classrooms real soon,” said Bridget McMillen, a Jefferson Elementary School teacher and member of the Medford Education Association’s bargaining team. “The strike is officially over,”
Portland Public Schools officials have agreed to hire 150 teachers to reduce class sizes and teacher workloads, part of a bargain that narrowly averted the first teachers strike in district history. Students would receive additional days of instruction next year, atop the current 176. Teachers would receive 2.3 percent salary increases annually for the next three years. Those provisions were some of the key compromises contained in a tentative agreement that the Portland Association of Teachers and district officials signedlate Tuesday, according to sources with knowledge of the contract terms. Full details of the contract agreement were not available. The new teaching hires would mean a 5 percent increase over the roughly 2,900 teachers currently working. The precise number of additional school days is not yet clear.
If the school had responded in the usual way by suspending Tommy, harm would have been replicated, not healed. Punitive justice asks only what rule or law was broken, who did it, and how they should be punished. It responds to the original harm with more harm. Restorative justice asks who was harmed, what are the needs and obligations of all affected, and how do they figure out how to heal the harm. Had punitive discipline ruled the day, Tommy’s story would have gone unheard and his needs unmet. Had he been suspended, Tommy’s chances of engaging in violence and being incarcerated would have dramatically increased. Suspension likely would have exacerbated harm on all sides—to Tommy, his teacher, his family, and ultimately, his community. His teacher would have been deprived of hearing Tommy’s story. She might have quit teaching and remained trapped in trauma.
Bristow also announced that the Federal Communications Commission has approved the station’s operating license for the next seven years. Beemer, who left Sisters of the Road’s chief position after helping the staff create a collective management structure last year, is also co-chair of the U.S. Assembly to End Poverty; a former member of the National Coordinating Council of the Poor Peoples’ Economic Human Rights Campaign; and a founding board members of the Western Regional Advocacy Project. She has been honored for her work by the Red Cross’ Red Dress Society. The spate of good news is a noteworthy development for the little station, where bad press and infighting on the board of directors led to an identity crisis last year and the resignation of an interim station manager. Crenshaw has for many years been active in anti-poverty and anti-racism community activism. He recently partnered with Dead Prez on a new recording, “Superheroes,” described as “a classic tribute to everyday people.”