Thursday, July 19, 2018

Teachers' Union Join To Fight Right Wing and Janus

Blog | OurFuture.org by People's Action


Teachers Join Progressives as Partners “In a
Revolution JULY 19, 2018 

Jeff Bryant

That unification is certainly the image conveyed by the annual conventions of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers that both took place in July. Union leaders at both events made strong speeches denouncing President Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, vowing to thrive despite Janus, and pledging to harness the energy of the #RedForEd movement that sent teachers out into the streets to protest in state after state across the nation this spring.
The unions also hailed the unprecedented number of teachers running for elected office this November, including a former national teacher of the year.

Partners in a Revolution

At the AFT meeting, the two former rivals for the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont – joined union President Randi Weingarten on stage – although not together. All three hailed teachers as partners in a “revolution.”
Clinton, in her speech, placed the union firmly in an “unprecedented outpouring of grassroots activism” for the broad progressive agenda for affordable healthcare, immigrant and refugee students, LGBT rights, and gun safety measures. With a reference to the “wrongly decided” Janus decision, Clinton declared, “Teachers’ unions aren’t going anywhere.”
In his address to the AFT, Sanders placed teachers in the “political revolution” that served as the theme of his political campaign. He called the Janus decision “disastrous” but said it may have “unintended consequences” and become “a big surprise … that helps us rebuild the trade union movement in America.”

Backlash to Janus

Indeed, political and labor journalists have reported that an anti-union decision for Janus could throw employment policies into chaos by opening a Pandora’s box of countersuits from labor groups and a ratcheting up of labor militancy.
Already, there are signs of a powerful union counteroffensive to the Janusdecision.
In New York, teachers are going door to door to encourage “fee-payers,” those teachers and school staff who had declined to join the union but were still obligated to pay union fees pre-Janus, to pledge to “recommit” to the union. The campaign thus far has resulted in the American Federation of Teachers and its state affiliates obtaining recommitment pledges from some 500,000 members in 18 states over the past five months, according to the New York Times.
In California, “unions have been preparing for Janus for several years,” reports Capital & Main. Prior to the court’s decision, teachers’ union members voted in favor of raising dues, and the unions conducted outreach to fee-payers to cut their numbers in half.
Public sector unions are engaged in a “Conversations and Cards” campaign to get fee-payers to sign recommitments, an effort modeled after a successful campaign by the United Domestic Workers of America health care workers.
Organized labor’s response to Janus “might represent a paradigm shift that could transform public-sector organizing,” says the C&M reporter. “California has already erupted in a virtual fever of union organizing and membership-building unseen since the public-sector labor movement’s formative heyday in the 1960s and ‘70s.”
“We’ve already had close to 100 percent of our members recommit,” saysthe president of the Boston teachers’ union. The Illinois state teachers’ union claims to have recommitment cards from 90 percent of its members, the Minnesota teachers union claims to have gotten its number of fee-payers down to only 5 percent of members, and the Pennsylvania teachers union reports its number of recommitments is 30 percent so far.
In legislative action, labor organizing has helped push through new measures in state legislatures to protect unions, including bills in California that improve union access and communications to employees, a Maryland bill requiring new teachers to meet with a union representative, a New Jersey bill that gives unions a broad range of new protections, and in New York a new bill expressly written to counter the Janus ruling and an executive order from the governor to protect public unions from union opt-out campaigns.

‘A Crisis for America’

Conservatives of course are not resting on their laurels after Janus.
As The New York Times reports, The Mackinac Center – a Michigan-based rightwing advocacy group funded by an array of conservative foundations, including those linked to the Koch Brothers and the DeVos and Bradley families – “is planning to spend $10 million this year and $40 million to $50 million over the next two or three years on a ‘national awareness campaign'” to convince current union fee-payers and members to opt out of their unions
The organization’s “My Pay, My Say” campaign funds a national call center, with round-the-clock 20 paid staff, canvasses, and literature campaigns across the country.
Mackinac’s pressure campaign is linked to an even broader effort by the State Policy Network – another rightwing creation of state-based advocacy groups funded by the same web of extremist billionaires – “to persuade public-sector trade union members to tear up their membership cards and stop paying dues,” The Guardian reports.
“The secret push, the group hopes, could cost unions up to a fifth of their 7 million members, lead to the loss of millions of dollars in income and undermine a cornerstone of US progressive politics,” says the reporter.
The unions’ strong counteroffensive to the post- Janus campaigns by conservatives may have been expected, but the full-throated support from Democrats that teachers’ unions are getting was never a sure thing and may be yet another consequence of Janus that conservatives may not have not considered.
Indeed, conservatives may have convinced Democrats that teachers are front-and-center in the fight for the party to regain its representation in government.
In her address to the AFT, Clinton told teachers, “Every American has a stake in what you do … whether they realize it or not.” She implored teachers to reach out to others in the progressive movement and convince them that unions aren’t just about helping workers but uplifting communities.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who also spoke at the AFT event, declared, “This is a time of crisis, and a crisis for America’s teachers is a crisis for America.” In her powerful rallying cry, she implored teachers to join other progressives in “raising our voices for democracy” and “organize like we’ve never organized before.”

500 Religious Leaders Condemn Trump Immigration Policies

July 19, 2018
Dear Members of Congress,

As 500 faith leaders and 111 faith-based organizations across traditions, we write to express our unequivocal opposition to the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separates families and detains and prosecutes parents. We also stand against any proposal that would expand immigration detention, as family incarceration is not a solution to family separation. We are committed to humane immigration policies that reflect the values and expression of our faith to welcome the stranger and treat all human beings with dignity and respect. Instead of continuing unnecessary and immoral detention, deportation, and border militarization policies, we must carry on our nation’s proud history of hospitality and moral leadership.
As people of faith, our concern stems from shared values rooted in our sacred texts that remind us to love our neighbor and welcome the sojourner among us. As Leviticus 19:34 (CE) reminds us: “Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.”
In many faith traditions, family is the fundamental unit in society through which individuals are able to grow and experience the love of God. Many of our faith traditions also call on us to safeguard the well-being of children in particular. Tearing children away from their parents, absent a documented child protection concern, is unconscionable. Equally troubling is the inhumane and cruel expansion of family incarceration that is plagued with systemic abuse and life-threatening inadequate access to health and medical care, especially for children, pregnant or nursing mothers, and others with serious medical conditions.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Trump's Immigration Policy

The greatest experiment in democracy in human history is now being run like a gangster-state. And so we protest, not because we want to spend our days this way, but because now we have to spend our days this way. We protest in the same way the brave rescue teams in Thailand have repeatedly dived into the dangerous waters of the flooded cave, not because they relish danger but because to do otherwise would be a moral failing.
In the eruption of protests this past month, outside federal buildings in cities large and small around the country, along the border, at detention facilities, there are at last the stirrings of redemption. There is a moral outrage percolating now throughout this great land, a sense that, with the taking of the children, with the stealing of the Supreme Court, with the destruction of environmental regulations and the rolling back of 60 years of civil rights advances, everything is on the line.

In ever-increasing numbers, and with ever-increasing urgency, as our own political flood waters rise, so we will keep protesting, keep fighting, keep pushing back, until bit by bit we redeem this wondrous democracy from rule by thugs.
Sasha Abramsky is a Sacramento writer who teaches at UC Davis. His latest book is “Jumping at Shadows: The Triumph of Fear and the End of the American Dream.” He can be reached at sabramsky@sbcglobal.net.

Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article214503109.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez: Trump Isn't Ready For A Girl From The Bronx



I’m still in shock over DSA member and nationally-endorsed candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s massive win Tuesday. She beat Joe Crowley, a ten-term machine politician, the fourth-ranking Democrat in Congress, and assumed successor to Nancy Pelosi, by 13%. 
And how did she do it? By running on an unabashedly democratic socialist platform focused on healthcare for all, housing as a human right, abolishing ICE, justice for Puerto Rico, and a federal jobs guarantee. You can hear more in the DSA National Political Committee (NPC) statement below.
 
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