Notes and a tirade based on the video of CTU President Karen G.J. Lewis posted at YouTube, available here (omit brackets):
1 June, 2012 Press Conference – CTU President Karen G.J. Lewis on Strike Authorization Vote set for 6 June, 2012
“Over 25,000” education professionals are members of the union
“A strike authorization vote is not a vote to go on strike. Let me repeat that. A strike authorization vote is not a vote to go on strike. We want to avoid a strike. Strikes aren’t good for anyone: not our members, not our parents and certainly not our students; and no one has the authority to tell the Chicago Teachers Union when it should conduct this vote, how it should conduct this vote, who should oversee this vote, how long this vote will be. State law does not prohibit us from taking a strike authorization vote now, and does not require us to wait for after fact-finding to do so.
[Illinois SB 7 – passed in 2011 (?) restricts teachers right to strike, has emboldened school boards in US to open attacks on teachers unions from coast to coast.]
Class sizes to increase regardless of pre-agreed limits stipulated in union contract
“[The school board have] rejected all of CTU’s proposals on appropriate staffing levels for our students, including art, music, P.E., library and world languages; counsellors, social workers, nurses and school psychologists despite woefully inadequate staffing levels throughout the district; and a longer day that will require additional staff if it is to be a better day.”
[We’ve heard enough already. End of notes – IWPCHI]
[Tirade begins here:]
There is a litany of very serious cuts to the Chicago public school system that CTU President Lewis enumerates in her press conference: any two or three of these alone would justify a teachers walkout in defense of the students’ right to a quality education. Yet in spite of all that, she reiterates that tired old dogma drilled into the heads of every AFL-CIO union bureaucrat who passes through the halls of the pro-capitalist brainwashing mill that is the George Meany Institute (now known as the “National Labor College”): “We want to avoid a strike. Strikes aren’t good for anyone: not our members, not our parents and certainly not our students”! This is nonsense! And it is no way for a union leader to rally her troops to go into battle with the cops, courts and police of the capitalist class and their bought-and-paid-for Democratic Party hatchetmen who are out to destroy the municipal unions one after the other!
Who ever heard of a general leading troops into a battle with the lame bleating of : “We want to avoid a war. Wars aren’t good for anyone”? This is how defeats are prepared, not victories! The Chicago Teachers Union has massive popular support for their positions, which are clearly in defense of the right of Chicago’s public school students to have a decent education. It is obvious to all but the most obtuse blockheads in the state that nothing less than the future of free public school education and the future of our children is on the line! So what possible rationale can be given for NOT going on strike in defense of the future of our children’s right to a quality, free, public school education? If this isn’t the time to strike and strike BIG to smash this vicious Democratic Party machine-led union-busting drive that is taking place in every Democratic Party-run major city in the United States, then obviously we might as well allow strikes to be made illegal and punishable by death!
Do you know why Karen Lewis is preparing to “negotiate” surrender rather than preparing to lead her troops into battle? Do you know why, to our knowledge, not a single other trade union in Chicago has declared that they will go out in strike in sympathy with the teachers if the teachers go on strike? It is because the AFL-CIO union “leadership” is so firmly lashed like mules to the creaky wagon of the Democratic Party in a Presidential election year, that they will completely surrender to the Democrat-led union-busting effort rather than “betray” their “friends” in the Democratic Party! They are more afraid of upsetting Democratic Party big wigs in Washington, and of derailing Barack Obama’s re-election circus train by going on strike a month before the national elections than they are interested in defending the rights of every boy and girl in the United States to a first-rate public school education!
All the unions in Chicago must declare to the world that they stand firmly behind the Chicago Teachers Union and state that they will back them with militant sympathy strikes in the event that the CTU goes on strike and is then attacked by Democrat Rahm Emanuel and his killer cops.
Sadly, the municipal unions in Chicago are “led” by a bunch of hand-picked tools of the capitalist class, controlled by the Democratic Party’s quislings in City Hall. The Chicago municipal unions have shoved pay cut and benefit cut after layoffs and more pay cuts and everything else down the throats of the workers of Chicago for years now. The AFL-CIO “leadership” of our trade unions is nothing but a bunch of cheeseburger-eating-surrender-monkeys! They never saw a strike they couldn’t sell out! “Everyone loses in a strike”; “strikes are bad for workers”; “employers and workers have the same interests”: these are the slogans of DEFEAT for the working class! And they are the stock-in-trade of the sellout AFL-CIO’s so-called leadership. They are getting ready to sell out the teachers, just like they sold out the Caterpillar workers before and are doing again; they are selling out the teachers just like they sold out all the workers at Streets and San just a few weeks ago; they are preparing to sell out the teachers like they sold out all the various trades, one after the other at McCormick Place over the past ten years! That’s all they know how to do: sell us out!
Well we have had enough of this! The Democrats have shown their true colors when it comes to the education of our children with their bipartisan collaboration on Illinois Senate Bill 7, which is a blatant frontal assault on the teachers unions all over the state. The Democrats must be told: “YOU’RE FIRED!” by the teachers and all the other unions. Any union “leader” that conspires to donate union dues to those twin enemies of labor – the Democratic and Republican parties – for this national election – or any other election – must be turned out of office immediately! THE UNIONS NEED THAT MONEY FOR STRIKE FUNDS! Most of these unions probably don’t even HAVE a “strike fund”! They don’t even know what a strike fund IS!
The strike fund is the guarantee that when a union is attacked it can hold out for the duration of a strike. The money in that fund is used to pay the union members – the women and men who defend the picket lines and the union from attacks by the capitalists’ cops, courts and bribed politicians. Strike fund money can also be used to bolster the strike funds of other unions who come under attack – like the Caterpillar workers, who are being hung out to dry by the big Chicago unions as I write this!
There was once a saying in the union movement here in the US: “An Injury to One is an Injury to All!” This fundamental, undeniable truth of the union movement been emptied of all its meaning by the “labor lieutenants of capital” “leading” today’s trade unions… off a cliff! They “say” it; but when it comes to backing up that home truth of the labor movement, they avoid taking any of the vitally necessary steps needed to put muscle behind the words. EVERY UNION MUST BUILD UP THEIR STRIKE FUNDS RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE THE CAPITALISTS AND THEIR DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN LAPDOG POLITICIANS AND THEIR KILL-CRAZY COPS MEAN TO CRUSH THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS!
Anyone who can’t see this is blind; a union “leader” who can’t see this is worse than blind: he’s utterly useless! A “leader” that dumb can only “lead” their union into the abyss.
BREAK WITH THE DEMOCRATS! BUILD A WORKERS PARTY – JOIN THE INDEPENDENT WORKERS PARTY!