Solidarity with Oklahoma Teacher & State Worker Walkouts!

by on April 2, 2018

Solidarity with Oklahoma Teacher & State Worker Walkouts!

Deepen the class struggle, strengthen our unions and fight against austerity!

The Southern Workers Assembly sends our solidarity to the education workers and their unions across Oklahoma that will stage walkouts in school districts across the state on April 2. This bold action comes on the heels of the 9-day strike by education workers in West Virginia that has inaugurated a new period of fightback particularly by public school workers. Workers in the South are playing a leading role in this rising tide of resistance – in addition to West Virginia and Oklahoma, teachers in Kentucky have staged walk-outs, along with Jersey City, New Jersey, Arizona, and elsewhere.

While conditions in each area are unique, they have opened a wider struggle against the crushing impact of years of cutbacks and austerity measures that have crippled public education and public services, driven down wages and working conditions, taken aim at workers’ ability to build our unions, and deprived our communities of many vitally needed resources. All this while banks, oil and gas companies, and other big corporations receive massive handouts. Workers in Oklahoma are showing the way forward by going out on strike on April 2, and demonstrating to the world what is possible when workers stick together and take bold action.

Oklahoma teachers are the 49th lowest paid in the country. Ninety of the state’s 500 school districts have switched to a four-day school week due to a lack of funding resources to keep schools open for a full five-day week. Many teachers report that they are forced to drive for Uber and Lyft, or take on other part-time and temporary work just to make ends meet. Stories from teachers and pictures of their classrooms that have circulated in the media and online in recent weeks show classrooms woefully deprived of working chairs, desks, and other basic supplies – which teachers have had to come out of their own pockets to try to address, or have borrowed supplies from friends and neighbors to supplement the state’s inability to provide these things for Oklahoma children and educators.

The state is also one of the top five petroleum and shale producing states in the country. The US Energy Information Administration reports that oil production in Oklahoma has recently increased by two and a half times since 2005. However, Oklahoma taxes oil and gas production at the lowest rate in the U.S. – a dismal 2%. These pipelines are often built on Native lands and there have been many struggles – and some victories – by Indigenous peoples to stop the construction of new pipelines. Cuts to education were highest in Oklahoma than in any other state following the 2008 great recession, with state funding for public schools cut by 23.6% between 2008 and 2014. The schools, the public sector, and the people of Oklahoma were robbed to ensure that the oil and gas industry in particular, and other big business in general, would continue to make greater and greater profits.

Oklahoma education workers have chosen a particularly strategic time to stage these actions – to coincide with the beginning of standardized testing – a gigantic industry in its own right in the U.S. It was the activity by the rank and file members of the OKEA and the OK AFT that chose this date and moved the strike up earlier from initial plans for later in April. Like in West Virginia, we see that the activity of the rank and file is a decisive factor in deepening these struggles and on the ultimate outcome to win against big business and the politicians who do their bidding in the legislature and other offices.

Workers in Oklahoma have already proven this to be true. The widespread activity by education and state worker union members to build and prepare for the April 2 strike, has forced the Oklahoma state legislature to pass a $447 million tax increase and raise salaries by $6,000. Buoyed by this, Oklahoma teachers have continued to march forward toward April 2 until their demands are met.

Teachers, nurses, state employees, fast food workers and industrial workers – in fact all of us – continue to grapple with the unresolved crisis of our health care system. School districts, teachers, and other school employees cannot solve this problem alone. The only sensible answer is found in a national health care system that covers all of us – Medicare for All.
The primary fight here is not against our union leaders, it is supporting the rank-n-file activity standing up against pro-big business politicians. It’s really the legislators that are striking the deals and selling out the workers. These politicians have interest of energy companies and general private capital. We are encouraged by the workers fighting within their unions, to make them more progressive and class conscious.

The Southern Workers Assembly affirms our support for the rank-n-file members in this historic battle, and urges you to continue to build your unions. Oklahoma, like many southern states, bans public workers from having collective bargaining agreements. This forces unions into a different relationship with the decision-makers. In the days as we await the Supreme Court decision on the Janus case, which would effectively make public sector workers in all states right-to-work, we are reminded that even workers in the RTW states, concentrated in the US South, can build their unions, fightback and win. The type of mass rank-n-file action displayed by Oklahoma educators is an example for us all to follow.

Defeat Austerity!
Medicare for All!
Defend Union Jobs and Public Services!
Defeat Right-to-Work for Less!
Organize the South!

Southern Workers Assembly, Coordinating Committee

Solidarity with West Virginia Teacher Walk-outs!

by on March 5, 2018
Solidarity With W Va Teachers

Bluefield, WV February 26, 2018. Photo Credit: Southern Workers Assembly

Solidarity with West Virginia Teacher Walk-outs! Deepen the class struggle, strengthen our unions and fight against austerity!

The Southern Workers Assembly sends our solidarity to the education workers and their unions across West Virginia that are in a tremendous class struggle against austerity. For more than a week, rank-n-file educators have been defying state law and leading rolling walk-out strikes to fight for a decent family-supporting wage, for access to affordable healthcare and in defense of their union rights.

The crisis of funding for public education and all public services has been brewing in West Virginia, and in fact across the South and entire country for a few years. However, it was the brave rank-n-file members in the southern counties of West Virginia that took the initial efforts to organize walk-outs from their schools, shutting many down across several counties, which spread in the following days across the entire state in to rolling walk-outs in all 55 counties, and thousands of workers rallying at the state Capitol in Charleston for several days. They also did the critical work to build support amongst the students, parents and their communities, so when they walked out they were supported. The community and the unions helped organize food distribution, childcare and other survival mechanisms to support the education workers in their actions.

Thousands have been rallying at the state capitol in Charleston for over a week in some of the largest worker demonstrations in the state since the days of the major struggles of the mine workers. In fact, on Feb. 26 raising the fighting legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a strong union supporter, United Mine Workers of America President Cecil E. Roberts gave a fiery speech at the rally, saying that “workers who stand united will never be defeated.”

West Va RallyMany teachers were angered by the Republican-controlled state legislature and Governor Jim Justice who were refusing to offer any wage increases. Educators and state employees have had wages frozen for a few years without any increases. Teachers earn less than 47 out of 50 states across the country. The state was also threatening to make drastic cuts to the state insurance agency, Public Employee Insurance Agency, which would drive up costs for state employees, teachers and their families. They were also facing three other major anti-worker attacks including passing of a Koch brothers-sponsored payroll deception bill to eliminate payroll deduction for union dues, privatization of public schools through allowing the creation of charter schools, and stripping seniority rights for reductions in force.

After four days of statewide walk-outs and thousands rallying at the state Capitol on Thursday, February 22 and Friday, February 23, and again on Monday, February 26 and Tuesday, February 27, the unions were able to force Governor Justice into a deal. Gov. Justice promised a 5% raise for educators and 3% raise for state employees, agreed to find funding to support PEIA, and also to eliminate the 3 anti-worker proposals.

Governor Justice didn’t become a billionaire and richest man in West Virginia without having some nasty tricks. He immediately called a press conference to announce the deal, before union leaders were able to bring back the proposals to their union members. This had a big impact on the rank-n-file workers which felt betrayed because they had not ratified any deal. Many leaders of union chapters across the state are upset, and in defiance of the statewide leadership, called for continuance of walk-outs to oppose the deal. Workers have effectively shut down schools again on Wednesday, February 28 and Thursday, March 1.

We have confidence that the national leadership of both the AFT and NEA will very soon issue to their members a detailed breakdown of the tentative settlement and will convene meetings throughout the state at which teachers may discuss the settlement offer and vote their decision. Until the teacher-members reach their decision, we urge teachers, students, parents and allies to continue to support this very impressive walk-out.

Teachers, nurses, state employees, fast food workers and industrial workers – in fact all of us – continue to grapple with the unresolved crisis of our health care system. School districts and teachers and other school employees cannot solve this problem alone. The only sensible answer is found in a national health care system that covers all of us – Medicare for All.

The primary fight here is not against our union leaders, it is supporting the rank-n-file activity standing up against pro-big business politicians. It’s really the legislators that are striking the deals and selling out the workers. These politicians have interest of energy companies and general private capital. We are encouraged by the workers fighting within their unions, to make them more progressive and class conscious.

The Southern Workers Assembly affirms our support for the rank-n-file members in this historic battle, and urges you to continue to build your unions. West Virginia, like many southern states, bans public workers from having collective bargaining agreements. This forces unions into a different relationship with the decision-makers. In the days as we await the Supreme Court decision on the Janus case, which would effectively make public sector workers in all states right-to-work, we are reminded that even workers in the RTW states, concentrated in the US South, can build their unions, fightback and win. The type of mass rank-n-file action displayed by WV educators is an example for us all to follow.

Defeat Austerity!*
Medicare for All!
Defend Union Jobs and Public Services!
Defeat Right-to-Work for Less!
Organize the South!

Southern Workers Assembly, Coordinating Committee

March 1, 2018

Mississippi union organizers at Nissan vow to fight on

by on August 10, 2017

Mississippi union organizers at Nissan vow to fight on

Company threatened workers

By Martha Grevatt posted on August 9, 2017

uaw mississippi

A UAW supporter outside an employee vehicle entrance at the Nissan vehicle assembly plant in Canton, Miss., Aug. 4.

In July, union organizers at the Canton, Miss., Nissan vehicle assembly plant took a historic step toward becoming the first unionized plant of a foreign auto company in the U.S. The United Auto Workers filed a petition asking the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election to determine if workers wanted the UAW to represent them. The election, the first in the 11-year organizing drive, took place on Aug. 3-4.

Late on the night of Aug. 4, organizers learned they had lost the election by a wide margin. Ernest Whitfield, a member of the union’s Volunteer Organizing Committee, was a poll watcher and witness to the vote counting. It was “heartbreaking,” he told Workers World, to see all the ballots marked “no” being counted. With over 3,500 out of 3,700 Nissan workers voting, the final result was 62 percent against union representation.

The vote does not mean, as Nissan would have the public believe, that workers love the company. There is anger on the floor over unsafe conditions, the growing use of lower-paid temporary workers and widespread racism directed at a workforce that is majority African American. “Labor rights are civil rights” was the theme of a solidarity march that drew 5,000 supporters earlier this year and gave a shot in the arm to the organizing drive. Continue reading »

Charleston healthcare workers rally at MUSC

by on

Charleston healthcare workers rally at MUSC

MUSC Charleston Rally 8-11-17

Charleston healthcare workers rally at MUSC

SWA Summer 2017 Newsletter

by on July 28, 2017

Summer 2017 Newsletter

In This Edition:

  • Mississippi auto workers on road to historic union vote

  • Southern Workers School converges in Atlanta to “build cadre” to organize the South

  • HEALTH CARE IN CRISIS – Emergency: Dead on Arrival in Georgia

  • United Campus Workers Fights Massive Plan to Outsource TN Public Workers!

  • UE150 Builds Statewide Campaign in North Carolina in wake of 2 City workers’ deaths

  • Dem. NC Governor Signs Anti-Farmworker Union Bill, Opening Door to More Attacks


Pages:123456789»