Samantha Winslow

Selfie of four Baltimore teachers in front of a school.

The reform slate in the Baltimore Teachers (BTU) overcame its first hurdle after being elected in May: an attempt by the incumbents to force a rerun was rejected by the national Teachers (AFT) leadership.

The incumbents, who had held office for 20 years, had challenged the results after being defeated by the “Union We Deserve” slate.

That slate was supported by two rank-and-file caucuses, the Baltimore Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (BMORE) and the Caucus of Educators for Democracy and Equity (CEDE).

Beware of the 'Easy' Way

Workers in pro and con shirts before the UAW election at VW's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The sad outcome of the United Auto Workers campaign at Volkswagen reminded me of when I entered the labor movement 15 years ago.

Back then the national leaders of the Service Employees (SEIU) had diagnosed labor’s big problem: we weren’t organizing fast enough. As the percentage of unionized workers in the U.S. slipped, so did unions’ influence.

If only we could regain sufficient union density, these leaders said, we would have power. Then we could start winning gains for members and change the political climate.

Eight teacher leaders from the Unions We Deserve slate pose together, smiling and giving thumbs-up. T-shirt slogans include "flree minds," "Black lives matter at school," "Baltimore schools for Baltimore students," and "build one Baltimore"

What happens when new leaders run for office and beat an eight-term incumbent? In the Baltimore Teachers Union, it seems, the incumbent tries for a second bite at the apple.

A slate called “The Union We Deserve,” backed by two rank-and-file caucuses, ran for office this spring. Its platform was to open the union up to its own members and join with parents to fight for fully funded public schools.

Woman on megaphone supporting Oakland teachers and students during Oakland teacher strike.

On the heels of Los Angeles teachers’ winning strike in January, teachers in Oakland 340 miles north joined the strike wave. Three thousand teachers, alongside parents and students, led picket lines February 21-March 1 at the city’s 86 schools.

These strikes, plus rumblings from other California teacher unions, are ramping up the pressure on school boards and legislators to invest in public schools and stop privatization statewide.

Denver students held signs spelling out "We heart teachers."

The teacher strike wave keeps gathering steam. After three days out, February 11-13, Denver teachers won a settlement that achieved their main goal—to dramatically reduce the effects of the district’s chaotic merit pay system.

Oakland teachers, meanwhile, have announced they will strike February 21.

The new contract in Denver will put more money into base pay and into steps and lanes, which reward teachers for their years of experience and level of higher education.

L.A. Teachers Showed Us How It's Done

Black woman raising her fist in a crowd of strikers

I spent an exhilarating week in the midst of the Los Angeles teachers strike—the first strike in 30 years by the second-largest teacher union in the country.

Of course wages and benefits were central to the teachers’ fight. But like many successful strikes, theirs was about something bigger—that the district should invest in public education as a public good, rather than stripping schools of their value and selling them off as parts.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere in the Teacher Uprising...

Two people painting signs that say "public schools are the heart of the community"

Who will pay for a 5 percent raise, smaller classes, and more nurses, librarians, and counselors for the Chicago public schools? “Rich people,” Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Gates told the press.

Their contract expires in June. Meanwhile, fresh off the first charter school strike in history, the union set a February 5 strike date at another Chicago charter network.

Member celebrates ratification vote in Hawaii after UNITE HERE Marriott strike

After two months of strikes, workers at the largest hotel company in the world have won their biggest demands and set a new pattern for the hospitality industry.

The seven UNITE HERE locals in Hawaii, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Detroit, and Boston bargained separately, but similar contract expiration dates allowed 7,700 workers to strike Marriott at the same time.

Election Roundup: A Mixed Bag, But Good Riddance to Scott Walker

How did states with high-profile union fights fare in the 2018 midterms? The elections were a mixed bag.

Wisconsin union members (and yours truly!) got to vote out the state’s number one union-buster: Scott Walker. He survived a 2012 recall and a 2014 re-election, but the third time was the charm. The governor who rose to the national stage by kneecapping unions was narrowly ousted in a high-turnout election.

Pages