Barbara Madeloni

Delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union have just sent a referendum to members: shall we all work remotely starting Monday, January 25?

That’s the date when many were assigned to return to schools. If the district retaliates, delegates will reconvene to take a strike vote.

The plan was voted up by a large majority in an emergency meeting. It’s CTU’s boldest official move yet against reopening; the union has had to walk a difficult legal line.

Today 915 of the 1,000 union educators in Brookline, Massachusetts, took part in a sickout demanding a six-foot distance between people in classrooms.

The district previously agreed to this safety requirement in a memorandum of understanding. But now it wants to allow the superintendent to change it.

“When they tried to give the superintendent unilateral control to change the distance, they tore up the MOU,” said Brookline Educators Union President Jessica Wender-Shubow.

It’s election eve and anxious voters are wondering not only who will receive the most votes, but also: Will those votes be counted? Will the people or the Supreme Court select the next president? Will Trump supporters move beyond intimidation to violence to suppress the vote?

Will we face a president who refuses to accept the results of the vote? Will we have to defend against a coup?

“Therefore, be it finally resolved that the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO calls on the National AFL-CIO, all of its affiliate unions, and all other labor organizations in the United States of America to prepare for and enact a general strike of all working people, if necessary, to ensure a Constitutionally mandated peaceful transition of power as a result of the 2020 Presidential Elections.”

The pandemic has made me see more clearly why it works when workers get together to solve problems collectively.

With no public health system to access and a disorganized, inept, and neglectful response from the government, individuals have been cast out alone to deal with the pandemic. Decisions about working—and risking one’s health and safety—have become individual.

Workers at home are isolated and workers at worksites are afraid.

New York City Teachers Work Outdoors after a Co-Worker Tests Positive

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UPDATE, September 18: Amid continued protests, yesterday Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the start of in-person school in New York City will be further delayed for most students. Pre-K and special ed schools will still open September 21, but elementary school reopening has been pushed back to September 29, and middle and high school to October 1. —Editors

Ready to Work, But Not Indoors: Educators Bring Lawn Chairs

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Educators in Andover, Massachusetts, set up lawn chairs, folding tables, and laptops in the shade of trees and next to school tennis courts and got to work on their first day of professional development August 31.

The superintendent and school committee had announced a virtual professional development day—but insisted that educators be in the school building for the sessions. Yes, that meant that educators were to enter buildings with other adults in order to sit in empty classrooms to participate in virtual training.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, teachers and school employees are being handed reopening plans that require them to be in their classrooms at the bell—and they are resisting.

In a matter of days in mid-March, educators were expected to move classes online, work from home, and manage their own fear and uncertainty—all while worried for students whom they suddenly couldn’t see, talk to, or reassure.

Even veteran organizers were at a loss for what steps to take, except to focus on the immediate problems. How do we move classes online? Will students who depend on school for meals have enough to eat? What about the students with no internet?

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