Barbara Madeloni

Dan Clawson, labor organizer, scholar, and activist, died suddenly of a heart attack on May 7. We had just come off of our Massachusetts Teachers Association annual meeting, where Educators for a Democratic Union, the caucus Dan helped to form, beat back attempts to strip the budget of organizing funds and won a motion calling for a national teachers’ strike for the Green New Deal. In our caucus meetings throughout the weekend, Dan was clarifying strategy and reminding us that we shouldn’t back away from conflict when taking a principled stand.

VIDEO: Fighting Austerity and the Boss in Higher Education

The ivory tower of academia does not protect its workers. Across the country, austerity politics are bleeding colleges and universities dry, opening the door for the corporate takeover of higher education. But, like their colleagues in elementary and secondary education, higher education workers are fighting back.

Labor Notes staff member Barbara Madeloni led a conversation with higher education activists on on Tuesday, May 7.

It's Our World to Make

Teachers on a picket line in Los Angeles January 2019

The guy at the car rental counter found my T-shirt puzzling.

It was early on a Tuesday morning, and I had just flown back into L.A. Why, he wanted to know, was someone from Massachusetts wearing a shirt that said “United Teachers Los Angeles”?

I explained that I had been out the week before to support the teachers strike. I was back for a second round because this strike was important to educators across the country.

“The whole country? Why?”

“Don’t start those buses tomorrow,” said Joe White, executive director of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association.

He was announcing the second statewide education strike in West Virginia in a year, alongside the leaders of the state’s two teacher unions.

The next morning, February 19, buses throughout the state sat idle in garages.

And by the middle of the day, strikers declared victory with the defeat of an anti-union, pro-privatization education bill in the state House.

A huge crowd of strikers

In a joyful, rain-drenched strike, 34,000 Los Angeles teachers won things no union has ever won.

They forced Superintendent Austin Beutner, a former investment banker, to accept concessions even on topics he had previously refused even to bargain over.

L.A. will reinstate limits on class size—and for most classes, reduce those limits by four students by 2022.

Despite a pro-charter school board majority, the nation’s second-largest school district agreed to move a board resolution to support a statewide moratorium on new charter schools

VIDEO: Striking for the Schools Los Angeles Students Deserve


Thirty-four thousand teachers in Los Angeles are out on strike to defend public education against the privatization agenda of Austin Beutner, the former investment banker and current Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) is demanding class size limits, more funding for counselors, social workers, and nurses, and a moratorium on charter school expansion. The school district is hoping to hold on to its $1.9 billion in reserves and continue defunding, dismantling, and privatizing the city's 900 public schools.

Last spring a teacher uprising swept the red states. Today it reached the West Coast, as the 34,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles began a long-anticipated strike in the nation’s second-largest school district.

Teachers, parents, students, and community supporters hit the picket lines in their fight against the budget cuts and privatization being pushed by the school board and Superintendent Austin Beutner, a former investment banker.

This article, originally published on December 4 as the strike began, has since been updated. --Editors.

Chicago teachers are leading the way again. They have declared victory in the first charter school strike in U.S. history.

The four-day strike included 550 teachers and paraprofessionals who work at all 15 Chicago charter schools in the Acero charter chain.

Sometimes the boss offers us a fight that directly exposes the destructive effects of corporate power.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that moment came when ExxonMobil asked for yet another handout from taxpayers—property tax exemptions totaling $6 million.

For the ninth-largest corporation in the world, it was a routine request. ExxonMobil is accustomed to receiving such perks from obedient state officials. But teachers saw it differently: as a $6 million theft from the local schools budget.

Let Members Lead

It was a decisive moment in the West Virginia teachers strike. State union leaders, presenting a deal that would leave out some public sector workers, were greeted with a chorus of “back to the table!”

Those educators refused to be talked into a compromise. And, after days out on strike, they knew they had the power to back up that demand.

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