Teachers, other unions and affinity groups aim to #ShutDownChicago on April 1


On Friday April 1, Chicago Teachers (CTU) Are Going to Strike.  According to various accounts, they will be joined by the Chicago Transit Workers, Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100), Fight for Fifteen fast-food workers, SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Project NIA, college faculty, and as many other allies as possible.  This is the schedule for their day of action.

As to the “124” Lewis had mentioned, one account I read was that  the some of them did indeed want to wait until the ‘fact-finding’ was finished, a contract considered, then stage a walk out if the contract were deemed sucky or negotiations fail, but clearly not all.

What I like best about the day of action might be called ‘social unionism’, although there seem to be many different meanings and origins ascribed to it online.  One short version is: Social Unionism attempts to integrate workers, trade unions and the labor movement into broader coalitions for social and economic justice. In principle, unions and other organizations support each other in what are seen as mutually beneficial goals.

Given that, and the natural affinity groups who will try to ShutDownChicago for the day, this conference in July 2014 may have been key: ‘Social Movement Unionism Comes to the Teachers Unions at Last’, laprogressive.com.

“The conference was titled “Social Movement Unionism vs. Corporate Reform: Winning Strategies to Turn the Tide.” It featured six union officials from LA, New York, Houston, Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Paul sharing their efforts to bring the wider community into their organizing and the various successes they’ve had.””

Opening up the discussion was Alex Caputo-Pearl, the newly installed President of UTLA, the United Teachers of Los Angeles. He defined social movement unionism as democratic, engaged with members, parents and community, explicit about fighting racial and social injustice, fighting privatization, taking people on, including Democrats and being willing to strike.”

Karen Lewis was there, speaking on the fact that she hadn’t had much success with other labor unions being in solidarity, so she began having conversations at schools, but mostly…listening.  Many other representatives of city teacher unions were there, but all seemed in agreement about public education’s enemies being: corporate and right-wing ‘reform’ front groups, school  privatizers, Bloomberg, Arne Duncan (ptui), and related ‘99% disenfranchised issues’.  Their process goals were healthy ones, and one would hope they’re keeping to them.

Kristina Betinis at wsws.org is a current Lewis/Sharkey detractor, shall we say, giving cover to the Dems and Rahm, while focusing her fire on the Republican governor.  She further claims that Lewis tried to sell a deal to the teachers in January.

“Lewis made clear that the CTU was prepared to agree to a deal that she said “calls for economic concessions in exchange for enforceable protections of education quality and job security.” In reality, the proposal included a de facto pay cut of 7 percent through increased pension contributions.

After details of this agreement were leaked, the CTU bargaining committee recognized that it would be impossible to push the deal through given the level of dissatisfaction among teachers, and voted to reject the offer. But CTU Vice President Sharkey emphasized his commitment to finding some way to push through Emanuel’s demands, particularly as they relate to pension cuts. “Everything is on the table,” he said.”

Now she also said that April 1-3 were the dates set for a national Labor Notes conference, and I suppose this is possibly so, given that so many unions are still captive to Democrat electoral politics.  Ah, according to the LN link, there will a ‘labor for Bernie’ contingent there.

For further narrative on the underlying reasons for the CTU strike, you might want to read  ‘The Next Great Chicago Strike’; The Chicago Teachers Union is going on strike tomorrow — and the stakes couldn’t be higher’ at JacobinMag.com (h/t marym in chicago).

‘Caring too much. That’s the curse of the working classes’ by David Graeber ‘Why has the basic logic of austerity been accepted by everyone? Because solidarity has come to be viewed as a scourge’

While agreeing with some of Graeber’s contentions, I’m not sure that they support his over-arching thesis, ending:

“There is a reason why the ultimate bourgeois virtue is thrift, and the ultimate working-class virtue is solidarity. Yet this is precisely the rope from which that class is currently suspended. There was a time when caring for one’s community could mean fighting for the working class itself. Back in those days we used to talk about “social progress”. Today we are seeing the effects of a relentless war against the very idea of working-class politics or working-class community. That has left most working people with little way to express that care except to direct it towards some manufactured abstraction: “our grandchildren”; “the nation”; whether through jingoist patriotism or appeals to collective sacrifice.

As a result everything is thrown into reverse. Generations of political manipulation have finally turned that sense of solidarity into a scourge. Our caring has been weaponised against us. And so it is likely to remain until the left, which claims to speak for labourers, begins to think seriously and strategically about what most labour actually consists of, and what those who engage in it actually think is virtuous about it.”

He would be right in noting as one ‘anti-capitalist unions’ essayist did, that given that in 1939, the services-to-manufacturing employment ratio in the United States was 2.1-to-1, but by 2015 it was 9.9-to-1.  That decentralization of workers has meant less personal workplace camaraderie, but has also led to the decrease of ‘valorization’ of industrial workers and other corporate captital’s liberalization, thus death knells of unions.

Related in spades: ‘Detroit Public Schools are close to a $715 million bailout package’ (but did not take up separate short-term emergency funding for the district, which faces a possible shutdown in April), businessinsider.com

And ‘Arizona Voucher Bill for Half the Children in the State Advances in Legislature’, by dianeravitch , March 27, 2016, including:

“Richard Gilman has just written an excellent article on AZ vouchers: Should I add that a sitting and voting state senator, Steve Yarbrough, takes 10% of the so-called scholarship funds as an administrative fee?”

But on the holy hell front comes Kali Holloway’sCampbell Brown: The New Leader of the Propaganda Arm of School Privatization’, and it’s a pip.  Yves writes: “This story contains an impressive amount of gumshoe work on the funding of a major school privatization campaigner and therefore the hidden hands behind her effort. It’s also a good, if sobering example of how influence-pedddling works in modern America.”  Holloway begins:

“Perhaps guided by the old adage that you have to spend money to make money, the champions of education “reform” have poured billions into the effort to privatize and profit from America’s schools. Those funds are used on multiple fronts: launching charter schools, underwriting the political campaigns of politicians, and of course, investing in media to propagate the free-market privatization vision. Among the most visible properties in this effort is the Seventy Four, the well-funded, power broker-backed education news website run by former journalist-turned-school privatization activist Campbell Brown. Launched last year, the site’s reported $4 million annual budget comes from a collective of school privatization’s big hitters: The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Jonathan Sackler (of OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma) and the Walton Family Foundation.

Philanthropy of this sort has an endgame—the privatization of America’s public schools—and media manipulation is an essential part of a winning strategy. Brown, leveraging her longstanding image as a truth-seeking newsperson in service of her new brand as an earnest education reformer, has been indispensable to this effort. As the head of the Seventy Four, under the guise of providing hard-hitting education news, she leads one of the key media efforts to push the anti-union, pro-privatization message of the charterization movement, all while keeping its billionaire backers out of the picture and off the front page.”

But the ‘investments’ are of course massive, with all of the familiar names (assholes on parade) and faux-lanthropic foundations, but she names a few to-me-unfamiliar ones, and the incestuous relationships among the oh-so-quaintly deceptive names amounting to ‘Kill Crap Schools!  Privatize Them in the Name of Excellence!”  And not: “Multiple billions worth of profits are up for grabs as we F over public education and commodity students!”

And of course she notes that it’s not just Brown, but a far larger scheme that’s actually working quite well….so far.  Her section on ‘The Real Cost to Taxpayers, Parents, Students and Traditional Public Schools’ seriously burns; well, all of it does…

We’ll check back with some of the Tweeties tomorrow, see what pops as far as #ShuttingDownChi, yes?  Hope they do.

27 responses to “Teachers, other unions and affinity groups aim to #ShutDownChicago on April 1

  1. Here’s a snapshot of a few of the events. It gives me hope to see people aware of the connections among issues.

    edit by wd: click text schedule for a larger version.

  2. Sadly I wasn’t able to find any similar ongoing protest for this date in New Zealand, but the following would serve to inspire, even though it took place in September last year:


    (I hope the haka is visible.)

    For a bit more background on the privatization of the New Zealand school system and protests, the following article gives an historical perspective, and I am sure there are ongoing dissatisfactions which may be in abeyance at present due to the school year only now beginning after the long summer holidays.


    Go Chicago!

    • oh, the haka was visible! in fact, i tried youtube to see if there were a more complete version up. why is that that that ceremonial war cry makes me cry every time?

      so the college privatizations: did they happen?

      in NYC, concerning the funding of city college, they protested march 25. one Tweet.

  3. “. . . Philanthropy of this sort has an endgame—the privatization of America’s public schools—and media manipulation is an essential part of a winning strategy. . . .”

    An incident at a Walmart yesterday (and yes I do go there occasionally for some of my food shopping, forced by necessity) bears out this point. As I made my attempt to pay by check (getting harder and more expensive – gee thanks, banks) the overworked, underpaid young man cashiering asked as he was required to do, “Would you like to donate to the needy?”

    Swallowing all the thoughts that surged to the front of my brain, which thoughts had been expressed by the obviously low income customer in line before me, I simply said a firm “No.” Something flashed between us as both of us thought of a Walmart which would obviously claim the noblesse oblige from any such philanthropic gesture, and of the welldressed and coiffured (not!) customers we had just cohabited with in the vast cavern of the store.

    The modern day version of “Let them eat cake.”

    • i’m almost certain that last year there were barrels for food contributions for walmart employees; if i had the time i’d google/bing it. on edit: at least a few stores. cleveland, dayton, and deecee.

      and i had, then lost, another polemic about another lofty spokesperson for charters. of course, since michelle rhee, et.al. and ‘waiting for superman’, the movement has been full-tilt- agitprop.

      from the twit machine:

      lawd love a duck:
      @HarrietTubelman 45m45 minutes ago Chicago, IL
      Chicago is 1 of 5 large school districts with more police in schools than counselors. Stats: 📊 4.21 officers to 2.18 counselors

      Epic: Thousands of public school teachers, fastfood wrkrs, students demanding funding for higher Ed /hashtag/ShutDownChi?src=hash

  4. makes ya cry it’s so beautiful. ‘lightning slide’ i think they called it. ;-)

    4:30-ish CDT i’d wondered where the larger crowds were…

    “We not playing witchu Rahm and Rauner. Today we will use love to #ShutDownChi”

    toward evening & how kewl:

  5. Unless my Twitter stream has gotten as flaky as the cable networks, right now there are #32mars protests in Paris and London, people opposing impeachment in Brazil in streets in Sao Paulo and northeastern state capitals, and Michigan Avenue shut down in Chicago against the CTU’s wishes. Key point: 40% of Chicago’s budget funds cops who regularly kill youth and operate a school-to-prison pipeline. But there are (weep, weep, weep) sadly no funds for public schools because the mean old Republican governor…. You get the excuse. Looking at the Tweet stream, it looks like a lot of people showed up after getting off work.

    Altogether a sign that spring is coming on strong.

  6. The Real News has up a rather rapid-fire piece summarizing the Chicago strike, with some good comments by teacher Sarah Chambers at the end of the video.

    Her comment, ‘Look at New Orleans – no public schools just charter schools’ resonated as I’ve been trying to pin down the situation in New Zealand – starting with this from scoop.co.nz:
    Thursday, 3 March 2016, 11:33 am
    Press Release: New Zealand Principals’ Federation
    Charter Schools Funded For Failure

    ‘Unbelievable’, was the response from the President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF), Iain Taylor, on hearing that all of the charter schools established in 2014, with the exception of the one shut down for poor performance, have received an extra one percent of their budgets.

    It is understood that the extra money is in recognition of the schools fulfilling their agreed performance targets.

    ‘What is so preposterous,’ said Taylor, ‘is that they got all this extra money for succeeding even though they failed!’

    Charter schools have been an unwelcome blot on the education landscape since their introduction because they have siphoned significant funds away from schools that need the money to implement effective programmes for special needs students and other priority learners.

    ‘This nonsense has got to stop,’ said Taylor. ‘We are a small country and trying to spread a limited education budget across our own high performing schools is hard enough without swilling precious funds down the drains of failing charter schools,’ he said.

    Turns out the National Government put in place five charter schools in a pilot project about three years ago. Doesn’t sound like much, but a plan is apparently still on the books to expand the program. Not only that, but in the proposed education bill is a somewhat vague linkage between university education and charter schools as well. Meanwhile the Labour Party is proposing a return to free university education, so there’s that at least.

    [I got a bit distracted as I was reading how ‘public’ high schools in New Zealand are now no longer free of charge – donations are, while not required, strongly suggested, and wealthy parents make them, at least they do in the wealthy districts. The high school I went to is at the top of the range, having an advantage over many in poorer districts in that wealthy parents are funding it something like nearly NZ$800 a year. Times have certainly changed.]

    • ha, good on iain taylor. but the USA exports the finest rent-seeking in a constant race to the bottom, eh?

      ‘public schools’ in the UK are called private here; is that the trend down under, perhaps? current figures aren’t easily available, but as of 2014 the aggregate amerikan college debt is over a trillion, and the average student debt was almost $30 grand.

      was it in the early 80s that ronald reagan began dismantling free tuition for the state university system? small wonder that he was the prez obama had mentioned as ‘the most transformative’ in his mind. did he explain further? i forget. reagan: firing the air traffic controllers; obama: calling in the coast guard and pinkertons to break the ilwu strike in portland. yay-uss. richard trumka? utter silence, as with friedrichs v. the CA teachers. #whatasystem.

      • 15 billion was the total I last saw for NZ university students, which given the size of the country is pretty big. And no, public high schools, though they can be all girls or all boys, some mixed, are different from private ones in New Zealand.

        It would be like an Albuquerque public school requesting an annual donation from its parents of around $350 per child, this apart from the support given by the state, and those fees ranging depending on the ability of the local parenthood to comply, with the most prestigious of said public high schools (mine was such) being able to ask for bigger donations.

        In my day parental expense was limited to purchase of a mandatory school uniform, woolen bathingsuit (!) and a hockey stick. Plus textbooks so modestly priced I can’t even remember the cost.

  7. Oh, forgot to mention also that apparently perks such as sweet land deals in juicy locations are being given to overseas businesses which can donate hefty sums to the support of various schools in need. Sort of reminds me of a story at nakedcapitalism.com on the watercooler about a Koch Brothers school being renamed. It’s a small, small world. It can happen anywhere. . .

  8. The minority running the country is, of course, the top 1 (or .5) percent who control 90 percent of the wealth. But really, the group the impoverished and disenfranchised are knocking up against is the larger 30 percent (as described in AlterNet by economist Peter Temin and interviewer Lynn Parramore) who control the media, the educational and economic systems, the political process (up until now, that is).

    Poor compradors, they have no choice.


    • Herr comrade took his aXe
      and gave those compradors 40 whacks

      (we don’t talk about that person much around here, nor any ‘candidates’ for prez, for that matter, though. quadrennial circuses are still circuses. nice to see you, hope yer well (enough for who it’s for, as they say round here.) ;-)

  9. But … “30 %” of the population thinks you should talk of The Donald … so you should be talking about them.

    aXe; HA HA HA.


  10. the douglaston county school district budget is almost 0.5 billion (aka 500 mil), per a recent RT documentary on this scam. that’s a goddam big county ed budget, thinks i, not knowing exactly where that is, till i realize i live just in the middle of both Fairfax, VA county & Washington, DC. & neighboring Loudon, Montgomery, Princes George & William, Faquier, Charles, etc., counties.

    make sure to fill out yer timesheets good this week. and taxes! don’t cheat on taxes! why not? cuz they are counting & stealing the pennies in these dinky county & municipality school budgets, aka property taxes, aka a chunk of worker income. “We take a fraction of a penny and steal it a couple of trillion times,” as Peter, more or less, says in “Office Space.” (payroll, too, cough cough. more payroll than property most pay periods.)

    • douglaston cty seems to be in queens; first bing hit: the local country club, lol. missed the documentary, was the budget a scam, then? charter schools getting the big bucks or something?

      dah. tax time. yes, mr. wd just reminded me yesterday. every single year since my brain blow-out, the irs sends back my (our) returns with red check marks and (ahem) corrections. and i ain’t even cheatin’ on purpose, i tell ya! sometimes it’s in their favor….

      mr. wd’s pickup imploded a while back, and he had to buy a rather used one to replace it. in order to take any finish carpentry jobs he might get, he has to be able to tote around his tools and whatnot. we’re talking about not even trying to depreciate it; you have any idea what math and record-keeping that takes? OFM is what it is. but ya made me think of ‘beware the pennies on your eyes’… shoot, can’t even find the beatles’ version. long live stevie ray!

      • sorry, it was this

        there’s tons of money in these school districts, large & small.

        • wow, douglas county, colorado! south of denver, north of colorado springs. who knew there was so much money around there? guess it must be full of bedroom communities and retirement villages or some such. mcMansions, even. my stars. the video trailer dinnae play; i hope it’s a barn-burner. interesting that he found lots of republicans against privatizing education, isn’ t it?

          it sucks that so many states fund education via property taxes, and at least here…everyone gets to vote on bond issues. not fair, especially when one might be for the umpteenth gymnasium posing as ‘a performance center’.

          but even here, the administration with ignorant board approval invested in a hella lot of credit default swaps, which…predictably lost almost all value, and ya know what happened next.

          hope ya have time to read my newest ‘evil putin’ post; the Empire and friends of NATO just can’t help themselves. ;-)

  11. In other news
    Campus occupations – What are their demands?
    UC Davis https://firekatehiblog.wordpress.com/
    Duke https://dsws2016.wordpress.com/demands/
    Ohio State
    (long link – here’s a link to a tweet containing the document link)

    Also CSU faculty threatening to strike

    • thank you so very much, marym. i only scanned your final la times link, but: woot! i’m so so so finished for the day’ i’ll click in tomorrow. i do hope life is treating you well, and i hope your dreams tonight are good ones, or at least…educational ones. ;-) mine have been in some patterns that i almost get, but whose riddles i’m not sure how to translate into life changes.

      best heart, wd

  12. they’re all good demand lists, although UD’s seem the most comprehensive. katehi was there during that sick pepper-spraying of sitting-in students? egad, and she’s still there? than must rankle mightily.

    was that the school that held the silent night vigil later? if so, that was hella powerful….

    in other recent news: ‘Detroit Public Schools principals charged with taking kickbacks’, wsws.org, 2 April 2016

    “Thirteen DPS principals and one businessman were charged this week in a kickback scheme for contracts, scamming the district out of nearly $2.7 million over 13 years. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said Tuesday that the school officials were paid more than $900,000 in cash, gift cards and checks.”


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