Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Teachers unions intensify efforts to suppress growing class struggle in the US – SEP Newsletter

From WSWS:

Teachers unions intensify efforts to suppress growing class struggle in the US

By Jerry White
On Sunday night, the National Education Association (NEA) shut down the strike by 4,000 teachers and support staff in Jersey City, the second-largest school district in the state of New Jersey. The NEA ordered educators to return to their classrooms without providing any details on the tentative deal, let alone allowing workers to vote on it. Presuming that an agreement actually exists, it will do nothing to address teachers’ demands to end soaring health care costs.
The one-day strike is the latest in a growing wave of protests and calls for strikes that have spread from West Virginia to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Tennessee, Colorado and other states, plus the US territory of Puerto Rico, where teachers struck against school privatization yesterday.
The struggle of Jersey City teachers exposes the role of the Democratic Party, which supports the assault on teachers and public education no less than the Republicans. At issue is a bill, known as Chapter 78, which forces public employees to pay up to 35 percent of their medical insurance premiums and eliminates fully funded pensions for future teachers. It was passed with the backing of the Democratic-controlled state legislature in 2011. Read more »
Political warfare in Washington enters new stage following firing of former FBI deputy director
By Patrick Martin
The ferocity of the political conflict within the US state apparatus is reaching a new and critical stage. The Trump administration is openly at war with significant sections of the intelligence apparatus, while top figures within this apparatus are making ever more direct calls for the removal of the president.
On Friday, after weeks of urging from Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired the former deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe. McCabe stepped down as deputy director in January, after months of attacks from the Trump White House, and was using accrued leave to continue nominal employment until Sunday, when he would reach age 50 and be eligible to retire.
Instead, Sessions seized on a passage in an unfinished report from the FBI inspector general, suggesting that McCabe was guilty of misconduct by leaking information to the press about the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation during the 2016 election campaign. Read more »
European Union joins UK in ratcheting up anti-Russia campaign
By Chris Marsden
A meeting of 28 European Union foreign ministers yesterday pledged “unqualified solidarity” with the UK in condemning the “reckless and illegal” poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4 in Salisbury.
The UK has declared the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin “highly likely” to be responsible for the Salisbury attack. Their entire case hinges on the unproven assertion that the Skripals were targeted with a “Novichok” nerve agent “developed” in the former Soviet Union.
A statement issued by the 28 EU foreign ministers employed the same carefully worded phrases introduced by the British Foreign Office and repeated ad nauseam by the entire media and political establishment. They took “extremely seriously” “the UK government’s assessment” that it was “highly likely” Russia was guilty of the attack using a nerve agent “of a type developed by Russia.” Read more »
Lenin, Trotsky and the Marxism of the October Revolution
By David North
This is the text of a lecture delivered by David North, chairperson of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site and of the Socialist Equality Party (US), at the University of Leipzig in Germany on March 16.
The October Revolution was the culmination of the massive social uprising of the working class and oppressed masses of Russia in 1917. It was, and remains, unique in one fundamental sense: it was the first, and remains to this day, the only revolution carried out consciously by the working class, led by a Marxist party acting on the basis of an international socialist program and perspective.
The Russian Revolution demands serious study as a critical episode in the development of scientific social thought. The historical achievement of the Bolsheviks in 1917 both demonstrated and actualized the essential relationship between scientific materialist philosophy and revolutionary practice. Read more »

“It’s all about building the stock market and not about people”

Numerous Kentucky schools to close Wednesday, as teachers’ protests mount
By J. Cooper and Nancy Hanover
On Wednesday, March 21, thousands of teachers are expected to converge at the Kentucky state capitol to fight Republican Governor Matt Bevin’s proposals for drastic cuts to pension benefits, and to demand affordable health care.
With overwhelming support for the protests, at least five Kentucky school districts in the eastern region of the state announced they will close in Pike, Lawrence, Martin and Carter counties, with Ashland Independent schools in Boyd County also joining them. Reacting to the outpouring of support to the protest, superintendents in those counties have deemed Wednesday as a day selected “for staff members in our region to have a voice in Frankfort on educational issues.”
There are informal reports that the teachers may conduct their own strike vote at the Capitol. At school protest Monday morning in Louisville, teachers’ signs included the newly popular warning: “Bevin, don’t make us go WV on you!” in a reference to the nine-day strike by West Virginia teachers and school employees earlier this month. Read more »
Union cuts deal to end Jersey City strike as teacher protests spread
By Jerry White
The Jersey City Education Association (JCEA) announced late Sunday night that it had reached a deal with the school district to end the strike by 4,000 teachers and school employees in the US state of New Jersey’s second largest school system. The union rushed to get the agreement as rank-and-file teachers prepared to defy a Hudson County judge’s back-to-work order, which could have quickly escalated into a broader confrontation with the state’s Democratic and Republican politicians.
With typical contempt for rank-and-file teachers, the JCEA issued a perfunctory statement on its Facebook page, announcing, “As of the time of posting, details of the settlement had not been released, but JCEA had long maintained that relief from the onerous health care contributions imposed by Ch. 78, but negotiable under state law, was a fundamental issue in the negotiations.” The union declared that schools would reopen as scheduled Monday morning without saying a word about strikers voting on the deal, let alone being forced to return to work without even seeing its details. Read more »
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