As the labor movement has begun to show signs of a revitalization, we excavate a volume, long consigned to obscurity, from an earlier era. As Jane McAlevey observes, even though almost a century has passed since its initial publication, Steuben’s book remains astonishingly relevant today — which speaks both to the enduring facts of employment relations in capitalism, as well as to the efficacy of Steuben’s strategic perspective.
Source: Denise Rappmund, Gera M. McGuire, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s, Issuer Comment, February 20, 2019
The agreement, which ended a three-day strike, calls for a $23 million bump in teacher compensation, which equates to 2% of the district’s fiscal 2018 budget. Despite lackluster growth in state aid, the district’s credit profile continues to improve with in-migration, a highly educated workforce and a rapidly expanding tax base….
It shut down a major U.S. city, inspired a rock opera, led to decades of labor unrest and provoked fears Russian Bolsheviks were trying to overthrow American capitalism. It was the Seattle General Strike of 1919, which began on Feb. 6 and lasted just five days.
By many measures, the strike was a failure. It didn’t achieve the higher wages that the 35,000 shipyard workers who first walked off their jobs sought – even after 25,000 other union members joined the strike in solidarity. Altogether, striking workers represented about half of the workforce and almost a fifth of Seattle’s 315,000 residents.
Usually, as a historian of the American labor movement, I have the unfortunate job of telling difficult stories about the decline of unions. However, in my view, the story of this particular strike is surprisingly hopeful for the future of labor.
And I believe it holds lessons for today’s labor activists – whether they’re striking teachers in West Virginia or Arizona, mental health workers in California or Google activists in offices across the world….
On February 6, 1919, Seattle’s workers struck—all of them. In doing so they took control of the city.
The strike was in support of 35,000 shipyard workers, then in conflict with the city’s shipyard owners and the federal government’s U.S. Shipping Board, which was still enforcing wartime wage agreements.
The strike rendered the authorities virtually powerless. There was indeed no power that could challenge the workers. There were soldiers in the city, and many more at nearby Camp Lewis, not to mention thousands of newly enlisted, armed deputies—but to unleash these on a peaceful city? The regular police were reduced to onlookers; the generals hesitated.
Seattle’s Central Labor Council, representing 110 unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL), called the strike. The CLC’s Union Record reported 65,000 union members on strike—a general strike, the first and only of its kind in the U.S. Perhaps as many as 100,000 people participated…..
The word strike seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. Workers across the world have been striking to protest poor working conditions, to speak out against sexual harassment, and to jumpstart stalled union negotiations. And as we just saw with the Los Angeles teachers’ successful large-scale strike, which spanned six school days, strikers have been winning. Despite the shot of energy that organized strikes have injected into the labor movement, many people aren’t content with run-of-the-mill work stoppages, or even with more militant wildcat strikes…..
….. So what does it all mean? How is a general strike different from a planned, industry-specific work stoppage; why are people interested in the idea now; and what would one look like in 2019? …..
Source: Jon Shelton, LAWCHA: The Labor and Working-Class History Association Newsletter, 2018
…. These strikes were among the most important victories in the US in recent history, a clear victory for communities decimated by years of Republican-led austerity. Further, the cross-district teacher strikes this past spring seemed especially shocking because of the right’s decades-long characterization of teacher unions as inimical to the interests of the nation’s children, there has actually been labor peace among teachers and school districts going back 30 years now. The strike wave surprised many observers, particularly since they took place in conservative, “right-to-work” states where public employee strikes are illegal. Yet this new era of teacher unionism builds on a long history of teacher militancy. ….
Just last night, there was no end to the government shutdown in sight. But when airport workers started calling in sick and raising the threat of a strike, everything suddenly changed.
From West Virginia to Los Angeles, educators are ushering in a new era of labor activism.
Political payback for the statewide teacher walkout?
Source: Andrea Eger, Tulsa World, January 22, 2019
Slew of newly filed bills aim to punish, limit future protests.
After LA’s Strike, “Nothing Will Be the Same”
AN INTERVIEW WITH ARLENE INOUYE
Source: Eric Blanc, Jacobin, January 23, 2019
The Los Angeles teachers’ strike was big, it was united, and now it’s victorious. We interview UTLA chief negotiator Arlene Inouye about how the strike turned the tables on the billionaire privatizers.
Los Angeles Teachers Strike for Higher Wages and Smaller Classes
Source: Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg Businessweek, January 18, 2019
The district has lost enrollment to declining birthrates, rising housing costs, and charter schools.
Teachers across the country this year are breathing new life into the strike—galvanizing members and winning gains.
These strikes are fueled by rank-and-file anger. Many were coordinated not from above by the official union leadership but by networks of activists. The size of the mobilizations and level of organization have caught many by surprise.
The teachers have put the strike—labor’s most powerful weapon—back in our playbook. They’re showing what can be done when workers unite, organize creatively, and take to the streets.
Teachers have wiped away some of the stigma attached to strikes and shown how a strike can be built by rank-and-file members. Here are a few lessons: …..
Teacher Strike Wave: By the Numbers
Source: Jasmine Kerrissey, Labor Notes, October 4, 2018