NEW YORK CITY, October 15 — Four Stella D’Oro strikers brought by PLP members to the teachers union Delegate Assembly (DA) here won a rousing standing ovation from the approximately 1,000 delegates as well as a solidarity endorsement and a “sizeable contribution” to their strike fund. The PLP’ers’ effort overcame the union leadership’s attempt to stop the strikers from speaking, worried that the workers’ militant actions would expose the misleaders’ pacifist response to the growing economic crisis and $700 billion bailout to the banks. The latter was the reason for the emergency meeting.
The UFT (United Federation of Teachers) leadership showed more allegiance to the interests of the bosses than to the workers they allegedly represent.
In the debate on the resolutions, the leadership’s position on escalating cutbacks and mass racist unemployment was to react with our “head and not our hearts.” This in a school system with 85% black, Latino and Asian students whose budget has been cut by $500 million and that sets them up for either poverty-wage jobs or as cannon fodder in the U.S. bosses’ imperialist wars. Although members and friends of PLP could not defeat resolutions supporting pacifism and the bosses’ elections, we did mobilize a different message.
Along with bringing the four strikers, over 200 copies of CHALLENGE were distributed as well as hundreds of leaflets entitled, “Support the Boeing, Morelos and Stella D’Oro strikers; Bosses’ Bailout only Bails Out Bosses: Workers’ Revolution Will THROW Them Out!” The well-received leaflet contained a resolution calling on the UFT to endorse all three strikes and provide financial aid for the Stella D’Oro strikers.
One PLP delegate was expecting to get the floor to present our resolution. But in attempting to divert the strikers from speaking, the misleadership claimed we were “acting hastily” and should follow protocol and wait for the workers’ local President to receive a “proper endorsement.”
One PLP delegate declared there’s no “protocol” when it comes to a strike. “These workers have been on strike since August 13, just saw the cops remove their picket-line tarp and chairs and traveled all the way from the Bronx to get our support and all you have to talk about is protocol. Put them on stage and let them speak!” Knowing our history of boldly raising revolutionary politics at the DA, the union hacks quickly backtracked, saying they’d allow the strikers to speak.
To guarantee this, another PLP delegate escorted the four strikers on stage amid a roaring, standing ovation. UFT President Randi Weingarten sanctioned a unanimous resolution containing a general endorsement of the strike and a “sizeable contribution” to their strike fund. It encouraged members to attend the October 18th strike rally.
The strikers were congratulated with dozens of handshakes and words of encouragement. PLP members emphasized that they represent a working-class response to this economic crisis, which is why the leadership tried to ignore our resolution.
They did succeed in watering down our original motion. In supporting the Stella D’Oro strikers, Weingarten’s resolution omitted the other two much larger strikes and still hasn’t mentioned either of them — no accident.
We will return to the November DA with an even stronger push. Several delegates are reporting these struggles to their local schools. A few have published reports calling for support for all three strikes and openly criticizing the UFT’s pacifist misleadership during this vicious period of giveaways to the bosses and cutbacks for the working class.