Tag Archives: teachers

An International Communist Movement is Necessary!

Though there has been an upsurge of workers fighting against the direct force of the state, it is not a threat to state power. Thousands of workers, mostly teachers, directly confront the police in Mexico and up to a hundred thousand battle the forces of the state in Bangladesh. The workers fight back in Sudan. The bosses shoot 70. The workers are angry and lack direction. Why, why is there no clear-cut direction in a land with constant wars for liberation and a whole lot if armed groups the phony left fawns over? Simple. There is no Communist center, no principled movement dedicated to the ruthless smashing of the profit system and the construction of a Communist economic system under the dictatorship of the working class. 

The failures of the Old Communist movement abound in both of the Sudans, once where one of the largest Communist Parties existed. China is investing billions in an imperialist resource grab — offer billions in loans, take the raw resources, and then take the tax dollars to pay the loans. China was once a beacon of hope to the world with millions of workers dedicated to smashing U.S. imperialism and the setting up of a new society. Well, that socialism that they attempted to build is really a choice between capitalism and capitalism. Despite Mao’s leadership, the great sacrifices, the great victories, and the unfurling of the Red Flag, the incorrect politics and the multi-stage approach to communism doomed them and all future revolutions that fight for socialism and national liberation instead of Communism.

The U.S. is really trying to deny China all of Sudan’s oil resources. They would love to topple the pro-Chinese government of North Sudan and control the pipelines that take South Sudan’s oil to port, either outright or by denying China access.

While the forces of imperialism are slaughtering the workers in Khartoum in the streets, they also butcher them in Bangladesh. The racism of students in almost every high school in the U.S. being taught about the horror of the Triangle fire, and how it sparked revolts and protest that led to safety laws while hundreds and hundreds of workers in Bangladesh either are murdered by the deadly conditions in the factory or outright by the state in the streets as they fight back against the conditions that are killing them.   

Class struggle alone will not ever bring liberation to the working class. All the solidarity that unions can muster forever will never liberate our class from the profit system and exploitation. Only a Communist revolution will. The working class is screaming out for Communist leadership, and PLP will one day lead them.

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Chicago Teachers: Battle Racist Education

CHICAGO, September 18 — The strike of 26,000 rank-and-file teachers who broke the bosses’ law in fighting to defend their students was suspended today after a vote of 800 delegates in the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), pending a membership-wide vote over the next several weeks.

This was a strike for the students and their parents. The teachers’ fight is one which opposes the school bosses racist oppression of the students. The teachers are fighting for better learning conditions for students and better working conditions for themselves. Many were open to Progressive Labor Party’s ideas and leadership shown by over 2,000 CHALLENGES and tens of thousands of fliers were distributed, and several teachers’ agreed to work more closely and learn more about the PLP.

The strike demonstrated that workers, united can defy the bosses’ laws. When teachers strike they openly defy the state’s plan to indoctrinate the next generation of workers in the classroom.

The teachers struck against racism. More than 80 percent of Chicago students are black and Latino and the school bosses run a system founded on racist discrimination that drives students into low-wage jobs, mass unemployment or the military, to kill our sister and brother workers in imperialist wars.

During the strike, the rank and file picketed every one of the system’s 585 schools, every day. Daily rallies of tens of thousands of people, including parents, students, and workers from other unions backed the strikers. Members who had formerly been inactive learned what it means to fight back against the boss. Others stepped forward into leadership roles. A strike changes people!

Smash the Bosses’ Dictatorship

This is only one battle in a long class war of workers against bosses that can be won only when the rulers’ state apparatus is smashed by a communist revolution led a by PLP.

The bosses are pushing their agenda to indoctrinate working class students and blaming teachers for capitalist failures. The leaders of the national unions are helping them; while the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten reluctantly came out in support of the strike. The fact is the trade unions as a whole, including the AFT and the National Education Association are partners with the bosses in opening the door to “reforms”. This will break seniority by re-writing tenure and starting the process to make teacher evaluation dependent on phony test scores.

The strike has already inspired millions of workers and youth and set an example of what kind of fight-back is possible. The experience of defying the bosses’ laws must be extended to a strike against their closing of even one school.

With the national elections just weeks away, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel reminds us that we live under a class dictatorship and that the state apparatus (the government) serves the ruling class of billionaires, bankers and school reformers no matter which party is in the White House. The bosses and their politicians may disagree on how to save the U.S. empire but they are united on keeping their class in power and terrorizing workers and youth into accepting a future of racist terror, poverty and war. And part of the bosses’’ purpose in cutting back school budgets is to use these resources to fight their continuing imperialist oil wars.

The legal system that attacked this strike is the same court system and ruling class government that has:

• Enacted laws in Illinois, backed by both parties and signed by a Democratic Party governor forcing teachers to have a super majority (70 percent) to call a strike but CTU members smashed that barrier with a 90 percent vote;

• Passed another law that if a teachers’ strike “presents a clear and present danger,” the Mayor and school bosses can use the courts to force them back to work;

• Created the world’s largest prison population, over 2.4 million, 70% black and Latino;

• Deported over 400,000 immigrants last year alone, with tens of thousands more sitting in immigration jails, separated from family and friends;

• Foreclosed the homes of millions of workers and their families since the economic crash of 2008;

This ruling-class dictatorship must be smashed and replaced by dictatorship of the workers, in which millions of workers and youth will serve the needs of the international working class.

The strike helped expose the Democratic Party and its revolving door between the White House and Chicago’s City Hall. This includes Emanuel, Obama’s former Chief-of Staff (who was replaced by William Daley) and now head of Obama’s political fund-raising committee; Arne Duncan, national education Czar and former Chicago school boss; and Obama himself, former Illinois Senator.

Part of this bosses’ dictatorship is the use of their election circus in which both political parties are used to divert workers from looking to revolt against the ruling class that exploit us. By continuing the fight, the teachers will continue to get the support of parents, students and workers from all industries, in Chicago and beyond. PLP can expose the bosses’ class dictatorship, point workers in another direction, off the treadmill of endless reform and onto the road to revolution, a vital lesson that educators can learn on and off the picket lines!

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Remembering Quake Inspires Brooklyn; Students Solidarity with Workers in Haiti

BROOKLYN, January 11 — More than three hundred students at Clara Barton High School, along with about twenty-five staff members, attended an inspiring commemoration of the second anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.  It was organized and led by students who belong to an after-school club that has been fighting attacks by the school administration against teachers and students for many years. Important ideas were raised about imperialism and the roots of Haiti’s poverty, and why students in the U.S. need to build solidarity with the working class in Haiti. Students and teachers grasped the communist ideas of solidarity with workers around the world, of multiracial unity, and of fighting for a better future than the bosses’ plan for wars, drastic cuts in social services, and increased racism.

There were speeches and performances, ranging from spoken word and debate to singing and step dancing. The program stressed unity, solidarity and the struggle for a better world.

One song was sung in both Creole and English, with many in the audience learning the Creole words for the first time. This was symbolically important because students from Haiti have endured a lack of adequate programs and services at the school. There was also delicious food donated by area restaurants, as well as by staff and parents. As many students and teachers commented afterwards, the whole program was “amazing.”

The preparation for the event was as significant as the commemoration itself. The multi-racial student organizers were from Africa, South Asia, China, the Caribbean and the U.S. They were clear from the start in their goal to send a strong message of unity and solidarity with the workers and students who struggle for a better life in Haiti, where 600,000 still live in tents. Their collective effort inspired more and more students and teachers to come forward and offer to help. Each day, more students joined committees and got involved in the planning. The enthusiasm spread.

The fighting spirit at Clara Barton comes out of a long and vibrant history of activism. Students went to New Orleans to help after Hurricane Katrina, organized anti-racist mass assemblies, and marched in New York and in Washington against imperialist war and budget cuts.  More than 300 CHALLENGEs are distributed outside the school. Members of Progressive Labor Party have defended the rights of both students and teachers against attacks by the school administration, which regularly harasses teachers with accusations and investigations. PL members and friends have withstood these attacks and continue to fight for what is in the best interests of students and staff.

Although the Bloomberg administration has built fear and passivity in many schools in New York, the fighting spirit at Clara Barton has not wavered. To sustain and spread the resistance to more friends and other schools, many more people need to be recruited to commit to a lifelong struggle to build a communist world. Join the Progressive Labor Party!

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Call for Teachers’ Strike vs. Fascist School Reform

LOS ANGELES, CA, Sept. 14 — At the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) area union meetings last week, some teachers called for a strike against the attacks on students and teachers, showing that “education reform” is fascist and part of the rulers’ moves to prepare for wider war.

On August 25, the Board of Education voted to turn over up to 200 lower-performing schools and 51 new schools to charter school operators.  This is fascist reorganization of the local school system by a U.S. ruling class that is in an on-going war and an era-defining economic crisis. After years of neglect this school reorganization is a qualitative shift as the bosses attempt to create a school system that will produce technically-trained and patriotic young workers to join the military and future war production. PLP needs to work among these youth who are future workers and soldiers, key forces for revolution.

This school reorganization is also being pushed in Obama’s so called “Race to the Top,” where his education secretary Arne Duncan, has proposed a competition for $4.35 billion in  federal grants to carry out “school reform.” States like California, where teachers’ unions had won laws that prohibit tying teacher evaluation and pay scales to student test data (so called “merit pay”) will be ineligible for these funds. But Duncan was in Sacramento recently to help State Senator Gloria Romero’s bid to change the law to make California eligible. And the LA Board of education just voted to enter the “Race to the Top” competition, also agreeing to tie teacher evaluations to test scores. These tests emphasize patriotism. Tying test scores to teacher evaluations is a way to enforce teaching patriotic lies and allow administrations to get rid of higher-paid older teachers while hiring younger teachers for lower wages and benefits.

In the face of the current attack, UTLA leadership is urging teachers to write local proposals to do school reform themselves.  While the union pays lip service to organizing the Charter Schools, they are not even trying to organize all teachers, including charter employees, into the same bargaining unit. UTLA President Duffy, loyal servant of capitalism, calls on teachers to get involved in so-called grass roots school reorganization such as the innovation division, “i-design.”  Such reorganization would be done to meet the ruling class’s needs, but would have to be approved by the school board and probably require a corporate partner.  This is not grass roots; it’s doing the bosses’ patriotic work to remake the schools to better prepare students for war, to defend a system of exploitation, racism and war. Local school control means teachers working with students and parents to administer their fascist system.  We can’t unite with those who oppress us, exploit us and send us off to war!

More layoffs and foreclosures are coming, so patriotic education reform will take on more importance for the bosses. A trade union response to this attack is totally inadequate. PLP calls on teachers, students and parents to organize a strike against the fascist reorganization of public schools.  Organizing such a strike, based on expanding CHALLENGE networks, builds the unity of parents, teachers, and students to prepare us for the struggle to get rid of the capitalist system and build a communist society.

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Boston Teachers, Students and Parents Unite to Fight Budget Cuts

BOSTON, MA, May 19 — Chanting “Bail out schools, not banks” and “Money for schools, not war,” Boston teachers, students, parents and supporters rallied at the State House and marched to City Hall. We demanded no cuts in public school programs and full funding for community colleges and public education.

This was the first mass action of Boston teachers against budget cuts since layoffs were announced in December. Teachers attacked cuts in their own schools. A Haitian community leader spoke against cutbacks, pointing to rising immigrant dropout rates. A Roxbury Community College student attacked underfunding at state colleges. A parent explained how cuts in inner-city schools are racist. A school bus driver opposed the Superintendent’s plan to further segregate the Boston public schools by creating five zones and restricting school choice to within these zones.

A PLP speaker called for an end to the system of capitalism that created the economic crisis.  PLP leaflets calling for communist revolution were distributed.

To organize this rally inside the Boston Teachers Union (BTU), teachers had to fight the BTU Executive Board for months. The Board overturned the vote of the BTU membership to sponsor the rally, disgusting many members. The Board is calling for more taxes on working people, and for lobbying “friends” in the government. But many teachers followed the call to hold the rally anyway!

Teachers are skilled workers. But, like all workers, they are under attack by the bosses. Therefore, they must unite with working-class parents and students to fight against the bosses and their budget cuts. Otherwise, other workers may view teachers as “greedy and selfish.” By fighting to improve the education of working-class students and against racism, imperialism and war, teachers can fight for the needs of the whole working class.

The Progressive Labor Party tries to give leadership to the anger of the hundreds and thousands of teachers, parents and students and turn the fight against cutbacks into the fight for communist revolution.

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Racist LA School Cuts Sacrifice Students, Not Bankers’ Profits

LOS ANGELES, June 15 — Students at high schools across this city walked out against racist budget cuts, carrying picket signs teachers had put up on their classroom doors, to protest the rulers’ Board of Education’s layoffs and increase in class size.

Obama called for “shared sacrifice” in his inaugural address, and lauded “the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job.” On May 27, LA Mayor Villaraigosa said, “Given the unprecedented economic downturn in California, everyone must share in the responsibility and sacrifice to bridge this budget deficit.” But neither of these bosses’ servants said the bankers must share their profits.

This idea isn’t new. For years, autoworkers were told a pay cut would avoid job losses. They’ve taken pay cut after pay cut, and then lost their jobs as well. That’s the way a profit system works.

Given the state budget crisis and virtual collapse of the union leadership in the wake of the May 15 injunction, teachers may be forced to take a pay cut “to save teacher jobs and class size,” but will probably wind up with both a cut and layoffs.

The fight continues with picket lines, community camp-outs and other actions. But the reluctance of teachers to strike against the injunction indicates our class must gain the confidence to defy the union leadership. The teachers and students fighting together against the cutbacks has been an inspiring example of working-class unity. Most important is the increase in CHALLENGE readers, five youth joining PLP, more meeting with the Party and distributing CHALLENGE. In this crisis, the working class’s main victory is the growth of the communist movement.

We communists believe in sharing scarcity as well as abundance, and we believe that the working class can be won to this communist idea. While the willingness of many teachers to take a pay cut in the belief they will save jobs and prevent class size increase might be an example of the collective spirit of the working class, under capitalism “shared sacrifice” is a lie and a trap.

Workers’ militancy should be used not to negotiate their wages and conditions down but to fight to up the ante of class struggle. The hypocrisy of a system that gives $750 billion of workers’ taxes to super-rich bankers while they squeeze predominantly black and Latino students into larger and larger classes must be exposed. Then they cut teachers’ wages to boot! In this capitalist class society, it’s always the working class who sacrifices and the rich who live off that sacrifice.

The German poet Bertholt Brecht wrote in “A German War Primer” in 1938:

“Those who take the meat from the table preach contentment.

Those for whom the taxes are destined demand sacrifice…

Those who lead the country into the abyss call ruling too difficult for ordinary men.”

Capitalism is in a deepening crisis. The U.S. is isolated internationally, fighting an imperialist war on at least two fronts, leading the international global market into decline and attacking workers to pay for this crisis. Millions are losing their jobs and homes. The only government expenses not being cut are their war expenditures, the police and the prisons — the infrastructure for the war and fascism which is the capitalists’ main hope of surviving this crisis.

Clearly capitalism cannot provide a decent life for the working class. It must and can be overthrown and replaced by a communist system based on collective work, collective planning, and real equality (not socialism which retained money, banks, and wages, with the latter’s differentials splitting the working class). Eliminating the exploiter class which lives off the profits it squeezes from workers’ labor will release the potential for workers to reap the full fruits of the value that they, and only they, create.

Every struggle must have the long-term strategic goal of building the communist movement that can seize power from the bosses. The class struggle has crucial lessons to teach us how to get there. Three wildcat one-hour work stoppages built the unity, militancy and resolve of teachers, students and parents, independent of the union leadership. Student walkouts throughout the district, fighting for their own and their siblings’ education, build their potential to fight for the working class.

This is a victory the Board of Education can’t take away — the unity of parents, teachers and students; the experience of confronting the district, the Mayor and the banks; seeing our potential to unite against the bosses and their racist system; and the growth of PLP.

Read CHALLENGE. Participate in our PLP Summer Project, where students and teachers, soldiers and industrial workers will reach thousands with our newspaper and spread communist ideas.

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Troops, Cops, Tanks and Copters Can’t Crush Morelos Teachers’ Strike

MORELOS, Mexico, Oct. 10 — For several days over 2,000 Army troops and state and federal cops, using tanks and helicopters, viciously attacked teachers, parents (many of them indigenous) and other supporters blocking a national highway. Some 24,000 teachers in this state have been striking for two months against a government “reform” called Alliance for Quality Education that aims to privatize schools and intensify attacks on working conditions teachers have won through many decades of struggles.

The teachers are not only fighting the repressive arm of the bosses’ state but also the “mother of all union sellouts,” Elba Esther Gordillo. She is “President for life” of the SNTE (National Teachers’ Union), a Senator and firm supporter of the government of Felipe Calderón.

The militant teachers and supporters have also repudiated all the   bosses’ parties, burning electoral propaganda of the PAN, the ruling Party, the PRI (which ruled Mexico for 60 years) and the so-called pro-people PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution).

The teachers and their supporters fought against the military-cop attack even after being forced off the highway, battling the cops and troops from side streets. The rulers sent more reinforcements. Helicopters launched tear gas against protesters. Homes were raided  and numerous arrests made, with many injured.

It was another major class battle workers and their allies waged against the capitalist dictatorship ruling Mexico. In the last several years,  similar struggles occurred during the massive strike and popular uprising led by teachers in Oaxaca and by striking miners who repelled a massive attack by cops and troops.
During this battle, teachers and supporters marched from three different places and rallied at a major square to oppose the assault. Contingents of teachers from Oaxaca, Mexico City, Michoacán and Guerrero joined the demonstration.

On Oct. 8, in Mexico City thousands of teachers from 17 different regions marched to the Secretary of Education headquarters opposing the educational “reform” and denouncing the violent attack against teachers in Morelos. The marchers stopped at the Interior Ministry, ripped down fences surrounding the building and fought federal cops. They then set up a permanent “plantón” (picket line) at the Secretary of Education.

Some PLP teachers and friends from Oaxaca have gone to Morelos to support fellow teachers there, bringing our communist literature to them. Marches have been held in Oaxaca to support the struggle in Morelos. A national teachers’ strike is now pending and should become a general strike of the entire working class.
These militant actions take place amid the global capitalist economic earthquake which is hitting Mexico very hard since it is tied to the U.S. economy. The recent drop in oil prices and the decreased funds sent to Mexico from immigrants in the U.S. — who have lost their jobs because of the U.S. recession — have worsened the economic crisis here. Even the fortune of Carlos Slim, one of the world’s richest capitalists, has been cut in half because of losses in the local and international stock market.

Only the drug cartel business is prospering here, producing a violent war for the control of the drug profits involving different sections of the ruling class and their corrupt politicians and cops.

PLP teachers, workers and students must redouble our efforts to bring our revolutionary communist politics to the masses of workers and their allies who are experiencing the violent dictatorship   of the bourgeois “democratic” state over the working class. DESAFIO must become a key ideological tool in this important task of turning the anger of workers and their allies into a mass revolutionary storm to destroy capitalism.
Teachers, students and workers in the U.S. should stand in solidarity with Mexico’s striking teachers, raising support in their unions and mass organizations

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Teachers Oppose Bosses’ ‘Reform’ to End Pensions, Cut Vital Services

MEXICO CITY, May 29 — Thousands of teachers from many parts of Mexico, including Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tlaxcala and Mexico City, participated in a massive march here to protest the reform of the law of the Institute of the Social Security in Service of the State Workers (ISSSTE), which plans to reduce pension benefits and increase retirement age. Members and friends of PLP distributed thousands of leaflets exposing capitalism and calling on teachers to fight for communism.

In their fascist offensive, the bosses and their imperialist backers have dealt a new blow to workers by reforming this law, thereby giving workers’ savings to the banks and financial institutions. These “reforms” mean the end of pensions for the retired, removal of the right to housing credits, slashing child-care services and a severe cut in medical services.

In the short term, this will affect the workers of the Federal Commission of Electricity (CFE), of PEMEX (the state-owned oil company) and of public companies. Even though the more pro-U.S. imperialist bosses support the “reform” all the other Mexican bosses represented by different capitalist political parties, including the opposition López Obrador and the PRD are behind it.  (This situation is facing workers worldwide — see page 5 on France’s workers facing a similar attack.)

Currently more than 20 million Mexicans eke out their existence on wages equal to barely twice the minimum and many even less than that. These hungry masses lack a revolutionary organization. PL’ers must continue exposing the bosses and their neoliberal and state capitalist policies and keep organizing the workers to build a communist system where exploitation, poverty and unemployment will not exist. We must have confidence in the great potential of the working class to make a revolution and run society.

During the march there were many insults and anger directed against President Felipe Calderon and Elba Esther Gordillo, “leader” of the teachers’ union, but the problem isn’t only these puppets and the Social Security Reform. The whole capitalist system is rotten and must be destroyed.

Some teachers said that the positive reforms to Social Security were won with over a century of struggle and now the bosses are taking them away with one stroke. This is the essence of capitalist “reforms”: they give workers only crumbs and can take them back at any moment. We need to fight, not for reforms but for a communist world, where workers in Mexico and globally will control society for the benefit of the international working class. Long Live Communism!

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Puerto Rico: Teachers’ Strike On Hold, Fight ‘Rat’ Rivera

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, March 5 — After a 10-day militant strike, 10,000 teachers held a mass meeting at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum and agreed to the proposal of Rafael Feliciano, president of the FMPR (Federation of Teachers of Puerto Rico) for a temporary suspension of the strike in order to evaluate the weaknesses and strengths of their struggle without surrendering the right to strike again.

The strike included many mass actions, street marches of thousands, militant picket lines, battling vicious attacks by riot cops and confronting the gang-up of the Dept. of Education (DOE) bosses, governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá and a court order to decertify the union for violating the anti-strike Law 45.

The strikers also had to deal with backstabbing by international union hacks like Dennis Rivera, vice-president of the SEIU “Change to Win” Federation and former president of NYS Local 1199 of the Hospital Workers Union. He lunched with Governor Vilá to urge decertification of the FMPR in favor of an SEIU union. During a mass rally, when a speaker called Rivera a “vulture,” striking teachers repeatedly chanted, “He’s a rat.”

The strikers did win a $150-a-month wage hike on top of a $100 monthly increase agreed upon last year. While the cost of living here is much higher than in the U.S., teachers’ starting pay here is $19,200-a-year, much lower than any U.S. school district. The DOE agreed not to punish any striking teachers “except those involved in criminal activities” (it was the cops who criminally attacked strikers) and to put on hold the privatization of many public schools (the DOE’s plan to make the 500,000 public school students and their working-class parents pay even more for the rotten conditions).
The strikers received support from other workers and students here, many of whom joined the marches and other activities during the struggle. A mass student meeting at the Univ. of Puerto Rico Río Piedras campus organized a 24-hour strike to support the teachers. Scabbing “dissidents” had little mass support among the teachers but got a lot of coverage in the bosses’ media. And the opportunist leadership of the National Hostos Independence Movement issued a press release backing the bosses.

In the U.S., the strikers won support from both college and public school teachers. (See adjacent article on support from the City University of NY Professional Staff Congress union). The March 5 Delegate Assembly of the NYC United Federation of Teachers (UFT), with 92,000 members, also unanimously passed a solidarity resolution “to support the Puerto Rican teachers in their struggle to be treated with dignity.” But the UFT leadership gave no real support to the strikers.

On March 4, the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Agency in Manhattan was picketed, backing the strikers. PLP teachers participated in these support actions, and distributed a PLP leaflet in NYC and L.A. supporting them.
The strike was more than a trade union struggle; it was a political fight-back against the rulers’ strike-breaking Law 45 (similar to the U.S. Taft-Hartley and NY State Taylor Laws which forbid public workers’ strikes). It also fought the colonial-master politics of the Change to Win and AFL-CIO hacks, as well as the brutal repression by the “shock police.”

The strike demonstrated that, despite all the odds, these teachers dared to fight back in a day and age when so many workers accept the bosses’ attacks that make us pay for their economic crisis and endless wars (the death rate of soldiers from Puerto Rico in the Iraq war is very high). But it also showed the limitations of reform struggles.
Workers must turn these battles into schools for communism, learning how to forge a revolutionary internationalist movement to carry on the long-range fight-back for a world without vicious cops, union traitors and capitalist-imperialist oppressors. That’s the goal of workers’ power — communism — that PLP fights for. Join us!

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CUNY Faculty Union Supports Puerto Rico’s Strikers

NEW YORK CITY, March 6 — The February 25 Delegate Assembly of the City University’s Professional Staff Congress (PSC) voted unanimously to “participate in strike support and solidarity efforts on behalf of the striking teachers of the FMPR [Puerto Rico’s teachers’ union].” Delegates contributed $700 on the spot, and quickly organized a network for strike support on the campuses. Fifty PSC’ers took 7,000 flyers and petitions to union colleagues and students on at least half of CUNY’s 20 campuses. Another $900 was raised by PSC leaders at a board meeting of the state teachers’ union body.

Class unity across borders is essential for teachers and all workers, so PL members and friends in the PSC took the lead organizing strike support on the campuses. Exclusive focus on economic gains for a single union’s members is a loser for all workers because it isolates us from each other. We need to combine struggle for our own demands with equal efforts to build international working-class unity and class consciousness, to win workers to PLP.

This struggle will remain a significant political one among PSC leaders and activists for some time. While all are sympathetic to the striking teachers, there is disagreement about priorities: amid a tough PSC contract campaign and an uphill battle for more State funding, should we spend time and resources on FMPR strike support?

PLP members and friends and other PSC’ers answered that question with a mass approach, working hard on the campuses to persuade our colleagues and students how vital it is to support our fellow teachers in a bitter struggle. We were not deterred by comments like, “I wish you’d spend this kind of energy on the contract campaign!” Some were anxious about relations with other unions “if we got too far out front” supporting the FMPR, which disaffiliated from our national union, and is being raided by SEIU VP Dennis Rivera. But we persisted, getting a warm response from CUNY students, especially those entering teaching and those from Latin America.

One cafeteria worker urged others to sign the petition, exclaiming, “This is to liberate my people!” And all workers, we told him. One signer was a union chapter leader in his high school.

We used different tactics: tabling, roving the cafeteria, faculty distributing flyers to their classes, getting signatures and donations in department meetings. We proved that relying on the masses of PSC’ers and students to express their international solidarity with the strikers was the way for revolutionaries to work in reform struggles, not as some sectarian groups do, saying some apparently “correct” things but building no base among the mass of workers.

Self-critically, comrades in the PSC know we must intensify our efforts amid these kinds of struggles to build the Party itself at CUNY. The Party is the essential weapon to win, not reform demands to be reversed by capitalists’ state power, but win all workers’ liberation — communism.

We’ve recently had two CUNY PLP forums, one on racism and another on immigration, each attracting 30 or more faculty and students. We’ve also expanded CHALLENGE readership and study groups, have collected $800 worth of new subscriptions. We’re planning a Party newsletter at CUNY, and winning some friends closer to joining, but we have more to do. Time presses: the whole world is a tinder box leading to a major imperialist war. Teachers in Oaxaca and Puerto Rico have taught us a good lesson in fighting capitalism: “¡Lucha sí! ¡Entrega no!” Struggle yes, surrender no!

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