Teachers and other school workers are locked in bitter battles today with state governments in Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arizona and elsewhere. The Militant urges workers, youth and the labor movement across the country to get in a car or a plane and join these fights! Build solidarity with them everywhere! This is the road to organize and strengthen the labor movement, cut across the divisions the bosses and their government try to impose on us and open up space for workers to make gains.
Workers across the country looked at West Virginia. Teachers, bus drivers, cooks and other school workers there went on a nine-day strike — a strike the state government said was illegal — and won. They built a broad social movement of working people and our allies. It’s a breath of fresh air.
Inspired by the victory and the way it was won — with careful preparation, discipline, unity, through the unions, reaching out for support — teachers and other workers elsewhere are stepping up their own fights for better wages, health care, pensions and dignity.
How did the workers in West Virginia win? Standing on the shoulders of the tradition of class struggle waged by union coal miners, they organized to win broad support from parents, students, farmers and other workers. At the initiative of the teachers, food distribution and day care for students were organized. They relied on their own strength, not on promises from capitalist politicians.
From coast to coast and around the globe, the bosses and their governments have been making working people pay for the capitalist economic crisis. They lock us out, break our unions, get their Democratic and Republican brethren to pass laws that smother us in red tape. Too often, union officials tell us we shouldn’t fight, we can’t win, and to rely on the politicians. Our unions get smaller and weaker — a little over 6 percent of workers in private industry are organized today.
Small towns have been devastated by factory closings. Drug addiction is ravaging sections of the working class from rural areas to big cities. Seeking to divide us and keep wages down, the rulers in Washington arrest and deport workers without “proper” papers.
Millions of workers are looking for answers in the face of the social and moral crisis of capitalism. They are beginning to learn through our own experience that there are two opposing classes — the capitalist rulers and the working people, who have nothing but their hands and their millions-strong numbers.
Look to the lessons of past class battles. We strongly recommend you read, study and emulate the example of the revolutionary-minded Teamsters union in the Midwest in the 1930s recorded in the four-volume Teamsters series by Farrell Dobbs, one of the central leaders of these battles and of the Socialist Workers Party. Get them from party branches listed on page 8, or pathfinderpress.com.
Build on the victory in West Virginia! Organize the unorganized! Solidarity with the school workers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Mississippi and Arizona! An injury to one is an injury to all. And a victory for one is a victory for all.