Workers look to ‘Militant’ for news on teacher fights

By Dan Fein
May 28, 2018

As we approach the final week of the Socialist Workers Party campaigns to sell 1,400 subscriptions to the Militant, 1,400 books by SWP leaders and raise $112,000 for the Militant Fighting Fund, reports coming in from SWP members and supporters, as well as Communist League members in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. reflect an increase in the class struggle and corresponding interest in communist literature. The eight-week subscription drive is ahead of schedule. It ends May 22.

Janet Post, one of a number of SWP members, co-workers and other workers campaigning in North Carolina to build the May 16 teachers’ rally in Raleigh, the state capital, has been joining in actions and knocking on workers’ doors. In Greensboro she met Nicholas Wright, a barber and plumber who is African-American.

“I support the teachers and anyone who fights for a wage increase. It always seems like those that earn the least, work the hardest,” Wright said. “We can try to make a difference. And if we do — a change is going to come.” He got a Militant subscription and The Working Class and the Transformation of Learning, a pamphlet by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes.

Post also knocked on the door of Brianna Howard, 21, a mail carrier in Raleigh who had participated in some of the teachers’ protests. “We also talked about the elections,” Post wrote.

“It’s all about the lesser evil,” Howard said. “I’m not afraid to say I don’t support either the Democrats or Republicans. I’ve voted for people who say they’re ‘independent,’ but the problem is they turn out not to really be independent.” She said she was glad to learn about the SWP and got a copy of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, also by Barnes. (See ad below for books on special.)

Glova Scott and Samir Hazboun were also in Greensboro knocking on doors to build the May 16 action. “We met Shannon Myers, a high school art teacher,” Scott wrote. “Myers is organizing transportation from her school to the rally in Raleigh. She told us about the deteriorating conditions where she works.”

“I spent $1,000 plus out of my own pocket for art supplies this year,” Myers said. “The roof leaks at the school and the air conditioning goes off and on. Given this situation, it’s not surprising many students are behind in their reading skills,” she said. And the tornado that hit Greensboro in late April devastated the neighborhood near her school, making life more difficult.

Hazboun, who had just returned from the May Day brigade to Cuba, said that conditions like this are simply unheard of there. “The Cuban Revolution put a high priority on literacy and education,” he said. “It took the revolution, and workers and farmers taking power for the Cuban people to make learning a reality.” Myers got a Militant subscription.

“Communist League members Paul Landry and I brought word of the teachers’ uprising in the United States to about 100 teachers, janitors, cafeteria and other school support workers May 9,” John Steele reports from Montreal. “They were demonstrating outside a meeting of the school commission scheduled to approve staff cuts for next year. The workers eagerly grabbed up copies of the French-language translation of the May 14 Militant editorial hailing the unprecedented wave of teachers strikes and demonstrations. The struggles in the U.S. have not been broadly covered in the media here.”

“If a strike movement doesn’t affect the society and the economy then the bosses won’t be ready to move,” said school janitor Stephane Raciot. “But if you close the schools like they are doing in the U.S., believe me, they will have to give in.” He signed up to get emailed to him the weekly French-language Militant article.

‘You’re talking about me!’

“You are talking about me!” responded Ashley Johnson when Helen Meyers and Jacquie Henderson knocked on her door in Maplewood, Minnesota. They talked about how workers have been pushed back by bosses’ moves to put the crisis of the capitalist system on workers’ backs and their experiences joining teachers’ uprisings in Oklahoma and Colorado.

“I was one of the first workers kicked out the door last March when WestRock, a paper company, began to close the plant,” she said. “We’ve been pushed back, and like the teachers, I’m ready to do something about it!” Johnson signed up for a Militant subscription, and said that she looks forward to reading it and learning more about the SWP.

Henderson and Meyers visited a Teamster truck drivers’ picket line in Minneapolis. “One of the persons we met was Julien Brygo, who was visiting the U.S. from France. He was excited to see the Militant article on the rail strike there. When we showed him Teamster Rebellion by Farrell Dobbs, Brygo said, ‘I just got that book in Paris on May Day!’” The title is part of a four-book series covering the mighty battles that built the Teamsters union in the Midwest in the 1930s and the indispensable role played by communists who helped found the SWP.

“A few days later we met Brygo for coffee,” Henderson wrote. “We brought a number of Pathfinder books in French. He got a copy of Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record by Barnes. I asked him about the May Day rally. ‘It was wonderful with all the unions celebrating international workers day,’ he said. ‘Then it went horrible, with disruption and fires and the cops shooting tear gas. I was trying to get away and saw this street stall of your books. One of the militants there, someone like you, showed me Dobbs’ book and I got it. And now I meet your party here!’”

To join efforts to support the teachers and to expand the reach of the Militant and revolutionary books, contact the SWP or Communist League nearest you.