Takin’ it to the streets by @BloggersRUs

Takin' it to the streets

by Tom Sullivan

Teachers in West Virginia are no longer waiting for beneficence from lawmakers. Their statewide strike has entered its second week in a state once known for being the birthplace of the labor movement, and in which strikes by public-sector workers are illegal.

But for all the media fixation on working-class America and the fate of blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt, that perception of what working class means is inadequate. Jamelle Bouie expands on that for Slate:

... since the 1970s, working-class labor has shifted from “making stuff” to “serving people,” a product of globalization, technological change, and a policy regime that prioritized the flow of capital above all else. Increasingly, the typical working-class American looks more like a fast food worker or paid caregiver—jobs held predominantly by white women and people of color—than someone who wears a hard hat to the job site. And while most definitions of “working class” center on workers without college degrees, there are many laborers with college diplomas whose prospects are now similar to those without them.
Teacher pay in West Virginia is ranked 48th in the nation, and striking teachers are demanding a 5 percent raise, something to which the governor and the House of Delegates have agreed. State Senate Republicans countered with 4 percent, stalling any agreement. Teachers vow they will not budge. Their health insurance premiums are rising fast enough to erase the pay raise anyway.

Jenny Craig, a middle school special education teacher tells the New York Times' Michelle Goldberg the cost of insurance means she takes home less today than six or seven years ago. Craig now is spending her time picketing at her school and protesting at the state capitol.

Goldberg writes:

Yet if the strike is rooted in the specific conditions and history of West Virginia, it’s also part of a nationwide upsurge in intense civic engagement by women. “As a profession, we’re largely made up of women,” Amanda Howard Garvin, an elementary school art teacher in Morgantown, told me. “There are a bunch of men sitting in an office right now telling us that we don’t deserve anything better.” In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, she said, women across the country are standing up to say: “No. We’re equal here.”

Of course, Trump won West Virginia overwhelmingly, with nearly 68 percent of the vote. Still, Craig described the anti-Trump Women’s March, as well as the explosion of local political organizing that followed it, as a “catalyst” for at least some striking teachers. “You have women now taking leadership roles in unionizing, in standing up, in leading initiatives for fairness and equality and justice for everyone,” she said.

Outside the D.C. funhouse where federal witnesses drunk-dial(?) national news programs and an "unglued" president starts trade wars when he's not letting the Kremlin make his hiring decisions, teachers see the world quite clearly.

Teachers in Oklahoma may follow the lead of their sisters and brother in West Virginia in striking for better pay. Oklahoma ranks at the bottom in teacher pay according to 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Like the Parkland students unwilling to settle for thoughts and prayers, teachers are no longer content with promises from those elected to lead. Goldberg concludes that "if a spirit of revolt really is sweeping across the country — it will be the one way Trump has helped make America great again."

You don't know me but I'm your brother
I was raised here in this living hell
You don't know my kind in your world
Fairly soon the time will tell
You... Telling me the things you're gonna do for me
I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see

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