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   Vol.65/No.49            December 24, 2001 
Teachers' strike sets example
Thumbs up for the Middletown, New Jersey, teachers who had the audacity to defy threats and pressures against their right to walk off the job. Their fight provides an example to all working people, inspiring thousands of teachers and other workers across the country who face contract disputes and restrictions on their right to strike. "We are grateful for their stand," remarked one of the teachers on strike across the Hudson River at Catholic schools in New York.

The teachers' battle is not over, however. They don't have a contract, so they need the support of the entire labor movement.

The big-business media played its part in aiding the school board's assault on the teachers union. Every day during the one-week strike, the capitalist press quoted someone complaining about how the walkout was causing "inconvenience" and "disruption for the children." The papers featured claims that teachers' high salaries justified the school board's demands that they pick up more of health-care costs. The teachers make "good money," so why should they be any different from those who have to pay health premiums? This is the way the capitalist rulers try to pit workers against each other.

The jailings show what the capitalist rulers have in store for working-class fighters who stand up to the bosses' assault on our living standards. All workers are targeted by the repressive measures put in place by the Clinton administration and strengthened by President Bush. Widespread detentions, use of secret evidence, eavesdropping by spy agencies, and military tribunals targeting noncitizens will also be used against U.S.-born toilers as the political and economic crisis of world capitalism intensifies.

These moves by the wealthy class and their political servants point to the need for the trade unions to chart a political course to defend our class interests. The employers use not only threats of firing to defend their position, but also the cops, courts, prisons and two political parties.

By organizing in the political arena independently of the Democratic and Republican parties and from a base in the unions, the labor movement can wage a struggle against antilabor measures, such as laws on the books that bar public employees from striking. And the working class can begin to take on the offensive by the ruling rich and the increasing brutality and repression that goes hand-in-hand with it.
Related articles:
After jailings, teachers in New Jersey press fight for a contract
New York Catholic school teachers strike for pensions  
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