The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 75/No. 11      March 21, 2011

Rallies across the U.S.
defend rights of unions

Indiana teachers tell governor:
‘Not without a fight’

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana—“Not without a fight!” chanted the crowd, capturing the spirit at a rally here March 6 of teachers, students, and other workers. The action of some 1,500 gathered in the rain to protest a union-busting assault against teachers by the state government.

About 150 teachers came on three buses from public schools in South Bend, Indiana. Among other unionists here were members of the United Auto Workers, Teamsters, Sheet Metal Workers, and Machinists.

Gov. Mitchell Daniels is pushing bills aimed at weakening the teachers’ union. The Indiana measures are similar to government attacks working people are resisting in Wisconsin.

Proposals include restricting unions’ collective bargaining rights to wage-related issues. Working conditions and disciplinary actions would be nonnegotiable. Contracts would have to be renewed every two years and “performance evaluations” would determine wages, gutting seniority rights.

Also being floated is a program in which private businesses can take over schools with low test scores. The new owners could throw out the union contract and fire teachers at will.

Teachers and other unionists have responded with sustained, often daily protests for several weeks. More than 2,000 teachers, students, and supporters filled the statehouse February 8.

In face of these protests Daniels announced February 22 he was withdrawing support for proposed “right to work” legislation that would ban union shops in which all workers are part of the bargaining unit if a majority votes to unionize.

“How much is enough?” asked Jeff Forsythe, 43, a member of Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 20 in Granger, Indiana. His wife is a teacher. “They bail out the bankers, and we’re the next attack? Really, it’s a war to take away our standard of living. We’ve got to fight back and stick together.”

Many who were there talked about discussions they are having with others on the job, with friends and family, and why they should support the teachers. “My husband is a truck driver, a member of the Teamsters union,” said Carol Douthitt, a second grade teacher from Spencer, Indiana. “I told him, ‘If we fall, you fall.’ He had to think about it, but then he agreed, and has been encouraging Teamsters to come to the rallies every day.”

Unionists plan to return to the capitol March 10.

—Rebecca Williamson
and Maggie Trowe

‘Mayor here is a Democrat;
there is no difference’

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island—Some 1,000 people rallied outside City Hall here March 2 to protest termination notices sent by Mayor Angel Taveras to all of the city’s public school teachers. Participants included teachers from Providence and surrounding cities, parents, students, and other unionists.

The Providence school board voted February 24 to send out these notices to all of the nearly 2,000 public school teachers in order to meet a March 1 deadline to notify teachers of possible changes to their “employment status.” Mayor Taveras also plans on closing four to six schools.

“The mayor here is a Democrat, and the Wisconsin governor is a Republican,” said high school teacher Antonia Vasquez, “but there is no difference.”

—Sarah Ullman
and Kevin Dwire

Tennessee: March for teachers’
collective bargaining rights

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—Thousands of teachers and union supporters demonstrated March 5 to protest attacks by the Tennessee legislature on the right of the teachers’ unions to negotiate with school boards. Several legislative bills would strip away collective bargaining rights and lengthen the time period to grant teachers tenure.

The crowd, estimated between 3,000 and 5,000, came from cities throughout Tennessee and Kentucky. Several buses came from Knoxville, Memphis, and Chattanooga. “All us working people have to stick together and fight,” Greg Owens, a UPS driver and member of Teamsters Local 519, told the Militant.

Unions represented included the Tennessee Education Association, Teamsters, United Steelworkers, Service Employees International Union, Communications Workers of America, and others.

—Janice Lynn

California: San Jose rally
supports Wisconsin workers

SAN JOSE, California—Hundreds of workers—union and nonunion—as well as students and others participated in a protest here March 1 sponsored by the South Bay Labor Council in support of Wisconsin workers. The next day hundreds at campuses across the state participated in activities from morning until night, building for a statewide protest March 14 at the state capitol in Sacramento.

—Eric Simpson
Related articles:
Union actions spread, labor solidarity grows
Wisconsin workers, farmers lead way
All out for rallies in Wisconsin, other states!
The ‘Militant’—A voice for workers to defend our unions
Trade unions: their past, present, and future
3,000 protest antiunion legislation in Ohio
On the Picket Line
UK action protests government austerity  
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