Samantha Winslow

Teachers and their unions turned out for May Day this year in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Oakland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Seattle. They held teach-ins at schools and pickets outside, and joined citywide demonstrations in solidarity with immigrant communities.

It started when a few nurses at Temple University Hospital told stewards that they weren’t being paid for their experience.

One of the first to speak up was Jessy Palathinkal, who had become a nurse in India in 1990. She got her U.S. nursing license when she moved here in 1995. But when she started working at Temple, her placement on the pay scale was as though those five years of nursing never happened.

She asked why. Human Resources told her the hospital didn’t count years of experience in foreign countries.

When President Donald Trump nominated billionaire Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, teachers in her home state of Michigan were outraged—again.

In her confirmation hearing, DeVos’s responses to senators’ questions may have made her look uninformed and unprepared. She said schools need guns to protect students from grizzly bears; she didn’t know federal disability laws apply to schools; she couldn’t explain basic education policy; she refused to answer whether charter schools and traditional public schools should be judged on the same accountability measures.

This morning teachers kicked off the Trump inauguration protests with a day of actions in 200 school districts around the country.

Their top issues include fighting for school funding, defending immigrant students, and opposing Trump’s nomination of billionaire Republican donor and lobbyist Betsy DeVos for education secretary.

While many union members needed time to recover from the presidential election results, a group of Santa Monica, California, hotel workers didn’t have time to spare. News of Donald Trump’s victory only pushed them to fight harder to win their union election at a beachfront hotel.

A week after Trump’s win, hotel workers at Le Merigot Hotel voted 27 to 15 to unionize with UNITE HERE Local 11.

Throughout his campaign the president-elect routinely vilified immigrants. The hotel workers are mostly immigrant women, a majority of them from Mexico and El Salvador.

One of a few silver linings in an otherwise doom-and-gloom Election Day was in Massachusetts—where, despite being outspent by corporate education reformers, a teacher-led coalition beat back charter school expansion.

“We took on the corporate giants and won,” said Concord teacher Merrie Najimy, president of her local union. “We did it the old-fashioned way, by organizing and building relationships.”

Making the Rich Pay

Pulling the lever to tax the 1% is about as satisfying as voting gets. In three states this November, voters can thank teachers and other unions for giving them the opportunity.

California’s tax on the rich is due for an extension. Four years ago voters approved a compromise that combined a Teachers-led effort for a millionaires tax with a sales tax the governor was peddling.

Up until minutes before the October 10 midnight deadline, the Chicago Teachers Union was prepared to strike. It looked like a repeat of its 2012 showdown with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Instead, a marathon bargaining session produced a tentative deal. Classes resumed October 11, as teachers mull the details of the settlement.

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