Samantha Winslow

Marchers with signs including "IBEW Against Oppression" and "No KKKops"

The marches are sweeping every state. Hundreds of thousands of people have braved the pandemic to protest the murder of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis police.

Like the teacher strike waves of 2018 and 2019, today’s protests against police violence have the support of a majority of Americans. A Monmouth poll showed 78 percent think protesters’ anger about the killing of George Floyd is wholly or partially justified.

Strikers carry a banner "Fund Our Public Schools" with a rainbow of faces. Picket signs say "Strike" and "It's Time to Use Our Outside Voice." One kid is carried on an adult's shoulders.

UPDATE, March 13: St. Paul teachers, aides, and community school professionals ended their strike today after four days. A settlement was reached following an all-night bargaining session. Teachers reported back to school at 1 p.m. and students will return on Monday.

A white man and a Black man hold signs: "On Strike for Our Students; UTLA"

One year ago, Los Angeles teachers on strike were demanding an end to random searches where students were yanked out of class to be frisked. By the time they walked back into work, they had won a partial victory.

Now these searches are coming to an end districtwide—landing a blow against racism in the schools.

Teachers seated on sidewalk with joined hands raised; police standing behind them

Today Chicago teachers returned to school triumphant, after an 11-day walkout that became a showdown between their union and the proclaimed progressive new Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

If you’re looking for an example of the power of the strike, look no further. The strikers accomplished what months of bargaining could not.

The mayor and her appointed school board had made all but no movement in the 10 months of bargaining that led up to the strike. (Lightfoot has only been mayor for five months, but she kept the previous bargaining team from former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.)

CTU picketers marching

Update, September 27: The union announced the strike vote results last night: 94 percent of members voted to authorize a strike.

Twenty-five thousand Chicago teachers started the school year with a possible strike in their sights.

Chicago Teachers Union members leafleted and picketed with school employees and parents outside schools their first week back. A three-day strike vote wraps up tomorrow.

Second Time’s the Charm: Denver Teacher Reformer Cements a Win

Two teachers holding signs. Tiffany's sign says "You can't put students first if you put teachers last."

Joining a wave of reformers, high school teacher Tiffany Choi of the Caucus of Today’s Teachers just got elected president of the Denver teachers union—again. In a re-vote, Choi cemented her May defeat of a 10-year incumbent.

She ran on a platform that the union should partner with parents, involve members more in decision-making, and fight back against corporate education reform.

When the original vote was counted in May, Choi was leading by 16 votes. But the union’s board ordered a do-over, citing process issues.

Selfie of four Baltimore teachers in front of a school.

The reform slate in the Baltimore Teachers (BTU) overcame its first hurdle after being elected in May: an attempt by the incumbents to force a rerun was rejected by the national Teachers (AFT) leadership.

The incumbents, who had held office for 20 years, had challenged the results after being defeated by the “Union We Deserve” slate.

That slate was supported by two rank-and-file caucuses, the Baltimore Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (BMORE) and the Caucus of Educators for Democracy and Equity (CEDE).

Beware of the 'Easy' Way

Workers in pro and con shirts before the UAW election at VW's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The sad outcome of the United Auto Workers campaign at Volkswagen reminded me of when I entered the labor movement 15 years ago.

Back then the national leaders of the Service Employees (SEIU) had diagnosed labor’s big problem: we weren’t organizing fast enough. As the percentage of unionized workers in the U.S. slipped, so did unions’ influence.

If only we could regain sufficient union density, these leaders said, we would have power. Then we could start winning gains for members and change the political climate.

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