Working In These Times

Thursday, Mar 8, 2018, 3:07 pm  ·  By Michael Arria

As Goes West Virginia? Oklahoma’s Rank-and-File Teachers Are Gearing up For a Possible Strike.

Rank-and-file teachers in Oklahoma are inspired by the strike in West Virginia. (West Virginia Education Association / Facebook)  

Drawing inspiration from the victory in West Virginia, teachers in Oklahoma are fighting for a raise, and many are prepared to strike if necessary. Their union, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), announced yesterday that, if members’ demands aren’t met, there will be a walkout on April 2.


Wednesday, Mar 7, 2018, 7:09 pm  ·  By Matthew Cunningham-Cook

This 28-Year-Old Progressive Helped Bernie Sanders Win Rhode Island. Now He Is Running for Lt. Gov.

Regunberg sees his candidacy as a challenge to corporate control over Rhode Island politics. (Aaron Regunberg / Facebook)  

Two-term Rhode Island State Representative Aaron Regunberg is still in his 20s, but already has a long pedigree of organizing for social change.

At 20, Regunberg co-founded the Providence Student Union, a group dedicated to empowering high-school students to “win a fair say in the education system.” At 24, Regunberg was elected to the Rhode Island State House after running on a strong progressive platform. At 26, he helped organize Bernie Sanders’ come-from-behind victory in the state’s Democratic primary. At 27, he sponsored a successful effort to pass paid sick leave legislation. Now, at 28, he’s running for lieutenant governor, backed by organized labor and the Ocean State’s growing activist community. 


Wednesday, Mar 7, 2018, 4:32 pm  ·  By Yawana Wolfe

“A Living History Lesson”: Teachers Reflect on the Massive West Virginia Strike

"That’s the only way forward for me, is to take from the rich and give to the poor and that’s what this is all about.” (Yawana Wolfe)  

Charleston, W. Va.—The teachers’ strike in West Virginia ended Tuesday after the Republican-controlled West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates voted to pass a 5 percent pay raise bill for public employees that Republican Gov. Jim Justice later signed into law.

The strike, which began on February 22 and continued for nine days across the state, left nearly 277,000 children out of classrooms with their parents scrambling for babysitters. Meanwhile, more than 20,000 red-shirted teachers took to picket lines across all 55 counties and created a massive presence in Charleston, the state capitol. Many teachers wore red bandannas in commemoration of the Battle of Blair Mountain—the largest labor uprising in U.S. history which took place in West Virginia in 1921.


Wednesday, Mar 7, 2018, 1:57 pm  ·  By Jane McAlevey

The West Virginia Strike Points a Path Forward for the Labor Movement

West Virginia educators just waged a wildcat strike across the state—and won. (West Virginia Education Association / Facebook)  

​Yesterday, West Virginia’s educators produced an incredible lesson plan on power. The timing and outcome of their struggle is epic. Before and during their strike—an unprecedented statewide walkout that shuttered doors to every school in the state’s 55 counties—the national media was writing the obituary of public-service unions, a narrative driven by the oral arguments in the Supreme Court case Janus vs AFSCME. As Trump’s solicitor general bloviated bad things about government workers’ unions, it was day three in West Virginia’s unauthorized, illegal strike in a state that already has the trappings of the laws that the right wing hopes to nationalize in the Janus case (no worker has to pay dues, fair share or agency fees to his or her union).


Tuesday, Mar 6, 2018, 6:49 pm  ·  By Miles Kampf-Lassin

The Lesson From West Virginia Teachers? If You Want to Win, Go on Strike.

After the nine-day strike, West Virginia teachers won a 5 percent pay increase. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  

For many years now, observers have been ringing the death knell for the U.S. labor movement. West Virginia teachers haven’t just pumped life back into that movement—they’ve reaffirmed the fundamental principle that the key to building power and winning is for workers to withhold their labor.

On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill passed by the state legislature that will provide a 5 percent raise for teachers and school personnel. The deal reportedly also includes a 5 percent raise for all state employees, though that will have to be finalized through an upcoming budget bill. The state has also agreed to set up a task force to address the increasing costs in teachers’ healthcare plans—a key issue for striking teachers. 


Tuesday, Mar 6, 2018, 4:02 pm  ·  By Rachel Johnson

Illinois Grad Students Are on Strike to Make the University Accessible for the Working Class

Graduate students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been on strike since February 26. (GEO / Facebook)  

On February 26, four days after teachers in all 55 West Virginia counties walked out on strike, graduate workers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) followed suit. Filling the leafy quad of Illinois’ flagship state university, hundreds of graduate workers and supporters gathered to protest a plan that the school’s Graduate Employees Union (GEO) argues will turn the university into a “for-profit business, one that leaves poor and working class students out of its storied halls.” As of Tuesday, UIUC grad students remain on strike. 


Monday, Mar 5, 2018, 4:25 pm  ·  By Rebecca Burns

YMCA Childcare Workers Just Went On Strike. Here’s Why.

(SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana/Facebook)  

When Vivian Clark got a job with a Chicago-area Head Start program 15 years ago, it seemed like the “stepping stone” her family had been waiting for. Her son, then aged 9, had already gone through the federally funded preschool program when Clark was offered a job as a part-time administrative assistant for a Head Start program administered by the YMCA. In addition to providing early education and social services for low-income children, many Head Start agencies have expanded their focus into providing education and job opportunities for parents, often as employees of the program.


Friday, Mar 2, 2018, 4:52 pm  ·  By Kate Aronoff

West Virginia Teachers Are Now Out on a Wildcat Strike. The Labor Movement Should Follow Their Lead.

West Virginia teachers are now on the seventh day of a statewide strike. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  

In a bright spot among an otherwise bleak landscape for labor, over 15,000 teachers and school support employees in all 55 West Virginia counties have been out on strike for seven days, as they and supporters from around the state continue to flood the capitol in Charleston, W.V., demanding higher pay and affordable healthcare.

Bucking a deal struck between the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) and the state government, school workers have defied both union leadership and state law, which affords them no right to strike and does not recognize their right to collectively bargain. These restrictions haven’t stopped West Virginia educators from leading what may be one of the most important labor actions in years.


Thursday, Mar 1, 2018, 5:07 pm  ·  By Bryce Covert

Amid a Fast-Food Industry Plagued By Sexual Harassment, This Mother and Daughter Said “No More”

Teresa Acevedo speaking at a press conference, alongside her mother, Balbina Ortiz. (Arise Chicago)  

In the summer of 2017, Teresa Acevedo’s male coworker at a Lincolnwood, Ill., location of the fast-food chain Villa Italian Kitchen was promoted to assistant manager, making him her supervisor. But once he gained that power, according to Acevedo, he started to flex it in inappropriate ways. “When he became manager was when he started to abuse his power,” she says.


Thursday, Mar 1, 2018, 4:55 pm  ·  By Michelle Chen

These Teachers Refuse to Be Weaponized

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The call to “arm the teachers”’ started as another stink bomb President Donald Trump lobbed into the crowd at a conservative rally. But somehow, the concept cycled through the 24-hour news loop and, within a few hours, became a ubiquitous meme. Now, the morally repugnant idea of gun-toting teachers in America’s schools has taken center stage in the nation’s macabre debate on gun safety.