Feb. 25th, 2011

spiralsheep: I have a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel (boz4pm Blackadder Cunning Plan)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
Source: http://www.thenation.com/article/158282/how-build-progressive-tea-party

How to Build a Progressive Tea Party

by Johann Hari, February 3, 2011 (February 21, 2011 edition of The Nation)

Imagine a parallel universe where the Great Crash of 2008 was followed by a Tea Party of a very different kind. Enraged citizens gather in every city, week after week—to demand the government finally regulate the behavior of corporations and the superrich, and force them to start paying taxes. The protesters shut down the shops and offices of the companies that have most aggressively ripped off the country. The swelling movement is made up of everyone from teenagers to pensioners. They surround branches of the banks that caused this crash and force them to close, with banners saying, You Caused This Crisis. Now YOU Pay.

As people see their fellow citizens acting in self-defense, these tax-the-rich protests spread to even the most conservative parts of the country. It becomes the most-discussed subject on Twitter. Even right-wing media outlets, sensing a startling effect on the public mood, begin to praise the uprising, and dig up damning facts on the tax dodgers.

Instead of the fake populism of the Tea Party, there is a movement based on real populism. It shows that there is an alternative to making the poor and the middle class pay for a crisis caused by the rich. It shifts the national conversation. Instead of letting the government cut our services and increase our taxes, the people demand that it cut the endless and lavish aid for the rich and make them pay the massive sums they dodge in taxes.

This may sound like a fantasy—but it has all happened. The name of this parallel universe is Britain. As recently as this past fall, people here were asking the same questions liberal Americans have been glumly contemplating: Why is everyone being so passive? Why are we letting ourselves be ripped off? Why are people staying in their homes watching their flat-screens while our politicians strip away services so they can fatten the superrich even more?

And then twelve ordinary citizens—a nurse, a firefighter, a student, a TV researcher and others—met in a pub in London one night and realized they were asking the wrong questions. “We had spent all this energy asking why it wasn’t happening,” says Tom Philips, a 23-year-old nurse who was there that night, “and then we suddenly said, That’s what everybody else is saying too. Why don’t we just do it? Why don’t we just start? If we do it, maybe everybody will stop asking why it isn’t happening and join in. It’s a bit like that Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams. We thought, If you build it, they will come.”

Full text of article for archiving purposes. )

The U.S. and Canada now have their very own uncut protests:





Need ideas? Bank "bail-ins" are amongst the most recent at:

the_future_modernes: (Default)
[personal profile] the_future_modernes
[personal profile] nicki has How teachers unions work (in the USA)

[personal profile] jae has a fascinating series: Dutch politics through the eyes of a Canadian

[personal profile] whatistigerbalm has a WIP series on a still popular book that is praised as a primr about interwar Yugoslavia by Rebecca West Black Lamb and Grey Falcon critique The thing with historical books written by outsiders with great honking biases of which they are not aware, is that these books become the prism through which analysts and experts try to understand modern day politics and then convey that understanding to their listeners. As we can see, that can lead to some redonkulous nonsense passed off as making sense of already complex situations.

[livejournal.com profile] haddayr links to an article detailing a disability rights group's occupation of the Wisconsin Republican Party headquarters, because the same budget that is attacking unions righs to collectively bargain is also demanding nasty cuts to Medicaid.Not just unions
nicki: (Default)
[personal profile] nicki
In honor of the protests against Union busting and the propaganda surrounding the issue, this is a basic informational post on how teacher's unions actually work.

"The Teachers Union" is really a loosely aligned hierarchy of separate unions (well, it really is a semi-fictional creation, but we'll get to that).

The union structure in education is a district level organization. Each school district has it's own separate, unique, independent union, so a teacher's union usually consist of the educators from maybe 2-4 high schools, their feeder middle schools/ Jr. Highs and maybe the elementary schools (the elementary schools may or may not have their own union, depending). There are representatives from each school (union reps) who are generally teachers or counselors who bring information back and forth from their individual schools. The president of the union is usually a teacher as well and most of the union members either know the president of their union or know of him/her. The local union does all the bargaining with the local district. Union local, district local, bargaining local and, if necessary, striking local. There is basically no state or national level union participation in this process.

The teaching contracts are all local as well and almost all issues are negotiated locally. Individual districts negotiate with individual local unions on things like salary scale, hiring ratio (how many students per teacher for hiring purposes, which isn't the actual class size), maximum student contacts (how many students will a teacher be teaching over the course of a day), calendar year, sick days, health benefits, duty day (the hours a teacher is on campus, does not count the hours of work at home), disciplinary process, lay-off process, transfer process, tenure, number of admin at the district office (the state requires a superintendent, all the rest of the people at the district office are admin the superintendent has chosen to spend district money on, they are not union members) basically almost everything that the teachers deal with on a day to day basis (other than the teaching standards). Again, there is no state or national level union participation in this process. Local unions may consult with one another or with the state level organization, but everything really is between the local people.

The state level of the union (in my case the CTA) is concerned with more over-arching issues. Each local union sends reps to meet with the state people (this may be the local union president or other representative depending on the local union's choice) so we all generally know or know of the people who meet with the state level organization. We may or may not know the members of the executive board of the state level. The state level union does not generally deal with contract specifics. Occasionally they give legal advice, but mostly the state level organization talks about things like the state testing standards, school funding, and the retirement fund. Very occasionally they discuss class sizes for the state as a whole (for example k-3 classes being better at around 20 students or less), but mostly that is still a local issue. These are very very rarely contract issues.

The national level union (the NEA) mostly does advertising and lobbying and information dispersal and sometimes campaigning or donations. The national level of the teachers union is concerned with national level issues and national level people. They talk about things like national standards laws, IDEA, vouchers for charter schools, national level school funding, things like that. The NEA has essentially nothing to do with contracts. They talk to the state and local unions about what the state and local unions think are needs that they have that can be affected by the federal government, then they talk to the government people about what the state and local unions need and support candidates that they think might be helpful in meeting those needs.

You will notice that I have not made mention of "union bosses". The reason that I have not made mention of "union bosses" is that there aren't really any. The only top down things that happen are that teachers are sometimes asked to volunteer (if they feel like it) to man phone banks to support candidates or again sometimes they may notify the local union members that an issue is coming up for a vote and that emailing a congressperson or two might be a good idea. Very very occasionally they may notify the local union members that an issue is coming up to vote and suggest that they may, if they are willing and interested, want to show up to protest someplace. No one ever says "YOU MUST COME!" It's more, "So there's this thing? it might affect you in this way? here's where we're all meeting up if you want to come with us?"

The state and national leaders aren't involved in contract negotiations or strikes. The people who are asking for a living wage and some job assurance are the local people and they are negotiating with the local school district. The state basically sends (not very much) money to the district and the district decides how to allocate it. Contracts are generally negotiated every year or every few years. There is no "all teacher's contracts say this or that". Each one is negotiated on its own. There is no "union leadership" separate from teachers that is somehow imposing outside will on the teachers and their contracts. The union contract negotiators in your district are teachers from your district. The teacher's union(s), executive board and all, really is your neighbor or your sister or your brother-in-law or your cousin. It isn't some faceless out of state entity controlling the lives of the people in your school district. The organization that is imagined to do that doesn't exist because that isn't how the system works.


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