Saturday, April 30, 2011

Today in Labor History—April 30

April 30, 1927 – 109 miners were killed by an explosion at the Everettville mine, in Everettville, West Virginia.  (From Workday Minnesota)

April 30 1871 –A mob massacred more than 100 Apaches who had placed themselves under U.S. protection at Camp Grant, Arizona. (From the Daily Bleed)
Haymarket Affair, Harpers Weekly
Convicted Anarchists
April 30 1886 50,000 workers in Chicago were on strike, with 30,000 more joining in the next day. The strike brought most of Chicago’s manufacturing to a standstill. On May 3rd, the Chicago cops killed four unionists. A mass meeting and demonstration was called for the 4th, in Haymarket Square, where a cop will be killed by an assailant who will never be identified. Ultimately, eight anarchists (many not even in attendance) will tried for murder & sentenced to death. This event, known as the Haymarket Tragedy or the Haymarket Affair, will be the inspiration for International Worrkers’ Day, celebrated on  May 1st in every country in the world except the U.S. (From the Daily Bleed)

April 30 1899 The Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, miner's strike continued, with 1,200 workers getting arrested, and being placed into specially erected bullpens until the strikes were broken. (From the Daily Bleed)

April 30 1945 – Eva Braun and Adolph Hitler committed suicide, in Berlin. (From the Daily Bleed)

April 30 1965 – The TWU (Transport Workers Union) won $9.5 million in pensions for former Fifth Avenue Coach employees after long court battle. (From the Daily Bleed)
National Guard Patrolling Los Angeles (Public Domain
April 30 1992 –Following the Rodney King verdict in LA, there was rioting in cities throughout the U.S., including Las Vegas, San Francisco (where a state of emergency was declared), Oakland, Madison, Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Toronto and Pasadena. (From the Daily Bleed) In San Francisco, your humble blogger was shot at by an frightened shop owner (along with hundreds of others).

Friday, April 29, 2011

San Francisco’s “All-Cuts” Budget

Educational Slash and Burn (Image by Joseph Robertson)
Governor Brown’s tax extension proposal, which would have possibly closed California’s gaping budget hole, is now off the table. As a result, San Francisco Unified now faces two possibilities: “Scenario B” (the new best-case scenario) requires cutting $25 million ($330 per student) for 2011-12, and more in 2012-13; or an “all cuts” budget that would slash $800 or more per student, according to SF School Board Member Rachel Norton.

The California Budget Project (CBP) has published a district-by-district breakdown of what an all cuts budget might look like. The cuts are breath taking and will likely result in class size increases, more layoffs, furloughs, and losses of instructional programs and services (See  Schools Prepare to Cut Foreign Language Classes).

Historically, state budget cuts have harmed the “revenue limit” districts (the overwhelming majority of districts) the most, as the “basic aid” districts tend to have higher local property tax revenues to offset state cuts. (Basic aid district receive only “basic aid” from the state because they need less due to their higher tax revenues.) This has recently changed, with the governor signing a “share-the-pain” law that cuts deeply into what the state pays out to basic aid districts. Some basic aid districts have had their state funding slashed by 90%, which is resulting in per pupil cuts of anywhere from $680 to $800.

Schools Prepare to Cut Foreign Language Classes

American Educated Student on Left (Image by zinjixmaggir)
Throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and in other regions of California, schools are cutting foreign language offerings in order to offset budget deficits, The Bay Citizen reported today. SFUSD sent out pink slips to six language instructors. Cupertino Union cut one middle school French teacher. Oakland says it plans on cutting one French and one Spanish teacher.

While the total numbers may seem small, the impacts are significant. Each teacher who is laid off represents at least 150 students who may be denied an opportunity to take a language class, as California schools routinely have 30-36 students per class. Thus, the cuts in just these three districts could result in more than 1350 students losing the opportunity to study Spanish, French or Mandarin, placing them at a disadvantage in the competition for a shrinking number of coveted spots in the University of California system.

Liberal Union Busting

Liberal and progressive bloggers, activists and journalists have been complaining a lot lately about how the Koch brothers, Tea Partiers and right wing Republicans have been attacking working people, unions, immigrants, seniors and the poor, especially in Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Indiana and Ohio. Party and class loyalties, nationalism and naïve acceptance of the American dream fantasy have blinded many to the fact that this is really just an escalation of the class war by the wealthy against the rest of us and that Democratic and even liberal lawmakers are fully on board with it. One example is the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts state House, which has just approved a bill that prevents public employees from collectively bargaining over their health benefits.

Without the right to collectively bargain health benefits, the state can unilaterally impose increased out of pocket payments, which is a de facto pay cut. They could also unilaterally reduce benefits. While not an outright attacks on unions’ existence, like recent measures in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, it does limit union rights and power and therefore is an example of union busting.

Rather than obsessing over Republicans and the Tea Party, working people need to recognize that their true class enemy is the ruling elite, which includes all bosses, business owners and rich people in general, as well as their politician friends from both parties and even the leaders of many of the big unions (See Unions, What Are They Good For?) They need to get over the delusion that politics and voting will save them from further attacks on their living conditions. Democrats may pay lip service to unions, but it is only to win votes, not because they have any real solidarity with or empathy for working people. The anti-labor measure in Massachusetts is a good example.

Teachers, Students Attacked in Mid-East Uprisings

Bahraini Protest (Image by Ryan Bayona)
Teachers have been at the forefront of the Bahraini uprising and many teachers have been seized by security forces as a result. According to the Teacher Solidarity website, 6 female teachers were seized last week from a school in Muharraq. Teachers and students were also arrested in Hamad. The government has also arrested head teachers and administrators.

Meanwhile, in Yemen, schools and other public buildings are being shut down twice a week in towns all over the country until the President Saleh steps down. 12 protestors were shot to death in the capital Sanaa, on Wednesday, while 190 were wounded. Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world. 45% of the population live on less than $2 a day.

Today in Labor History—April 29

Coxey's Army Leaving Camp (Library of Congress)
April 29, 1894Jacob Coxey led a group of 500 unemployed workers from the Midwest to Washington, D.C. His Army of the Poor was immediately arrested for trespassing on Capitol grounds.

The Return of Coxey's Army (By Eddie Starr)
When they busted all the unions,
You can't make no living wage.
And this working poor arrangement,
Gonna turn to public rage.
And then get ready . . .
We're gonna bring back Coxey's Army
And take his message to the street.
(From the Daily Bleed)

U.S. Marines With Captured Sandinista Flag, 1932
April 29, 1895Warships were sent to Nicaragua to "protect" US interests, the first of many military interventions in that small Central American country. President Taft ordered the overthrow of President Zelaya in 1909.The U.S. later invaded in 1910 and occupied the country in 1912, an occupation that was ultimately ended by the resistance of Augusto Sandino and the original Sandinistas in 1933. In 1934, Anastasio Somoza assassinated Sandino. (From the Daily Bleed and Wikipedia)
April 29, 1899Failing to achieve their demand that only union men be employed at the Bunker Hill Company at Wardner, Idaho, members of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) dynamited the $250,000 mill, completely destroying it. President McKinley responded by sending in black soldiers from Brownsville, Texas, with orders to round up the miners and imprison them in specially built "bullpens." From 1899 to 1901, the U.S. Army occupyied the Coeur d'Alene mining region in Idaho. (From the Daily Bleed)

April 29, 1915 –The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom was founded at The Hague, which works for world disarmament, full rights for women, racial and economic justice, an end to all forms of violence, and to establish the political, social, and psychological conditions which can assure peace, freedom, and justice for all. Its first president was Jane Addams, who founded and directed Hull House in Chicago for newly arrived immigrants. (From Workday Minnesota)

Captured Revolutionary, May 1919 (German Federal Archive)
April 29, 1919From April 29 to May 2, government forces in Munich violently crushed the Republic of the Councils of Bavaria. Workers, socialists, anarchists, and sympathizers bravely resisted. Over 700 were summarily executed. (From the Daily Bleed)

April 29, 1937 –The Friends of Durruti Group postered Barcelona with a list of their demands: "All power to the working class. All economic power to the unions." (From the Daily Bleed)

April 29, 1970 –The National Guard killed seven students at Ohio State University. (From the Daily Bleed)