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Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity

“Brilliant political analysis." – The Nation

The Chicago Teachers Union strike was the most important domestic labor struggle so far this century—and perhaps for the last forty years—and the strongest challenge to the conservative agenda for restructuring education, which advocates for more charter schools and tying teacher salaries to standardized testing, among other changes.

The teachers took on the bipartisan, free market school reform agenda that is currently exacerbating inequality in education and waging war on teachers' livelihoods. In the age of austerity, when the public sector is under attack, Chicago teachers fought back—and won.

The strike was years in the making. Chicago teachers spent a long time building a grassroots movement to educate and organize the entire union membership. They stood up against hostile mayors, billionaire-backed reformers out to destroy unions, and even their own intransigent union leadership, to take militant action. The Chicago protest has become a model for how reforms to the school system can be led by teachers and communities. It offers inspiration for workers looking to create democratic, fighting unions. Strike for America is the story of this movement and how it triumphed in the defining struggle for workers today.

Reviews

  • “Brilliant political analysis.”
  • “A finely bound pamphlet and a piece of old-fashioned socialist pedagogy, written in a modern, accessible style.”
  • “Indefatigable reporting and elegant writing backed by an erudite command of the relevant history, and by precious on-the-ground experience as an organizer. Uetricht’s first book establishes him as the most exciting young labor writer today.”
  • “A short, accessible guide to one of the most important and inspiring events of our time.”
  • “A wonderfully readable, smart account of the CTU’s transformation into a democratic, militant union that with its community partners took on Chicago and the nation’s power elite.”
  • “An indispensable account of a strike that was badly misconstrued and underreported by the mainstream media. Uetricht not only tells the story lucidly, but explains why the struggle of teachers in Chicago should matter to all of us.”
  • “A read to sustain all of us who continue to fight for the next victory for education justice and for those who want a vision to fight for.”

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  • 50% off for May Day!


    May 1st marks International Workers' Day, a festival of working-class self-organization stretching back over 130 years. It was originally inaugurated to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre of 1886 in Chicago, where a bomb thrown during a worker's strike kicked off a period of anti-labor hysteria.

    May Day 2015 in London saw a rally of trade unions, migrant workers & London’s many communities and other organisations finishing in Trafalgar Square. 2016 demos include speakers such as Yannis Gourtsoyhannia (from the Junior Doctor’s dispute), Christine Blower (the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, to talk about the government’s attacks on education), Frances O'Grady (TUC General Secretary), Jeremy Corbyn, and John McDonnell. See the full details here!

    In New York there's a rally and march in Union Square on Sunday starting at noon, in Los Angeles there's a May Day March and Bernie Sanders rally on Saturday starting at 3pm, and in Oakland there's a rally at the Fruitvale Bart starting at noon. See an incomplete list of May Day activities here.

    This May Day we bring you the following reading list, AND we're doing a FLASH SALE with 50% off all of them! Don't forget - we have free worldwide shipping and free bundled ebooks where available!

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  • "You have built the ships for your boss. Why not build them for yourselves?"



    Today, April 1st, the Chicago Teachers Union is holding a walkout and "day of action" to demand a better contract and protest the state's chronic underfunding of city schools. 

    "I guess the important thing to say is we're just very conscious of the fact that we're part of a broader movement that needs to figure out how to fund social services," CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey told the 
    Chicago Tribune, "and we're trying to ask people to see April 1 in that broader context." For more on Friday's strike, see Mark Brenner in Labor Notesand Micah Uetricht's interview with CTU executive board member Sarah Chambers in Jacobin

    Below is an excerpt from a talk given by ISO member Leia Petty, as part of an ISO meeting held on Wednesday, March 30 at Verso Brooklyn, called Socialism: Getting from a moment to a movement, about the challenges of taking socialism from an idea to a reality. The following piece places our current struggles in historical context by discussing the revolutionary workers strike in Seattle in 1919.

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  • The New Social Unionism: A History of Chicago's Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators

    On Friday, April 1st, the Chicago Teachers Union is holding a walkout and "day of action" to demand a better contract and protest the state's chronic underfunding of city schools. 

    "I guess the important thing to say is we're just very conscious of the fact that we're part of a broader movement that needs to figure out how to fund social services," CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey told the 
    Chicago Tribune, "and we're trying to ask people to see April 1 in that broader context." For more on Friday's strike, see Mark Brenner in Labor Notesand Micah Uetricht's interview with CTU executive board member Sarah Chambers in Jacobin

    Below, we present an excerpt from Uetricht's Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerityon the history of the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE), the grouping that took control of the CTU in 2010, and which has been largely responsible for the more militant and effective tactics that have come to define the union in recent years. 

    In solidarity with the CTU day of action, Micah Uetricht's "Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity" is 50% off print and 90% off the ebook for today, April 1 (North America only).



    When the slate put forward by the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE) won the 2010 election for the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), it made few headlines. Some Chicago media covered it, as did a few prescient bloggers, but most ignored it. Stories about labor get short shrift in the mainstream press these days, and stories about internal union battles are almost entirely off the radar. But if local journalists had examined the 2010 CTU leadership election closely they would have realized that, in many ways, a referendum on two starkly different visions of teacher unionism by Chicago’s 26,000 educators had just taken place.

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