Oklahoma teacher strike at a crossroad

The Oklahoma teachers union called an end to the strike today.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said Thursday it is time for teachers to shift their focus to electing pro-education candidates to the Legislature.

The Washington Examiner declared Oklahoma teacher strike ends.

Oklahoma's teachers are going back to school.
The Oklahoma Education Association called on its members to return to class, saying their strike was over. Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest told reporters Thursday afternoon that "we need to face reality" and that the teachers weren't going to get any more concessions from the state government.
"We have seen no significant legislative movement since last Friday," Priest said in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

When the union says it's over, it's over, right?
No. Absolutely no.
No for a very simple reason:

The union never called for, or led this strike.
In fact, the union could never legally call for the strike anyway.

So does Priest's call, which sounds exactly like what an establishment union would say, make a difference? Only if the teachers care.
Should the teachers wait to elect more Democrats? When has any union, anywhere, ever done that successfully? It's so stupid that one might assume that the union is stabbing them in the back.

School boards at a few other large districts that allowed teachers to walk out, including Moore and Bartlesville, have ordered schools to reopen. Will the teachers obey? It would be weird for workers to let supervisors determine when to strike.

Beyond that, the teachers have a problem that I'm sure does not take them by surprise, political intransigence.

A strike by Oklahoma educators demanding more school funding extended to a 10th day on Wednesday, as the state’s Republican leaders warned they planned no further increases after approving $450 million in new revenue to boost teacher pay.
...“As far as this year, we’ve accomplished a whole lot, and I just don’t know how much more we can get done this session,” state Representative John Pfeiffer, a House floor leader and top Republican lawmaker, told reporters on Tuesday.
A non-partisan poll released on Friday showed 72 percent of voters in Oklahoma, where teachers’ pay has languished near the bottom among U.S. states, supported the walkout.

At some point the public may turn on the strikers, but that hasn't happened yet.
At some point the teachers will be forced to go back to work because they'll need money, but that hasn't happened yet.
So will the teachers listen to those that say "play it safe"? They haven't so far.

Whereas protest signs on Monday focused on general calls to fund education, by Wednesday demands to tax the oil and gas corporations — and to fund schools instead of prisons — were particularly prevalent. As has so often been the case in these teachers’ revolts, the ranks surged past the labor officials. Whereas Oklahoma’s union leaders remain frustratingly wary of forceful calls to make the rich pay for the crisis, Southmoore High School student Ravi Patel displayed no such hesitations at Wednesday morning’s large student rally:

Don’t let them tell you that funds don’t exist. They’re sitting right on them. Those sitting on Capitol Hill shouldn’t be building themselves a hill of capital. We need to stop putting profits above pupils. . . . From this day onwards, legislators will fear us hashtag-wielding teenagers more than they fear the oil and gas companies.

Not only have the rallies continued to grow in size, there are signs of the labor militancy spreading.

Construction workers at the capitol in Oklahoma have refused to cross the picket line, halting the building’s $200 million retrofit. Pastors organized an evening vigil to pray for the victory of the strikers. And Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, one of the most beloved figures in the state, took a clear stand in support of the strike: “I’m 100 percent behind our educators . . . and I think they should do whatever they think is necessary in order to get what’s necessary to be successful.”
As important as religion and sports are in Oklahoma, the active support of students has been even more pivotal. Unlike in West Virginia, Oklahoman students have mobilized and self-organized from day one, making it difficult for the media and Republicans to pit parents and the public against the teachers.
...Different sectors of school employees have also extended their support to one another. Large numbers of teachers in Oklahoma City have volunteered to let educators arriving from across the state stay in their homes.

Right. So with all of this going on, the teachers union waves the white flag and says we need to focus on electing Democrats. Yeh, right.
Well some teachers decided that it was a good time to go back to work -- as politicians.

Some of the teachers have decided to take matters into their own hands -- and run for office.
Dozens of people showed up at 8 a.m. Wednesday to file paperwork and register their candidacies. These included teachers who either wanted to fight for school funding from inside the Legislature, pursue other reforms for Oklahoma's children or give their students a lesson in democracy.

Meanwhile the move towards a teacher strike in Kentucky and Arizona spreads and gains momentum.
It's even spread to the UK, where teachers and staff at 61 universities have gone on strike.
Nevertheless, you have to wonder just how long the Oklahoma teachers expected to be out. That's the key because the politicians have dug in their heals.

In a major slap in the face to the OEA and all educators, Governor Fallin yesterday signed the repeal of the hotel/motel tax included in HB 1010, thereby cutting roughly $47 million from the original deal. Though she simultaneously signed two bills to raise a similar amount of revenue by taxing casinos and Amazon third-party sellers, the net effect of these measures is that no additional funding for schools has been passed since the walkout began. On Tuesday, the governor also announced that she would refuse to consider supporting the educators’ demands to end Oklahoma’s capital-gains tax break.
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I just looked at TOP and they had, not one, but two teachers diaries on the wreck'd list.
Even more surprising, they didn't involve Trump.

Arizona's governor is freaking out, promises 20 percent increase to teachers' salaries

Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday boosted his proposal for teacher raises to 9 percent, up from 1 percent he proposed in January, saying lawmakers would work through the weekend to figure out how to fund the plan.

Coupled with with 5 percent raises for the next two years, and the 1 percent raise given last year, Ducey said his proposal would give teachers a "net pay increase" of 20 percent by 2020.

DeVos and Koch Funded Secret right-wing strategy to discredit teacher strikes revealed.

A nationwide network of rightwing thinktanks is launching a PR counteroffensive against the teachers’ strikes that are sweeping the country, circulating a “messaging guide” for anti-union activists that portrays the walkouts as harmful to low-income parents and their children.

The new rightwing strategy to discredit the strikes that have erupted in protest against cuts in education funding and poor teacher pay is contained in a three-page document obtained by the Guardian. Titled “How to talk about teacher strikes”, it provides a “dos and don’ts” manual for how to smear the strikers.

Top of the list of talking points is the claim that “teacher strikes hurt kids and low-income families”. It advises anti-union campaigners to argue that “it’s unfortunate that teachers are protesting low wages by punishing other low-wage parents and their children.”

The “messaging guide” is the brainchild of the State Policy Network (SPN), an alliance of 66 rightwing “ideas factories” that span every state in the nation. SPN uses its $80m war chest – funded by billionaire super-donors such as the Koch brothers and the Walton Family Foundation that flows from the Walmart fortune – to coordinate conservative strategy across the country.

Another financial backer of SPN is the billionaire DeVos family of the Amway empire. Betsy DeVos is the current education secretary in the Trump administration.”

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People demanding single payer, free college tuition and now decent teacher wages and funded schools. Think those teachers give a fuck about Mueller or Russiagate or who Trump has sex with? It seems the strikes are also a protest against union leadership who given the presidential primaries, care more about their standing as power brokers in the democratic party than the missiom of their unions.

If the democratic party does not enmbrace this radicalization and progressive policies, I am not sure they will be able to count on the progressive, pro-working class base come vote time.

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mimi's picture

may be this will help to get a clue?
Betrayals in Social Movements
May be not. I don't know. It's too much for me, right now. Just my 0.02 cents for your piggy bank.
I appreciate your essay, gjohnsit, thanks.

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Meteor Man's picture

@mimi Good link. This:

Sometimes these occur as the betrayal of a union’s members and their democratic rights, at other times these are betrayals of principles that an organization is supposed to be fighting for. Often they are carried out by professionals—media personalities, union bureaucrats or non-profit staffers—seeking out a compromise nobody wanted in defense of the legitimacy of their organization or career, or simply crushing the spirit of workers who expect something more, as so often happens in labor. Either way, we cannot only blame the Republicans, or even the Democrats, for the failures of social movements when our “leaders” so often betray the very people and issues that we are all supposed to be fighting for.

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"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

QMS's picture

Y'all keep it going. The state executive and legislative wings are looking dirtier all the time. Don't buckle to the union cave. Union bosses aren't calling the shots.

14 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

I just felt like looking it up so I searched "OK billionaires", because they are the puppet masters, not the politicians or the unions. I think money is the decider, despite some pol gavel pounding "elections have consequences" a few years back. Citizen's United LOL! Get real. Electoral politics is dead, at the state level too. Especially.

Of course elections weaken the labor movement, I think they weaken any movement up against a giant pile of cash, because greed and bribery are legal. Dark money rules, everything else is hamster wheel.
Random link: The Wealthiest People in Oklahoma

Harold Hamm
Source of Wealth: Oil & Gas
George Kaiser
Oil & Gas/Banking
David Green
Source of Wealth: Hobby Lobby
Tom & Judy Love
Source of Wealth: Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores
Lynn Schusterman
Source of Wealth: Oil & Gas/Investments

I wonder what they teach about climate change? Anyone know? Anyone care to overthrow the oligarchs? Bueller?

be the change
jump off
dump plutocracy

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@eyo eyo,
a couple of these are very socially and environmentally aware and do a lot to support 'good guy'causes

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@Will Rogers Guthrie thanks, I am still waiting for somebody D or R to show me what they do, what good have their actions led to? Not much if you ask me, echoing mainstream TV garbage is not gonna win anything good anytime soon. Why isn't there mass action against the ones who created this climate? I don't know. Maybe someday ...

"Everything is funny, as long as it's happening to someone else."

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The Aspie Corner's picture

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

I wonder if the teachers are doing any teaching outside of the schools so the kids don't fall even further behind than they would otherwise be under the oligarchy run education.

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Beware the bullshit factories.

Cassiodorus's picture

@Timmethy2.0 @Timmethy2.0 to what extent the myth of "falling behind" is at this point merely something the test-prep corporations milk to their greater profits. Children will learn when they are sufficiently motivated to learn, rather than "if it's 6th grade" or whatever.

Ideally, extended teacher strikes will cause society to rethink why it needs teachers or schools -- society (as it currently stands) doesn't really need the test-prep monitors that the No Child Left Behind Act has made of teachers. The stockholders at McGraw Hill and Pearson sure like teachers as such; great for the profit margins. Teachers, on the other hand, can find greater purpose in the idea of teaching for a better society.

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"Day-to-day life under crapitalism is so horrible and depressing." -- Sam Miller

How to organize to stand up for something important.

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