Categories United States of America

Los Angeles teachers begin strike seeking greater investment in school …

The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) went on strike on January 14, demanding the redressal of their long-pending grievances. On Monday morning, despite the rain, thousands of teachers, clad in red T-shirts and carrying placards saying “On strike for our students”, gathered near the city hall and marched to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) headquarters.

USA Today reported that the teachers chanted slogans like “Education is a right! That is why we have to fight!” and “Hey hey! Ho ho! We’re fighting to keep class size low!” According to reports, there were picket lines at almost 900 schools across the city. The UTLA said that more than 27,000 members took part in pickets on the first morning of the strike. Tens of thousands of people are believed to have participated in the rally. UTLA also gave a call to the teachers to rally at the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) on Tuesday after the morning pickets on the second day of the strike.

In support of the strike, various hashtags began trending in social media, including #RedforEd, #WeAreLA, #UTLAStrong, #StrikeReady, #Wearepublicschools, #StopStarvingOurPublicSchools,  #allin4respect, among others.

The teachers are demanding that the LAUSD use 1.9 billion USD in the unrestricted reserves to implement smaller class sizes and hire more nurses, counselors and librarians. The teachers have also sought more support for special education, early education, bilingual education and adult education. Other demands include an end to the overtesting of students and ensuring the empowerment of parents and teachers in the education process through strengthening Local School Leadership Councils.

The strike was earlier scheduled for January 10 but was postponed to January 14. The teachers accused the LAUSD authorities of bad faith after the nearly 20 months of negotiations on these demands turned out to be unfruitful. The LAUSD serves 640,000 students and is the second biggest school district in the country.

UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl told the media, “Here, we are in a fight for the soul of public education… The question is: Do we starve our public neighborhood schools so that they are cut and privatized, or do we reinvest in our public neighborhood schools for our students and for a thriving city?” He added “Let’s be clear. Educators do not want to strike but they felt they now had to in order to fight for the proposals they were demanding for their students. California should be leading not languishing.”

UTLA reported receiving messages of solidarity from students, educators, parents and other trade unions in support of their demands. “The strike will continue till LAUSD engage with our proposals. We are prepared to strike for as long as necessary to get LAUSD spend their USD 1.9 billion in reserves on our schools,” they said.

Commenting on the strike, Eric A. Gordon wrote in People’s World that “The single most relevant factor that drags education down into the muck of poorly performing mediocrity is the short-sighted movement to lower taxes and revenue from the one percent. Without mentioning the bottomed-out state support for education, the right-wing then points to government for ‘our failing schools.’ Since many of our urban school systems are heavily populated by racial minorities, there is an obvious racist tinge to such accusations. Progressive political rejuvenation at every level of government is required to turn back corporate power.”

Categories Argentina

Thousands of Argentine workers march to denounce Macri’s austerity m …

On January 10, in Buenos Aires, thousands of workers as well as members of different trade unions, social organizations and small and medium scale enterprises marched with torches and candles from the July 9 Avenue to the Argentine National Congress to protest the increase in the tariffs of public services and to denounce the brutal austerity measures of the government of Mauricio Macri.

“Let’s make it clear: we will not give up or raise a white flag and we will continue to mobilize on streets until we defeat the policy of hunger and adjustment. We say no to the Labor Reform. We say no to the Pension Reform. We say no to the price hike. Enough of abuses against the Argentine people” reads the joint statement released by the Trade Union Front for the National Model, Argentine Workers’ Central Union (CTA), 21F Movement and Argentine Workers’ Central Union-Autonomous (CTA-A).

The protest was called by the Trade Union Front for the National Model, an umbrella organization comprising different trade unions of Argentina. The organization has also called for similar torch marches every Thursday for the next four weeks.

The march will continue in Santa Fe and Rosario on January 17, Mar de Plata on January 24, Bariloche on January 31 and Mendoza and Cordoba on February 2.

On December 27, 2018, to fulfill the demand made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce the fiscal deficit, the Cambiemos government announced new increases in the tariffs of transportation, electricity, water and residential gas for the year 2019. These increases will directly hit the pockets of working and lower income classes.

A 40% increase in tariff rates in the transportation sector will be implemented from January 12 in Buenos Aires. The new electricity rates, with an increase of 34%, will apply nationwide from February 1 while the residential gas rates will see a nationwide of 35% increase in April. A 38% increase in water bills will be effective in March and will affect 800,000 households in the province of Buenos Aires.

“The new rates are unsustainable for workers. On top of it, every month, our salary is increasingly insufficient [to shop] in the supermarket, while the government lowers tax on luxury cars and gives an increase to ministers who earn more than 200 thousand pesos per month, [it is] a real insult,” said Agustina Chaves, a metro worker.

As per the figures stated by the Citizen’s Unity Party, a coalition of Argentine left-wing organizations, the tariffs of electricity have increased by 3624%, natural gas by 2401%, water by 1025%, road tolls by 1118%, inter-municipal train tickets by 601%, train tickets by 500%, metro tickets by 400% and buses by 494%, since 2016.

In March, Macri will start the regular sessions of the National Congress and try again to concretize the labor reform that the government has not been able to push through in the last two years. The newspaper La Nación said that the reform that the government is promoting consists of a reduction in working hours from 8 to 6 (or 4 hours in industries in crisis), promotion of a work stoppage fund for temporary jobs to substitute compensation and enabling more agreements for productivity, among other changes.

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