A Teachable Moment

Former local teacher union pesident Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.

Now It’s Oklahoma

Recent militancy by the school employees of West Virginia is inspiring public workers in other non-collective bargaining states to take concerted action. The next likely state-wide strike is in Oklahoma, where the Oklahoma Education Association has carefully developed a campaign entitled Together We’re Stronger. There are four central planks to their campaign – a $10,000 raise over three years to all teachers with a $5,000 increase to support personnel, the restoration of education funding cut in recent years, a five percent increase in the pensions of retirees and a $7500 increase for all other state workers. Clear, concise and anchored in economic terms all state works with frozen wages can understand. Coupled with the threat of a statewide walkout, the Oklahoma Education Association has positioned themselves to be taken seriously by the governor and legislature.

In West Virginia and Oklahoma, public sector works are rediscovering an old truth. They are learning that worker solidarity around carefully crafted demands can force reluctant governments to bargaining even where there are no collective bargaining laws. Who would have ever expected West Virginia and Oklahoma to lead this rediscovery?

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