Career Calling

July 17, 2012

A Big Labor Fight in Chicago?

Common Dreams has republished an article by Richard Seymour of the Guardian that looks at the broad implications of a teacher’s strike in Chicago.  The issue is not simply salary as some critics try to claim.  Chicago teachers know that the Mayor and other officials are defunding public schools while they transfer money to unproven charter schools. Seymour looks beyond this point to say that a successful campaign by Chicago teachers could revitalize American labor.

I want to be hopeful about Seymour’s analysis, but I can’t. Americans have been fed anti-union lies for three decades, and they often repeat them without thinking.  It must be true, they think.  Even if Chicago’s teachers are successful, which I hope they are, the larger union movement in America will not rise up anytime soon.  Wisconsin proved that.

Too many Americans have bought the libertarian lies.  Even as salaries and the safety net get weaker and weaker, lovers of “freedom” condemn any kind of public action, whether it is government or labor.  They want individual liberty.  And, as Mencken said of democracy, they will get it, “good and hard.”

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