Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Next GEM Meeting March 21: From Wisconsin to Puerto Rico to New York

From Wisconsin to Puerto Rico to New York: 
Fight Back Against the Attacks on Public Education and our Unions!

Sponsored by the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM)

CUNY Grad Center 34th St. and 5th Ave. Rm 5414

Teachers and unions as a whole are facing increasing assaults across the U.S. and internationally, as the drive to privatize public education systems and bust our unions kicks into a yet higher gear.  Politicians are using the excuse of budget crises to justify these attacks, while they spared nothing to ensure bankers' bonuses continued without a hitch.

In Puerto Rico, teachers have been waging a struggle to defend the system of public education for a number of years.  Their union, Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) is a militant, democratic union based on organization on at the level of the rank and file.  In 2008, the FMPR launched a strike to defend its right to collectively bargain and won.  The Puerto Rican Government was forced to implement a ban on charter schools.  Since then, the FMPR has held its ground against a takeover attempt by SEIU and fought against union-busting legislation which allows union contracts to be voided and employees to be laid off at will.  Most recently, the government has fired 11 leaders of the FMPR, including Rafael Feliciano, President of the FMPR.

In Wisconsin, Republicans have rammed through a bill stripping collective bargaining rights from workers in spite of weeks of protests, mobilizations and an occupation of the capitol building.  Nonetheless, the movement is far from over as calls for a general strike grow.  Saturday's demonstration in Madison, WI numbered in the hundreds of thousands.  The movement in Wisconsin has left an indelible mark on the country, even as workers and their unions face unprecedented existential assaults--this is no longer a one-sided class war.  Our side will fight back.  Wisconsin's uprising has given confidence to protests in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Texas. 

In New York, we also face union-busting legislation, budget cuts, school closings and attacks on teachers.  Get Details and Materials for Fight Back Friday set for March 25th, consisting of actions at schools across the city:

  We are all Wisconsin!  Same Struggle, Same Fight
  • Teacher Protections, Protect Children
  • Layoffs Hurt Children
  • Budget Cuts Hurt Children
  • Let's Put Children First
Organize a Fightback Friday on March 25th at your school.  For More Information on Fight Back Friday or to Confirm Your School, Email:  sam_p_coleman@yahoo.com  

Also, discuss how to help build a rally against the budget cuts on March 24th in NYC
(info:  http://march24ny.wordpress.com/)

Hear a report back from Wisconsin and a presentation by FMPR President Rafael Feliciano on the attacks and resistance in Puerto Rico

Discuss:  What can we do in NYC to build solidarity with workers facing attacks elsewhere?  How can we bring the spirit of Wisconsin to NYC?  How do we fight budget cuts and privatization in NYC?  How can we build networks within our schools to build our side? How can we push the UFT to take stronger actions?

Take part in breakout sessions after the discussion to help to build the Fightback Friday on March 25th!

CUNY Grad Center 34th St. and 5th Ave. Rm 5414
picture ID required

Join our event on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=195807113783443

Check out more info on GEM at http://grassrootseducationmovement.blogspot.com/

gemnyc@gmail.com for more