After months of failed negotiations with Chicago officials, more than 30,000 teachers and school support staff will strike Thursday morning in an attempt to put an end to the oppression routinely felt by black and brown communities, Kofi Ademola, an activist and organizer with the Black Lives Matter movement, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear.
Almost 300,000 students will be out of school Thursday as the Chicago Teachers’ Union holds their first strike since the September 2012 walkout that rocked the city and helped set in motion a nationwide revival of strike actions by labor unions. The 2012 strike was the union’s first in 25 years.
“Well, it seems like we can’t get out of this mud of neoliberalism. The city constantly shows, time and again, how it values rich, the wealthy, the 1% and will do everything to continue the oppression that we see happening to black and brown communities,” Ademola told hosts Brian Becker and Walter Smolarek.
“What I love about what’s happening now is this new conversation around racial equity, education justice … not only are the teachers fighting to get fair pay, which they deserve, and more prep time so they can prepare to give their students a higher quality education. What’s most important is they are advocating to reduce class size because, you know, some schools have up to 43 students crammed in one class. They are also advocating to have nurses, because we have people [in schools] struggling with asthma and other issues, and teachers just aren’t qualified to support them in those kinds of ways. They’re advocating for librarians; they’re advocating to have therapists,” Ademola explained.
The decision to go on strike was made Wednesday evening by the Chicago Teachers Union’s House of Delegates, rejecting the City of Chicago’s latest offer, which included a 16% pay raise over five years.
“I think that’s a key component to neoliberal politics, when you automatically put the interests of the rich class ahead of all others. Your biggest enemy is organized labor … It’s no surprise that once again, we are in a position where essentially the Wall Street class is clashing with organized labor,” Ademola told Sputnik.
“This is the absolute time for labor really to get organized and move beyond the traditional kind of movement that the unions have been historically known for, but to really find that intersectionality and build that synergy with other movements like Black Lives Matter, like the climate change movement, like all these other movements that are trying to … get rid of capitalism, exploitative and horrible treatment of us,” he continued.
In addition to teachers, about 7,000 security guards, special education aides, custodians and bus aides who are part of the Service Employees International Union Local 73 will join the Thursday strike, the Chicago Tribune reported.
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