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Stop Union-Buster Bloomberg: Shut the City Down!n
Picket line at Atlantic Express yard in Ridgewood, Queens on Day One of the strike, January 16. (Internationalist photo)
FEBRUARY 7 – Finally! New York City labor leaders have called for a “Union Unity March and Rally” for Sunday, February 10 to support the striking school bus drivers and matrons of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181. It’s about time! With signs on the picket lines, in leaflets, in a motion at the United Federation of Teachers delegate assembly and at a forum with bus drivers, parents and representatives of the ATU and Transport Workers Union Local 100, we in the Internationalist Group and Class Struggle Education Workers have been calling since the strike began three weeks ago for a massive mobilization of city unions to stop Mayor Bloomberg’s union-busting.
Let’s be clear: the billionaire mayor has declared war on any and all unions. The ATU is just first on the list. If he prevails here, next up will be the UFT, then TWU, DC 37 and on down the line. Bloomberg will do anything he can get away with: he’s already cynically using special education students as pawns in his war. He will not “bargain in good faith” no matter how much union tops beseech him. And he has an army of cops at his disposal, as well as courts and a maze of anti-labor laws. To bust Bloomberg’s union-busting (see article, page 4) we need to bring out a superior force, that of the entire New York working class and its allies, independent of the capitalist politicians.
Sunday’s march across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall is sponsored by the UFT, TWU, 1199, 32BJ, the NYC Central Labor Council and NY state AFL-CIO. With that kind of backing, they could bring out tens of thousands of protesters, enough to really occupy Wall Street and shut down the center of international finance capital. But it’s no accident it’s being called on a weekend instead of a regular workday. The demonstration is clearly intended as a show of sympathy for the strikers rather than deploying labor’s power to actually win the strike.
Moreover, the sponsors include the Democratic Party in various guises (the City Council Progressive Caucus, Working Families Party, NY Communities for Change). Yet the Democrats from Obama and Cuomo on down are in the forefront of the assault on education unions. And as we have pointed out, Democrats have an overwhelming majority on the City Council – they could force the mayor’s hand any number of ways. Instead, the strategy of the union leaderships is to wait out Bloomberg’s final term in hopes that a Democratic successor elected in November would be more “labor-friendly.” In the meantime, they figure, that could mean taking some losses. But it would be the courageous bus strikers, not the bureaucrats, who take the hit.
To win, the school bus strike should be escalated, with an elected strike committee and mass pickets to stop all school buses, including non-striking Teamsters Local 584. We Internationalists have tried to do our bit, joining the lines of the largely immigrant, heavily black and Latino drivers and matrons virtually every day since January 16. “Together we’re strong,” just as strikers have been chanting on the picket lines, and we have the power – “union power.” Now’s the time to use that power to shut the city down!
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