But with 2014 beginning, let's look at some retrospectives on victories of 2013. In this context, working people fighting back at all can count as a victory—after all, for a lot of years we've seen far too little of that. But there were also some concrete victories, even if some of them were defensive and none of them were enough—yet—to turn the tide.
Writing at Working In These Times, Amien Essif hails the 10 biggest wins for labor in 2013 as including the first union contract won by carwasheros outside of California, North Carolina's Moral Mondays protests, and a surprise entry at number one. At Alternet, meanwhile, Owen Davis has 10 big wins for public education in 2013, including local rebellions against high-stakes testing, growing dissent among Teach for America alums, and local electoral victories against pro-corporate education policy forces.
A few other entries: At Social Policy, Clara Wheatley-Schaller takes an in-depth look at a win that doesn't appear on either of those top 10 lists: How California's unions beat back paycheck protection. Working America's Doug Foote details how the "right to work" movement fell flat on its face in 2013. It may be stalled at the federal level, but the minimum wage went up in many states.
So wins are possible. But as long as they come in a context in which, for instance, Wisconsin education unions are being decertified because union members who don't vote at all are being counted as having voted against the union, thanks to Gov. Scott Walker's notorious Act 10, working people are still going to be on the losing end. Over the past two years or so, we've seen the beginnings of a fight back. But we need to build a lot more power if workers are going to stop losing ground, let alone gain it.
Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.
- The Department of Labor is seeking $2 million in back pay from a Chinese buffet in Georgia for employee misclassification.
- Beginning "I speak as a student that has taken the tests and jumped through the hoops," Tennessee high school senior Kenneth Ye told his local school board:
However, as our schools take another step to becoming the next big bureaucracy in America, I would like to call for a conference of concern. With the new Common Core system, I see us shifting even further into a "one size fits all" factory of education, where we churn out students seen as "proficient" through testing. [...]
My largest concern is the influx of high stakes testing and the effect it is having on our students, along with the flaws in its establishment. We need to understand that setting high standards and helping students work towards achieving them is drastically different from mandating all students to achieve them.
- The Los Angeles schools paid how much for iPads? (Via Diane Ravitch)
- Yet again, a judge has ruled against Florida's drug-tests-for-welfare law.