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FROM THE BELLY OF THE BEST - NOTE NO. 7 by Godfrey Vincent

posted 14 Jul 2020, 13:21 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 14 Jul 2020, 13:23 ]
1. We are still in the first wave and the COVID-19 Pandemic is spreading in the South and the South West. To date, there are 3.29 million confirmed cases and 137, 729 deaths and both numbers will increase by the time this note goes to press. In terms of states, Florida, according to the New York Times, has reported 15,000 new confirmed states. This is the highest single day total since the start of the pandemic (New York Times, 07/12/2020). While the pandemic is creating havoc, the class struggle has also intensified.

2. The Trump administration is ratcheting up the struggle over the reopening of public schools and threatening State governors that Federal funds will be withheld if they do not comply. It must be noted that, the administration is not calling on private schools to open. Why? It is because the elite send their children to private schools while the majority of working class and working people children attend public schools.

3. Betsy Devos, a multimillionaire, is leading the fight on behalf of the elite. She has a notorious record in Michigan for defunding public schools and promoting Charter schools. The wider struggle is to 
shut down public schools and turn them into Charter schools. Who own Charter schools? Elite individuals and big business own Charter Schools.

4. The promotion of Charter Schools is one of the policies of the Neo-liberal agenda. The agenda is to privatize education. Under this policy, parents are given vouchers (State money) to send their children to these schools. Furthermore, the owners are given public schools that the state has shut down or have converted into Charter schools. The wider policy agenda is to defund Public education.

5. This struggle has the effect of pitting working class against each other and to have them supporting neo-liberal policies that are not in their best interests. The neo-liberals frame the issue as choice and point to the violence in public schools. Therefore, some members of the working class, who have a conservative view of the world, view Charter schools favorably.

6. While the administration is issuing threats, parents, teachers, unions, and associations are fighting back. In Massachusetts, the Teachers Association are opposed to the State’s directive for school opening (See CBSN Boston, July 9, 2020). In California, the State teachers are also resisting schools reopening. The California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, launched a campaign calling for more funding from the state, pushing back against efforts to physically reopen schools until coronavirus spread slows down and schools have the resources they need to operate safely (See ABC 10, July 10, 2020). Additionally, The American Federation of Teachers and the School Superintendents Association both signaled that schools should not be reopened and if they do there should be adequate funding that provides resources for students, teachers, and other ancillary workers. (See The Hill, July 12, 2020). Moreover, the National Education Association is also opposed to the move to reopen schools (See MSNBC, July 13, 2020).

7. The class struggle is not only waged over school reopening but also about poultry workers. In the months of April and May, the COVID 19 virus hit meat processing plants very hard. When workers took strike action, they were met with threats from State governors and an Executive Order from the president that deemed them essential workers. Writing in the New Yorker, Jane Mayer, in an article, “How Trump is helping Tycoons exploit the Pandemic,” gives a riveting account of how Ron Cameron, a Libertarian and an avid Trump donor used his company Mountaire to rewrite OSHA rules and force workers to work under horrendous conditions. In an interview on Morning Joe (July 13, 2020), Moyer noted that Cameron gave the Trump campaign over nine million dollars in campaign donations. This explains how tycoons like Cameron continue to exploit workers, write legislation that undermine OSHA, and pollute the environment. While the tycoons and their political cohorts are pulling all the levers to destroy unions and the working class, workers are fighting back.

8. Come July 20, 2020, a coalition of labor unions and justice organizations have planned a national strike to support Black Lives Matter. According to Karen Robinson-Jacobs, called the “Strike for Black Lives,” and organized at least in part by the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers in the U.S. and Canada, the short-term work stoppage would be the largest official act by organized labor since protesters took to the streets in May. Moreover, a website linked to SEIU’s long-running “Fight for $15” campaign, which seeks a living wage for workers who proved to be “essential” during the pandemic, calls July 20 “a day of reckoning,” and a “moment to transform our economy and democracy” (See Forbes, July 8, 2020).
9. In the of the COVID 19 Pandemic, the administration is pursuing policies that are directly aimed at defeating the working class. Stay Woke and Watch this Space.