The word “solidarity” describes action that recognizes the intertwined nature of our struggles as members of the working class. Our comrades in the Las Vegas Democratic Socialists of America (LVDSA) are showing us how this is done in exemplary fashion by donating $3,000 to the #BreadForEd strike solidarity fund organized by Chicago DSA’s Labor Branch for the potential CPS strike on October 17th.
The money is left over from LVDSA’s support campaign for the recent contract negotiations between Clark County School District and Clark County teachers, which nearly resulted in a strike. Even though Nevada is a right-to-work state, and it’s illegal for public employees to strike in Nevada, teachers in Las Vegas won their demands for better pay. By standing together in solidarity, unafraid to threaten a strike despite its illegality, Las Vegas teachers showed the power workers can wield through collective action.
Some might think these solidarity campaigns amount to charity work for teachers who are struggling for better compensation and better conditions for their students. While some of us are Chicago Public Schools teachers most aren’t. Some of us have children attending public schools, but many don’t. However, as members of the working class our interests and our liberation are interconnected.
Regardless of our differences, working-class people share a fundamental relationship to production and capital: we must sell our labor to survive. As workers, both our intertwined interests and our collective power come from this relationship to production.
We can’t survive outside of selling our labor, but it is our labor that keeps capitalist society running. So when we practice solidarity across boundaries like those of geography and workplace, it’s a material expression of our interconnected positions — and our most powerful tool for a liberated and democratic future.
Chicago teachers and support staff are gearing up to go on strike for better pay for school staff—many of whom make poverty wages—and adequate staffing and better conditions for their students on October 17th. At the same time, the Chicago DSA Labor Branch has been working on a solidarity campaign to support them.
The central question for the Labor Branch in all our activity has been: “What can we do to materially support faculty, staff, students, and parents in the struggle for a CPS system that works for everyone?” In other words, how can we materially show our solidarity?
To do exactly that, we are canvassing for community support, building momentum for turnout at picket lines, creating educational materials about the struggle, and fundraising to help feed students during the strike who may depend on school breakfast and lunch. For this last point, the financial support of our comrades in Nevada will be a huge benefit.
Along with healthcare, housing, and utilities, quality education is an essential component of the struggle for a truly democratic, liberated society. In addition to worker control over our workplaces, this is what we mean when we say “Democratic Socialism.”
Just as teachers across the country looked to Chicago after the 2012 strike, and eventually each other for organizing lessons and material support, if we make these connections and practice solidarity in a very active sense each organizing effort and victory can move our collective struggle forward. The labor movement in this country is experiencing a resurgence precisely because of the conscious efforts of teachers and community members organizing from this perspective. It’s in this spirit that the Chicago and Las Vegas DSA chapters stand in solidarity with Chicago teachers, staff, parents, and students.
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