Detroit Teachers Sickout

The last few weeks have witnessed a sickout of Detroit teachers that almost completely shut down the public school systems. This has occurred outside and against the unions, and in opposition to anti-strike laws in place for teachers in Michigan since 1947. Almost all the teachers in the school district called in sick, for two non-consecutive days.

The teachers unions, contrary to the misleading articles in the Guardian and elsewhere, are not opponents of the austerity measures that have led to the physical decay of the public schools. When the school system sought an injunction against the teachers’ union the court found there to be no evidence that the union advocated or participated in the sickout. The unions opposed it. If anything the fact that the Detroit Public Schools brought the teachers’ union officials to court at all, lent them undeserved credibility. This was a warning to the unions to keep their house in order and a chance for them to recoup the movement.

The mood is one of support from workers in the community at large. The bourgeoisie knows that if this austerity keeps increasing there will only be more unrest. In order to get the “community” behind the austerity measures, the sickouts have forced the city to change tactics and dismiss the Emergency Manager, Darnell Earley, and bring back an elected school board. The bourgeoisie hopes to maintain social peace and a pretense of local control will be a useful cover for its plan to gut the city’s infrastructure.

The draconian anti-strike legislation currently in embryo in the Michigan state legislature contains proposals to revoke certification for any teachers involved, and remove their right to a hearing. While strikes by teachers are already illegal, the bourgeoisie intends to make them “more illegal”, and make the consequences for teachers even more punitive.

Since the US government hasn’t been forthcoming with information on the infrastructure needs and costs to maintain the public school system in the US for some time, it is no great stretch of the imagination to conclude that the conditions in Detroit’s public schools are not unique. There isn’t an urban area in the US where teachers do not have a common bond of increasingly intolerable conditions. It is easy enough to envision that such strike activity could easily spread across the country.


Sunday, February 14, 2016


AS writes:"It is easy enough to envision that such strike activity could easily spread across the country."

Yes, let's hope it does.

We must hope that the left is not able to keep it under control, e.g. that the teachers and students are not fooled by the Sanders campaign's rhetoric around education reform.