Teachers are the backbone of the current fight for worker and union rights and democracy in Wisconsin. The great majority of America’s K-12 teachers are women. It seems in Wisconsin everyone loves a teacher. Because it could be their mom, wife, or just someone who helped them graduate and go to college.
Even Jon Stewart, America’s most trusted “journalist,” loves at least one teacher, his mom.
Compare that love with the hatred spewed by Fox News bloviators, far-right GOP and union-busting politicians, Wall Street kingmakers or Heritage Foundation Svengoolis when they scapegoat teachers and outright lie about their pay, benefits, union contracts and nature of their work.
When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker attacked teachers, nurses and other public workers in his budget bill, it brings to mind a saying used during the South African anti-apartheid struggle: “When you have touched the women, you have struck a rock!”
Well Scott Walker and others: You have touched the teachers, you have struck a rock!
What better way to celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day, than join in solidarity with the Wisconsin teachers — and all of America’s public workers — to say “No way” to union-busting and throwing Wall Street’s mess on working families.
March 8, International Women’s Day, has its origins out of the movement for equal rights for women: at the workplace and voting booth. It also has its roots in the internationalist and socialist movement. (So, beware because anyone caught celebrating it will end up on Glenn Beck’s chalkboard.)
Just days after the first “official” International Women’s Day, March 1911, a fire swept through the Triangle Shirtwaist sweatshop in New York City, killing 146 workers, the vast majority of them young women — Jewish immigrants — aged 16 to 25. The doors and stairwells to the 9th floor factory were locked.
This preventable tragedy (or crime) gave new impetus and meaning to the day dedicated to the fight for women’s equality, worker and union rights.
Nine years later, in 1920, U.S. women won the right to vote.
Much has changed for the better since and because of those events. Even the capitalist system has changed, but not its stripes.
There still remains threads that binds then and now: inequality is part of capitalism’s DNA and its ever demanding need to maximize profit; the fight for women’s equality is inextricably bound with the fight for worker rights and democracy.
Both were true 100 years ago, and are true today.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Photo: Teresa Albano/PW