Socialist Alternative members from Pittsburgh, Columbus, Philadelphia, and Seattle traveled to Charlestown to stand in solidarity with the striking teachers. We engaged in many conversations, listening to what workers had to say and expressing our support for their struggle. Teachers were more than happy to talk to us even though there was some suspicion of “socialism”. But once we established that we were there to listen and support their struggle, they were actually excited to speak with open socialists….
While much of the American liberal left concluded that the working class in states like West Virginia, which voted 68% for Trump, should be dismissed as one reactionary mass, Socialist Alternative explained the contradictory reality and the need for the labor movement to take a stand and build a movement that spoke to the common interests of all working people while also boldly fighting racism, nativism and sexism. The West Virginia teachers, less likely to vote Trump than the state as a whole and also inspired by the emerging women’s movement, point precisely to the class contradictions in Trump country. Led in part by leftists, the rank and file revolt won the support of the mass of the West Virginia working class in a stand-up fight with a reactionary, Republican dominated legislature…..
The boldness of the West Virginia teachers shows that there is no time to waste. Workplace meetings and rallies should be held at every unionized public sector workplace in the country against Janus. This should be the launching point for a massive national day of action where millions of unionized workers come on the streets to say that they won’t be pushed back to the pre-union era and to declare that they are fighting not just for themselves but for the entire working class. This will put the labor movement on a direct collision course with Trump, the Republicans and the whole corporate elite but that’s exactly what needs to happen.