FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

An Open Letter to the Evergreen State College and Beyond!

by PETER BOHMER

I urge everyone to honor the Tuesday, May 28th 2013 strike of the Student Staff Support Services Union.  These Evergreen workers have bargained for more than 16 months for a just contract, where they would be treated with respect. They are requesting a small increase in pay and that they cannot be fired at the will of their supervisors but only for just cause. Not having this basic right makes people less willing to speak and challenge injustices as there might be retaliation.

This is an important struggle to support.  I will be picketing the campus and urge you to do so. I wish the Evergreen administration had already accepted the contract and settled and still hope they do but more pressure is needed on them.

First, winning the contract that the student support staff union is negotiating for will improve the lives of the 57 workers who are covered which will reduce turnover and improve support services for students.  Winning a just contract will build morale of this staff.   This contract is important in and by itself but this issue and Tuesday’s action is about more than only that.

Second, this just struggle is bringing together students, faculty, classified staff, food service employees  and the student  support staff in a way that has never existed on this campus. This campaign will further cooperation and solidarity in a way that can make this campus a better and more democratic place. This could lead to a united effort to work for an Evergreen State College where there is quality education that is affordable and accessible, where decisions about the future of this school are made democratically, where employees receive a living wage and have some decision-making power,   where Evergreen can be more involved in the struggle for a more just and equal and sustainable society. Winning a just contract will build morale and show that progressive change can be won. It could help the classified staff and food service workers win wage increases.   A victory here, which may not happen on Tuesday, May 28th although I hope it does, will also be a step toward Evergreen becoming a more progressive place which it claims to be but often falls short. To win, may take continued and sustained actions past Tuesday, May 28th, 2013.

Third, unions have been on the defensive for over 30 years. Less than one out of eight workers are members of unions. There has been a corporate offensive against private sector and increasingly against public sector unions, e.g., Wisconsin, 2011.  By its refusal to accept the very reasonable demands that this union, Local 443 of the Washington Federation of State Employees, (WFSE) is trying to get for its first contract, the Evergreen administration is sadly part of this reactionary movement to weaken or destroy public sector unions.

Why unions are quite weak and losing membership is not totally caused by the corporate and right-wing offensive against them.  There are also internal reasons.   Unions have become increasingly bureaucratized and top down, not controlled by the rank and file, and unwilling to break from the Democratic Party no matter how pro-corporate and pro-austerity the Democratic Party is. Unions are a necessary part of that struggle, as much today as in the 1930’s, in order for   working people to have decent wages and benefits, for reformist and more fundamental and transformative economic and social change. We need visionary unions that are social movement and social justice oriented and willing to strike and do direct action.  The major participation by the members of the student support staff union in organizing the union and to gain a decent contract is a step in that direction. Hopefully it will inspire union and non-union members at Evergreen, in the government and in corporations to form this type of democratic and social movement union or change the nature of their current labor union in this direction.

Fourth, public higher education is under attack– note the decreased funding of it all over the country. At Evergreen tuition now covers about 60% of the costs per student, up from about 33%, 25 years ago.  This is a form of privatization of education and wrong. To return to a situation where State Universities are mainly publicly funded will require a winning struggle for increases in taxes that are progressive, e.g., an income and/or wealth tax. To do this a strong and bold movement that unites the many against the few and is willing to take risks is necessary. The movement that is growing at Evergreen and that has Statewide support can be part of that effort.  A victory in this struggle will show the value of mobilization and striking and making demands and will hopefully continue to work with other grassroots groups for fair taxes, health care for all, child care for all, a living wage, reducing the prison population, climate justice, and free and high quality education from Kindergarten to graduate school.

A just contract will be a victory for the Student Support Staff Union, the Evergreen State College, for all working people and the labor movement and for higher education. We are living in a period where the right-wing is on the offensive and many people feel that economic justice is unattainable and that struggle is futile.   A victory will be an educational lesson that social change can be advanced by organizing and activism.

Not crossing the picket line, picketing, writing a letter to President Les Purce and the board of Trustees all help this important campaign.  Please join the picket line Tuesday, May 28th between 7: 30 A.M and 7:30 P.M. whether or not you are an Evergreen staff or student. Come to the rally in the middle of the Evergreen campus between 11:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M.

I urge the Evergreen Administration at this late date to accept the demands of the Student  Support Staff Union and not further tarnish Evergreen’s reputation. Its reputation as an institution committed to economic and social justice, that treats its workers and students fairly is being put to the test.

Si Se Puede!

Peter Bohmer

Peter Bohmer has been an organizer and participant in the struggle for social and economic justice since the 1960s.  In recent years, his political activities have taken him to Venezuela, Cuba, Greece and a number of US cities.  He teaches political economy and has been a faculty member at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. since 1987.

 

 

Peter Bohmer is a faculty member in Political Economy at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. He has been an activist since 1967 in movements for fundamental social change.

February 09, 2016
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail