The anti-worker forces that are trying to break our union just got a big break from the United States Supreme Court. This morning, the court agreed to hear the case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association during its next term.
Make no mistake: This case is not about individual liberty or the First Amendment. It is an outright attack against unions to prevent us from representing our members and using our voices to fight for our families, our schools, our colleges, our healthcare facilities and our communities.
This case would undermine our unions and challenge nearly 40 years of precedent—and the court agreed to hear it barely a year after it dealt a blow to workers with its decision in Harris v. Quinn. In fact, the conservative justices on the court used the Harris v.Quinn ruling to invite cases like this one, showing just how political they really are.
Joseph Stiglitz, The rising crescendo of bickering and acrimony within Europe might seem to outsiders to be the inevitable result of the bitter endgame playing out between Greece and its creditors. In fact, European leaders are finally beginning to reveal the true nature of the ongoing debt dispute, and the answer is not pleasant: it is about power and democracy much more than money and economics.
Of course, the economics behind the programme that the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) foisted on Greece five years ago has been abysmal, resulting in a 25% decline in the country’s GDP. I can think of no depression, ever, that has been so deliberate and had such catastrophic consequences: Greece’s rate of youth unemployment, for example, now exceeds 60%.
It is startling that the troika has refused to accept responsibility for any of this or admit how bad its forecasts and models have been. But what is even more surprising is that Europe’s leaders have not even learned. The troika is still demanding that Greece achieve a primary budget surplus (excluding interest payments) of 3.5% of GDP by 2018.
Advocates of education privatization—whether through voucher programs that send tax dollars to private schools or through charter schools—like to market their ideas as "choice" or even as a civil rights struggle. But as soon as you start to follow the money, you see the reality. When you have a new system of education that's being funded by billionaires at the expense of a truly public education system that serves all kids, it's not about choice or civil rights. And when the Walton family, the Walmart heirs who make up four of the 10 richest Americans, is one of the biggest voucher and charter funders out there, it tells you a lot.
The Waltons have been pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into remaking American education for decades now, and a new report from In the Public Interest and the American Federation of Teachers connects the dots. On more than one occasion, the staff of Walton-funded advocacy organizations have made the agenda clear: weakening public schools to the point of collapse. That's the project the Walton Family Foundation is pushing with hundreds of millions of dollars, putting its stamp on charter schools and corporate education reform as much as Walmart has put its stamp on big box retail: