Socialist Worker

Teachers’ pay rebellion spreads across Oklahoma with second week of strikes

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2599

Teachers marched to Oklahoma City last week as part of their strikes

Teachers marched to Oklahoma City last week as part of their strikes (Pic: Cindy Gaete/Facebook)


Teachers in the US state of Oklahoma began their second week of walkouts on Monday. They are striking for more pay and better education funding.

The strikes in Oklahoma follow others in West Virginia that won pay rises.

Oklahoma state governor Mary Fallin signed a new budget last Thursday. It included a pay rise of over £4,000, or 15 percent, for teachers. That’s not enough for strikers though.

They are demanding a pay rise of over £7,000 a year, more money for support workers, and over £140 million in extra funding for schools on top of this.

They are receiving massive support and solidarity.

A poll on the newsok.com website showed that 86 percent of 24,000 people support the strike.

Members of one local Teamsters union refused to cross the picket lines at the Capitol building last week to carry out renovation work.

The strikes are spreading across the state.

Schools that weren’t out last week are out this week. Workers have protested outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City every day. Striking teacher Jimmy Acevedo spoke to Socialist Worker from the state Capitol, having travelled there from Guymon in the north west of the state.

Support

“We just keep getting more and more support,” he said. “I’ve been here for a week today.”

A group of 100 teachers began a 110-mile march from Tulsa to Oklahoma City on Wednesday of last week as part of the strike.

“It’s been an incredible experience,” said Jimmy.

“There is camaraderie and positive enthusiasm everywhere.

“I’ve only spent 12 dollars for food from Sunday through to Friday. Local teachers have literally fed me and other teachers from Guymon every day.”

Fallin attacked teachers, saying, “It’s like kind of having a teenage kid that wants a better car.”

People are outraged that a governor who takes a private jet on business trips should lecture ordinary people on frugality.

“Teachers are some of the hardest workers that complain the least,” said Jimmy. “That’s what has allowed this to go on for so long.”

Now they’re saying enough is enough. The union leadership has been caught flat footed by the strikes.

Oklahoma Education Association executive director David Duvall said last week, “Our members know their needs, and they’re going to tell us when it’s enough.”

Teachers in the US are rediscovering strikes at exactly the right time to give confidence to the rest of the working class in the era of Donald Trump.


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