Socialist Worker

Donald Trump in shutdown war as striking teachers fight back

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2638

Teachers

Teachers in their second week week of strikes (Pic: https://twitter.com/UTLAnow)


US president Donald Trump is looking increasingly desperate over his government shutdown.

Some 800,000 federal workers have gone over two weeks without pay and are on the breadline. Over 1,500 GoFundMe pages have been set up to help people make ends meet.

On Saturday Trump once again tried to wriggle out of the bind he has put himself in.

He offered Democrats a deal to get the £5 billion in funding for his infamous border wall. His side of the deal was a three-year reprieve on deportation proceedings for ­certain groups of immigrants.

That rings hollow since it was Trump himself that lifted a blanket reprieve on the one million people affected. Despite his manoeuvres he only succeeded in tightening the knot closing around him.

Democrats rejected his deal out of hand, and it also had the unintended effect of enraging his racist political base. On top of this Trump’s shutdown is increasing tension at the top of society.

Bosses and bankers have tolerated Trump because he has proven himself able to fight for the interests of the wealthy—cutting tax for the richest and hammering ordinary people.

Grinding

But federal spending accounts for over 20 percent of the US economy, and now huge—and profitable—federal contracts are going unfilled. The US economy isn’t in danger of grinding to a halt, but the shutdown is having an effect.

More struggle from below can be decisive against Trump and the system that has created him.

In Los Angeles some 33,000 teachers are in their second week of strikes over pay and workload.

Schools that provide services to over 600,000 students are affected, and the strikes are hugely popular with ordinary people.

Around 80 percent of people approve of them despite a sustained media campaign attacking the workers.

Nicole Efferman has been organising in support of the strike. She told Socialist Worker, “We have been organising since the school year’s start.” She described how a Facebook group supporting the teachers was started by parents at her child’s school.

“In two weeks it has grown to over 20,000 members,” she said. “We have tried to provide people with a space to ask questions, provide information, and boost morale.”

The strike is significant because it is taking place in a staunchly Democrat state. Much of the struggle around the teachers’ strikes in Republican-dominated states last year was subsumed into electoral campaigning around the midterm elections.

The same dynamic is not at play in California.

Austin Beutner is the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

He is also a billionaire with deep ties to the Democratic Party establishment. It gives the lie to the much-reported image of the Democrats as the young, multiracial and progressive resistance to Trump.

In California the party has been at the forefront of pushing through “charter”—private—schools, in league with Republican backers of privatisation.

Strikes must be at the heart of resistance to Trump.


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