US educators and school workers call for the building of the ICFI’s May Day Rally
By Renae Cassimeda, World Socialist Website, 30/4/2021.
An international online May Day Rally is being held by the the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) on Saturday, May 1.
As the total death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed three million lives, and global powers led by the United States push the world to the brink of global war, never has the call for the working class to build its own independent organs of struggle been so urgent.
The ICFI recently published a statement calling for the formation of the International Workers Alliance of Rank-and-File Committees (IWA-RFC) in order to build a counteroffensive by the global working class to the homicidal policies of the ruling elite.
Educators and school employees across the US spoke with the WSWS about their decision to attend the upcoming May Day Rally, and their thoughts on the importance of building independent rank-and-file committees.
A teacher in Alabama said, “I read the May Day statement and want to say that seeing the numbers of hard-working people who did the right thing, went to work, took care of their families and tried to be upstanding citizens just got a swift kick to the face last year from their countries and their employers, I have never felt so uncared for in my life. To see all that I have done mean nothing to the people I work for […] is just disgusting. It hurts to know how little my life is worth to them.
“But I refuse to let them treat my life like pennies on the dollar. People deserve the right to fight for their lives and the protections of their families. The moral corruption of this world wasn’t started by COVID but it was further exposed and since the media isn’t sharing our side of the story, May Day is needed to rally all those who want and deserve to live.
“I’m teaching face to face and virtually at the same time. Thankfully, less than one-third of students returned to my school. Also, the head of logistics leased HEPA air purifiers for every teacher’s classroom, which I find interesting because the entire time we protested earlier this year for better safety in our schools, they said our buildings were fine. That’s a mighty large investment for a problem that ‘doesn’t exist.’ We got a little more [personal protective equipment] when we returned Feb 5th but I just ran out. So any other PPE I need I will have to request and wait or pay for out of pocket. School is out in one month and one week.”
A public school bus driver near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said, “I support the program for all the schools and nonessential workplaces to be shut down until we get this under control. Until everybody can get their shots and the spread of the virus is brought down to zero transmission, there should be a lockdown. No in-person school and no nonessential businesses.
“The politicians, Democrats and Republicans, work for the ruling elite. They want to make capital which is their main concern over saving human lives. The Democrats may seem a little better. The Republicans may seem a little more heartless. But they have the same agenda, only they do it a little differently. The Democrats want to come across as the working man’s friend but they have the same policy. They do what the ruling elite want and may give a little handout here and there to keep us from rioting.
“Instead of the wealth going to the upper echelons, for whatever they use it for, it should be used socially to help people. Instead, they keep cutting the social programs so that they can make more money and hurt the poor. The Republicans in all these states that are passing all these voter laws are becoming like a fascist regime taking over. And the Democrats are letting it happen.
“There is no social distancing [in my work environment]. I try to keep my distance, but our bus compound is very small. They are also not social distancing with the kids. There are too many kids on each bus and the buses aren’t big enough. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. I’ve given up. There is no way you can do it. They are short of drivers so they can’t do it for that reason.
“Before we got our shots there were quite a few people who got sick, maybe half a dozen… Apparently, a few of the special needs students tested positive for COVID and now 8 of them can’t go in. Nearby, some of the bus drivers caught COVID and died.”
Responding to the recent statement calling for the formation of the IWA-RFC, she noted, “I would like to see what happens on May Day. I think it is interesting to see the work to coordinate the committees and get the word out to everyone, and that it is spread out throughout the work force globally. I think that it is good that people see it and if it is growing, people will see they have something to turn to. If workers only have the union, it will fail them every time.”
A teacher in Florida spoke in support of building independent rank-and-file committees across the US and internationally saying, “The virus hasn’t gone away. It’s mutating and getting worse. People are dying at a higher rate because of the neglect of governments, so I support this program. There’s only two choices under this system: between working and running the risk of infection or refusing to work and starving. So people ‘have’ to pick the lesser evil, but it’s not true. There is a real alternative and I think this program addresses that—that you don’t have to starve or die from COVID.” A teacher in Oregon expressed support for the building of rank-and-file committees noting, “We have to find a place we can be more active, to make a movement for the working class. Teachers are the working class. Some are paid $15 an hour even with a Master’s degree