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On the picket line

November 2, 2001 | Page 11

New York City teachers
Seattle Pacific Science Center

Providence Journal

By Chris Grogan

PROVIDENCE, R.I.--More than 150 members of the Providence Newspaper Guild and other activists rallied outside the Providence Journal Bulletin October 20 to protest the newspaper's stalling on contract negotiations.

Workers there have been without a contract for nearly two years. The workers are seeking an increase in pay and health benefits, while the company is launching a campaign of harassment and union-busting tactics, such as abolishing union dues checkoff.

"They have been committing corporate terror for a long time," said Tony DePaul, a reporter at the Journal. He points out that the company has been posting record profits of 20 percent during the last two years.

The union has launched a campaign asking subscribers of the Providence Journal to show their solidarity by signing cards pledging to cancel their subscriptions in the event that a boycott is approved by the union's membership.

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New York City teachers

NEW YORK--As election day approaches, mayoral candidates Mark Green and Mike Bloomberg are both making promises about improving education in the city's overcrowded schools. But neither candidate has a real solution for the city's 1.1 million students or the 80,000 teachers who have gone without a contract for almost a year.

Both candidates have called for pay raises for teachers while simultaneously calling for various forms of "performance incentives" and new measures to get rid of "bad teachers." This divide-and-conquer strategy is an attempt to blame teachers for problems caused by chronic underfunding.

Bloomberg, a Republican, has recently claimed that the city didn't have enough money to reduce class size. Mark Green, a Democrat, has received the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers. He has promised to raise teachers' salaries and reduce class size. But he has tied part of these raises to "bonus pay" or performance incentives.

"Teachers should expect to spend more time at school," Green said during a speech at City University of New York.

Neither candidate has a solution for already overworked teachers who haven't had a pay raise in nearly two years. But Randi Weingarten--the president of the teachers' union--has done little to get a new contract but endorse Green and put hopes in a contract fact-finding process that has stalled in the wake of September 11.

Frustration with negotiations was evident at a recent delegate's assembly when a couple of delegates raised a banner that read, "Don't sacrifice education! No war contracts!"

We need a strong rank-and-file movement to win changes in education and improve teachers' living standards.

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Seattle Pacific Science Center

By Nat Gibbons

SEATTLE--The Seattle Pacific Science Center, after having its most successful summer ever, laid off nearly one-quarter of its staff. The museum--whose mission is supposed to be educating its young visitors--eliminated its entire Visitor Education department in the layoffs.

Executive director George Moynihan blamed the layoffs on a February earthquake, the September 11 attacks and the recession. Meanwhile, across the water in Bellevue, the Science Center has a multimillion-dollar expansion project underway.

Workers received no advance notice of the layoffs.

The directors expected these employees to hang their heads and walk away from jobs they loved. Instead, the workers organized a rally, handing visitors an informational flyer with the executive directors' phone numbers.

Despite the obvious attempt to intimidate them, former educators talked to visitors and members, many of whom turned around and went to other places once they heard what had happened.

About 40 former employees and friends attended the rally. In a final gesture, the workers threw their uniforms over the museum gate into the ponds.

The Pacific Science Center, although a not-for-profit foundation, follows the same formula as large corporations when it comes to choosing expansion over quality. They spend millions on advertising, but when it comes to paying workers, the well is dry.

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