[act-ma] Reports from March 4th Actions and Invitation to International Women's Day Potluck

Bryan Koulouris brykoulouris at gmail.com
Thu Mar 11 12:30:10 PST 2010

****please foward widely: email, facebook, etc.****
*In this email:

1. Reports from March 4th National Day of Action to Defend Education*
*2. Invitation to the Saturday March 13th Potluck to Celebrate 100 Years of
International Women's Day*
March 4 Actions: Reports from Organizers — Across the Country, Socialist
Alternative Mobilizes Against Education Cuts
     Mar 6, 2010
By SocialistAlternative.org
A new movement of students and education workers has erupted in response to
the vicious budget cuts raining down on public education in state after
state. The media coverage of March 4th actions across the country – and
particularly in California, the epicenter of the new movement – was
extensive. But this was by no means a spontaneous outburst of resistance.
The protests were organized by student and public sector union activists who
are on the front lines of this growing movement.

Below is a compilation of reports from activists with Socialist Alternative,
many of whom played leading roles in their areas building for March 4th
actions. Check back on socialistalternative.org for further analysis and
reports which will be published in coming days.

Multiple Protests Erupt Across the City as Movement Builds
By Leon Pinsky

Over 700 students, transit workers, school teachers, left activists and
socialists participated in a high-energy day of action to defend public
education, mass transit and jobs and fight against the massive budget cuts
proposed by state and city hall officials. Several unions including the
Transit Workers Union (TWU) and Professional Staff Congress (PSC) endorsed
the action, connecting their struggles into a united action against the
attempt to make working people paying for the capitalist crisis.

About five colleges had local actions, including hundreds of demonstrators
in Hunter Community College, Brooklyn College, City University of NY and
Borough of Manhattan Community College. Over 100 people also took part in a
protest outside city hall.

After gathering in front of Governor Paterson’s office in Midtown for the
central rally we marched to the M.T.A hearing, chanting “From NY to
California – Save our schools!” and “Hands off my MetroCard!”, a reference
to the vicious cancellation of free MetroCards for students.

Standing outside the Hearing, we demanded “Let us in!” but were prevented
from getting in by a large police force.

This successful mobilization was only the first of many in the next period.
Workers around the city, especially school teachers and transit workers are
under serious threat of losing their jobs. More struggles are expected in
the next period around issues of education, transit and union democracy.

Workers and Students Rally on Three Campuses
By Genevieve Morse

March 4th was a new turning point in the fight to defend education. In
Massachusetts students on three campuses in the University of Massachusetts
system held rallies and teach-ins to discuss and take action against
crippling budget cuts.

Socialist Alternative played a leading role in organizing the rally and
teach-in at UMass Boston. Despite the snowy conditions, students, union
staff members and activists totaling about 150 people rallied for two hours.
The event had a lot of energy with people chanting slogans like, “We don’t
want no corporation, we want our education” or “Education under attack, what
do we do? Stand up fight back!

The highlight of the rally was when people decided to march through the
buildings. We chanted in and out of the buildings, marching around the
campus with banners and signs. It was obvious by the end of the rally that
people wanted to do more but with out larger forces we ended the rally and
prepared for the teach-in.

During the teach-in students, union activists and community members totaling
about 75 were again present. The discussion had a strong anti-privatization
and anti-corporate message, and it was broadly agreed that the UMass
administration has been crystal clear about its agenda to privatize. An
example was Robert Manning, the chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, who
has stated that UMass is “privatizing whether we like it or not.” During
both events people were outraged about the recent raise that the president
of the UMass system received. His bonus came after asking all the unions on
all the campuses to take further concessions in their contracts!

It was raised a number of times during both events that workers and students
have the same interests. Everyone saw these actions as a first step in an
ongoing campaign to stop the cuts and fee increases. A coalition was formed
to build for these actions. Coming away from March 4th the coalition will be
meeting again to discuss the next steps in building a broader movement of
pre-K–12 teachers, working more closely with the Public Higher Education
Network of Massachusetts and continuing unity with the unions and students.
Education is under attack and Massachusetts is fighting back!

State Legislature Disrupted by Funeral for Public Education
By Ben Gallup

Our protest in Olympia began with a funeral ceremony, which at least 100
people attended over the course of the ceremony. The scene was complete with
funeral music, a coffin, and most people in black clothes. Workers in the
campus cafes wore black armbands that we provided to show their solidarity.
Three members of Socialist Alternative gave eulogies for education, jobs,
health care, etc.

Next we had a funeral procession to the capitol with 25 to 30 cars, all of
which had purple flags and on their windows were written things like,
“R.I.P. Education . . . the bankers got all the bailouts,” and “R.I.P. Jobs
. . . the government thought war was important.”

When we got to the capitol the cops were expecting us. We marched in
silence, pallbearers at the front with 75 people behind (number according
Huffington Post), and brought the coffin up to the capitol. They wouldn't
let us bring it in, but eventually they said we could go in but that if we
disrupted the legislature we'd be arrested. We went in quietly, and filed up
to the senate balcony. After a couple minutes, all 75 of us started singing
“Amazing Grace,” but with new leftist lyrics.

They then proceeded to kick us out, but the singing, which began quietly,
became a roar, and we sang it all the way through the halls and out of the
building. No one was arrested.

After we were removed, many mourners went to testify for legislation that
would significantly shift the state tax burden from workers and the poor
onto the shoulders of big-business and the rich. Washington has the most
regressive tax system of all 50 states (http://www.ctj.org/itep/).

All in all the funeral was a great media stunt and there were many
journalists there from campus all the way to the capitol. Democracy Now!
reported on us and, today, we are on the front page of The Olympian, the
local newspaper here in Olympia.

The funeral event solved a number of problems. It allowed us to have a
high-profile event on campus, a high-profile event in town, and a
high-profile event at the capitol building too, all with strong media
coverage. It was plenty disruptive enough to make a statement, display
slogans, etc. but innocent enough to get away with it.

Also important is that on Tuesday, March 2, we had an all-night study-in at
the Evergreen State College computer center, which is supposed to close at
midnight. The workers helped organize it and the cops didn't hassle us.
There was a teach-in about the budget cuts and the Evergreen Board of
Trustees, a group of ruling-class elements with deep connection to Boeing,
Lockheed-Martin, the FBI, etc. We estimate 40-50 people attended.

Here's a video of us getting kicked out of the capitol!
Some media:

Community College Students Take the Halls
By Aditi Kaushik

The Seattle branch of Socialist Alternative organized a March 4th Day of
action to save public education at the Seattle Central Community College

We began the day's action inside the main college building in a common lunch
and gathering area for students, faculty, and staff. The action began with
the emcee standing up with a bullhorn in the atrium and addressing the
audience present about the state budget cuts and the national day of action,
and saying “Join us in telling Governor Gregoire that we will not accept the
budget cuts.” The crowd of students, initially small, grew as the enthusiasm
and the energy of the students rose, and the chants became louder and

After a few other short speeches interspersed with chants, the protesters
marched through the hallways of the third and fourth floors, their chants
reverberating. The march was led outside into the plaza, where the main
rally began.

The emcee explained how public education was facing cuts of $90 million
dollars in the state of Washington and how the Democrats had proven to be
“loyal servants of big business.” Her speech, as well as that of speaker
Philip Locker, rejected the Democrats' excuse that there was no money,
pointing out that big banks were given bailout gifts and the war machine was
kept running, while public education and social services were being

Also speaking were SCCC students, Richard Curtis, a 2010 independent
candidate for Washington state senatorial race, who is also a professor of
philosophy at SCCC, and Kraig Schwartz, a professor of history.

An estimated 80-85 people participated in the rally. The audience was
constantly engaged with the speakers, cheering each other, booing the
Democrats and the budget cuts, and raising their fists in the air and
chanting loudly. Some of the chants that went over well were “No cuts, no
fees, education should be free,” “They say cutback, we say fightback; They
say layoff, we say back off.”, and “Whose schools? Our Schools; Whose
College? Our College”, “Money for jobs and education; Not for war and

We then marched across the streets of Capitol Hill. The protesters remained
enthused all through the march, unfazed in their chanting.

The march culminated at the plaza, with the emcee exhorting the crowd to
continue their activism beyond March 4th. As the emcee concluded, one of the
new and energized members of SA stuck his fist up in the air and shouted,
“We will win!” The crowd dispersed on that high note.

Students Confront University President
By Logan Steele and Ramy Khalil

The rally on March 4th at Western Washington University spearheaded by
Socialist Alternative drew a crowd of over 50 students and workers eager to
protest the state government’s proposed tuition hikes and cuts to campus
services and jobs. Students spoke of how cuts to financial aid and the Work
Study program would seriously jeopardize our education.

Students marched through campus chanting loudly, not only outdoors but also
as we marched through the Old Main building where all the top university
administrators have their offices. As soon as we entered the Old Main
building, we marched right up to the president’s office and asked to see the

The president came out, walked around to shake every protester’s hand, and
he thanked us for our efforts.

We presented him and three university vice presidents with 200 signatures on
petitions against education cuts and told the administrators we needed them
to do more to stop the budget cuts.

The president claimed, however, that they were doing all that they could to
push for more state funding for education.

So a working-class Latino student asked the president if he would be willing
to issue a public statement against the tuition hikes – to which the
president adamantly replied “No.”

The president tried hard to convince students that it was in their interest
to raise tuition because it would prevent the quality of education from
deteriorating as state funding for education “inevitably” declined.

He also argued that raising tuition would mainly affect upper-middle class
students because working-class students could supposedly obtain financial

Students argued back (although the president tried to dominate the
discussion and made it difficult to get a word in.) Students questioned the
logic of how it could be in students’ interest for tuition to increase,
particularly as financial aid has been consistently reduced year after year.

Students insisted that administrators needed to demand an increase in
funding for education from state politicians who should tax the wealthy and
corporations or get a bailout from Obama, like the $14 trillion in bailouts
that banks received.

However, the president claimed that it was not politically realistic or
popular for politicians to tax the wealthy. This argument was also
challenged by students who pointed out that taxing the working class and
middle class may not be popular, but taxing the rich certainly was. In fact,
a majority of Oregon voters just voted in recent months to tax the rich.

Yet one of the vice presidents still talked down to us, saying we “needed to
be better educated on the issues and get more informed.”

After debating back and forth for 20 minutes, it became clear to most
students that the administrators were either too well paid and/or unwilling
to agree with our point of view. (The president receives annually a $300,000
salary, $25,000 for stock investments, and a house—all paid for by our
tuition and taxes.)

This successful protest was sponsored by Western United to Defend
Education—a coalition created by Socialist Alternative that includes the
Black Student Union, Students for Educational Equality, and Western Votes.
It was also endorsed by the United Faculty of Washington State, Veterans for
Peace-111, and Whatcom Peace and Justice Center.

The rally had a diverse range of speakers from the Public School Employees
union of WWU, the Black Student Union, and MEChA (a Latino student
organization). Of all the people at the rally, the members of the Black
Student Union, MEChA, and Socialist Alternative seemed the most determined
to confront those in power about the budget cuts.

Reports were published in at least the Bellingham Herald, Tacoma News
Tribune, and the Western Front campus newspaper. A number of journalism
students also interviewed Socialist Alternative members for their class.

We sincerely thank everyone who helped with this protest for their support,
and we hope more people will contact us to get involved in the struggle to
defend education and social justice:
(713) 458-0366 Bellingham at SocialistAlternative.org

Photos and 2-min. audio recording:

By Marlon Pierre-Antoine

The Cedar Rapids branch of Socialist Alternative contributed its part to the
March 4th Day of Action by organizing a protest and rally outside of
Kirkwood Community College. About a dozen workers and high school students,
carrying signs with slogans such as "The rich made this crisis, let them pay
for it!" and "March 4 our education, March 4 our futures", stood outside the
campus building, receiving an enthusiastic response from passers-by. We even
received media attention, with a speech by S.A. member and alternative high
school student Tiffany Van Tomme being listened to by participants and news
reporters. That evening, the local stations reported that the struggle of
the students and workers was alive in Iowa, if small, and that there are
those in the state who are standing up and saying NO to the endless tide of
cuts, hikes and layoffs.


200 Students and Workers Demand “Chop from the Top”
By Brandon Madsen

The March 4th demonstration in Minneapolis was an impressive and exciting
event, despite the late start in building for it and the limited overall
level of mobilization. Over 200 people showed up for an outdoor rally at the
University of Minnesota, where youth, students, and university workers spoke
out against the budget cuts and tuition hikes while calling for good jobs
and affordable education for all. This was followed up by a march that went
through Coffman Student Union and eventually took to the streets on
Washington Avenue, pausing to point out the location of a follow-up
demonstration next week when the Regents are meeting.

The demonstration was built by a number of campus and community groups,
including Students for a Democratic Society, who initiated planning for the
event, Women's Student Activist Collective (WSAC), AFSCME 3800, Black
Student Union (BSU), Graduate Student Workers United (GSWU), and ourselves
in Socialist Alternative, all of whom had speakers at the rally. Also
present were members of SEIU Local 26, fresh out of a bitter contract
struggle with the cleaning companies.

During the march, the most common chants were: "Chop from the top!", "Fund
education, not administration!", "Education is a right! Now is the time to
fight!", "Hey hey, ho ho! Tuition hikes have got to go!", and "Whose
university? Our university! Whose crisis? Their crisis!"

This demonstration showed the potential that currently exists to build
around anti-cuts, affordable education demands, and reflects a changed
situation from this same time last year, when the mood to fight budget cuts
was less. This national movement appears to have some real momentum behind
it and in Minnesota, socialists should continue to organize a fight-back.

*2. Invitation to an International Women's Day Potluck in Harvard Square on
Saturday, March 13th*

*Celebrating a Century of International Women's Day*

Saturday, March 13th Potluck: All Unpaid Labor Performed by men.
Boston Socialist Alternative will be hosting a potluck on *Saturday March
13th* at the Democracy Center in *Harvard Square* to celebrate a century of
International Women's Day. The Democracy Center is at *45 Mount Auburn
Street*. The event begins at 6pm, going up until 9pm. *Ten dollar
admission*includes food and child care.

The overwhelming burden of unpaid labor in society falls on the shoulders of
women. Personal and structural changes need to combat this in our lives and
in our demands as activists. At this event, all food will be cooked by men,
and all child care will be provided by men. We apologize ahead of time for
bad food and unruly children (joking of course).This event should be a fun
way to facilitate discussion about socialism and women's liberation.

-Boston Socialist Alternative
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