SEATTLE, Washington – Schools here remain closed today, Friday, September 11 on the fourth day of the strike by public school teachers, the first in 30 years. While the Seattle strike has grabbed national attention, teachers in the southeastern Washington city of Pasco have been on strike since September 1, and are still out in defiance of a court order. As in public schools across the country, teachers have been squeezed by low wages, lack of basic classroom supplies including textbooks, overemphasis on standardized testing, and a dictatorial administration that will not allow teachers, parents or students any input in curriculum development.
On Friday September 4, Franklin County Judge Alex Ekstrom ordered the teachers to return to work Tuesday, after the Labor Day weekend. Under Washington State’s slave labor laws, strikes by public employees are illegal. While the school board refuses to meet with union representatives, the court is set to fine the local union two thousand dollars per day, and individual union executive board members an additional $250 per day. But Pasco teachers courageously refused to bow to the slave-labor injunction and are continuing their strike as of Friday. (A court hearing is scheduled for today to begin imposing the draconian fines.)
Pasco is the largely immigrant city where Antonio Zambrano Montes, a Mexican agricultural worker, was shot down in cold blood by police last February. On Wednesday, the Franklin County prosecutor outrageously announced that no charges would be brought against the cops who gunned down the unarmed Zambrano in a hail of 17 bullets, despite cellphone video recording of the murder seen by millions. However, there may still be a coroner’s jury hearing. Class Struggle Workers – Portland and the Internationalist Group have actively supported protesters in Pasco, who have been hit by a number of arrests. A CSWP fundraiser was held in July to raise money for their defense. A demonstration against this racist injustice will be held in Pasco tomorrow.
Pasco and Seattle teachers are fighting for decent education for their students, and are now standing for the fundamental freedoms of all workers. They must have the support of working people and the labor movement throughout Washington and the country. Smash the slave-labor law! Victory to the teachers!
Contributions and messages of solidarity should be sent to the Pasco Association of Educators, 2318 W Court St, Pasco, WA 99301.