Support Pasco Teachers: Down with Washington’s Slave-Labor Law!

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.

150812 Pasco teachers vote to strike nbc
Pasco, WA teachers voted overwhelmingly in August to strike.

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!

Pasco teachers continue strike on September 8 despite injunction.
Pasco teachers continue strike on September 8 despite injunction.

Contributions and messages of solidarity should be sent to the Pasco Association of Educators, 2318 W Court St, Pasco, WA 99301.

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Saturday May 9: Protest Racist Police Murder in Pasco, WA

CSWP is bringing a group of unionists from Portland to Pasco, Washington on Saturday May 9, to take part in a protest that will mark the third month since the murder of Mexican agricultural worker Antonio Zambrano Montes by the police there.

For more information, contact us at 971-282-7903 or cswp@csw-pdx.org.

Here is a page for the event on FaceBook.

Portland Unions Condemn Racist Police Murder in Pasco, WA

The following statement was endorsed by IATSE Local 28 on April 14, and by IUPAT Local 10 on April 15, 2015. What’s urgently needed is to mobilize the power of organized labor to protest the epidemic of racist murder by the police.

On February 11th, 2015 an unarmed Antonio Zambrano Montes was brutally murdered in a hail of police bullets after being accused of throwing rocks. The 35 year old apple picker and father of two was shown in videos of the incident to be running away from police, then turning with his empty hands outstretched as police opened fire.

Such cold disregard for human life is not out of the ordinary for Pasco police, as this became the third such incident in recent weeks. The nearly all-white police force in Pasco is used to getting its own way, and patrols a population that is at least 60% latino. In light of the recent protests in Ferguson, MO against the murder of Michael Brown and subsequent findings of thoroughly racist practices of the local police there, the rot at the core of policing in America has been laid bare.

As unionists and workers, we condemn the racist murder of a fellow worker, Antonio Zambrano Montes, and we call on all unions to mobilize with the people of Pasco against the racist bosses and their good ol’ boys in blue.

Statement on the police murder of Antonio Zambrano Montes

On February 11th, 2015 an unarmed Antonio Zambrano Montes was brutally murdered in a hail of police bullets after being accused of throwing rocks. The 35 year old apple picker and father of two was shown in videos of the incident to be running away from police, then turning with his empty hands outstretched as police opened fire.

Such cold disregard for human life is not out of the ordinary for Pasco police, as this became the third such incident in recent weeks. The nearly all-white police force in Pasco is used to getting its own way, and patrols a population that is at least 60% latino. In light of the recent protests in Ferguson, MO against the murder of Michael Brown and subsequent findings of thoroughly racist practices of the local police there, the rot at the core of policing in America has been laid bare.

As unionists and workers, we condemn the racist murder of a fellow worker, Antonio Zambrano Montes, and we call on our unions to mobilize with the people of Pasco against the racist bosses and their good ol’ boys in blue.

15 March 2015. This posting was updated to correct a typographical error.