Cuomo's State of the State targeted teachers. In turn, the UFT turned its twitter guns and forums against him. Cuomo is surely a problem, but he only caters to his highest campaign donors. The real problem is the powerful pocketbooks, many of Wall Street, that pull the strings. If Cuomo is beaten back, these same pocketbooks will try to buy off other politicians, at any level of government.
The Waltons are, perhaps, the most powerful of the string pullers. By pointing the finger at public school teachers, they shift the focus from their own transgressions, as they push back the rights of workers worldwide. It is not just the future of teachers that is at stake. It is the future of labor itself. In that vein, let us ask, "Who are the Real Waltons?"
You are probably familiar with the name of the Waltons. There are two Walton families in America, however. Beware, they are not the same.
Walton Family #1:
Walton Family #2
As you can see from the pictures, neither family appears anything but folksy, but both families bear closer examiniation.
1. Whereas one Walton family lives a humble life at the foot of Walton Mountain in Jefferson County, Virginia, the other Walton family lives in a number of considerably more than ritzy dwellings. It should be noted that both Walton houses, however, adequately meet the needs of their inhabitants.
2. Whereas one Walton family struggled through the Depression, never losing its sense of humanity, the other Walton family owns over $100 billion, more than the bottom 40% of Americans by some measures.
3. Whereas one Walton family shared its hospitality in every episode, the other Walton family pays its workers abysmally, forbids unionization and deprives workers of basic benefits. This second Walton family owns Walmart, known for its in-store charity drives for its own workers.
This same family of Walmart has been unwilling to step forward to help victims of the fire in a factory (in which its products were cheaply made) in Bangladesh. Perhaps Walmart would encourage its underpaid employees to step forward and take up a collection.
According to the NY Times:
"Walmart is the one company that is showing an astonishing lack of responsibility, considering that so much of their product was being made at the Tazreen factory,” said Samantha Maher, a campaign coordinator for the British arm of the Clean Clothes Campaign, a European anti-sweatshop group."
The Walmart Waltons live the good life, Gilded-Age style, seemingly on the backs of the less fortunate. (see http://walmartdeathtraps.com/faq/ and http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/18/walmart-bangladesh-factories-fail-safety-review).
4. Whereas one Walton family seems concerned with the welfare of the public, the other invests in charter schools, driving education further into the private sector. They substantially support the TFA. They seem more than pleased to keep workers oppressed, whether in a Walmart store, an Asian factory or a charter school. These Waltons favor transient teachers, lacking long-term benefits, job protections and any union to stand up for them. These Waltons argue for charters on the grounds that they have the choice to send their kids to private schools. They want everyone to have "choice."
Wouldn't it be nice, however, if this second Walton family favored "choice" that respected workers? After all, the school children they propose to help will become workers one day. Will they have any protections? Will they be paid enough to live without charity? With the Waltons in control, the landscape seems very bleak. Which Walton family makes you relatively proud to be an American and which makes you cringe?
The real struggle is not against Cuomo, although it is an important one to fight. The real struggle is not just for teachers. It is for the future of labor itself.