Archive for July, 2011
by Steve Zeltzer
Where is California Labor? Is anyone home?
At the same time that workers are under attack nationally, the California Democratic governor and the Democratic controlled legislature have passed a budget with massive cutbacks in education and social services. Marty Hittleman, the past president of the California Federation of Teachers, has said that, as a direct result of these fee increases at California Community Colleges, 200,000 working class and poor students will be pushed out of the schools.
In order to address this attack that threatens public education, Professor Peter Mathews at Cypress College in Orange County and his colleagues and students are seeking support for an Oil Extraction Tax ballot initiative that would tax oil in California and raise $3 billion for education at Community Colleges, the State Colleges, the UC system and K-12.
Even Sarah Palin increased the oil extraction tax in Alaska from 22% to 25%; yet California has no tax on oil coming out of the ground in the state. Some of this land is even state land, yet no tax.
Even the corporate controlled Bay Area NBC via spokesperson Suzanne Shaw has endorsed this Oil Extraction Tax initiative to fund public education in it’s editorial: They Profit, We Pay At The Pump.
In fact, every poll in California now shows that the people of California would support a tax on oil companies to make them pay for education and public services. If this gets on the ballot it has a very good chance at passing. People are fed up with the oil companies and their billions of dollars of profits, and they should be.
Yet, if you go to the websites of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), The California Teachers Association (CTA), The California Federation of Labor, and the SEIU, there is no endorsement or even one word about this initiative to make the oil companies pay for the crisis.
Workers and trade unionists have to ask why, when we have the chance in California to tax the oil companies to pay for education, our unions are missing in action. Is it because Jerry Brown and the Democratic Party don’t want to fight the oil companies or because the unions are waiting for November 2012?
What ever the reason is, we can’t afford to wait to make the oil companies pay. 504,000 signatures are needed to get this on the ballot, and support and donations are needed. The deadline is September 30 to get the signatures in.
If you support an oil extraction tax for education, contact your union local and these statewide unions and their officers and ask them to get on board in making the oil companies fund education. We cannot afford to wait for November 2012. You can find out more about this initiative at www.rescueeducationcalifornia.
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