Teachers of N.Y. in Protest

(January 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 2, 20 January 1934, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

About a thousand teachers responded to the call of the Teachers Union of New York City to demonstrate at City Hall against LaGuardia’s one-month furlough plan for all city employees which means an 8 and ½ per cent wage cut. The demonstration took place on Monday, January 15. It marks a new step in the leftward trend of the policy of the conservative union administration which hitherto frowned on such action.

A delegation of three went inside to see the “little Napoleon”. After some time they came out and reported. Lefkowitz, legislature agent of the union and leading knight in the crusade against the Left wing in the union made the report. He apologized for LaGuardia; LaGuardia received the delegation cordially; he had inherited a bad situation; he didn’t want to cut teachers’ pay: he would do it only as a last resort; if he did, it wouldn’t be much, only a week or two; etc. And Lefkowitz went off to Albany to lobby in Lehman’s stronghold!

The teachers were stunned by Lefkowitz’s speech and his action. It was clear to them after the experience of 1932, when similar methods were employed by the union leadership in the fight against the pay cut of that year, that another sell-out was being prepared. Under the urging of the Left wing they refused to leave and shouted for LaGuardia who refused to speak to them.

The Stalinist inspired Class Room Teachers Groups, a rival organization of the Teachers Union, also came down to the demonstration. Although they came in the name of a united fight against pay cuts they played a disruptive role. They demanded equal right with the Teachers Union, which had organized the demonstration, to send in a delegation to see LaGuardia, in the name of their organization. And their delegation attempted to force its way in to LaGuardia, presenting the enemy with the spectacle of a division in the ranks of the protesting teachers.

Outside the leaders of the Stalinist led Left wing group in the union urged the teachers not to have any faith in their delegation and to go in to see for themselves.

Two things emerged clearly from the demonstration. As we foretold, the problems posed by a militant fight would help to expose the policy of the union administration, and make it possible to discredit its conservative and even treacherous leadership. On the other hand when the teachers were confronting the class enemy and needed the unity the Stalinist directed Left wing group in the union and its counterpart outside the union appeared In the role of, disrupters. Of both these facts the teachers should take note.

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