“If we are forced to strike, it will be to defend our schools; but it will also be because we think our kids deserve more and we deserve more, because we dare to have high expectations,” Caputo-Pearl said to the cheering crowd. “If we strike, it ...

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"Ed Notes Online" - 5 new articles

  1. UTLA - Blue State Teacher Rebellion - 50,000 March
  2. Defying Predictions, Union Membership Isn't Dropping Post-Janus - Governing.com
  3. State of the Union (UFT): Elections and the Opposition Caucuses - A Continuing Saga - Part 1
  4. The Wildcat Underground: Oakland Teachers Pull Wildcat
  5. French Revolution 2.0? Neither left nor right with touches of both
  6. More Recent Articles

UTLA - Blue State Teacher Rebellion - 50,000 March

“If we are forced to strike, it will be to defend our schools; but it will also be because we think our kids deserve more and we deserve more, because we dare to have high expectations,” Caputo-Pearl said to the cheering crowd. “If we strike, it is all of our strike. When we win, it is all of our victory. Are we going to win for our schools? Are we going to win for our kids?” 
This is the way to do strike prep with an inclusive message for all. I've been very impressed by the strategy being followed by the leadership of the UTLA. They have not talked about teachers only. Calling for similar actions here in NYC will be mocked. One difference between LA and NYC: The opposition actually ran to win and did.

Diane Ravitch reports:
More than 50,000 March for Public Education in LA

LOS ANGELES — In a historic march, tens of thousands of students, parents, educators and community members marched through the streets of Los Angeles today to demand a reinvestment in public education and that the Los Angeles Unified School District stop hoarding the record-shattering $1.9 billion in reserves and use it immediately on our students, our schools and our classrooms.
UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl told the massive, picket-holding and banner-waving crowd that if there is no settlement by next month, “we will strike in January.”
“If we are forced to strike, it will be to defend our schools; but it will also be because we think our kids deserve more and we deserve more, because we dare to have high expectations,” Caputo-Pearl said to the cheering crowd. “If we strike, it is all of our strike. When we win, it is all of our victory. Are we going to win for our schools? Are we going to win for our kids?”
Then tens of thousands people began the march, chanting throughout the streets of downtown, bringing the momentum and energy of the national teacher rebellion to the doorstep of the nation’s second-largest school district.
The massive demonstration then walked from City Hall, chanting as they marched side by side to demand Supt. Austin Beutner and LAUSD fulfill the promise and hope of a quality public education for all, not just some. The march ended in front of the Broad Museum tohighlight the destructive role billionaires like Eli Broad play in draining money from our public schools and funding privatization schemes like the portfolio model.
“Eli Broad fought against school funding measures and he has funded the charter industry to undermine neighborhood public schools,” Caputo-Pearl said. “Broad has made LA a national experiment in privatization. Who’s ready to turn the tables on that? Who’s ready to fight for the nurses our students need? Who’s ready to fight for the counselors our students need? Who’s ready to fight for the class sizes our students need?”
United Teachers Los Angeles has been in contract negotiations with LAUSD for more than 18 months. In August, 98 percent of union members voted to authorize a strike. Negotiations are near the end of the fact-finding stage, after which the school district can impose its last, best, and final proposal and UTLA members can strike.
With class sizes that are too high and not enough resources in their classrooms and attacks to their profession, teachers are fighting for a profound reinvestment in Los Angeles schools. LAUSD has yet to make any meaningful progress on UTLA’s contract demands, including the ones that don’t cost money or would even save money, such as stopping overtesting and giving parents and educators a voice in school budgets.


https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-teachers-march-20181215-story.html

Thousands of LAUSD teachers march in downtown Los Angeles as union moves closer to calling first strike in nearly 30 years

https://ktla.com/2018/12/15/l-a-teachers-supporters-march-in-downtown-demanding-more-funding-for-schools/

LAUSD Teachers March in DTLA as Union Moves Closer to Calling First Strike in Nearly 30 Years


            

Defying Predictions, Union Membership Isn't Dropping Post-Janus - Governing.com

The UFT expects a right wing blitz to get people to leave the union in June when the window opens up. That was the reason they say they wanted the elections out of the way early. I guess Unity can sell the fact that they own every single seat on the Ex Bd as a sign that they are so popular and doing such a good job for the members. Or it can be taken that there is squeeze in the UFT on democracy and voices are stifled.

Below is not a pro-union perspective but some interesting points. Thanks to Mike Antonucci for publishing the link.
The Supreme Court’s ruling was expected to diminish union membership. But so far, many unions have actually increased their numbers since the verdict. Conservative groups are working to reverse that trend in the long run.
December 10, 2018

Union activists and supporters rally against the Supreme Court's ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case. (AP/Karla Ann Cote)

By Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene  |  


Five months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt what was seen as a massive blow to unions in Janus v. AFSCME. The justices banned the collection of union fees from public workers who receive union-negotiated benefits but choose not to belong to the union.
The ruling had an immediate negative effect on union finances. In Pennsylvania, for instance, refunding fees to nonmembers resulted in a roughly 15 percent loss of the $42.5 million that unions collected from executive branch members and nonmembers in 2017, according to the state’s Office of Administration.
The court’s decision also led many to predict that massive defections of union members would follow. But so far, even as anti-union organizations wage campaigns to convince members to drop out, most are staying put. Some unions have actually increased their numbers since the Janus verdict. “I think the right wing thought this would decimate public-sector unions, and they were clearly wrong,” says Kim Cook of the Cornell University Worker Institute, which provides research and education in support of unions and workers’ rights.

According to Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, “After the Janus case, public-service workers are choosing to join AFSCME at a much higher rate than those who drop.”
But Ken Girardin, analyst for the fiscally conservative Empire Center for Public Policy in New York, says that many employees are still uninformed about their right to leave unions and that it will take a few years to see significant declines in membership.
“Based on what we’ve observed, you will likely see a multi-year drop in membership, driven chiefly by the fact that people aren’t going to join in the first place," says Girardin. "The next cohorts of employees won’t join at the same rate as the retirees they are replacing.”

In the meantime, state unions are seeing similar trends to AFSCME.
In Pennsylvania, 50,072 state executive branch employees were members of unions at the time of the Janus decision. That number has increased to 51,127, according to the state’s Office of Administration. In Oregon, the Local 503 chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) reported in September that new union members have outnumbered dropouts by three to two. In California, data from the Controller’s Office show a small increase in state employee union membership, which totaled 131,410 in October -- up a small fraction from 131,192 in June.
“The decision didn’t have the major impact on membership that was anticipated,” says Science Meles, executive vice president of a Chicago chapter of SEIU, which had about 23,800 members in August 2017 and now has about 26,000.
While the National Education Association, which represents roughly 3 million employees of schools and colleges, says it immediately lost dues from 87,000 people who were nonmembers being charged, it has not seen a significant drop in membership. According to Staci Maiers, the group’s senior press officer, “Our affiliates have signed up more new members as of October 1 than they have previously by this point in time.”

Why Hasn't Union Membership Dropped Since Janus?

Fearing a loss at the Supreme Court, unions have been running aggressive membership drives since before the Janus ruling. Their membership may also be sustaining or thriving because people aren't aware of the Janus decision or because of actions taken by states to protect unions. As we previously reported, some Democratically controlled states have recently made it harder for public employees to leave unions.
New Jersey limited the time frame when government workers can withdraw from their union. New York banned state agencies from releasing employees’ personal data that could be used by union-busting groups to persuade members to pull out. California, New Jersey and Washington now prohibit public employers from discouraging union membership and guarantee unions full access to hiring orientation sessions so they can explain the advantages of membership. In New Jersey, employers that break this law will be forced to reimburse unions for any lost dues.
Due to procedural hurdles and union tactics, the “number of folks who have successfully resigned post-Janus is much smaller than the number that have attempted to resign,” says Maxford Nelsen, director of labor policy for the Freedom Foundation, which has waged an aggressive campaign in the Northwest to urge public-sector employees to give up their union membership.
Meanwhile, labor experts believe that counter-legislation will emerge that seeks to lessen union power. When conservative lawmakers convened at the American Legislative Exchange Council conference last month, Mark Janus himself, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, urged them to champion the model bills ALEC is pushing that would further hurt unions.
In Pennsylvania, a Senate committee held a hearing at the end of October to consider a comprehensive bill that would change the commonwealth’s practices to make it easier to leave unions.
“If the rules aren’t settled now by legislation, they will be determined by aggressive tactics by unions to keep their members,” said Terrence J. Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, at the Senate hearing.
Groups that cheered the Janus ruling are also continuing to take laws that protect unions to court. The Fairness Center, self-described as “a public interest law firm that provides free legal services to those hurt by public-sector union officials,” is suing AFSCME over a Pennsylvania law that lets unions impose a limited time frame in which members can drop out.
But some say the ultimate survival of public-sector unions will depend not on preventing dropouts but on their ability to convince new employees that union membership is important.
“As new employees are hired, unions have to make a pretty strong case that people should join,” says Cook of the Worker Institute. “We’re feeling good about the lack of impact so far on union membership because of the Janus decision. But that’s no guarantee for the long run.”
            

State of the Union (UFT): Elections and the Opposition Caucuses - A Continuing Saga - Part 1

Introduction

Over the next 4 months I will be doing a series of posts on the state of the union in the UFT, tapping into information about all the caucuses.

I can only hope that the folly of 3 opposition caucuses comes to an end and a strong force to stand up to Unity Caucus emerges to penetrate deeply enough into the schools to reach the 99.9% of the rank and file who don't give a crap about the caucuses.

That is what I will fight for -- bringing people, even with different political tendencies, under one banner to force change in the UFT. I am getting as much of this information on record before I lose all my faculties as a possible lesson for future activists in the UFT. Untangling this mess will take more than one blog.

Having been an active participant in the UFT opposition politics since 1970, I would say this is the weakest state of the opposition for decades, if not ever. With the opening of the UFT election season, it is time to review the disastrous state of the opposition to Unity Caucus as Unity is set to win every single seat on the Executive Board for the first time since the 1993 elections.

The opposition of three caucuses under the NAC label (since the 1981 election) had won 13 Ex Bd seats in 1991 and also won the high school VP in 1985. Now we have regressed to having 3 opposition caucuses running on their own and splitting the usual 10-12,000 opposition votes in the UFT.

So in this, and upcoming posts, let me survey the state of the UFT opposition from an historical and current perspective and why things look so dismal for the growth of the opposition in the future as we live deja vu all over again.

While I remain involved in the periphery of MORE I am non-sectarian in terms of other caucuses. I like the people in New Action and the work they do and I have tried to make peace with the people in Solidarity. I continue to organize ICEUFT meetings once a month and invite people from all caucuses to come. I think we are the one place where all groups can sit down and talk.

For the first time since the 2004 elections, there will be 3 opposition slates to choose from in the UFT elections.
  • New Action
  • MORE
  • Solidarity 
  • ICEUFT remains in operation but as a non-participant in elections.
This is the most confusion since 2004 when there were actually 4 opposition caucuses, with ICE being the newest. But At least in 2004 ICE and TJC were on the ballot in separate lines but ran a joint cross-endorsed slate for the high schools against New Action and won them (ICE ran with PAC as ICE-PAC). The last time before 2004 I can remember where there were 3 opposition slates on the ballot was - well, never. So we are in unprecedented territory here.

I've written a few blogs about the current situation with the opposition in the UFT:
UFT Election Season Opens, Does Anybody Care?
UFT Election Update: It's Beat Up MORE Time as it ...
UFT Caucus and Election History: 1962 - Present

Let me point out that none of the caucuses have more than 20-50 real members - actually less -  and in fact each are run by a small coterie of people numbering single digits who make the real decisions. Imagine -- the truly active core of all the opposition groups total 30 at most.

The saddest is MORE, which had so much promise when it was founded in 2012 and now seem proud to have shrunk in the name of unity under a single political line which it thinks will resonate with the membership. (More on MORE isolationism in future posts.)

Election petitions go out at the January 16, 2019 Del Ass and are due in mid-February. Ballots go out in mid March and are due back by April 16, with the count April 17. As a non-participant in the elections for the first time since 2001, the outcome will provide some lessons and will be fascinating to watch.

I'm urging a boycott for the election process - not only a boycott against Unity but also against an opposition that cannot come together, with each group trying to convince people that their position is best.

Why would people choose any of them? How could any of them claim they could run the union when they can't even agree with each other?

The number of non-voters will be a vote and send a message to the opposition to get their houses in order before the 2022 election.


            

The Wildcat Underground: Oakland Teachers Pull Wildcat


We are teachers who have waited long enough

We are teachers, counselors, and other school workers at Oakland High School in Oakland, California. We have worked without a contract for more than a year.
We are prepared to strike if and when our union makes that choice.
Until then, we will carry out our own wildcat actions to spur the Oakland Unified School District to negotiate in good faith with our union.
Our first action is an Educators' Day Out work stoppage on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018.
Although we are all, individually, members of the Oakland Education Association, our Wildcat Underground actions are not sanctioned by the OEA. ......
The Wildcat Underground

This is beyond red state rebellion. I have had contacts in Oakland and will touch base. Meanwhile--

Mike Antonucci reports:
Unlike LA, however, rifts have developed between the leaders of the Oakland Education Association and factions of the rank-and-file. Today teachers at Oakland High School organized a sickout that was not sanctioned by the union. One source reports at least four other schools are involved.

“People were sick of the very slow moving and uninspiring actions being proposed by the union itself,” teacher Miles Murray told the Bay City News Service.

Posted: 10 Dec 2018 09:43 AM PST
While our attention has been focused on the impending teacher strike in Los Angeles, public school employees in Oakland are also in the fact-finding stage of collective bargaining and could hit the picket lines in January as well.

Unlike LA, however, rifts have developed between the leaders of the Oakland Education Association and factions of the rank-and-file.

Today teachers at Oakland High School organized a sickout that was not sanctioned by the union. One source reports at least four other schools are involved.

“People were sick of the very slow moving and uninspiring actions being proposed by the union itself,” teacher Miles Murray told the Bay City News Service.

“Now is the time for this movement to happen, and the union is moving too slow,” teacher Alex Webster-Guiney told KQED. “They need to be supporting the grassroots movement of their members.”
OEA has issued no statement about the sickout.

Although the union’s contract demands are similar to those in Los Angeles, the district has always been a cautionary tale of financial mismanagement. The state took over Oakland Unified in 2003 and didn’t return local control until 2009.

            

French Revolution 2.0? Neither left nor right with touches of both

The demands of the so-called Yellow Vests in France are similar to those of other populist movements, but the uprising is not tied to any political party, let alone to a right-wing one --- NYT
The Gilets Jaunes (yellow vests) movement in France is at a turning point. .... While it is true that there were lumpen and far-right elements in the demonstrations over the weekend, these were marginal. From the beginning, the yellow vests movement has penetrated into very deep layers of society, with Front National voters and middle-class elements taking part alongside the working class and trade unionists.... Marxist. com
Left, right and center. Unity. Class unity and class struggle,  the dream of Marxists. Except that along the way, there will be intervention from left and right which will undermine and destroy the movement. And never forget infiltration from the government to sow seeds of distrust.

What is going on in France requires some analysis especially to seek any relevance for us here or even on the broader stage. I'm hoping we can do some of this analysis at next Friday's ICEUFT meeting.


I was impressed with some aspects of Thursday's NYT article
 How France’s ‘Yellow Vests’ Differ From Populist Movements Elsewhere

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/05/world/europe/yellow-vests-france.html

Definitely worth a read - see below the fold.

Then today I came across this analysis from Marxist.com:

France in a “state of insurrection” as the yellow vests advance

https://www.marxist.com/france-in-a-state-of-insurrection-as-the-yellow-vests-advance.htm?fbclid=IwAR1ZQMbPUDob-bdV05n7ntMonIgeOGdQG5hyDzyaEYYbQyIwqJJUXPyarDE

For those - like me --  with a critical perspective of the Marxist left it is always fun to see the wishful thinking - you know, the usual chaos, mayhem and massive overturning of institutions and society. Marxists of course believe all this is inevitable and see signs of crack all over the place in capitalism. And the inevitable move to a perfect socialist system where everybody loves each other.

The article points out that the standard left and right in France have been caught tailing behind the movement, which seems to be un-led. Left annalists are not very comfortable with these kinds of spontaneous movements. They look like anarchy and the traditional left is very uncomfortable with anarchistic movements. Eventually leaders on the left and/or right or even from the center try to take over, which created dilution  and splits.
The organised working class has begun to enter the struggle (although the labour union leaders have dragged their feet), as have students, who are occupying their institutions in solidarity and raising their own demands. But despite Macron’s attempt to defuse the situation, the explosion of anger and frustration at years of austerity and inequality has acquired a logic of its own, and it will not be easy to put the genie back in the bottle.
Reminds me of the red state teacher revolts which caught the union leaders by surprise and of course they are always tailing the classroom-based teachers.

Class hatred

The yellow vest movement initially started in peripheral towns, cities and rural areas across France (residents of wich rely on personal vehicles to get to work, and thus will be hit severely by a higher fuel tax) and it includes many women and single mothers. Most are low-income workers, including secretaries, IT workers, factory workers, delivery workers and care workers – in short, people who are most affected by rising costs and wage stagnation. These working class and poor middle-class layers are resentful of years of being squeezed through austerity and increasing living costs, and are now expressing a deep hatred of the rich and the Macron government that represents them....
The class character of the yellow vests, and their loathing for the rich, became clear during the demonstration in Paris on Saturday. Acts of vandalism hit the wealthy west and centre of the city, with storefronts smashed and looted, dozens of expensive cars burnt and the Arc de Triomphe covered in anti-government graffiti, along with the slogan: “The yellow vests will triumph.” The protestors smashed the windows of a newly opened Apple Store (AAPL.O) and luxury boutiques of Chanel and Dior, scrawling “Merry Mayhem” on a wooden board and pinning it to the facade. Of course, there were also some lumpen and criminal elements taking advantage of this situation, but that is not the main character of the movement.
And the police over react. The article points out that the French revolution came out of protests against taxes.
Unsurprisingly, the capitalist class are horrified at the protests. Not just because it is bad for business around the Christmas period or because of rising fuel shortages due to spontaneous blockades at depots, but because of the fear that this movement could develop into a threat towards the regime as a whole.
 as the movement has begun to radicalise and the working class imprint on it increase, a lot of the rubbish on the right is being thrown out and the class contradictions within it have become clearer. For example, another viral video shows Yvan Benedetti, former president of the ultranationalist group L'Œuvre française (himself dressed in a high-visibility jacket), being attacked and driven off by anti-fascists within the yellow vests.

There is a paradox in the current French standoff, as Mr. Macron’s rise was itself predicated on sweeping away existing political parties, and on a rejection of traditional intermediaries like labor unions.
There's a lot of meat in this article, so check it out here. And look for the wishful thinking aspects.
And here is the NYT article below:



PARIS — Too little, too late: That was the reaction of the so-called Yellow Vest protesters to the French government’s sudden retreat this week on a gas tax increase. The Yellow Vests, who have thrown France into turmoil with violent protests in recent weeks, say they want more, and they want it sooner rather than later — lower taxes, higher salaries, freedom from gnawing financial fear, and a better life.
Those deeper demands, the government’s inability to keep up, and fierce resentment of prosperous and successful cities run like an electrified wire connecting populist uprisings in the West, including in Britain, Italy, the United States and, to a lesser extent, Central Europe.
What ties these uprisings together, beyond the demands, is a rejection of existing parties, unions and government institutions that are seen as incapable of channeling the depth of their grievances or of offering a bulwark against economic insecurity.
But what makes France’s revolt different is that it has not followed the usual populist playbook. It is not tethered to a political party, let alone to a right-wing one. It is not focusing on race or migration, and those issues do not appear on the Yellow Vests’ list of complaints. It is not led by a single fire-breathing leader. Nationalism is not on the agenda.

The uprising is instead mostly organic, spontaneous and self-determined. It is mostly about economic class. It is about the inability to pay the bills.
In that regard, it is more Occupy than Orban — more akin to the protests against Wall Street driven by the working poor in the United States than the race-based, flag-waving of Hungary’s increasingly authoritarian leader, Viktor Orban.
In Paris, it was the luxury shopping streets, the Avenue Kleber and the Rue de Rivoli — insolent symbols of urban privilege compared with the drab provinces from which the Yellow Vests emerged — where windows were smashed on Saturday.
But it is also about a deep distrust of societal institutions that are perceived as working against the interests of the citizens, and that will make this crisis particularly hard for the government to resolve. The Yellow Vests push politicians away and reject Socialists, the far right, President Emmanuel Macron’s political movement, and everybody else in between.

The movement was “totally unanticipated by the parties,’’ said the political scientist Dominique Reynié. ‘‘The system is in crisis.”

In fact, so far at least, France’s movement remains relatively unstructured. It has yet to be hijacked by either the far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, or the far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, try as they might to claim ownership.
And that is what makes France’s movement unique, compared with, say, the Five Star Movement in Italy, which grew up out of a similar disgust with political parties and a distrust of elites, and which has held itself out as the authentic expression of the popular will.
But Five Star was always less movement than new-age political party. While organized over the internet, it was led by prominent figures (Beppe Grillo, for one) as well as more obscure ones (the Casaleggios) who stoked, channeled and harnessed the popular discontent from the start.
Much the same can be said of the now-floundering U.K. Independence Party in Britain, which gave voice to Brexit and the public’s rejection of European Union structures, as well as its class divides with London. Or for that matter, of President Trump, who demonstrates contempt for institutions. His rural and exurban supporters agree with him.
“It is the same fear, anger and anxiety in France, Italy and the United Kingdom,” said Enrico Letta, a former prime minister of Italy who now teaches at Sciences Po university in Paris. “These three countries have the highest level of class slippage,” he said.
For the 30 years after World War II, “they were at the top of the world,” Mr. Letta said, “at the very center.” These countries “used to live with a very high level of average well-being,” he said. “Now, there is a great fear of seeing it all slip away.”

That fear transcends all others. Thus, in Italy, Five-Star’s proposal for a “citizens’ income, or guaranteed income like an unemployment benefit, helped the movement conquer the impoverished south. In Britain, Brexit was sold partly as an escape from the perceived crippling of financial constraints from the European Union.

“There’s this social distress that exists more or less everywhere,” said Marc Lazar, a specialist in Italian history at Sciences Po. “Of people who are very worried about the future, not only are they suffering, but they have profound distrust of institutions and political parties. This is what we are seeing everywhere in Europe.”
Comparing the four countries — Britain, France, Italy and the United States — Christophe Guilluy, a French geographer who has studied the demographics of the “left-behinds,” said “the sociology of the people in revolt is the same.”
“These are the people who feel endangered by the current economic model,” which doesn’t “integrate the greatest number,” he said.
In France, fury at the perceived distance of the executive has not helped the government.
“The president has not once spoken to the French,” the Yellow Vest spokesman Éric Drouet said on French TV on Tuesday, referring to Mr. Macron’s relative silence over the last week. “There’s a total denial by our president.”
There is a paradox in the current French standoff, as Mr. Macron’s rise was itself predicated on sweeping away existing political parties, and on a rejection of traditional intermediaries like labor unions.

His campaign book was called Revolution, and it expressed a kind of contempt for the parties that had handed off power to each other for 50 years. Mr. Macron, by personalizing power and rejecting what had come before, helped create the world of institutional weakness in which the Yellow Vests are now flourishing.
But his base, then and now, was exceedingly small, presaging his current wide rejection by the French, not just by the Yellow Vests. He won only 24 percent of the vote in the first round of voting last year — while his opponents on the far right and far left together won over 40 percent of the vote. Those numbers have now come home to haunt Mr. Macron in a political landscape where nearly eight out of 10 French citizens no longer support him, according to a recent poll.
Mr. Macron, it turns out, is also a change agent out of step with the times, just as France’s long delay in biting off structural economic overhauls has left it out of sync with its Western cohort. He is now trying to push through reforms to make France more business-friendly and competitive, as Britain did in the 1980s and Germany in the 1990s. Meanwhile, the global backlash is already cresting, fueled by the income disparities those changes ushered in.

The partial sacking of Paris’s rich, tourism-dominated districts last weekend was merely the physical expression of what all these movements feel deeply, in the view of analysts: hatred of the “winners” in the global system, symbolized by urban elites.
“It’s the provinces against Paris, the proud and contemptuous capital,” Mr. Reynié said. “And Paris has never been so dissimilar to the rest of France. The fracture is very, very sharp.”
The combination of discontent and distrust has made the Yellow Vests an expanding force that almost certainly has yet to reach its limits. The protest has already changed from a revolt over a small gas tax increase to demands for higher salaries, and more.


“Right now, give us more purchasing power,” Jean-François Barnaba, a Yellow Vest spokesman in the Indre administrative department, told BFM TV on Tuesday.
“The gas tax was only the beginning,” said Tony Roussel, a spokesman for the movement in Marseille. “Now there are all the other taxes. There are salaries. There is the minimum wage.”
The government’s response is especially fraught. On the one hand, top officials express sympathy, not daring otherwise as polls show wide support for the movement; on the other, the same officials are angry and exasperated over the violent challenge to France’s institutional structure.
The result is a kind of paralysis, halting adjustments that are only likely to invite more challenges.
“They still haven’t understood our demands,” Mr. Roussel said by telephone this week. “This was like a firecracker in the water,” he said of the government’s decision to suspend a planned gas tax for at least six months.
The protests will go on, he vowed — until deeper concessions are made.







            

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