Wednesday, July 15, 2015

More Reactions to AFT Hillary Endorsement

What is most destructive in the AFT’s endorsement of Clinton is that it has disempowered members at precisely the moment when we most need revitalized teachers unions to save a system of education that is being destroyed as a public good by powerful elites and the politicians they control... Lois Weiner, Jacobin
Randi Weingarten has a lot of work to do if she expects the AFT to work for Hillary Clinton.... If anything, the AFT 's endorsement of Clinton will only stoke the fires of Bernie's campaign, with working teachers everywhere poking its embers...It will be up to Weingarten and others to tamp down the flames of dissent and disgust engulfing corporate Clinton.... The Pen is Mightier than the Person blog.
Leo Casey has apparently been assigned to do the tamping down and has been on a twitter rampage challenging a variety of MOREs -
Unity flack Peter Goodman has a laugh out loud piece comparing Bernie to the McGovern debacle in 1972.

My take is that Randi knew there would be this reaction and decided to get it done early and allow time for the air to go out of the balloon and knowing full well that when presented with the final choice of Hillary vs any Republican slug most people will go along. Unless Bernie actually mounted a 3rd party candidacy alla Nader or Ross Perot.

My old right wing pal Mike Antonucci at EIA is one of the few to connect the AFT endorsement with the possible Supreme Court decision to take away the agency shop and make the UFT/AFT go trolling for dues. How willing will Bernie supporters be to turn over $1300 a year to an organization that functions this way? Most will because they believe in unions - but maybe they will seek other union options.

Mike put up his 2 cents with a summary of the dissent - including the great piece Mike Schirtzer put up on the MORE blog (Clinton Endorsement, Wrong For Our Union). (Leo froths at the mouth when I ref Mike A).

Endorsement Unites AFT Behind Hillary… If You Believe AFT
Posted: 14 Jul 2015 10:34 AM PDT


Lois Weiner, a former NYC HS teacher and delegate, has a piece at Jacobin

What’s Wrong With the AFT?

The American Federation of Teachers’ top-down endorsement of Hillary Clinton is an affront to democratic unionism.

On Saturday, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) announced that its executive council “overwhelmingly” endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. It did so, the official announcement says, on the basis of interviews (not released to members) and the results of a poll.

The decision couldn’t be more wrongheaded, and it’s one that members should demand the union executive council rescind. We should propose instead a decision reached by a very different process: a referendum of members that follows and is informed by debate in union outlets.

Every local should be charged by the executive council with providing space and place for members to air their opinions. The national union should encourage use of its magazine and website for this debate. In this discussion the leadership will have the opportunity to persuade members that endorsing Clinton is the wisest choice, but it will be obligated to carry out the will of the membership as expressed in the referendum.
What is most destructive in the AFT’s endorsement of Clinton is that it has disempowered members at precisely the moment when we most need revitalized teachers unions to save a system of education that is being destroyed as a public good by powerful elites and the politicians they control.
Instead, a rushed decision was made without any semblance of legitimacy. The questions and answers about the process offer few specifics except that the national union conducted polls of members and interviews with (some) candidates. According to the union, the endorsement was made based on this information, though people who know Washington politics have been aware for many years of the public love fest between AFT President Randi Weingarten and Clinton. The process of seeking member opinion was an embarrassingly transparent cover for Weingarten’s longstanding desire that Clinton be the AFT’s candidate.
Not all executive council members approved of this endorsement, though how individuals voted has not been revealed to members. We have a right to know how leaders voted and should demand this information.
While Weingarten holds much responsibility for handling this endorsement, as if it were hers to make, the executive council members are equally responsible. Those who supported the endorsement supported it on behalf of members without having consulted their own constituencies, let alone the national union membership. Their shameful actions should also be called to account.
Bernie Sanders’s teacher supporters are probably the most outraged by the endorsement. They understand that Clinton supports the bipartisan policies that have deprofessionalized teaching and made public education a profit center for transnational corporations like Pearson.
But even those who think the AFT should support Clinton should be disturbed by this endorsement because it undercuts the union’s power. A fully democratic endorsement process would truly inform and mobilize members, strengthening the union nationally and locally, making us stronger in the election and beyond.
Weingarten and too many members think we can rely on cozy relationships with politicians and powerful elites to defend our schools, our jobs, our economy, and democracy. We can’t. Only an engaged membership that understands the grave crisis public education, and democracy, faces is going to be able to turn back our opponents — who include Clinton and her Wall Street supporters.
We have a moral and political obligation to insist that AFT executive council members stand up for a different kind of unionism, one in which members are empowered and can exert democratic control over the policies that shape their lives, schools, and communities.


  1. A billion signatures on a petition won't change Randi's mind. If the media decides to get a hold of our reaction, it will put Hillary is a bad light, and no one stopped to think of that. It's no surprise we are backing Hillary, but what is and should be made aware to teachers everywhere is Leo's reaction. He is the worst public relations person out there. He is mean and vindictive.

    The best way to show opposition is to remove yourself from COPE funds until Randi stops playing around with bad political decisions regarding education.

  2. I take exception to your statement that "we" are backing Hillary. No, the decision to endorse Hillary was a unilateral one made by Randi and her minions, seeking political advancement. I was never asked what my opinion was, and neither were many of my colleagues, who work for a sizable high school.

    This is what the media picks up on, that "all" teachers, as represented by Weingarten, think unilaterally, and that she "speaks" for us. Besides, it's way to early to endorse any candidate - primaries haven't even been held yet.

    It's been bandied about that perhaps Weingarten has political aspirations for herself? Such as replacing Arne Duncan or becoming Secretary of Labor, if Hillary wins?

    Anyway, bad move by Weingarten and the AFT. I'm positive that Randi will stick to her decision with her dying breath, rescinding her endorsement would make her look worse than she already does.

    Still, I resent that the union that supposedly represents ME, and is supposed to follow democratic procedures, shows by its' example that the union is anything BUT.


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