Thursday, July 26, 2007

Green Dot, Weingarten and Dual Unionism

Let's say the Teamsters union comes into NYC and starts to organize charter schools. What would be the reaction of the UFT?

Well, that is exactly what is happening in Los Angeles where Steve Barr of Green Dot charters, Randi Weingarten's ally in crime in setting up a charter school in the Bronx, has formed a company union to compete with the LA Teachers Union. Al this is chronicled in Sam Dillon's NY Times piece of July 24 which I posted on the Norms Notes blog.

I can't tell you how may times people have said to ICE, "The Unity machine will never be beaten. Why not invite another union in like the Teamsters and set up a dual, competing union?"

Our answer has always been that this is so anti-union and divisive that it is unthinkable.

Well, maybe not. Randi Weingarten and Unity Caucus have endorsed this action with their support for Steve Barr and Green Dot. Just imagine, teachers can be Teamsters and never have to drive a truck.

Selected quotes below indicate a few basic truths:

The UFT is already a company union so there is no great leap here.

The Democractic party/Clinton gang are in this up to their ears. Weingarten is part of the gang which includes Joel Klein who also worked for Clinton.

Weingarten's undermining of the LA teachers union AJ Duffy may have some interesting play when she makes her move for the AFT presidency. It is disappointing to see Duffy backtracking. Will there be any repercussions in Chicago next July?

Here are some comments on Green Dot from another post on this blog. Note in particular the Unity hack defense and the former LA teacher, which I highlighted:

This is the end of organized labor as we know it....the article also states how Randi is helping to bring Green Dot into the South Bronx....Goodness gracious! What won't that woman do to be lauded by those who hate organized labor???? SHAME ON RANDI FOR SCREWING THE UFT MEMBERS!!!!! I hope one day she is impeached. 12:42 AM, July 24, 2007

17 more years said...
Just finished reading the article. The fact that Randi is trying to bring Green Dot to the Bronx confirms everything I ever thought about her.
I found it particularly interesting that the young teachers are so willing to embrace Green Dot, while senior teachers are hesitant (and rightfully so). With the large numbers of young, idealistic Teaching Fellows entering the ranks of NYC public school teachers, can't you see that happening here? 9:47 AM, July 24, 2007

Gene Prisco said...
Perhaps Randi Weingarten should invite the NEA to NYC to support Edison or any organization create charter schools with a union different than the UFT since this is exactly what she has done in supporting Green Dot in LA. Long live dual unionism! the Albert Shanker Solidarity Award 2007 goes to Randi Weingarten. 1:22 PM, July 24, 2007

Anonymous [Unity Hack] said...
Perhaps Randi Weingarten has a better view of education in America then the average teacher. I also read the article and what impressed me was that Green Dot has taken over failing schools, High Schools and did so with a teachers contract albeit, not the 300 page contract the LA teachers have. Maybe Randi is posturing an experiment in New York to offset the eventual dissolution of teacher unions as happened in LA. By engaging Green Dot in NY and being pro-active she will have a stronger say rather than fight the wrong fight at the wrong time. Please note that the article claims that the LA union has been fragmented and Green Dot in one school competed and drew the students away from that school district. What makes you think that could not happen in NY? Also note, that Black and Hispanic parents advocated for the Green Dot take over. Give Weingarten credit for being ahead of the curve on this issue. I believe that she will maintain core contractual values and tenure when this entire era of corporate accountability expires. 5:36 PM, July 24, 2007

Anonymous [LA Teacher] said...
I was a teacher in Los Angeles and now have retired (to Las Vegas). That article in the NY Times is full of bulls++t. The parents didn't advocate for it and the younger teachers went for Green Dot because they were duped....
The article is so misleading. Green Dot has not made any progress. They throw kids out of their schools if they harm the progress in the Green Dot school
I am shocked that your union is cooperating with this mess called Green Dot. What is wrong in NY? July 24, 2007

Selected quotes from Times article:

"Mr. Barr has fomented a teachers revolt against the Los Angeles Unified School District. He has driven a wedge through the city’s teachers union by welcoming organized labor — in contrast to other charter operators — and signing a contract with an upstart union."

"Mr. Barr, a former fund-raiser for the California Democratic Party."

"Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, is working with him to put a Green Dot school in the South Bronx. That alliance embarrassed United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents some 40,000 teachers."

"The union representing Green Dot teachers, Association de Maestros Unidos, has a 33-page contract that offers competitive salaries but no tenure, and it allows class schedule and other instructional flexibility outlawed by the 330-page contract governing most Los Angeles schools.

"Andrew J. Rotherham, who worked in the Clinton White House and is co-director of Education Sector, a research group in Washington, said, “Green Dot is mobilizing parents in poor neighborhoods and offering an alternative for frustrated teachers, and that’s scrambling the cozy power arrangements between the school district and the union to a degree not seen anywhere else.”

"Mr. Barr has not just used his charters to challenge the district. He is also an ally of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat who has also battled the Los Angeles school district, seeking mayoral control."

"Mr. Barr says that if he does not win the chance to use the Locke campus for his new charter schools, he will surround it with Green Dot’s next 10 charter schools, which are to open nearby in 2008, supported by a $7.8 million donation from the Gates Foundation.

“If the district doesn’t work with me, I’ll compete with them and take their kids,” Mr. Barr said."


  1. It's simply incredible that the UFT needs to bolster the fortunes of charter entrepreneurs, even as it largely turns its back on those whose job it is to protect. I couldn't have imagined such a circumstance, and it's very sad for organized labor, of which we're one of the very last strongholds.

    What the hell is going on in this country?

  2. I am enlightened by the actions of Weingarten. She has turned the UFT is the model of the modern version of a company union. Coming soon: The AFT.

  3. Company union? I work in California, Green Dot teachers are represented by CTA. CTA is the statewide teachers union; you know the biggest teachers union in California? You're pissing on a lot of unionists just to piss on your own.

  4. Did I miss something in these quotea?
    "Mr. Barr has fomented a teachers revolt against the Los Angeles Unified School District. He has driven a wedge through the city’s teachers union by welcoming organized labor — in contrast to other charter operators — and signing a contract with an upstart union."

    "He has driven a wedge through the city’s teachers union"

    The union representing Green Dot an "upstart union" and driving a wedge- if it is true the CTA is part of this then they are a company union.

  5. Randi's charter school approach is having a terrible impact in other cities.

    As everyone here knows, the Louisiana Plan was to replace almost all of the (unionized) public schools in New Orleans with (non union) charter schools.
    That has happened, with Chicago people leading the privatization thrust there.
    The New Orleans public schools have been decimated, and the children who can't "qualify" for the charters left without school, adding to the woes of that town.

    In Chicago, the charters are now poised (all 60 of them) to be anti-union centers in the event of a strike in September (likelihood? about 50-50).

    Now the Green Dot scam coming to New York City. Have Randi and Leo been bought out so thoroughly by Broad and Gates that they can't see what "labor" is facing in the form of charter schools, company unions, and all these free market

    George Schmidt
    Editor, Substance

  6. Having done a little research on Green Dot, I'd just like to pass along the following:

    - AMU (Asociacion de Maestros Unidos), the in-house union for Green Dot, is nominally affiliated with the California Teachers Association. Thus their PR machine can credibly, if not honestly, claim that it's not strictly speaking a company union. However, even accepting that at face value, it is still dual unionism, a major trade union sin, since it materially weakens UTLA, the AFT affiliate.

    - While Steve Barr gets the publicity, the CEO of Green Dot formerly worked for the private equity firm Bain Capital, Mitt Romney's former employer and one of the major players in the "strip and flip" wing of finance capital that has been cannabalizing the economy for the pasr generation. (Can you say "EEEEVIL?"). Barr is the young, hip, dynamic, " idealistic" face of the school, but the financing and basic support is from the hostile takeover wing of corporate America.

    Randi's embrace of these people, and her disgraceful underming of a fellow AFT local, is probably the clearest sign of her alliance/accomodation with the corporate takeover of the public schools. It shows the direction that real educational policy, as opposed to the Sunday School rhetoric made for public consumption, is taking. It also shows the connivance of much of the Democratic Party in this ongoing hostile takeover.

    the AMU contract with Green Dot is available on Google.

  7. This is nothing new for UFT. It's been too cozy with that wing of finance capital for more than 40 years. Firms like Bain (and all the other consultants that are pushing urban "school reform" and mayoral dictatorships in league with foundations like Broad and Gates) are one iteration of that same collaborationism in this era.

    I'm working on the reissue of a classic book we published nearly 30 years ago which deals with that on the grand scale. As soon as Sean gets his copies, we'll advertise it here, too.

    Not as much has changed as people would have liked to have thought. Difference is, at this point the Bush tax changes have been a windfall for guys like Romney, Broad, Gates, and all the others. The money they aren't paying in taxes they are putting into political action (Romney) or corporate propaganda disguised as charity (the Gates and Broad attack on urban public high schools).

    Happy weekend,

    George N. Schmidt
    Editor, Substance, Chicago

  8. Hi George,
    Great news on the re-publication! I will be sending you another order for local distribution. It will be very useful here in the belly of the beast. We tend to criticise one, now another body part of UFT Inc. without an overview of the whole octopus. Your essay/book gives us a bigger picture of what we are up against and this knowledge is empowering, not divisive.

    Has the LA Teachers union, or other locals issued any rebuke to Weingarten's embrace of Green Dot? My first thought was that she was employing the "triangulation" strategy to clear possible opposition to her acension to the AFT Presidency. The LA local is the product of a rank and file movement that has not yet to my knowledge rendered service or otherwise signalled its loyalty to the US/Israel corporate imperialist lobby and is therefor out of the Shankerite/Feldman orbit. That makes them a target.

  9. Seriously, does ICE even serve a real purpose other than to drive a wedge within our union? Has ICE ever accomplished anything worthy of mention? And no, a sham presidential candidate in the last election, shoddy quality YouTube films, and heckling during the Delegate Assembly doesn't count.

    -Son Of Unity, the next generation
    I'll be back!


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