The same situation probably exists in Chicago which also has a collaborationist leadership but an emerging opposition led by CORE (Caucus of Rank & File Educators) may have an impact. There are also some signs in St. Louis. Expect a major movement to come from the west coast, in particular LA, where a progressive group is in charge of the union and has embarrassed the UFT/AFT with its militant actions.
The GEM coalition here in NYC will be reaching out to these other groups to see if a national coalition can be formed.
Since many of these activists have socialist roots, just watch the AFT propaganda machine start spewing its red-baiting, especially with the UFT's chief red-baiter Jeff Zahler, who attacked 2007 ICE/TJC Presidential candidate Kit Wainer for his socialist views, now ensconced at AFT HQ in Washington.
CORE Represents at Labor Notes Conference
CORE members were highly visible at Saturday May 9th’s “Troublemakers School” hosted by Labor Notes and Malcom X. College. CORE members participated in workshops where they learned: how to prepare effective grievances for possible arbitration, fighting back in the public sector, and organizing and bargaining during an economic crisis among other topics crucial for fighting Unionists.
As a caucus of educators, it was not enough for CORE to merely be students. CORE member, delegate and National Board Certified Teacher Karen Lewis co-presented a workshop entitled “Changing Your Union.”
Ms. Lewis gave an overview of the shape of education in Chicago and how it inspired a small group of Chicago Teachers Union activists to work together to change the Union from within. She described how CORE has become a group of educators who are doing the things the Union leadership should be doing, but in their free time for no additional pay. CORE has been collecting data and doing research on such items as: Huberman’s attack on pensions, CPS payroll, and proper staffing of schools.
She then described our January 10th meeting where CORE drew 500 people in a blizzard to talk about school closings. This event led to the formation of the GEM coalition that became a force of positive change in Chicago school reform. The actions of the groups around school closings saved six schools from being closed, phased-out, consolidated, or turned-around over the 2009-2010 school year
Question-and-Answer session concluded the presentation. Karen advocated for term limits on officers and cuts in officer pay as being crucial in keeping leadership’s attention to the needs of the rank-and-file. She discussed the importance of member education and the need for balance between “service Unionism” and activist Unionism.
At the end of the conference, delegate and CORE member Jackson Potter spoke on the closing panel. Jackson spoke about how CORE is effectively changing the culture of the Union. He spoke about how CORE came from a group of teachers who were not interested in leaving the classroom, but were interested in using our brotherhood and sisterhood within the Union to make the classroom a place where we can better serve our students. CORE wants to put a stop to the culture of “the further you get away from the classroom, the bigger the rewards.”
This was a great day of learning and teaching for the Educators at CORE. Being a member-driven caucus, and not a personality-driven one means that a lot of work needs to be done in self-education and educating the public. Saturday’s event was another instance of that dedication to education.
Call for Community and Teacher Hunger Strike in LA
May 26th to June 1st
Our schools, our communities, our children are facing a growing crisis.
Overwhelmed by deficits, politicians are trying to balance their budgets on the backs of children, the poor, and the working people of California. Our schools’ past allies in public office, Board Members Garcia, Flores-Aguilar, and Vladovic have abandoned us. We are sending a clear message to these elected officials: we will accept nothing less than a new budget that protects every child and every classroom.
To this end we call for a fast of purification, dedication, sacrifice and conscience. Our goal is to achieve self purification, to call on ourselves and our elected representatives to rededicate themselves to the children of our communities, to make personal sacrifice and inspire others to join us, and to remind everyone of conscience what is right and just at this moment.
We call on you to join us. Some of us will fast until this struggle is won. Many of us will fast for several days or for only one day. Some of us will participate in a strict, water-only fast, others in juice fasts. All are welcome.
The first fast will begin on May 26th and last until June 1st. On June 1st we will have a community celebration for those who will be breaking their fast.
On that day we will also invite as many individuals as possible to begin fasts for a short period of time and then pass their fast on to someone else who will do the same, creating chains of people throughout the community.
To sign up, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (323) 490-2412.
Perhaps we can bring the day when children will learn from their earliest days that being fully man and fully woman means to give one’s life to the liberation of the brother who suffers. It is up to each one of us. It won’t happen unless we decide to use our lives to show the way. –Cesar Chavez
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps:
collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dialogue cannot exist in the absence of a profound love for the world and its people. –Paolo Freire
San Francisco's Educators for Democratic Union Platform
A democratic union that functions with transparency.
1. Membership will have active oversight of bargaining.
2. The bargaining team will be accountable - making regular reports to the Executive Board and Assembly, seeking membership input and direction.
3. All changes in workday, wages and benefits will be voted on by the full membership. We will have open and thorough discussion on any changes in dues: where the money will go, how it will benefit members.
4. All resolutions passed and minutes taken during Executive Board and Assembly Meetings will be posted in a timely manner on the UESF website.
A union that defends the rights of ALL its members.
1. We believe in equal rights to pay increases for paraprofessionals, substitutes, child development and K-12 teachers.
2. Union leadership will spend more time in the school and work sites finding out what members concerns are and taking action.
3. We seek to defend and expand the number of paraprofessionals working in SFUSD.
4. Protect teachers from subjective evaluations.
Social justice for all: educators, families and students.
1. We will engage in dialogue with families about a long-range vision for public education and what education could look like.
2. We oppose the attempts to reintroduce JROTC to our schools. We will be active participants in the antiwar movement.
3. We will defend the rights of all immigrant families to live and work in San Francisco free of harassment from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
4. We oppose school closings.
Empowering members at their school sites.
1. Union leadership will visit school sites and take an active approach to building strong UBCs.
2. Real reform starts at the school sites--- not at 555 Franklin. Encourage members to take action where they work to improve education and working conditions.
3. We will lead and encourage discussions on issues that matter to our membership in addition to the contract--- pedagogy, school climate and discipline, building community-school relationships, etc.
4. We absolutely oppose using test scores alone to measure the success of students or educators –- Rewrite ESEA(Elementary and Secondary Education Act) and end NCLB (No Child Left Behind).
The defense of public education and the public sector through progressive taxation.
1. We will build relationships and emphasize strategic actions with other unions and public sector stakeholders to build and fund a new vision for social justice and equity.
2. We will work to change how schools are funded and fight to transform Prop 13 to adequately fund public schools and social services.
3. No merit pay! We will fight to stop the privatization of any aspect of public schools and help existing charter schools to unionize.