Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What is the job of an AFT convention delegate?

The top-down structure of the AFT appears to allow for the “locals” to choose roughly 15-20% of the resolutions, while the leadership gets 90-95% of its chosen resolutions passed.
Susan Zupan for Substance

AFT CONVENTION: Resolution on school closing, charters required hard work, some compromises

Introduction of AFT delegate's job... A first look at the national union convention of 2010

Having just been elected on June 11, with less than one month to make all the traveling arrangements and attempt to do their union homework, 104 newly elected CTU delegates from the CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators) Caucus along with 4 veteran CTU delegates from the UPC (United Progressive Caucus) Caucus attended the convention. For most, it was a crash course in national unionism. Although the total number of delegates Chicago could have sent was 150, only 108 were in Seattle for the convention.

More than a dozen delegates from CTU Local 1 took the floor during the debates over the resolutions presented to the convention. Above, Karie Hogan of Little Village High School School of Social Justice is projected on to the big screen during her remarks. On many occasions, Chicago's delegates were speaking in opposition to New York City's massive United Federation of Teachers delegation, which frowned on Chicago's independence from Randi Weingarten's political machine. Chicago delegates quickly came to know that members of Weingarten's "Progressive Caucus" were looking over their shoulders throughout the convention. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis spoke many times during the convention, both during the debates in the general sessions and at the daily breakfasts of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. One of the highlights of the convention for Chicago was when Lewis received the second highest number of votes for AFT vice president (one of 43 vice presidents elected to the AFT executive council) in the election. The majority of the members of the Chicago delegation refused to join the Progressive Caucus, but Lewis and Michael Brunson (CTU recording secretary) did, so Lewis could be slated for an executive council seat. Above, Lewis speaks to the breakfast while Geppart looks on. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

Jim Vail

Thank you Susan for writing a clear and excellent analysis of the AFT convention. We the first time AFT delegates learned a lot about how to shape future national union politics under the threat of total destruction by the business community and presidential administration.

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