Sunday, August 3, 2014

Charter School Unions: Will Teamsters Out-Organize the AFT and NEA?

Eighty teachers and guidance counselors at the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School in Marlboro recently made history when they joined a union — but not the one you might think. They did not join the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which represents 110,000 public school educators across the commonwealth. Nor did they join the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers, which has 25,000 members. No, they joined Teamsters Local 170 in Worcester, a 4,000-member union of mostly truck and bus drivers and warehouse workers....  ----An intriguing story sent by Jeff Kaufman
The national teacher unions straddled the fence on ed deform - not opposing the charter movement where the end game is a death-knell to a viable public school system -  putting forth argument that ultimately they will organize charter school teachers. If a charter school teacher asked me whether to join the UFT, I would say, "sure, can't hurt." But...

Let's examine the AFT/UFT vision using NYC as an example. At one time the UFT had a monopoly on union membership in every school in the city. That in itself was a powerful tool, though one the union has refused to use very much over the past 40 years. I don't only mean a strike - but something like passive resistance to idiot paper work, slowdowns, etc.

Now they have lost a chunk to charters -- not an overwhelming chunk yet -- but more will be coming. With the new NY State charter support law - which the UFT laid down for when it was pushed by their pal, Cuomo -- there are estimates the UFT could lose 10,000 member over the next few years.

They think they can make up the difference by organizing charter teachers, with each school having its own contract, thus diluting the power of the union. (See the alliance with Steve Barr - Randi/Mulgrew Pal Steve Barr to Head Anti-Union DFER California).

But as the article indicates, the road to organizing is not a clear one for teacher unions.
In a press release from the union, two teachers explained why they chose to join the Teamsters. Like most charter schools, AMSA hires teachers to one-year contracts and does not offer seniority. The school did not, until now, have to wrestle with the union to fire employees. "A lot of key people, award-winning teachers, were let go. That decision cannot be made in five minutes in a back room so someone else can get the job. We need a process so that everyone can feel more protected," said Lino Alvarez, a computer science and Web design teacher at AMSA.  "We looked at other unions, but decided the Teamsters was the best union for us."
Of course, the MTA now has Barbara Madeloni as its leader and will make an intensive effort to organize charter school teachers.

I am all for organizing charter school teachers. But I also think the unions should take a position to reverse charterization by focusing on the crooked and incompetent schools and rather than having them closed (and often replaced by another shell charter) they be turned back into public schools.

Without reversals, the final result will be a total balkanization of public school systems. The ONLY way to preserve the concept of a public school system is to put a stake to the heart of as many charters as possible. Hey, no one thought we would get to the moon.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I'll join the Teamsters. They probably have more balls than the AFT.


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