Medical? What Medical?

by Greg Johnson, Detroit Teacher, March 2010

DFT Members: Anybody fill a mail order prescription for maintenance drugs with Caremark lately? Medicine for which I used to pay $0 now costs me $90 for each prescription. I'm sure my dilemma is light compared to some of our other DFT brothers and sisters. Now, I am supposed to afford this, on top of $500 being deducted from my pay every month? Well, I guess I could say "get over it, quit bitching and complaining about our most recently negotiated DFT contract. Either get the blood pressure pills, or simply die from congestive heart failure or stroke." True, but it didn't have to be like this. I could have eaten less quantities of food throughout my life, and not eaten so much salt. But I went 25 straight years without eating salt and still wound up with high blood pressure. The other alternative we had was, we could have elected DFT union leadership who actually knew how to negotiate a contract instead of going around bragging about what they negotiated and what they wrote, as an appointee and former aide to elected DFT giants John Elliot and Janna Garrison.

As for me, I'll take my chances and get medicine only when I can afford it, instead of when I am prescribed to take it. Perhaps I'll live long enough to actually retire. I'm one of us who started teaching late (35 years old) in my professional life. And to think, there are those who actually go around supporting the contract we have, claiming how it "fortifies teachers," how it enables teachers to "take hold of and control their profession"-- bullsh_t! Right now, I need some medicine to control my blood pressure, and I can't afford it--all because of the so-called "negotiating skills" of our elected union officials! People who claimed to know how to negotiate a contract! You go figure!

Did you hear what Robert Bobb had to say on Fox 2's Flashpoint Thursday night, when Huel Perkins asked him about his $414,000 salary, which is more money than Governor Granholm (who appointed him) and President Obama (who recommended him) makes? He said, "I negotiate my contract. It's up to those with whom I negotiate to bring those dollars to the table." I think we need to elect a DFT president who can get those dollars to the table for us, and not just brag about being able to do it. If he can get them to bring dollars to the table to run us out of our jobs and set up charter schools (hundreds of millions more than it would have cost to get us a good contract) then he should have been able to do the same thing on our behalf.

You tell me brothers and sisters, what has been accomplished during this current DFT administration besides making teachers jobless, cutting teachers pay, displacing teachers out of their teaching positions into different schools, cutting teachers medical benefits, forcing teachers into unplanned retirements, depleting the Detroit teaching force, the loss of stature and prestige of the DFT, and leaving our union to die on the vine.Then we hear the weak and sickly cry "It's the economic times, it's the economy! It ain't no economy! "It ain't no stinking economy!" If it's the economy how did Robert Bobb get an $81,000 pay increase? If it's the economy why are hundreds of millions of dollars being allocated to put us out of our jobs and build charters all across this city? Bobb's raise is more money than our previous salary, before our DFT President conspired with Bobb to extort $500 per month from each DFT member. You think calling it extortion is extreme? Go look up the definition of extortion and then you'll see that this is what Robert Bobb and our DFT president is doing to us. Everybody knows.

Everybody all over the city has said it. If only the teachers would have stood up, we (the DFT) could have stopped what is happening with education in Detroit. What we have in office now at the DFT, is the worst leadership in our union history. And to think, we may have elected delegates to go to national and state conventions who can't get it done either. DFT members, we all need to have a moment of prayer that those in power at DFT-- those who are destroying our union, will lose today at the final vote count, and not be given ample opportunity to further destroy our union and make us unemployed. But then again, you can't stand up for your membership without a back bone.

Defend Public Education/Save Our Students
A Detroit Federation of Teachers Caucus
AFT local 231, AFL-CIO