|Educators are in a pivotal spot to struggle for democracy and equality--for
justice--in de-industrialized America. There is no good reason for school
workers to make alliances with corrupt union bosses in order to gain a
dubious form of unity. Now is the time for serious educators to form a
national organization of students, parents, and teachers--and all school
workers including professors--to struggle for real caps on class size,
a just tax system, and the academic freedom to teach toward the truth in
schools. Here are ten reasons why merger won't help.
1. Were you told the truth? They said the merger would not force you to join and pay dues to the AFL-CIO. It will. Your dues will rise because of it.
2.Were you told the truth? They said the merger would preserve the secret ballot and one-person-one-vote. It will not.
3.Were you told the truth? They said the merger would make educators more powerful through unity. It won't. The AFL-CIO has divided workers by race, sex, and skill since its birth. The AFL will take your money and make you weaker, by exercising undemocratic control over your association. They said they developed a trusting relationship with the AFT. Right now, the NEA is rushing organizers to Puerto Rico, where the AFT is raiding the NEA--in violation of the no-raid agreement. Unity with the AFL-CIO is simply unity with the wrong organization.
4.Were you told the truth? They said the "minority guarantees" that are part of an NEA process designed to undercut racism would be preserved. They are not preserved.
5. Were you told the truth ?They said the merger leaders would not personally gain from the merger. They are the only people who will. Bob Chase will extend his life as a union bureaucrat by becoming the president of the new union. Sandra Feldman, never an educator, plans to be the president of the AFL-CIO.
6. They said that the
new union will make you more powerful in the courts. But the united money
and lawyers of all these groups just LOST the voucher fight in Wisconsin.
Moreover, the private sector domination of the AFL means that the big federation
will continue to lobby against private sector tax increases--for schools.
8.Were you told the truth? They said that the AFL was growing more open and democratic and active. Not. The AFL just fired its organizing director for honestly stating that the AFL leadership is lazy, corrupt, and none-too-bright. The AFL is dominated by corrupt affiliates like the Teamsters, so broke they cannot afford to hold the next shady election for Hoffa, and the Hotel Workers who paid their crooked past leader $300,000 per year, plus three pension plans for the rest of his life, in order to get him to quit. Why subsidize the AFL-CIO--and adopt their structure?
Why should NEA, three times the size of the AFT-AFL-CIO, allow concentrated AFT locals to dominate governance, as they will under the new AFL- affiliated union?
9.Were you told the truth?. They said the AFL merger would make you more powerful in political action. But the AFL cannot even get its own members to vote for the people it endorses in elections. The AFL is unable to deliver in the political arena, and NEA's presence will simply dilute the power of a union devoted to education. The AFL would love NEA's political action money for its lavish parties---like the one the UAW leadership is having in Las Vegas while 100,000 of their members are on strike.
10.Were you told the truth?.
Bob Chase and Dennis Van Roekel and the others who negotiated the merger
campaigned on one platform, then adopted another. The "New Unionism" they
are promoting as the content of the merger is simply their caving in to
the hollow unionism of the AFL-CIO--which has lost every serious battle
it has entered in the last 25 years.
Whether or not the unions merge, teachers and all school workers, need an organization that takes seriously the needs of children, the right of honest educators to struggle for what it true in classes of reasonable size, and the right of parents and all citizens to look to a more just tax structure to fund equitable education. The members of the Rouge Forum and the Whole Schooling Consortium are at work building just such a group, involving educators from all levels, professors, K-12 teachers, media specialists, classroom aides and support personnel, students, and parents. We invite you to join us.