07 December 2009

Rouge Forum Update--from Rich

Dear Friends,


Check the link above but note that Detroit may be the next centerpiece for education struggles soon. The Detroit Federation of Teachers bosses signed a tentative agreement (TA) with the Broad Foundation’s Detroit Financial Manager, Bob Bobb who now runs the system, that offers DPS $500 a month from each teacher’s check, or $10,000 a year, to be paid back as a no-interest loan when the teacher quits the system. With about 7000 school workers in DPS (not all classroom teachers), paying the dun for 2 1/2 years of the 3 year contract, that’s a $105 million no-interest loan to a school system that claimed it needed about $40 million in concessions from the school workers. More, DPS claims its on the brink of bankruptcy, which would likely dissolve the debt to educators.

The TA also includes huge give-backs in insurances (eliminating Blue Cross), merit pay, teachers evaluating teachers, and worse.

The contract language is murky on what looks like a union bracero program, selling the labor of members to DPS with a specious promise of repayment on the “loan,” (blackmail for a job).

The TA is here: http://mi.aft.org/dft231/ although in the past members have complained about not being told of the full measure of TA’s.In a meeting of about 2500 of the DFT members at Cobo Hall on Sunday, most rank and filers agreed that 90% plus rose to oppose the TA that was bargained behind their backs, involving the top national leadership of the AFT, like President Randi Weingarten.

No group of organized educators has been on strike in the last decade more than DFT rank and filers who led a huge wildcat strike, against their union, against the law, and against the employer–and they made gains.But today the DFT is relatively isolated. The union leadership stayed silent in the face of massive corruption and incompetence that infected nearly every aspect of Detroit school life. Citizens turned against the system as a whole.

When Broad’s Bobb arrived, citizens applauded as he rooted out the more obvious small time crooks in the system, but he left aside the contractors who looted the public by stealing millions in no-bid contract during the five year period of the Takeover Board, when the governor wiped out the elected board and replaced them with, mostly, suburban auto execs from the failing Big Three. The Takeover Board left DPS at least $40 million in debt.

Now, there are at least 10 newly built schools that sit empty and stripped of everything of value, schools that were built in the Takeover period–in a system that loses 12,000 students a year.

Bobb “won” a new $500 million bond issue to build more new schools by a 2/3 majority this fall, indicating his newly won clout, and his ability to syphon off more money from a system that claims it will build new schools, but demands blackmail payments from teachers. Bobb has already pulled out millions on no-bid offers to cronies in Broad related companies.

The DFT’s sellout Tentative Agreement will appear in urban bargaining tables everywhere next year, if DPS gets away with this. An injury to one really will go before an injury to all.Every expression of solidarity in opposition to this TA will matter. More, suburban MEA members need to unite with the DFT rank and file, join with parents and kids to create enough educational civil strife that drives the DFT bosses back to the bargaining table, forces them to report out a TA that makes gains, not concessions.

No union is ideologically or structurally prepared to take on the battles ahead–why we formed the Rouge Forum a decade ago.

When they say “Cutback,” We say “Fight Back!”

There is MUCH MORE on the blog linked above.

Good luck to us, every one.


No comments: