The American Federation of Teachers leadership in Detroit bargained what I think may be the worst school worker contract in US history (let's set aside the days before collective bargaining, meaning not 1931 and not the McCarthy era). I'm holding a contest to see if anyone can come up with something worse. Deadline is Sunday night.
The 2009-2012 agreement between the Detroit Public Schools and the DFT was ratified by a vote of 3,578 yes, 2,031 no. DFT has more than 7000 members.
Complaints about voting irregularities abound, typical of the DFT, but are unlikely to have much impact.
The contract was negotiated by top AFT boss Randi Weingarten and the somewhat befuddled DFT president, Keith Johnson--even behind the backs of their own bargaining team. Then the pair joined the Detroit Mayor, the local press, and the top bosses of DPS to force the rank and file of the DFT to vote to strangle themselves--using union money to prove that only complete surrender was possible.
We do not need unions to surrender. We can throw up our hands in defeat, alone.
But the DFT wants a contract, even if it is complete capitulation, in order to continue to collect dues. That is their project. They sell the labor of the members to the DPS bosses, get check off, and guarantee labor peace, using all the force they can muster. It's their sole purpose, just as banks only ideology (as with all of capitalism) is profits.
The sellout contract includes merit pay, a $500 per month pay cut (with clauses that make it look like a bracero program), a Priority Schools project that mirror the Strategic Hamlet schemes in Vietnam, huge health benefit loses, more regimentation of the curricula, etc. Background of this came to you in the post below, and more will come later. The contract includes the full grab bag of reactionary measures that have appeared in (mostly AFT) contracts, piecemeal, and puts them into one sweetheart arrangement lasting three years--unless DPS goes bankrupt and wipes out pensions, etc.
A $500 a month pay cut would hurt anyone but the contract will especially hurt young single moms who started teaching, bought homes or cars, and now find themselves unable to keep up. This criminal deal will spread all over the country, become a template, especially for AFT locals which will see it very soon on their own bargaining tables.
At the very same time, tonight, the Michigan legislature changed state law enough to appear to be in line with the Race to the Top (Ratt) money from the Demagogue, Obama (funded by AFT and NEA among others) and his marionette, Arne Duncan. The Race to the Money was led by the Democratic Michigan Governor who also appointed the Broad Foundation's ponce, Bob Bobb, to run the Detroit Public Schools.
Meanwhile, the Demagogue sends 30,000 troops and probably 50,000 more mercenaries to Afghanistan to conduct his imperialist adventure, using the children of the poor who cannot get jobs to kill other children of the poor on behalf of the rich in their homelands.
And the Democrats gut Medicare, pimp for the insurance companies, and pound down to get a "Health Care" bill that might offset the bills for GM and Walmart owners but will make health care worse for most people.
This is without question class war. but the poor and too many others cling to a quasi-religious view of democracy which no longer has any ground whatsoever. Capitalism rules over democracy every time.
I'm eager to discuss why it is that I should not rightly call the government an executive committee and armed weapon of the rich where they iron our their differences and then allow us to choose which one of them will oppress us best.
Or, why it is we should not consider the top labor leadership in the US (and their sappy counterparts in the professional organizations) enemies, not potential allies, to be treated as such--harsh measures.
The core issue of our times is the rise of color-coded inequality and the real promise of perpetual war met by the potential of mass class-conscious resistance.
We can see that national resistance is growing. At issue is whether or not people will make sense of why it is they must fight to live. If they do not, they will do nothing but lose, lose, lose.
The struggles headed for the March 4th strikes, followed by Mayday, are heartening, as are the building seizures, teachins, and street battles that students and teachers have joined. In that, there is hope; direct action and lessons learned. Rescuing education from the ruling classes will be the focus of the Rouge Forum Conference this coming August, connecting reason to power.
Bottom line; the Education Agenda is a War Agenda. Failure to grasp that means certain defeat. Detroit is only the injury that will go before an injury to all. Bet on it.
Good luck to us, every one.
And happy holidays,
> Date: Sun, 13 Dec 2009 20:55:14 -0800