Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

That's the mantra of Norm Scott, and nowhere is it more apparent than in this Facebook post from AFT President Randi Weingarten:

Ok-I am not beyond a selfie with the President.... particularly on Labor Day when he says as he did at the Greater Boston Labor Council Bkfst: "if I were looking for a good job that builds security for my family, I would join a union" 

Now I certainly don't begrudge Randi a selfie with the President of the United States. And the guy has done some good things. While I'd much prefer single payer, Obamacare keeps my daughter (and many others) on a medical plan until 26. Americans don't have to face rejection for pre-existing conditions to acquire an insurance policy. While there should be none, there will at least be fewer bankruptcies on the basis of catastrophic medical emergency.

But on the union front, President Obama has not particularly walked the walk. I mean that in a very literal sense. When campaigning, he said he was going to find a pair of comfortable shoes and walk with labor if it was in trouble. Yet search though he may have, we did not see hide nor hair of him in Wisconsin when there was a popular uprising against current Presidential candidate Scott Walker. I mean, I understand losing stuff in the closet, but he's the President of the United States. I have to assume he doesn't need to run to the mall when he needs a new pair of shoes.

As a teacher, I am now rated by junk science test scores. This is a direct result of Obama's Race to the Top. At a time when states were dying for money, Obama pushed high stakes testing and junk science to a level GW Bush could only have dreamed of.  This has demoralized every teacher I know. The only ones crowing about it are the leaders of E4E, and they aren't teachers anymore anyway. The American Statistical Association is very clear that judging teachers by test scores is nonsense, and the President, along with every editorial board in New York and dozens more around the country, can't be bothered to acknowledge that, let alone respond.

And while it's nice that Obama will be photographed with Randi, now that he doesn't have to worry about re-election or midterms, I haven't seen him fret much about union over the rest of his term. One of the large reasons I voted for him the first time he ran was that he promised to support the Employee Free Choice Act, which would've enabled unionization via card check. It would've prevented a lot of anti-union management from prevention unionization. As far as I can tell, he did not lift a finger to do that, and I voted for the Green candidate rather than Obama mach two.

Right now we are at a crisis. We are facing a SCOTUS decision that will effective render all public unions right to work status. Without automatic deduction of dues, Wisconsin unions have withered and all but died. This will be particularly damaging to a union like UFT that's been hands off and managed top-down. If fewer than 20% of working teachers can be bothered to vote in union elections, what percentage will pay dues?

As bad as leadership is these days, they can be persuaded, and if enough of us crawl out of our collective coma, they can even be replaced. But there's gonna be little hope for that if nothing is done. And as far as I can tell, President Barack Obama has done considerably less than nothing for union over the last seven years or so.
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