A couple of folks came up today and asked me if I had a floor strategy.
At an NEA RA that’s what the big boys do. When you want to control the speakers, you plant folks at different microphones who then give their time over to those prepared to speak.
The Illinois caucus had already voted for the New Business Item calling for the NEA to support the AFT Chicago teacher local in their negotiations with Rahm and his hand-picked school board.
It had now been assigned a number: NBI 13. And this afternoon, after Joe Biden gave a rather sleepy speech to the RA, it would come to the floor.
I had no floor strategy. I would move it on behalf of the Illinois delegation. I would get three minutes to speak. I had asked some others to speak who were more than willing. A couple of young teachers, some from out-of-state, came up to me and said they had gone to CPS and felt very emotional about the issue and would I mind if they spoke?
As I look around the hall there must be hundreds, if not more, delegates involved in bargaining right now – my own local in Park Ridge is a case in point.
The NEA supports us all.
So why pass a special NBI about Chicago, an AFT local at that?
We didn’t choose it. Stand for Children, Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst and other corporate school reformers chose it.
They came in to Illinois and dropped a couple hundred thousand dollars on a handful of Illinois legislators to change the bargaining rules. JUST FOR CHICAGO.
Oh, this wasn’t Scott Walker in Wisconsin. They didn’t go after collective bargaining head on. A shift here. A rule change there. They turned collective bargaining in Chicago into a game of chance like in Vegas. Odds strongly favoring the house.
On top of that Chicago is the only city in Illinois that doesn’t elect its school board. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has packed it with deep pocket pals like hotel magnate Penny Pritzker and million dollar banker David Vitale.
If the corporate rule changers like Stand for Children get their way in Chicago, all of Illinois will be next – then America, coming to a town near you.
What does support mean? Not money. Just send a message. Tell your members back home. Tell your uncle Bill and your Aunt Sylvia. Tell your neighbors about Chicago.
And when we take a vote, someone call “division.” And then those of us who support Chicago can stand up. Take out your iPhone. Take a picture and post it on Twitter or Facebook. We’ll tell the story and send Chicago some love.”
Because there were no speakers against and 13 speakers for, debate was closed. A vote was taken and by a nearly unanimous vote the three million member NEA now stands with Chicago teachers.
Justice was our floor strategy.