Brother Mike reports from the SOS conference in DC this past weekend:
Saturday’s panel of teacher union activists, Fred Klonsky, Dr. Michael A. Walker Jones, and Xian Barrett, was over the top. Most of the controversy took place around the so-callednew unionism or “results unionism” now being touted bysome AFT and NEA leaders. There was lots of anger and frustration in the room, over the quick concessions being made by union leaders on issues like value-added evaluation of teachers and “merit” pay.
The panel discussion was followed by Sunday’s labor workshop where attendees found consensus on the following draft resolution:
1. SOS supports the right of all teachers in every state to bargain collectively as members of the teachers’ union. We oppose the current wave of legislative efforts to ban unions or to limit their ability to represent their members inside and outside of contract negotiations including, but not limited to: rights for unions to collectively bargain; the rights of unionized teachers to due process rights; and the rights of unions to dues collection from their members.
2. SOS salutes our brothers and sisters in the NEA and AFT for signing on to the National Resolution on High Stakes Testing.
3. SOS opposes the unlimited expansion of privately-managed charter schools which bar their teachers from holding union membership so as to actively and illegally resist union affiliation.
4. SOS also supports the early attempts to organize charter school teachers into unions. Charter school unions should also have the right to affiliate with the NEA and AFT.
5. SOS stands with our union brothers and sisters in the fight for higher wages, improved working conditions, protection of their pensions, healthcare benefits, and job security (especially for veteran teachers).
6. SOS opposes the current move to replace veteran teachers (usually members of the teachers’ union) with inexperienced, lower-paid, novice teachers, such as those provided by organizations like Teach For America.
7. SOS opposes all current initiatives, especially those put forward under No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, to undermine existing collective bargaining agreements.
8. SOS supports a union position strongly opposing merit pay and value-added teacher evaluation based on student test scores.
9. Currently, all eyes are on Chicago where the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) is setting a powerful example of “fighting unionism.” SOS supports the CTU in its current contract struggle and its fight against the powerful forces of corporate school reform. If Chicago teachers go on strike, SOS will organize strike support actions nationwide. (add verbage supporting “fighting unionism.”
10. SOS believes that teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions, and we oppose the false idea that the interests of teachers and students are opposed.