-Jonathan Halabi is a New York City teacher, union activist and blogger at JD2718. I will be reposting his daily reports from the American Federation of Teachers convention in Minneapolis. It runs through Thursday.
AFT Convention 2016. Day 3 will start in a few hours. I’m writing a post each day from Minneapolis. Day 2:
I’m still “tweeting” – little snippets, sometimes with a snapshot. You can follow me @jd2718x
On Day 1 the speakers, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, were what I could see, the business of the AFT – the action – took place in committee, where I could not go. On Day 2 most of the “action” was on the convention floor.
I missed the credentials report, but there’s about 2600 delegates.
Dues increases passed, and more money for a solidarity fund set aside as well.
The human rights amendment all passed – Racial Equity, Against Deportation, and School Safety and Educational Opportunity for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Students.
Mark Dayton, governor of Minnesota, spoke, and was well received. My favorite line? “If our Navy were underperforming, we would set up charter navies, or homeschool our naval commanders?”
Michael Mulgrew motivated the endorsement of Hillary Clinton, which passed – I’m guessing here – over 95%, maybe 97-98%
The hot part of Day 2 was not on the floor. The St. Paul Federation of Teachers and a neighborhood organization organized a march from the convention center to a downtown Minneapolis bank:
Please join educators from the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, and Minneapolis Federation of Teachers along with community and labor allies to mourn the unjust killing of Philando Castile and demand justice for his life and for Black lives across the country.
The timing was tricky. The event was scheduled to start at 4:00. They were scheduled to step off at 4:30. And Randi was cooperating, all was good, until Randi announced that the convention was behind schedule and that the Educational Issues Resos would come up after the speaker from the Israeli Knesset. How could delegates do both? Speakers argued over the agenda, suggested moving the guest to after the business. Randi bickered. CTU President Jesse Sharkey did it right when he said for delegates who wanted to march AND to participate in the ed issues debate, what did Randi suggest. She responded that if delegates left, and there was not a quorum, then business would not continue. How do you reason with that? Then she put the MoK on for a longish talk (I left).
I do not know much about the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, but that resolution had support from UTLA and CTU and the Boston Federation of Teachers and others, seeking to join with local communities in struggles for public education and our schools. I have the impression that this is the direction that some of our more progressive locals want to move in. A nice detail from debate – a delegate from LA, Cecily Myart-Cruz, wanted badly to speak, and felt like she was unfairly cut off (it was just procedure, but in the moment must have seemed unfair). CTU President Jesse Sharkey was the next speaker called on, and he ceded his time to Myart-Cruz, who then spoke with passion. Class act, Sharkey.
Later that evening I went to a bar for drinks and talks with members of rank and file caucuses. I wanted to see my Minneapolis friends, the ones I met on in Havana in 2014. But I also met a bunch of people from Chicago, and from other locals around the country. And the MORE people were there, Jia Lee spoke, and it’s been nice having easy conversation with my new allies.