Rahm’s SEIU 73 local taken over by trustees.


My cartoon from June, 2014.

When Chuy Garcia challenged Rahm Emanuel for the Mayor’s job the Chicago union movement was split. Although SEIU 73 did not officially endorse Emanuel, they contributed money to his campaign and undermined union support for the progressive Chuy Garcia.

When Rahm was looking to cut a deal to cut pension benefits to city employees, SEIU 73 was willing to cut that deal.  It was a deal that the Illinois Supreme Court quickly ruled unconstitutional.

SEIU 73 has been more than willing to collaborate and get along with the Mayor, to the detriment of its members.

Its leadership – President Christine Boardman and Secretary-Treasurer Matt Brandon – have had an on again-off again relationship over who had the power.

Yesterday  SEIU had to step in on behalf of the membership and have removed both Boardman and Brandon from their positions, replaced by trustees.

In December of 2014 I wrote:

When city unions filed suit against Rahm’s pension cuts, Rahm said the cuts were good because he bargained them with city unions.

Those unions included Bricklayers District Council, Carpenters Regional Council, IBEW 134, Iron Workers District Council, IUOE 150, IUOE 399, Laborers’ District Council, Pipefitters 597, Plumbers 130, Sprinkle Fitters 281 and Christine Boardman’s SEIU 73.

The unions suing Rahm because he has violated the pension clause of the Illinois Constitution are the Chicago Teachers Union, AFSCME Council 31, IFT-AFT, Teamsters Local 700 and the Illinois Nurses Association.

That closely represents the progressive divide among unions in Chicago.

The fight between Boardman and Brandon has not been about which side of the divide SEIU 73 should be on or who best represents the interest of the rank-and-file.

Now, with the trustee take-over, perhaps SEIU 73 can move in the direction of representing its members.

Privatizing CPS. Are the crickets unionized?


A reader of mine writes:

Chicago Tribune reported on this a few days past. Even though schools are filthy to the point of parents needing to volunteer their time to clean the schools and supply bathroom essentials included in janitorial contracts, the board has decided to double down and expand contracted janitorial services to 70% of schools. Magic Johnson holds a large stake in the company. He also sells ancillary educational materials and has two other lucrative contracts with CPS. Is Rahm star struck? Why isn’t this travesty being investigated?

Why, indeed. Although by now the stuff by Mayor Shady that is under investigation is probably leading to a shortage of investigators.

They may have to outsource that job as well.

The other question is the lack of any serious response from the leadership of the local unions representing CPS non-certified staff that are not in the CTU.

It’s not as if the schools contracted to be cleaned by Aramark have proven to be models of success.

But SEIU has been largely silent on Mayor Shady’s lastest plan to expand the number of schools outsourcing  and to fire current employees and replace them with Aramark.

Aramark’s CPS custodians represented by SEIU barely make over $15 an hour and many full-time positions have been cut to half-time.

Rahm announced Friday his plans to out-source school engineer jobs to Sedexo.

In a letter to engineers on Monday, CPS said it would fully move to private management by the summer of 2018. That means more than 500 engineers could lose their jobs, and if hired back, would move into a separate union for private-sector workers, according to CPS.

“CPS appreciates the dedication and hard work of its engineers, and it is important that you know that the decisions are being made and contemplated are about efficiency and not about how much your work is valued,” chief administrative officer Jose Alfonso de Hoyos-Acosta wrote. He added that CPS will require vendors to hire back engineers who get laid off in the process.

Hoyos-Acosta also told principals in a similar letter that “Our objective is to minimize staff disruption; unlike previous service delivery models, we will work to minimize any potential turnover or bumping,” adding, “I know from conversations with many of you that the way facility services have been provided to you this year has been challenging.”

The Board of Education currently employs about 520 engineers in its 600-plus buildings who are in charge of each school’s boiler, heat and other major infrastructure. Many of them are responsible for more than one building, which some say leads to problems such as a boiler leak at Prussing Elementary School last fall. About 80 children and staffers were hospitalized after carbon monoxide pervaded the building. The engineer who was assigned to Prussing part-time had had complained about the boiler’s problems.

An official at International Union of Operating Engineers Local 143, which represents the engineers, declined to comment. The local has a meeting scheduled for Thursday night.

“Declined comment.”

Do they need time to think about it?

Random Thoughts. Scalia is still dead and he took Friedrichs with him.


Like unionists everywhere, I supported the California Teachers Association side in the Friedrichs case.

For those living in a cave: If the SCOTUS ruled in favor of Friedrichs, it would have ended the practice of agency fees. In Illinois, for example, teachers don’t have to join the union in the district where they teach, but they must pay a fee to the union for the representation, rights and compensation that having a union provides for them. That right is guaranteed to workers in the private sector. The issue before the court was whether workers in the public sector have that same right.

The concern was that the five conservative justices seemed to give the impression that they would rule against agency fees for public workers.

With the death of Justice Scalia, The Grim Reaper seems to have sided with the unions. A four to four vote will leave the right to fair share in place.

There is a certain absurdity to the fact that in a democracy the death of one man decides the fate of millions of working people.

In the brief moment before Scalia left this mortal plane our national and state union leaders acted as if they were worried about keeping members who wouldn’t be required to pay dues. What I fear is that this means that the state leadership of our teacher unions can go back to sleep.

Although I am not entirely convinced they ever were really awake.

Union democracy by push polls.

I’m reposting my friend Jonathan Halibi’s blog post. The IEA also uses push polls rather than democratic debate at our Representative Assembly to justify decisions. Although we are not permitted to see the results. And I have never been polled.

– By Jonathan Halabi. Jonathan is a New York teacher and union activist. He blogs at JD2718.

My union e-mails me surveys. The right way to get member sentiment is to let chapter discussions happen, filter up from Chapter Leader to District Rep to the leadership on the 14th Floor of 52 Broadway.

Unfortunately, that chain is weak or broken. There are schools without Chapter leaders, chapter leaders who do not meet with their chapters or meet without discussion, chapter leaders who do not pass on information to their District Reps, DRs who do not solicit member thoughts from CLs, DRs who ignore schools where they do not get info, DRs who are afraid to share negative information with the 14th Floor, and times when 14 does not hear what some DRs are saying.

But even though it’s not the right way for a union to listen to members, certainly not to listen to chapter leaders, I fill them in. Last week I got a letter from Michael Mulgrew (well, signed by him, not actually from him, see below) asking me to fill in a survey that would just take 15 minutes (it took me more).

I was tooling along, answering what borough I was in and what I taught last year (I filled in for the year before, because of sabbatical), when I got to THE QUESTION.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 8.37.01 AM

So I could check Community School, since some of the ideas of providing services make sense, but I really don’t know full details. The others are just plain unacceptable.

Plus, what do they mean by:

“…there are a number of schools that have been struggling for many years to raise student achievement….”?

We know that there are schools in poor neighborhoods where kids don’t do as well. And we would like to help more kids succeed. But “student achievement”? That’s what Cuomo, Rhee, Gates, Duncan etc call test scores. Do we really want our union to use “Klein-speak”? And do we really want our union to focus on test scores?  This sort of language is embarrassing.

In fact, the whole question accepts the premise that if a school’s scores are low, the school must be bad. Didn’t the delegate assembly reject exactly that premise just two weeks ago?  Isn’t the battle against that very premise part of the battle to preserve public education?

I decide to skip the question.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 8.52.27 AM

Nope. They won’t let me leave it blank.

I try to check off “Community School”


Now we have another problem. They are serious about choosing two. I know what they want. They want me to push “more PD” – but teachers used to hate PD. And most NYC teachers still do. And I don’t think PD fixes schools. The best PD is voluntary, and out of the building. NYCDoE Professional Development is top down, and supervised. In some schools it’s gotten better, but it’s still neither what most teachers want, nor what most teachers need. And what is that “external support”?  And why are they asking teachers who are not in those schools about what teachers in those schools should have to go through?

Finally, I try clicking “proceed” with just “community school” checked off, and despite the warning it lets me move on.

But what is the union going to report? That most teachers want community schools and PD? Or, more honestly, given this limited list of options…

Where are the other options?

Where is “smaller class sizes?” Where is “more funding for after school activities and sports and clubs?” Where is “remove problem administrators?” Where is “more help, less rating?” Where is “repair our buildings?” Where is “build more schools?” Where is “allow principals to hire the best teachers without being penalized for preferring experience?” Where is “Other?” Where is “None of the above?”

Push polling doesn’t really fit with respecting teachers’ voices.

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Skokie’s Golan strikers and labor solidarity.


Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Commissioner Jesus Chuy Garcia supported the Golan strikers.

Our Skokie Organization of Retired Educators (S.O.R.E.) is affiliated with the largest teacher union in Illinois, the IEA, and with the largest teacher union in the United States, the NEA.

As President of S.O.R.E. and former Park Ridge Education Association President I know something about labor solidarity. Back in 2003 our IEA local went on strike for a week. We enjoyed and appreciated labor support for our strike.

On Sunday I will attend the victory celebration at Chicago’s Teamster headquarters for the Golan workers who were on strike for six months and recently won union recognition and a contract.

Our S.O.R.E. chapter was part of the Skokie Workers Action Team (SWAT) that assisted the strikers.

From the Skokie Review:

Dozens of Golan’s workers spent much of summer, through fall and into winter manning a picket line near 3600 Jarvis Ave. in Skokie’s east side industrial corridor.

The strikers drew support from outside organizations and even inspired U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9), Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and others to join them on the picket line on some days.

Video report from Univision

From Labor Radio:

Golan’s Moving workers in Chicago have won a six-month strike and are returning to work with their first union contract. Reverend C.J. Hawking of Arise Chicago says this worker victory was a community solidarity effort that helped these workers fight back against wage theft.

[Reverend C.J. Hawking]: “This is a historic victory with the Golan’s workers. It’s an example of a union working side by side with a non-profit organization. And the partnership that was formed and the collaboration that existed was just absolutely phenomenal. So we applaud the leadership of Teamsters 705, especially their Secretary Treasurer Juan Compos, who led the fight and stayed with these workers through a six month strike. We’re just very proud of all that these workers accomplished.”

Reverend Hawking says Golan’s workers were victims of ongoing wage theft that took as much as $4,000 from each of them each year.

[Rev. C.J. Hawking]: “On a systematic basis these workers were having their wages stolen. The average workers had to work about 15 hours a week off the clock. And it was repeated and willful violations on the part of the company. Further, if  worker got promoted to the foreman or the driver of his truck he had to put down a deposit of $500 toward that promotion. Completely illegal.”

As Teamster 705 members the Golan’s Moving workers have ended the wage theft and the illegal promotion deposits while getting raises. Adding to this worker victory is a unanimous vote by the Cook County Illinois Board of Commissioners this week for a county Anti-Wage Theft Ordinance.

From Progress Illinois (SEIU):

Under their first union contract, the workers, who had been calling for better wages, benefits and working conditions, will be compensated for all hours worked, including their time traveling to and from a moving job.

Also, Arise Chicago notes in a newsletter that the company is now prohibited from taking “illegal deductions” out of employees’ paychecks and movers “will no longer have to pay a ‘deposit’ of $500 when they are promoted to be the foremen or driver of their crew.”

“I feel so much better because we know that we are now protected, and they won’t violate our rights anymore,” Golan’s worker Noe Velasquez said in Arise Chicago’s letter. “There will no longer be the injustice, abuse or exploitation we experienced.”

Arise Chicago, Teamsters Local 705, and the Golan’s workers plan to hold a victory party on March 1 at Teamsters Hall, 300 S. Ashland Ave.



Bad boys and testing limits.


While appearing on Ken Davis’ Chicago Newsroom yesterday, Ken asked me about Governor Rauner’s attack on agency fees, also known as Fair Share.

I explained the law and the principle.

When I was a teacher and union president I signed up new teachers to our union. Nobody was required to join our union. But since we bargained a contract on their behalf and had the duty of fair representation if they got into trouble with administration, or if they felt their contractual rights had been violated, they had to pay a fee. That payment is called Fair Share or an agency fee.

Rauner says agency fees are unfair.

He appears not to have the same moral outrage about the millions in fees he got from investing our public pensions.

He only feels that someone should get something for nothing when it comes to the benefit of the work of public employee unions.

Governor Rauner is challenging the right of unions to collect a Fair Share payment. He has seized that payment from some state employee unions and has his La Salle Street corporate lawyer pals like former Attorney General Dan Webb doing pro bono legal work and is suing the unions.

When I was explaining all this to Ken and his viewers I compared Bruce Rauner to a first grader.

Before I retired, kids would return to school after summer break full of excitement and energy. I always knew what to expect. Students will test an adult – whether a parent or a teacher – to see how far they can go. It is natural. A part of their development. And this testing of limits inevitably happened the first few weeks of school.

I responded to children’s testing of limits as any adult would, with firmness and a loving understanding that this was what young people do.

And so it is with the new Governor. He is a wealthy Wall Street wheeler-dealer who is used to getting his way. So his bad-boy behavior is understandable.

The difference is that the Governor is not lovable.

I told Ken that what was required was for Democrats and our union leaders to demonstrate firmness in response to Rauner’s testing of limits.

And as we contact our legislators, something very interesting is happening.

The firmer our demand that they say no to non-union work zones and say yes to Fair Share, the more they are speaking out in opposition to Rauner’s anti-union agenda.

I’ve published some of those statements from legislators that I hear about.

Even Representative Nekritz has joined in.

Send me the ones you get.

I am also hearing that Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan will oppose the Governor in court over Fair Share. For this she may have to take time away from pursuing her claim of police power over our promised pensions.

It seems those who opposed us on pensions when there was a Democratic pension-busting governor are now agreeing with us in opposition to a union-busting Republican governor.

I’m not surprised. Standing firm when limits are tested mostly works.

While on this panel with the inestimable Ben Joravsky and Aldertrack’s Claudia Morell, I said that part of the game in Springfield is dealing with The Speaker.

Some may disagree, but I don’t think The Speaker gives a rat’s behind about Fair Share or non-union work zones. The Speaker cares about The Speaker and holding on to power. Rauner will test The Speaker.

With veto-proof majorities in both chambers they will have to deal with each other. And hopefully they will have to deal with us.

I am always frustrated with those who view us as just spectators in all this.

Jim Broadway has a good tutorial  and anti-civics lesson on how legislation works in Springfield.

For example, he explains what a shell bill is.

Broadway uses the current Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar, as an example what is not a shell bill.

Senate Bill 1 is this session’s version of last year’s Senate Bill 16. It addresses the state’s school funding formula, falsely claiming it reallocates money from wealthy district’s to poor ones.

It is conceptually flawed because it adds no new money to the education pot, redividing an already inadequate resource of dollars and hitting Chicago and suburban Cook County hardest. Chicago and Cook are where most of the state’s poor kids are.

Writes Broadway:

Okay, so 112 purported School Code bills are empty shells. What do the other 60 bills do? Well the one potentially with the most impact would be SB 1. Yes, Technically it is still a shell bill, sound and fury signifying nothing. But it now has an amendment, filed but not yet debated or adopted, filed and there to be read.

Read it if you wish, but it runs 437 pages.

It will remind you greatly of SB 16 from the last General Assembly. You know the bill, the one that combined almost all state support for public education into one massive stream of dollars flowing through a revised General State Aid formula. The one that rewarded poverty and punished the affluent school districts.

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), sponsor of SB 1, seems determined to make 2015 the year that school funding in Illinois is “reformed” to reduce the disparities in educational resources per student from one district (probably in an affluent suburban county) to another district (in a high-poverty urban or rural community).

When it’s done above-board and not in the blur of a shell game, large and controversial bills like SB 1 move slowly, in fits and starts, with one amendment after another being adopted as the sponsor seeks just the combination of provisions that will balance what a legislator hates about a bill with something he finds tolerable.

A sponsor doesn’t need every vote, just a majority. That’s 30 of the 59 senators; 60 of 118 House members. If the bill is vetoed, it takes 36 votes in the Senate and 71 in the House to “override” the governor’s action. (Since Gov. Bruce Rauner is of the same party as both minority caucuses, vetoes may become common.)

Manar is an above-board, principled legislator. SB 1 will stay on the surface. There will be plenty of time for legislators to read the amendments before the vote. Constituencies that are affected (like the special education interests were about his SB 16 last year) will be able to communicate, testify and plan their tactics.

My sense is that SB 1 will escape the Senate in some form. The passion is there. It will lie dormant in the House until the end of the session. At that time, Madigan will calculate the politics of the thing. Possibly he will have made a deal with Rauner – most likely on a completely different issue – to hold the bill in his chamber.

This is how The Speaker operates. He doesn’t care about unions or school funding except how they fit into his calculations.

This bears no resemblance to democracy.

It’s the legislature in Springfield.

What would happen if teachers did what the NYPD is doing?


Thousands of Chicagoans supported the teacher union strike in 2012.

Yesterday the rabidly pro-police New York Post reported that members of the NYPD have refused law enforcement duties.

The Post obtained the numbers hours after revealing that cops were turning a blind eye to some minor crimes and making arrests only “when they have to” since the execution-style shootings of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

This, of course, begs the question: What were they doing before? Making arrests when they didn’t have to?

The directive to stand down is coming from the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, the police union, and their leader, Patrick Lynch. Lynch went nuts over Mayor Bill De Blasio’s suggestion that young Black New Yorkers, including the Mayor’s own son, might have justified concerns about their safety when dealing with the NYPD.

So Lynch and his Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association told members to not make arrests “unless absolutely necessary.”

I think Lynch should include that language in their next contract.

Meanwhile friends of mine have wondered what would happen if teachers did this.

But I already know.

When the Chicago Teachers Union went on a legal strike in 2012 the teachers had the overwhelming support of the people of Chicago.

The cause was just. Teachers had made it clear that the strike was for the students and the neighborhoods.

During the strike thousands of Chicagoans joined hands with their teacher neighbors in huge marches and rallies. Nobody viewed what the teachers did as extortion.

While the PBA and the CTU both claim to be unions, there is a fundamental difference.

The CTU, which aspires to be a social justice union, works to be one with those in the neighborhoods in which the members serve.

Not so with the PBA.

So, while the New York Times rightly accuses the PBA of extortion, millions of New Yorkers are breathing easier today.

Tom Balanoff and SEIU’s version of campaign neutrality. Dad wouldn’t like this.


SEIU boss Tom Balanoff.

As brother Mike posted yesterday, SEIU’s boss, Tom Balanoff, is trying to put the screws on their Healthcare affiliate for their donation of $250,000 to the Jesus Garcia campaign.

What a shame to see Tom sully the once-beloved Balanoff name.

Back in the day, If you were a guy like me, working in the steel mills on Chicago’s East Side, the Balanoff name was synonymous with union democracy and progressive politics. Tom Balanoff’s dad was James Balanoff, the Steelworker Union District 31 Director who was finally ousted by the national steelworker union leadership for being too tough on the bosses.

Now, as head of the SEIU in Illinois, Balanoff has switched sides. An apple who has fallen far from the tree.

As Mike and the press are reporting, the Heathcare affiliate of SEIU voted to give $250,000 to the Garcia campaign.

But Tom Balanoff is an old buddy of the mayor.

According to Crain’s Greg Hinz, the story changed all day yesterday.

At first Balanoff claimed the SEIU state council was “tentatively” neutral in the mayor’s races between Rahm, Alderman Bob Fioretti and Jesus Garcia. Balanoff told Hinz that the council was “still looking at all the races.”

By 5:00 SEIU Healthcare was in violation of what had become a “formal” vote.

Balanoff and Rahm go back a long way. You may recall that it was Tom Balanoff who was the “unnamed labor leader” who played the role of middleman between Rahm and Rod Blagojevich in Rahm’s attempt to get Valerie Jarrett the Illinois Senate seat after Barack Obama was elected President.

It is clear that this is not the SEIU being neutral. Rahm has $10 million dollars in his war chest. By refusing to allow its local affiliates to endorse a progressive alternative, Balanoff is siding with the Mayor.

Perhaps it is payback for the union’s near silence over the outsourcing of CPS custodial jobs to Aramark.

Back in the day, the Steelworkers union bosses in Pittsburgh ran the national union with an iron fist. Refusing the allow a local affiliate to endorse is just the kind of thing Tom’s dad spent his union days fighting against.

I feel bad for the memory of my old union District Director, Jim Balanoff.

The good news is that Tom’s nephew Clem Balanoff is managing Chuy’s campaign. There’s  the Balanoff I knew.

Learning from Massachusetts. Madeloni made it clear that the union was not going to compromise on this issue.


Last summer in Denver at the annual meeting of the NEA I had the good fortune of having dinner with Barbara Madeloni who had just recently been elected president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Barbara is the kind of union leader we need right now.

This morning I had barely finished my coffee and wrote my blog post when the phone rang and it was my pal Glen Brown.

“You read my post yet, Klonsky?”

“Uh. No Glen. Still writing mine,” I laughed.

“Well, read it. This is what we need in the IEA,” said Glen.

Glen has it reposted on his blog.

Or you can go to In These Times.

In 2012, when the Massachusetts Teachers Association was under different leadership, the education reform group Stand for Children threatened a ballot referendum to take away teachers’ seniority rights. The union did not inform the membership, much less mobilize it. It never tried attempted to build the rank-and-file’s collective capacity to resist.

Instead the president and vice-president engaged in secret backroom negotiations with Stand for Children. When the board of directors first learned about this — thanks to persistent questioning by a handful of board members — the president insisted that the entire discussion take place in executive session; board members were forbidden to tell the rank-and-file what was going on.

Eventually a deal was negotiated, removing some of the worst features of the ballot measure, but with the union agreeing to dramatically weaken the impact of seniority in layoffs and transfers, which were now to be governed by “the best interests of the child” – a phrase that could mean practically anything. The union’s mantra, heard often under the old leadership, was “it could have been worse.”

The custom in the Massachusetts Teachers Association is for the sitting vice-president to ascend to the presidency. But something strange happened in May: Madeloni, a rank-and-file progressive activist, was elected president in the most stunning election upset in the union’s history.

When the teacher re-licensure proposal was unveiled last month, Madeloni did not initiate backroom negotiations and seek an orderly retreat; she immediately and decisively opposed the new licensure proposal, and gave an eager membership ways to act.

More than five thousand members sent emails, and two rallies were scheduled, with buses rented and members signed up to attend the last two of DESE’s “Town Hall” meetings for their proposal. Instead of choosing which bad option to support, the campaign was titled “None of the Above.”

Three weeks after the MTA campaign began, the DESE completely caved. A letter from Chester announced, “In short, we are rescinding the draft options that link licensure to educator evaluation.”An impressive victory for teachers and the union, although we worry that, vampire-like, some form of this will be brought forward again as soon as DESE and corporate reformers think we are napping.

And while the proposal has been defeated in Massachusetts, similar proposals may be coming to other states. In 2012, the Council of Chief State School Officers released a report on teacher licensure that implicitly promised another focused on re-licensure.

The report stated it was being issued “to all chief state school officers to sound a clarion that current policies and practices for entry into the education profession are not sufficient,”adding that “While the focus of this report is on new teachers and principals, future reports will address the need for additional preparation of veteran teachers and principals.” Clearly the states coordinate, and announced their intention to address teacher re-licensure; the Massachusetts’ proposal appears to be an opening shot in this effort.

So what can others learn from the victory in Massachusetts? Why was the union’s victory so complete and so swift?

First and most importantly, the union leadership made it clear that it was prepared to fight, and that it was not looking for a minor backroom concession. Second, the union jumped on the issue immediately. The proposal was released on a Monday, and by Friday the union had developed background information, had material on its website, and had sent an email to all members with steps to take to oppose the new licensure proposal. Third, the membership was weary of backroom deals and was ready for a fight. The rank-and-file responded by the thousands, and local unions were gearing up to get every member to weigh in on the issue.

Fourth, this was an issue that unified the membership. Every teacher knew that her license, her teaching career, was in jeopardy. Fifth, the powers-that-be had never confronted a teachers union leadership and membership prepared to fight (in fact, spoiling for a fight). For the past many years, whenever teachers were threatened the union entered negotiations to plan an orderly retreat. The DESE probably expected the same “let’s make a deal” response this time, and were caught by surprise by the strength of the response.

Finally, Madeloni made it clear that the union was not going to compromise; we were going to fight until we won, and the campaign that started strong was building momentum throughout the three weeks it took to win.

In fighting similar corporate reform measures around the country, teachers can’t assume a mobilized base and progressive leadership will always secure a comparable victory. There are structural constraints that sheer militancy can’t overcome. But it’s certainly a precondition for success.

Read the entire In These Times article here.


Don’t use Staples.


As a state-wide elected delegate to the NEA RA I get reimbursed for most of my expenses. I have to fill out forms and provide receipts as it is carefully monitored by the IRS.

And who knows? Maybe the NSA too.

Rather than make copies of the forms at home, I normally go to the neighborhood Staples.

But not this time.

I am boycotting Staples. And so should you.

The United States Postal Service and Staples have teamed up to place mini-post offices in Staples stores. But not pay union wages to the employees that work in these USPS outlets, employees will be paid minimum wage.

The American Postal Workers Union is saying hell no.

They are asking us to boycott Staples.

Last weekend the American Federation of Teachers voted to support the boycott.

Then the USPS and Staples pulled a sneaky bit of bait and switch.

They issued a statement saying that the plan was being dropped.

They told the Wall Street Journal:

On Monday, days after the 1.6 million member American Federation of Teachers said it would join the boycott, Staples and the USPS told the WSJ the pilot program would be discontinued. The 82 Staples outlets offering postal services will shift to the more established Post Office Approved Shipper program already available in thousands of retail outlets across the country.

But a statement from the American Postal Workers Union says not so fast.

A Staples announcement on July 14 indicating that the company is terminating its no-bid deal with the U.S. Postal Service and replacing it with an “approved shipper” program is a ruse. Staples and the USPS are changing the name of the program, without addressing the fundamental concerns of postal workers and postal customers. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. A USPS spokesperson has confirmed the APWU’s claim, telling the Boston Globe. “We look forward to continuing the partnership whether it’s called Retail Partner Expansion or approved shipper. We just want our customers to know they can continue to get postal services at these 82 locations.”

The Staples announcement and a letter from the USPS dated July 7 make it clear: They intend to continue to privatize postal retail operations, replace living-wage Postal Service jobs with low-wage Staples jobs, and compromise the safety and security of the mail. A USPS spokesperson confirmed the APWU’s claim, telling the Boston Globe, “We look forward to continuing the partnership whether it’s called Retail Partner Expansion or approved shipper. We just want our customers to know they can continue to get postal services at these 82 locations.”

The people of this country have a right to postal services provided by highly trained, uniformed USPS employees who are sworn to safeguard the mail.

This attempt at trickery shows that the ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ movement is having an effect. We intend to keep up the pressure until Staples gets out of the mail business. The U.S. Mail Is Not for Sale.

I made my copies at home.