Why do Red State Teachers need to Strike for a living Wage? It is about Class

[Your faculty union is affiliated with the two national K-12 teachers unions, AFT and NEA. And at FAU, the union also represents teachers at the two schools on the Boca campus, Henderson School and FAU High School. Like the professional librarians at FAU, Henderson and FAU High School teachers are faculty, and the union represents all full-time faculty.] 

By Steve Fraser | ( Tomdispatch.com) |

Teachers in red-state America are hard at work teaching us all a lesson. The American mythos has always rested on a belief that this country was born out of a kind of immaculate conception, that the New World came into being and has forever after been preserved as a land without the class hierarchies and conflicts that so disfigured Europe.

The strikes, rallies, and walkouts of public school teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, soon perhaps Arizona, and elsewhere are a stunning reminder that class has always mattered far more in our public and private lives than our origin story would allow. Insurgent teachers are instructing us all about a tale of denial for which we’ve paid a heavy price.

Professionals or Proletarians?

Are teachers professionals, proletarians, or both? One symptom of our pathological denial of class realities is that we are accustomed to thinking of teachers as “middle class.” Certainly, their professional bona fides should entitle them to that social station. After all, middle class is the part of the social geography that we imagine as the aspirational homing grounds for good citizens of every sort, a place so all-embracing that it effaces signs of rank, order, and power. The middle class is that class so universal that it’s really no class at all.

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Adjunct faculty at Loyola University Chicago stage walkout over contract dispute

 April 4

*The Washington Post*

A group of faculty at Loyola University Chicago went on strike Wednesday after two years of negotiations with the Jesuit school over job security, wages and benefits failed to produce a contract.

Instructors gathered on campus in the early morning hours for a daylong protest of their employment conditions, according to Janet Venum, a spokeswoman for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73, which represents 360 non-tenure track faculty in Loyola’s College of Arts and Sciences.

This is the first contract the instructors have attempted to negotiate since forming the union in 2016 and becoming the university’s first faculty bargaining unit. Loyola has 4,000 faculty on staff, 12 percent of whom are represented by the union, according to the university.

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Opinion: Florida’s workers want stronger unions

Tallahassee Democrat

Rich Templin,  2:01 p.m. ET April 5, 2018

Dr. Bob McClure’s opinion column extolling the benefits of Right-to-Work laws while proclaiming the death of the American labor movement was replete with the same anti-Labor talking points we have come to expect from the James Madison Institute, a part of a massive network of billionaire-funded think tanks and PR firms who count the elimination of all unions and most workers’ rights as one of their primary goals. The piece ran on April Fool’s Day and like most pranks on that day, there isn’t a lot of truth behind it.

Dr. McClure’s piece centers on two main lines of argument.  First, unions are irrelevant in the current era.  Second, Florida’s economy is booming, a situation created by the Right to Work provision in Florida’s Constitution and that, relatedly, this economy further supports the irrelevancy of unions.

First, on union irrelevancy. Just taking in the 30,000-foot view, if unions are irrelevant, why is there a vast, extremely well-funded network of think tanks, political super PACs and organizations like JMI, that show up in state legislatures across the country every year to eliminate them? Why spend hundreds of millions of dollars to eliminate that which is irrelevant?

The fact is that unions are relevant now more than ever. As income inequality continues to explode and wages have stagnated over the past three decades, unions and collective bargaining are being embraced in new professional sectors in the economy and disproportionally by workers in the millennial demographic. The Center for Economic Policy Research reports that there has been a surge in union membership with more than three-quarters of the 262,000 new union members last year being under age thirty-five.

  Second, Florida’s “flourishing” economy. While the economy may look great from the ivory towers of JMI, that isn’t the case for most Floridians. The United Way’s most recent ALICE (Asset-Limited-Income-Constrained-Employed) report, which is a measure of the working poor, found that a whopping 44 percent of all households are struggling and can’t afford essentials such as food, housing and child care.  Sixty-six percent of all Florida jobs pay less than $20 per hour. Poverty is on the rise. Thirty-six (of 67) Florida counties have lost jobs since 2007. Calling this a “flourishing” economy is a cruel April Fool’s day prank indeed.

The labor movement is changing to meet the new economy in America and is growing after years of decline. This is a good thing for all workers because it is clear that the billionaires, CEOs and conservative think tanks aren’t looking out for workers, they have to organize and fight for themselves. Unions are fighting for economic and social justice for all Americans and as the majority of our workforce continues to lose ground, unions will continue to grow and continue the fight to create a better nation. As workers find their own power through collective bargaining, the rich and powerful will continue to try and stop them.

Rich Templin is legislative and political director of the Florida AFL-CIO.

When Professionals Rise Up, More Than Money Is at Stake

The teacher uprising that began in West Virginia
has exposed a trend among white-collar workers:
a feeling that their credentials are being devalued.

New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/25/business/economy/labor-professionals.html

When 20,000 West Virginia teachers staged a rare statewide walkout, questions of pay and benefits dominated the headlines. But those concerns could not fully account for the teachers’ ferocious resolve. After all, stagnant wages and receding benefits have been an issue for workers for decades.

The missing variable appears to have been anxiety about their status as professionals.

Fred Albert, a math teacher and local union official in the Charleston area, said many felt that the Legislature had devalued their training and certification by proposing to let people teach a subject they hadn’t studied and had no experience in.

“If someone really wants to be a teacher, if they feel the call to be in the classroom with students, they need to go through the same programs we went through,” he said.

In that sense, Mr. Albert and his colleagues were in the mainstream of recent labor history. From doctors and nurses to government workers and journalists, some of the most aggressive and successful labor actions in recent years have erupted when professionals felt their judgment, expertise and autonomy were under assault.

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Happy Hour and Recruitment Drive

Two weeks ago, SB 7055 passed, which will decertify any K-12 teachers’ union chapter under 50% membership; because FAU’s union includes both university faculty and K-12 teachers, our status is unclear and in potential peril. 

We need to have over 50% membership by December 2018. We will provide brief pointers at the Happy Hour on how to recruit. Also, please bring a non-member with you  to happy hour. Both you and the non-member will receive a free t-shirt as gratitude. 

We will be meeting at the Irishmen (1745 Boca Raton Blvd) at 4:30-7:30 PM, March 23.

 

 

Annual Membership Meeting and Election of Officers

The Annual Meeting and Election of UFF-FAU Officers is this Friday, March 16th, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Majestic Palm Room on the Boca Campus.
We’re providing lunch. Come early!
Vote. Eat. Talk to a Union officer. Life is good.

The nominees are:

Deandre Poole President
Meredith Mountford 1st VP
Bob Zoeller 2nd VP
Shane Eason Treasurer
Kathleen Moorhead Secretary
Daniela Nikolova Senator Carman Gill Senator
James Kumi-Diaka Senator Doug McGetchin Senator
Bassem Alhalabi Senator Ali Farazmand Senator
Meredith Mountford Senator Chris Robe Senator
Deandre Poole Senator Debra Vance Noelk Senator
Shane Eason Senator Ramona Rendon Senator
Kathleen Moorhead Senator Eric Dumbaugh Senator
Bob Zoeller Senator Warren McGovern Senator
Justin Waldron Senator

* Senator is not to be confused with University Faculty Senate. This a Union position.

We look forward to seeing you there!
Meredith Mountford
UFF-FAU Chapter President

Stop the Florida Legislature’s Sneak Attack on Public Schools

Dear Colleague –

While Florida parents and teachers are comforting our students and trying to understand how to best keep our children safe, the Florida Legislature is trying to pull a fast one to further harm public education, our students, and our teachers.

Please take action today by contacting your Senator to oppose SB 7055.

SB 7055 is the education ‘train’ bill where over 40 terrible education ideas are lumped into one bill.

This bill is trying to sneak through an expansion of the tax credit scholarship, which will send more and more tax dollars to private, often religious, schools with zero accountability.

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, this week Senators added an amendment to SB 7055 that will de-certify our teacher’s union.

That’s right. Less than two weeks after praising the Stoneman Douglas teachers as heroes, the leadership in the Senate thinks it’s a good idea to try to attack our teachers and take away their voice.

While we’re in mourning, they are trying to drain more public education resources and stop the one organized voice our teachers have. It’s time for us to step up.

Here are some easy things you can do:

  1.     Write your Senator to vote against SB 7055. We make it easy.  Just click here.
  2.     Call your Senator – let your voice be heard. You can find your Senator’s number here.
  3.     Follow Fund Education Now, a Florida grassroots group, for more information.
  4.     Share this message with friends, teachers, and all those who care about our schools

Here is a link to this email that you can share:

http://npeaction.org/2018/03/02/stop-florida-legislatures-sneak-attack-public-schools/

Thank you for all that you do.

Colleen Wood, NPE Action VP & Florida parent

Carol Burris, NPE Action Executive Director

The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’

From The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2018

By Molly Worthen

I teach at a big state university, and I often receive emails from software companies offering to help me do a basic part of my job: figuring out what my students have learned.

If you thought this task required only low-tech materials like a pile of final exams and a red pen, you’re stuck in the 20th century. In 2018, more and more university administrators want campuswide, quantifiable data that reveal what skills students are learning. Their desire has fed a bureaucratic behemoth known as learning outcomes assessment. This elaborate, expensive, supposedly data-driven analysis seeks to translate the subtleties of the classroom into PowerPoint slides packed with statistics — in the hope of deflecting the charge that students pay too much for degrees that mean too little.

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Happy Hour

To help you get your mind right for the new semester, UFF-FAU invites you to our Happy Hour, Friday Feb. 9th at The Irishmen in Boca (1745 NW Boca Raton Blvd). Starts at 4:30 PM. happy-hour

Come and make new friends or catch up with old ones.

We encourage you to bring a non-union member to join– particularly in light of the recent anti-union legislation circulating in Tallahassee.

 

Meredith Mountford

UFF-FAU Chapter President