The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), led by Randi Weingarten, has a history of misdeeds by its local unions. Some past local officials have gone to prison for years for corrupt practices. Now, two local AFT unions are riven by internal political squabbles, with Detroit’s union president facing recall and the local for Orange County, Florida (Orlando and its suburbs) facing takeover by headquarters.
In Detroit, the term of radical new Detroit Federation of Teachers President Steve Conn hasn’t gotten off to a good start. A recent rally against education reforms proposed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder that Conn held was poorly attended after unions for other public school employees told members not to attend.
Some of the demonstrators who did show up were members of “By Any Means Necessary,” a left-wing activist group with close ties to Conn. Conn has allegedly allowed BAMN demonstrators who aren’t union members to attend, disrupt, and even try to voice vote in the union meetings—which has Conn’s internal union opponents circulating recall petitions. Opponents say they have nearly enough signatures to start a formal recall process.
Meanwhile in Florida, the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association may be placed under direct rule from union headquarters amid allegations that local president Diana Moore has been cheating in the union’s internal elections. The Orlando Sentinel reports that a state-level union investigation found that Moore had allegedly engaged in “a systemic pattern of behavior and activity by President Moore and a few of her choice supporters with the apparent intent of coalescing control of the union in themselves at the unfortunate cost of a democratic union.”