Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Detroit Teachers Union President Taken Down

We’ve followed with interest the problems of American Federation of Teachers Local 231, the Detroit Federation of Teachers. In January, taking a cue from the Chicago local’s election of radical Karen Lewis in 2010, union voters narrowly picked agitator Steve Conn to be the union’s president.

That didn’t go well. Not in the predicted way—creating a radical union standing in the schoolhouse door placing its own interests ahead of students. No, Conn found a new path of failure which earned him an impeachment hearing. The DFT’s Executive Board voted to sack him from office and expel him from the union.

The union board found that Conn had done the following: failed to pay the union’s required “per capita tax” assessments to national headquarters; improperly affiliated with the rabble-rouser group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN);  improperly changed meeting times; and failed to investigate and remedy abuse and violence against DFT members.

BAMN apparently caused all sorts of problems. The Detroit News reports what the union disciplinary panel found:

“There was testimony that BAMN members attended and participated in the January 25 special membership meeting and were abusive to DFT members,” the executive board notice stated. “At the February regular membership meeting the members voted to exclude them from the meeting. President Conn then failed and refused to preside over the next three regular membership meetings and instead held three more special membership meetings.”

Conn is now fighting for his seat: Under DFT rules, a two-thirds vote of members at the next general meeting would reinstate him, and if that fails Conn has vowed a lawsuit. In the meantime, we’ll go get the popcorn ready.

Categories: AFT