Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Walter Gilberti: Sellout danger in Detroit teachers strike

(The teachers are striking because they were told they have to take a 5.5% pay cut, increases in the amount of their medical payments, freeze on seniority increases, reduction in paid sick days, loss of preparation periods for some levels, lengthening on the school day, "and the elimination of bonuses for attendance, longevity, and teaching in critical shortage areas." School District CEO William Coleman who is trying to force the teachers to take these cuts makes $220,000 a year.)

Sellout danger in Detroit teachers strike
By Walter Gilberti
World Socialist Web Site (31 August 2006)

With the strike by 7,000 Detroit teachers only three days old, a sellout concessions deal between the leadership of the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) and the school district is already in the works. On Wednesday it was reported that DFT negotiators along with those from the school district had agreed to a court-imposed gag order.

Since Monday afternoon, round-the-clock negotiations in the presence of state mediator Jim Amar have been taking place. Teachers voted en masse last Sunday to strike against drastic concessions demands contained in the contract offer from school district CEO William Coleman. In the three days that teachers have been manning picket lines in front of their respective schools, there has been a continuous outpouring of support from area workers, parents and students.

Local television channels have reported opinion polls showing overwhelming public support for the teachers. One such poll reported pro-teacher sentiment at 72 percent.

Yet the DFT has done nothing to mobilize this support, despite the threat hanging over the teachers of harsh fines—one day’s pay for each day on strike—under a state law banning strikes by public employees. The entire political establishment—the school officials, Democratic Mayor Kwame Kirpatrick, Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm, the media—has ganged up against the teachers, blaming them for the disastrous state of public education in Detroit in an attempt to turn the public against their struggle and force them back to work.

The DFT and the city and state AFL-CIO, the United Auto Workers, the Teamsters and other area unions are deliberately seeking to isolate the teachers. Meanwhile, the DFT is working behind closed doors to arrive at an agreement that will continue to make teachers pay for the city’s fiscal crisis and the legacy of official negligence and the diversion of resources from the schools to tax breaks for big business and subsidies for casinos, sports stadiums and high-rent condos. This is in a city that, according to newly released US Census figures, is the second most impoverished in the country.

To Read the Rest of the Article

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