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AFT National Teachers Union Resolved to Protect Power in Douglas County

Summer vacation is almost over (for some students, it already is). Any reason why I can’t write about Douglas County again? That’s what I thought. So here goes…

Education Week’s Stephen Sawchuk reported last week from the annual the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) convention that members sounded off on a local Colorado issue:

The union passed, unanimously, a special resolution pledging solidarity for AFT affiliates that it asserts have been attacked, beseiged, or had their contracts superceded, as in Detroit, Chicago, and Douglas County, Colo.

Today a friend found and brought my attention to a copy of the resolution. Truth be told, it contains more Whereas’s than you can shake a stick at, including the paragraph that honed in on Colorado’s third-largest school district:

WHEREAS, in Douglas County, Colo., the school board allowed the teachers’ contract to expire on June 30 while its bargaining team is demanding an end to dues deduction and pay for local leaders as district employees, along with other measures that specifically attack the Douglas County Federation of Teachers, but is offering no proposals for other contract language;

The document concludes by resolving that “the AFT’s solidarity efforts will include supporting affiliates in the event of a strike or other actions our members choose, in processes authorized by their local union….” We certainly hope such action does not transpire in Douglas County, especially since many students have returned to district schools today to begin the 2012-13 year.

If any such unfortunate action were to occur, would it take place only after Governor Hickenlooper might announce he won’t intervene in Dougco to rescue a group that gave his last campaign the $10,000 maximum in contributions. Or would the union be brazen enough to try to call a job action to precipitate a cause for the Governor to get involved?

If so, how many teachers really would be interested in leaving the students and their classrooms, along with a modest raise and retention bonus, to fight for taxpayer funding of union officers and the privilege of automatic government payroll dues deductions? For an organization that put on a friendly, neutral face towards the school district’s groundbreaking Choice Scholarships, but is now backtracking to cover its behind-the-scenes work to undermine the program and the students it would serve?

For AFT Colorado, though, loss of these negotiated privilege means a loss of revenue to spend electing politicians of one particular party. For the national union, it would mean not only a bad precedent but also some of their extra funds chipped in to support various liberal causes.

With the resolution, teachers union leaders have sent a message to conservative Douglas County. How will it be received? All the drama perhaps helps you to understand why the topic merits so much of my summertime (or anytime) attention.