October 12, 2018
Brothers and Sisters:
Last Tuesday after school I drove to Summit Academy in Parma. This was in response to a notice that our union circulated about the teachers there who are working to establish their AFT/OFT local and negotiate a contract. Ari and Dan MacDonald also showed up, as did people from the Cleveland and Berea locals and Melissa Cropper, others from OFT headquarters and representatives from other labor unions.
To be honest, the number of supporters was not all that great but the Summit Academy teachers and parents were very grateful. I’ve seen before that teachers struggling in other districts take heart in knowing that organized labor is on their side. There is a reason why part of the AFT mantra is WE SHOW UP.
After the rally there was the Board meeting of Summit Academy. Suffice to say that it was obvious that this school, with its sponsor and management company, is an example of what happens when schools funded by our taxes are allowed to be turned into cash cows for private interests. Examples: an executive received a $31,000 bonus – an amount that exceeds the annual salary of some of the teachers – and over $200,000 “saved” by a reduction of the too-small staff was paid directly to the management company. Such a scam! So wrong in so many ways!
Which brings me to the election in Ohio this year. There are two candidates who have any chance of winning the governor’s office and the differences between them and their tickets are huge. The OFT has endorsed Cordray and Sutton and the rest of the Democratic ticket for statewide offices because they are aligned with public education and with our interests. The practical effect of voting for anyone other than the OFT endorsed candidates is support for the status quo.
Our union-supported candidates are against shifting publicly voted local school levy money to private religious schools. Did you know that that happens in our district to the tune of millions of dollars each year such that our last school tax levy has been wiped out? (Do you think that might affect whether or not you get a decent raise?) They think it should be easy to vote. They think that state house and senate districts should be fairly drawn. They are against the travesty of ECOT and schemes like it. All these things affect our working conditions directly because we work for the government and our bosses are politically elected and politically appointed. There is a reason why another part of the AFT mantra is WE VOTE.
The OFT and the AFT are the way that we get to be in the “room where it happens”. Your Local 795 officers have heard from, met and spoken with the OFT endorsed candidates. We’ll be happy to speak with you about this personally. Rich Cordray told me that if teachers treat this election the same way we treat school levy campaigns, then he and the OFT endorsed ticket will win.
So, let’s do this. Let’s get everyone we know to help us. It matters.
3rd Vice President, AFT Local 795