Defend Public Education

DFT Members to hold recall vote of President

Posted in Uncategorized by Nicole Conaway on January 15, 2010

Members of the Detroit Federation of  Teachers at the general membership meeting tonight participated in a historical moment for our union. Tonight we took back our union, held our meeting free from the dictatorial rule of Keith Johnson and passed the following three motions by an overwhelming majority.

Motion 1: that the DFT support the teachers in their lawsuit to stop the $250 per pay deduction which began this week.

Motion 2: that the vote for the recall of President Keith Johnson be taken at the next general membership meeting.

Motion 3: that Keith Johnson step down as President of the DFT pending the recall vote.

Here are the details. The meeting began as usual, actually a little quieter than usual despite the size of the crowd. Keith called the meeting to order and the motion was made by Brother Steve Conn to amend the agenda to add the special item including the 3 motions. A loud second rose up from the body. To which of course, Keith’s response was to rule the motion out of order, and swiftly try to get the agenda approved. He got it approved, got it seconded, and called the vote. Then he made a big mistake. Above the roar of members chanting ‘NO!NO!NO!”, “King Keith” proclaimed, “The ayes have it.” Now, people can only take so many lies. When you put it right in their faces like that, they tend to upset. Thanks Keith. You couldn’t have made it any easier.

From that point the meeting was ours.   Keith left the room to make an important phone call, likely to the police department or to tell someone to call the police, we continued our meeting.The chanting continued. He tried to regain control, but never did. Keith said sit down, more people stood up. As members felt the strength of taking back thier own power, the chanting became celebratory.  Keith threatened to have disruptors removed, asked the police to take us out, starting with the people standing on chairs. More of us got up on chairs. The police appeared to explain to Keith that they couldn’t do anything for him, again. I don’t know who the officer talking to him was, but I thank him for seeing the truth and setting Keith straight. Eventually Keith adjourned the meeting. They even turned the lights off on us. We didn’t move. We adopted the special item as the agenda, and passed all three motions by an overwhelming majority. 

What was supposed to happen, according to Keith’s agenda, was that his lawyer would explain to us that the charges on the recall petition were invalid.   Last night in an emergency executive meeting, Keith declared this so and ordered the petitions with the signatures of over 1300 members to be THROWN AWAY. Who does he think he is? He seems to thing he gets to be judge and jury of his own trial.  WE Determine the validity of those charges, not him, and not his lawyer. DFT Members will not stand for this usurpation of our democratic rights by a president who has threatened, bullied and lied to us!

A few words on the hearing in Lansing on the powers of the Emergency financial manager:

You know their not really interested in real educational reform when the want to give someone like Rob Bobb control over academics in addition to money. It doesn’t suprise me though.  Of course private interests like The Skillman Foundation who need that cash flow from DPS want it, so they have a more “stable” district to work with. Every DPS Board member presented evidence on Bobb’s failures. Some described the success of DPS just before the state take-over of the late 90’s and the devastating results of that take over. House Education Committee members raised the issue of Bobb’s lack of accountability. Right now he only answers to the Governor. The DFT website was conspicuously neutral, simply stating that the hearing was happening at the House of Reprasentatives in Lansing on the question of whether Bobb should have academic power and that a bus ws available for members who wanted to go to the hearing. Hmm…


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