Michelle Sanchez, Secretary-Elect of SDEA wrote on this blog last week a disturbing account about proposed changes to the SDEA bylaws which would allow the board to censure ‘subversive’ groups and board members within the union.
In my last post, I looked at the ‘History of SDEA’ page of our union website where our mission and ideology are laid out. I looked there to see if what we are doing here at the Breakfast Club could be seen as ‘subversive’. I wanted to clarify to myself the mission of SDEA, as stated on our website, so that I could see what kind of behavior would qualify as ‘subversive’.
In this post, we’ll visit the ‘Organizing’ page for some information about how SDEA encourages us, as members, to get involved. The page opens with a sharp thematic statement:
“Organizing means bringing people together around common issues so that we can improve our lives, the lives of our families, and the education of our students. When we unite around issues like healthcare and wages or stand together to stop furlough days and layoffs, we ensure that our voices are heard and that our rights are defended.”
We are encouraged to organize here, and how are we meant to do that? The page offers two alternatives:
1) School Site Organizing – detailing subtle and direct pressure on an employer
2) District-Wide Organizing – to include “a variety of forms, ranging from petitions to rallies to bargaining and beyond.”
Core areas suggested are:
• NO layoffs!
• NO salary cuts!
• NO changes in healthcare!
Opening our contract to make concessions is being portrayed by the district as the only way to solve the false dichotomy of layoffs vs. salary cuts. How clever to arrange two of our core areas in opposition to each other, rather than solve the problem of bloat in the form of high-salaried Area-Superintendents, iPhones for upper management, etc. Now we can fight amongst ourselves over this dilemma, and make it our problem.
Also provided on this page is a fascinating link to the ‘SDEA CONTINUOUS MEMBERSHIP ORGANIZING RESOLUTION’, in which SDEA boldly commits to the greater involvement and education of its members.
“Labor historians often claim that union ineffectiveness results from a lack of democracy and influence … times require that we develop new ways of tapping into the energy, intelligence, and passions of our members.”
The resolution pledges transparent communication and member-mobilization structures as the primary method of accomplishing SDEA goals. I loved this resolution, and found it eloquent and encouraging. It made me feel proud to be part of such a forward-thinking organization.
So after a walk through the History and Organizing pages of the SDEA site, let’s talk about subversive groups. To subvert means to overthrow, undermine, or work counter to something. Having examined the stated mission and methods of SDEA, it makes sense to define a subversive group as one that seeks to undermine those stated core beliefs and procedures. So anywhere you can find a group of people that would reduce the transparency of decision-making in the union (say by making big decisions in closed session), that is a subversive group, working directly counter to the stated values of SDEA. Anywhere you can find a group of people who are moving the union toward agreeing to layoffs, salary cuts, or healthcare changes, that is a subversive group.
And anywhere you can find a group of people that would seek to silence vigorous discussion of union issues and involvement on the part of SDEA members? That is a subversive group.