Exposing the real "Right to Work" supporters agenda

Efforts to pass "Right to Work" laws go back decades (a measure was defeated in Ohio in 1958, by the massive margin of 63.3% No to 36.7% yes), and have always been pursued by monied interests looking to put a dent in the power of workers ability to stand up for themselves and each other through collective action.

It should not be lost on anyone that the major backers of this latest anti-union push are billionaires and big business, none of whom actually belong to a union. Having seen previous "right to work" efforts defeated, the extreme right, and their big business backers have had to send their latest effort through a rebranding exercise and they have come up with a new catchy title "work place freedom".

Who doesn't love freedom? Well apparently the very people promoting the effort. LimaOhio.com reported on a meeting of Tea Party members discussing "work place freedom" and why they were pursuing it

Speakers at an Allen County Patriots meeting Thursday made the case that the National Education Association abuses teacher dues to support a liberal agenda that disrespects Christian values.
According to Boyatt, NEA gave close to $15 million to advocacy groups in the 2011-12 school year and $18 million in 2010-11. The advocacy groups, she said, included the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Human Rights Campaign, Women’s Campaign Forum and Rainbow Push Coalition.

From there, it got uglier, much uglier

Harvey said the NEA has supported an “immoral, deviant and destructive” gay agenda for at least 25 years, citing its gay and lesbian caucus started in 1987. Harvey criticized the union for supporting a gay and lesbian history month, diversity training that included homosexuality, and pro-homosexual school counseling. She said the NEA has asked schools to protect students and staff from sexual orientation harassment and discrimination and has replaced the word “tolerance” with acceptance and respect.

“Kids are being trained as activists now,” she said.

Harvey said the NEA has voted to lobby for same-sex unions and said petitions are currently circulating to overturn the 2004 Ohio marriage amendment, which stated that that only a union between a man and woman would be recognized as a valid marriage. The OEA opposed the amendment.

This is why the Tea Party in Ohio wants to pursue "right to work" legislation, not to create any kid of "freedom", but to enable their ongoing bigotry by attacking organizations that have a long history of standing up for equality and fairness. Public opinion polls show strong majorities now supporting marriage equalityand how out of the mainstream these Tea Party "Patriots" truly are.

The NEA and its members should be rightly proud of their support for equality, even when it was unpopular to do so.

Big business backers of this effort ought to take a closer look at who some of their allies are. The world has moved on from 1958, but voters are likely to deliver an equally stinging defeat to the purveyors of this ugly bigoted agenda.

Corporate Ed Reform a big election loser

Corporate education reformers lost big on election night in a number of states with high profile issues and races affecting public education. In no particular order, here's what went down

Florida voters defeated a measure that would have allowed the use of public funds for religious school tuition, effectively turning back an effort that was expected to lead to a state-wide voucher program. It only garnered 44% of the vote.

In Indiana, The Washington Post reports

Indiana voters tossed out controversial state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and elected veteran teacher Glenda Ritz in his place, the Indianapolis Star reported.

The vote has resonance beyond Indiana because Bennett was a leader of the national market-driven school reform movement who pushed through a statewide voucher program and took other steps that critics said amounted to the privatization of public education.

Idaho voters voters

  • Rejected plans to mandate students to take online courses and for the state to spend $180 million on laptops - a boon for the profiteers, an economic disaster for districts.
  • Rejected merit pay for teachers that is linked to student standardized test scores
  • Opposed limits on the collective bargaining rights for teachers.

In California, voters approved Prop 30, which calls for a $6-billion-a-year tax increase, in part to fund public education. They also rejected Prop 32, the third attempt in 14 years to prevent unions, which represent 2.5 million workers in California, from using annual dues payments to contribute to state and local candidates or campaigns for ballot measures.

The Washington Post Reports, In Bridgeport, Conn.

voters rejected an expensive effort by the mayor and his supporters in the corporate world to win mayoral control over the Board of Education. Voters retained the right to elect their own school board representatives.

Corporate education reformers and union busters spent a lot of money on issues and candidates in election 2012 and left with a lot of heavy losses.

When the money runs out

Eventually, even billionaires bail, and when their money is gone problems remain. In some cases, big problems.

Two years into work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve teacher effectiveness, city school officials have determined that the financial outlook has changed so much that the effort will be unsustainable without a major retooling.

By revamping teacher salaries -- paying for test results instead of degrees or years of service -- Memphis City Schools leaders hope to find a big chunk of the $34 million a year it will take to keep going when the Gates money stops in 2015.

The district is now spending another $250,000 on consultants to figure the mess out. Cleaning up that mess left behind by Bill Gates "philanthropy" might be a whole host of lost jobs and school closings.

One possibility, he says, is reducing the nonteaching staff -- secretaries, cafeteria workers, maintenance staff -- who work in every school in the city.

Another is closing schools and funneling the savings back to the Gates' work.

The whole idea was to institute test score based pay for teachers, but the effort turned out to be far more expensive and unsustainable that systems where pay is collectively bargained. If that doesn't strike you are irresponsible enough, it does actually get worse

"We just found out this week that the 400 new teachers in the district will have to use schoolwide data for their TVAAS score.

"Thirty-five percent of their score will be schoolwide data from a time when they were not even part of the district."

Indeed. Imagine having your performance nad pay being evaluated using scores that aren't even your own. Welcome to the wonderful world of Corporate education reform.

Canvassing 101: Myths vs Realities

Now that the campaign to get the repeal of SB5 on the ballot is complete, the campaign to win the No on issue 2 is underway. This campaign will require more than just TV and radio ads. Just like the effort to collect signatures, the effort to persuade a majority of voters to vote No on Issue 2 will require lots of hard work by thousands of volunteers.

One of the tasks volunteers will be asked to do is canvass potential voters who might support our effort to repeal SB5 by voting No on Issue 2. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about political canvassing

Canvassing is the systematic initiation of direct contact with a target group of individuals commonly used during political campaigns. A campaign team (and during elections a candidate) will knock on doors of private residences within a particular geographic area, engaging in face-to-face personal interaction with voters. Canvassing may also be performed by telephone, where it is referred to as telephone canvassing. The main purpose of canvassing is to perform voter identification – to poll how individuals are planning to vote – rather than to argue with or persuade voters.[1] This preparation is an integral part of a 'get out the vote' operation, in which known supporters are contacted on polling day and reminded to cast their ballot.

Knocking on the doors of strangers and asking them about their political support may sound daunting if you've never done it before. All kinds of questions may run through your mind. What if they are busy? What if they are just rude? What if they are vehemently opposed to voting No on Issue 2?

Well the good news is that the reality of canvassing can be quite enjoyable. For example, remeber those 1.3 million people who signed the petition to repeal SB5? Those will be one of the prime targets for contacting via a canvass, and those people will most likely be very pleased to hear from, and talk to, you.

From our mailbag, here's some mythbusting points worth sharing

Myths about Canvassing

Myth 1: People will yell and argue.
You are only going to persuadable voters. The educated voter, one who votes in every election and always votes in Democrat or Republican primaries will NOT be on your list. You are calling and knocking on doors of the voters who are 35%-70% likely to vote and are independents or democrats.

Myth 2: What I say won’t matter. People already have their minds made up about this issue.
Actually, the majority of doors we knocked on were people who had never heard of SB 5! I know, it seems impossible, but there is a large contingent of people just waiting for us to educate them.

Myth 3: I won’t be able to persuade people.
There are four types of people I‘ve encountered on the neighborhood walks:
Person 1: already knows all about it; supports you; doesn’t even let you finish your script
Person 2: has heard about it, but really has no clue what it is about
Person 3: has never heard of SB 5
Person 4: supports SB 5 and will vote yes

Person 1 gives you hope and make you want to continue down the list. Person 4 (I’ve only encountered one, and he wasn’t on the list - his wife was.) Your job isn’t to persuade this person. It is a waste of your time. Smile, thank them for their time and move to the next address.
Person 2 and Person 3 are the most important. They are the majority of people you will encounter. The most persuasive thing I’ve said to these people… “I’m a teacher.” Seriously, I learned half way through my first shift, to skip talk about firefighters, police officers, and nurses. As soon as I mentioned my profession, people smiled and asked me my opinion. Some wanted to know how it would affect me, but the majority just wanted to know if they should vote yes or no.

Teachers and Educational Support Professionals have the power to make the biggest difference in this repeal. It's critical that as many people as possible become engaged in this part of the campaign. You can find local canvassing opportunities in your area by visiting the We Are Ohio events page here. Recruit a friend or colleague to go with you!

Repealing SB5 isn't partisan, it's personal

Yesterday, over 600 labor leaders packed the pipefitters union hall on Kinnear Road in Columbus to discuss the next phase of the repeal effort. What is becoming clearer and clearer with each passing moment is the shear scale of the opposition to SB5. It was a mid July day with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees, yet people had come together in their hundreds for a closed to the press event, whose nature might usually attract only 30.

It's not just the numbers that should cause supporters of SB5 to take stock, but the breadth of opposition. The gathering represented over 2 million members, from public and private sector unions. While much focus has been placed on the direct assault on teachers, police and fire, private sector allies have stepped up and into the fray too, to lend their considerable support.

Everyone recognizing SB5 for what it is, a direct and indirect assault on working men and women in Ohio.

As if to punctuate this huge gathering, it happened, by coincidence, on the same the day that Secretary of State John Husted certified that voters would guaranteed the opportunity to repeal SB5 in November on the back of a record breaking signature collection effort

Secretary of State Jon Husted certified a state-record 915,456 valid signatures collected by a coalition seeking to repeal the Republican-backed law that weakens collective bargaining for public employees. Only 231,147 were needed to place a referendum on the ballot.

On June 29, We Are Ohio, the coalition opposed to Senate Bill 5, delivered nearly 1.3 million signatures to Husted's office for validation -- smashing the previous state record. Those signatures were shipped to their respective county boards of election for initial validation, and Husted was responsible for final certification.

In addition to cruising past the threshold for total number of valid signatures, We Are Ohio also collected signatures equal to 3 percent of the total vote cast in last year's gubernatorial election in all 88 counties -- which campaign spokesman Melissa Fazekas said was also a first in Ohio history.

The effort isn't massive because it's partisan, we see that all the time, it's massive because for millions of workers from across the political spectrum, it is personal.

The People Deliver

[flickr photo=5884954835]On a sunny June 29th day, 1 day ahead of the deadline, 6,200 people paraded down Broad St. to deliver 1,298,301 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State's office. By far the largest signature collection effort in the history of Ohio, and over a million more than the 231,149 needed to qualify for the November ballot - guarantees voters are now certain to have a chance to vote NO on SB5 and repeal it.

The Secretary of state will now distribute the petition books to the respective 88 counties for verification, a process which must be completed by July 26th.

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The parade itself was marked with drums, pipes, chants and spontaneous singing. Colors across the rainbow, and people from all walks of life, young and old participated. Indeed, you don't collect over a million signatures with a broad community wide effort from tens of thousands of people.

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In related news, it was announced by the supporters of SB5, that Jason Mauk, the Senate Republican Spokesperson will be taking a leave of absence to become the voice of SB5 - cementing the fact that the only true support for SB5 comes from Republican officeholders looking for partisan payback, rather than sensible policy.

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Today, over a million Ohioans from across the political spectrum sent a powerful message to those partisans - a message that will be carried through to November and the repeal of SB5.

In the meantime, enjoy today.

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