Two hundred education workers from across the United States and Canada were on a call together to learn from each other about how to organize in the face of the novel coronavirus. As the virus extended its reach in Seattle and New York City, educators fought to shut down the schools.
Joining a wave of reformers, high school teacher Tiffany Choi of the Caucus of Today’s Teachers just got elected president of the Denver teachers union—again. In a re-vote, Choi cemented her May defeat of a 10-year incumbent.
She ran on a platform that the union should partner with parents, involve members more in decision-making, and fight back against corporate education reform.
When the original vote was counted in May, Choi was leading by 16 votes. But the union’s board ordered a do-over, citing process issues.
The sad outcome of the United Auto Workers campaign at Volkswagen reminded me of when I entered the labor movement 15 years ago.
Back then the national leaders of the Service Employees (SEIU) had diagnosed labor’s big problem: we weren’t organizing fast enough. As the percentage of unionized workers in the U.S. slipped, so did unions’ influence.
If only we could regain sufficient union density, these leaders said, we would have power. Then we could start winning gains for members and change the political climate.