Thursday, September 1, 2011

AJ Duffy Union Scab

The Workers on the S. P. line to strike sent out a call;
But Casey Jones, the engineer, he wouldn't strike at all;
His boiler it was leaking, and its drivers on the bum,
And his engine and its bearings, they were all out of plumb.

Casey Jones kept his junk pile running;
Casey Jones was working double time;
Casey Jones got a wooden medal,
For being good and faithful on the S.P. line.

The workers said to Casey: "Won't you help us win this strike ? "
But Casey said: "Let me alone, you'd better take a hike."
Then Casey's wheezy engine ran right off the worn-out track,
And Casey hit the river with an awful crack.

Casey Jones hit the river bottom;
Casey Jones broke his blooming spine;
Casey Jones was an Angeleno,
He took a trip to heaven on the S. P. line.

When Casey Jones got up to heaven to the Pearly Gate,
He said: "I'm Casey Jones, the guy that pulled the S. P. freight."
"You're just the man," said Peter, "our musicians went on strike;
You can get a job a-scabbing any time you like."

Casey Jones got a job in heaven;
Casey Jones was doing mighty fine;
Casey Jones went scabbing on the angels,
Just like he did to workers on the S. P. line.

They got together and they said it wasn't fair
For Casey Jones to go around a-scabbing everywhere.
The Angel Union No. 23 they sure were there,
And they promptly fired Casey down the Golden Stair.

Casey Jones went to Hell a-flying;
Casey Jones, the Devil said, "Oh fine;
Casey Jones, get busy shoveling sulfur
That's what you get for scabbing on the S.P. Line."

Casey Jones—Union Scab,
By Joe HIll

Joe Hill wrote Casey Jones as a parody about those workers who want to please their bosses so badly that they undermine safety and working conditions for themselves and all of their colleagues. Casey Jones could be any one of those teachers who skip union meetings because they conflict with a school club meeting, or who refuse to join a picket because they are scared of conflict, or who graciously accepts extra responsibilities and work, even when it violates their contract.

Casey Jones could also be A.J. Duffy, the former president of the nation’s second largest teachers’ union local, United Teachers of Los Angeles, who wants to make it harder for teachers to obtain tenure at the charter school(s) he hopes to open next year.

As boss of UTLA, Duffy fought against charter schools. Yet according to the Los Angeles Times, Duffy wants to open one or more charter schools in Los Angeles by fall of 2012. As union boss, he also opposed attacks on tenure. Now he intends to join the union busting Ed Deformers in their attempts to whittle away at teachers’ due process protections by weakening tenure for his own future employees.

Duffy wants to make it harder to earn tenure and to lengthen the time it takes to get there. He wants teachers to have to continually prove they are effective in order to keep their tenure. And he wants to make it easier to fire teachers. “I would make it 10 days if I could,” he said, in reference to the length of time it takes to dismiss teachers, suggesting that he doesn’t give a damn about due process.

Duffy is a founding board member of Apple Academy Charter Public Schools and will soon become its executive director. The academy’s charter proposal will be submitted for review and possible approval by LAUSD in the coming weeks. Considering LAUSD’s love of charter schools (they have by far the most of any district in the country) it seems likely Duffy will soon become a boss.


  1. What you are about to read is my account to clarify the facts surrounding my move to become Executive Director of Apple Academy Charter Public Schools (Apple Academy teachers will be union members).

    I have no problem with people criticizing me. I have a thick skin. My problem lies with the misperception people have formed based upon misinformation and innuendo.

    If after you read this piece you still disagree with me, that’s all right. We can agree to disagree, but at least you will have heard the real story and facts surrounding my move to run a unionized charter school.

    I wish people would check the facts before they misinform others. I want Apple Academy Charter Public School teachers to have something, most if any charter school teachers don't have--tenure. Yes, teachers will have to recertify every few years, but each time they recertify they get more tenure added on in years. That together with quality professional development will give Apple Academy Charter Public School teachers the environment to be involved in a process of constant improvement and honing of their skills. I want Apple Academy Charter Public School teachers to have something charter school teachers don't have--binding arbitration as a final step in a grievance process. And yes, the arbitration process should be expedited. From start to finish it should be fair but quick. No more than 20 days not 10 as reported. My mother once told me to believe half of what you hear and a quarter of what you read. A concept we should all live by; especially those that report the news. I want Apple Academy Charter Public School teachers to have a central role in their school--to create their evaluation system (not based upon standardized test scores), PAR programs, teacher driven lessons and curriculum, and the ability to have a central role in other areas of school decision making. In short, I want to re-professionalize the teaching profession by building a model at Apple Academy Charter Public Schools that will represent all the aspirations of the creator of the concept of charter schools, Albert Shanker, who envisioned for education student centered teacher driven schools. I want to bring to your attention that the teachers were union members at the disbanded Crescendo Charters. The schools were closed because the teachers refused to cheat on state standardized tests as directed by their Executive Director and 4 of the 6 principals. They will continue to be union teachers supported by their local union and paying dues.

    I believe unionizing charter school teachers is the wave of the future. Charter school teachers deserve representation, and like the rest of us, they crave a central role in school decision making. Being involved at Apple Academy Charter Public Schools will be my attempt along with my board of directors and the dedicated teachers who are working side-by-side with us, to create a model to show the world that charter organizations and their teachers can work with progressive management to create world class education for students.

    Is there something wrong with that?

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  3. Sorry it took me so long to publish your comments, they somehow got filtered into my spam box. I also apologize if I got any of the details wrong—they were all lifted from the LA Times, and we all know how trustworthy they are.

    Of course all teachers should have tenure, but what good is tenure if you have to recertify every few years? There will always be a chance you won’t be rehired, possibly even for vindictive, punitive or arbitrary reasons. And why should teachers trust you just because you used to be a union boss and claim to support their tenure. Now that you are a charter boss, you are their boss. By definition, you now have an adversarial relationship with your teachers.

    Binding arbitration is good, too, theoretically, but not if it comes with a no strike clause. Binding arbitration is often used to pacify workers and get them to behave and stay on the job. What happens if the arbitrator makes a decision that not only works against teachers, but does so without listening to or understanding their grievances? Expediting the process is not necessarily a good thing either, especially if it limits teachers’ ability to argue their case to the arbitrator.

    Hurray for teacher involvement in their evaluations, hurray for no test scores in their evaluations. But what’s this about giving teachers a central role in other areas of school decision making? Teachers should make all the decisions about everything that goes on in their schools, just as other workers should have complete control over their working conditions. We don’t need a paternalistic born again boss who is willing to “listen to us” during faculty meetings and allow us input into reforms that are pointless, but going to happen anyway.

    Of course we need to organize workers at charter schools and all other sweat shops and unorganized work places, but not so that they can pay dues to the NEA or AFT just to get more bureaucratic hand wringing and collaboration with the politicians and billionaire philanthropists. We should be organizing charter school teachers and all other workers so they can seize control of their workplaces from their bosses and abolish wage slavery entirely.

    What is wrong with your plan is that “progressive” management is still top down management. Teachers remain wage slaves who must obey and bend accordingly or risk the economic consequences of unemployment. They will continue to lack any real control over their working conditions.

    Your plan, if successful, will simply smear lipstick on the charter pig. A progressive charter is still a charter that sucks resources from school districts and contributes to the mass delusion that school reform can somehow overcome the effects of poverty and turn all children into successful members of the middle class.

    Real school reform must start with a complete restructuring of our socioeconomic relations, which means not just taxing the wealthy, but making wealth obsolete. The only way to end poverty is to create a classless society, including the abolition of management and administrative classes.