Thursday, August 17, 2017

A union leader and a corporate school reformer abandon Trump's ship

"It's never met, we've never had a meeting," Trumka said.
The stunning events in Charlottesville have stirred so much public anger towards the Trump regime that they've driven many of his closest collaborators, including corporate CEOs worried about tarnishing their brand, to abandon ship. Trump's open support and praise for murderous white supremacists, anti-semites, KKK and nazis has become a source of concern and embarrassment, even for many Trump allies, staffers, and collaborators who have hung with him up until now, despite a long string of similar racist and chauvinist outbursts.

Two particular breaks, one in the last few days, have especially caught my eye because they involved, not right-wing conservatives, but a union leader and a Democrat corporate school reformer.

The union leader is Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the largest group of labor unions in the country, who quit Trump’s manufacturing council Tuesday evening, saying he refused to accept any tolerance of “bigotry and domestic terrorism.”

All well and good. But the question remains, what was Trumka doing as the only union leader, on that sham council in the first place? And why did he quit, obviously under pressure from below, only after the departure of the CEOs from Walmart [30 hours earlier -- h/t C.B.], Merck, Under Armour and Intel?

One answer is that Trumka has long been a fan of Trump's failed America First protectionist and racist jobs strategy. Remember, Trumka sided with Trump at Standing Rock in support of the Dakota Access Pipeline, in that way diminishing the moral standing and political credibility of the labor movement. While most unions were taking the line of resistance to Trumpism, all Trumka wanted was a seat at the table, even one that didn't really exist. The council NEVER MET.

Now, only after Trump's promise to "bring back American jobs" has been discredited, and on the eve of Trump's disbanding the council altogether, did Trumka finally criticize it for not taking meaningful steps to help the workers he represents.
“It’s clear that President Trump’s Manufacturing Council was never an effective means for delivering real policy that lifts working families and his remarks today [on Charlottesville] were the last straw.” 

"We would say to DeVos that public school choice is a great thing." -- Shavar Jeffries

The corporate school reformer is Shavar Jeffries, president of  the misnamed, Democrats for Education Reform. DFER, founded by a group of hedge-fund operators, was never really Democratic nor about school reform.

The group was the most influential force pushing so-called "choice" and school privatization policies within the Obama White House  and inside Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan's DOE. They were also a force behind Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy charters in New York, helping her rise to fame as a highly paid, anti-public school, anti-union superstar.

Moskowitz has become one of Trump's biggest cheerleaders and contended with Betsy DeVos for Trump's favor in a run at the Sec. of Education cabinet post. In return for DFER's financial support, Jeffries was given a seat on Success Academy's Board of Directors.

But earlier this summer, Jeffries resigned from the board.

According to POLITICO:
Moskowitz and Jeffries now represent the charter sector’s two ideological poles in the Trump era. While Trump and DeVos’ call for a national school choice system would appear to align them with Democrats who support an expansive charter sector, but the president’s controversial comments about minorities, and his education secretary’s plan to slash $9 billion from the federal education budget, have complicated that support.
 On one side, reform-minded Democrats have warned that Trump's embrace of school choice could eventually destroy education reform. New York magazine columnist Jonathan Chait, who supports charters, has called some charter leaders’ embrace of Trump a potential “the kiss of death” for the movement reformers have been trying to build for decades. Jeffries said much the same shortly after Trump’s election: “the policies and rhetoric of President-elect Trump run contrary to the most fundamental values of what it means to be a progressive committed to educating our kids and strengthening our families and communities.”
So Jefferies' departure had little do do with Moskowitz's anti-union or school "choice" policies which have found a home inside DeVos' DOE. In fact Jeffries is in lock-step with most of these policies. Unlike most Democrats, he even says he's open to school vouchers as well as privately-run charters.
If they’re going pursue some sort of voucher program, we’ll examine it whenever they put it together...
Like Duncan, he's also a backslider on school desegregation, opposing "coercive" school integration and claiming, "There's not a political will to bring about integration..."

Like labor leader Trumka, DFER and other charter/voucher supporters have been hurt and embarrassed by their direct and indirect ties to Trump. It's all about the brand.


  1. Mike,
    Trumka quit almost 30 hours after the CEO of Walmart quit the President's Council. The CEO of Walmart left after the Saturday Trump comments, Trumka waited until after Trump's Tuesday comments.

    1. Thanks for pointing out my omission of the departure of Walmart's CEO 30 hours ahead of Trumka. I added that in above. You know you're not doing well as a union leader when the CEO of Walmart shows more political courage and awareness than you. Thanks again for paying attention.

  2. I don't see much difference between Trumka's seat-at-the-table opportunism and that of AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten. Back in April, she was still offering to do joint school visits with Betsy DeVos even as school parents were trying to block DeVos from entering their children's schools.

    1. Dennis,
      I agree. But Randi may have come to her senses after DeVos rejected her idea and after catching some hell from below and finally opening up with a few polemical exchanges with DeVos.

  3. I think most, but not all, corporate leaders left because being close to Trump was hurting their pocketbooks. Trump is relatively quiet the last few days, maybe because of the Mar-A-Lago cancellations-again the pocketbook.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.