The Detroit Federation of Teachers has reached the worst possible outcome of the Steve Conn saga. When last we left our hero, he had been ousted by a vote of the union’s executive board. He vowed to fight on, and the next step was a vote of the union’s rank-and-file to overturn.
He needed two-thirds, and had he gotten it – vox populi, vox Dei – he would have been restored to office and at least it would have been clear who was actually in charge.
If he were resoundingly rejected, he would have become a footnote in the sad recent history of DFT.
Unfortunately for everyone, the voters chose Conn 527-473 – a clear majority, suggesting he has picked up support since his original election, but far short of the two-thirds required to bring him back.
Conn will next take his fight to AFT, where he is very unlikely to receive satisfaction. According to the Detroit News, “Before the vote, Conn’s lawyer Shanta Driver had said if Conn lost he and his supporters would create an independent union or join another union.”
That could get messy, since DFT is still the exclusive representative, the Michigan Education Association and NEA won’t touch Conn with a barge pole, and there’s still the danger that AFT could airdrop the locksmiths and take over the whole operation.
Still, Conn won a majority – well, at least a majority of the 25% of the rank-and-file who voted – and his supporters are a credible threat to challenge DFT.
Detroit teachers have the freedom to weigh in on this drama, or avoid it entirely, thanks to the fact that their jobs no longer require financially supporting DFT.