Saturday, December 6


DC Labor - Catastrophe, intimidation, terror. These were words used to describe DC Mayor Adrian Fenty's two years in office by over a dozen speakers at a Workers' Rights Board (hearing. The hearing - which took place at the Wilson Building to a standing-room only crowd of hundreds of residents, workers and activists - was held to examine Mayor Fenty's assault on DC public sector workers and proposals to cut public services.

"I see what is happening right now as a major catastrophe," said Roger Newell, chair of DC Jobs with Justice. "We need to speak loudly and strongly that working people made this city and stuck with this city through times of crisis. Workers should be respected not attacked and politicians who attack workers should be held accountable."

Metro Council President Jos Williams said that Mayor Fenty has created an "environment based on intimidation" of workers through the gutting of the Public Employee Relations Board, abolishment of the Labor-Management Partnership Program and the appointment of School Chancellor Michelle Rhee who "has made it her mission to make every employee at-will."

"The door was closed to labor immediately by the Mayor after taking office," said Dwight Bowman, AFGE National Vice President for District 14. "The Mayor chose to ignore our efforts to reach out." Bowman also compared Mayor Fenty's refusal to address the crisis with the PERB to similar moves by the Bush Administration to destroy the federal grievance process.

"I have never seen a climate like what is occurring now," said Jeff Canady, a 17-year teacher in the DC Public Schools. "Everyday I run into workers and teachers who have horror stories about intimidation on the job. . . It is an absolute climate of intimidation and terror that teachers are facing." Canady argued the problem is not bad teachers but a lack of resources, supplies and support for teachers as well as Chancellor Rhee's "complete lack of understanding about what needs to be done."

Candi Peterson, a 16-year veteran of DCPS and active member of WTU Local 6, criticized Fenty and Rhee for the firings of hundreds of DCPS workers which, she argued, created overcrowded classrooms and forced teachers to work in areas outside their certification. "Rhee regularly blames teachers and argues that union contracts and teachers' seniority rights stand in the way of the best education for our children." But the reality is that her "anti-union tactics support more privatization and outsourcing of public education, the creation of more unchecked charter schools, unsound educational practices, gutting hard-earned job protections and union busting"


Post a Comment

<< Home