“Allen” raised a good point in a recent comment. As money gets very tight at the state and local level, the interests of different public employee unions should start to diverge. Firefighters, police officers, and other local government workers will have to bear the brunt of the cuts if education does not share in the pain. During times of overflowing government coffers, it was easy to maintain harmony by spreading the money around to everyone. As funds shrink it is nearly impossible to maintain harmony as each tries to shift the bulk of the cuts to the others.
We are beginning to see signs of this fracture among organized government employee groups. The Fraternal Order of Police has decided to pick a fight with the American Federation of Teachers. Well, actually the California affiliate of the AFT may have started the fight when they passed a resolution in support of the convicted murderer of a police officer, Mumia Abu-Jamal. According to Mike Antonucci, America’s last and best investigative reporter on education:
the resolution claims “the appellate courts have also refused to consider strong evidence of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s innocence,” references his “continued unjust incarceration,” calls on CFT to “demand that the courts consider the evidence of innocence of Mumia Abu-Jamal” and bring the issue to the AFT Convention “should he not have been cleared of charges and released by that time.”
In response Chick Canterbury, the president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, wrote a harsh letter to Randi Weingarten, the head of the AFT, saying:
This resolution, if it remains unchallenged by the AFT, would cast grave doubts on your leadership as well as pose serious questions as to the ability of the FOP to work with your organization at any level. On behalf of the more than 330,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, the families of slain law enforcement officers and the honored memories of the officers killed in the line of duty, I urge you to repudiate the resolution supporting this cop-killer.
We have taken the last few days to search the record, and except for this isolated action in California, we cannot find another incidence in which the AFT or any of our other affiliates have adopted a similar resolution. If such a resolution ever were to be raised at our national convention, I’m confident it would be soundly rejected.
Despite this effort to smooth over the cracks, this split may grow for reasons beyond Mumia Abu-Jamal. These two unions understand that they will soon be engaged in a high-stakes struggle for resources. FOP is trying to undermine the political standing of the AFT while also stifling support for a convicted cop-killer.