The other day a friend told me that a mutual acquaintance, a private school teacher, had fallen seriously ill. The teacher’s friends and colleagues, he said, were raising money for her through GoFundMe, the online site for charitable giving, because the expenses she faced were almost as daunting as her illness. A few days later, I learned the Newark Teachers Union (NTU), an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, also had opened a GoFundMe site to raise money for itself and members. It too, apparently, faces a daunting fate.
The personal problems faced by a person are, of course, more compelling than the financial problems faced by a public employee union. Still, when an organization on which thousands of men and women rely for essential services– like medical insurance—seeks charity, then those men and women should be concerned.
John Abeigon, the NTU president, views the effort as a sort of David vs. Goliath effort.
“The corporations that have been funding the attack on teachers have very deep pockets,” he says. “No one can say the union has deep pockets.”
Abeigon speaks mostly of the efforts by state administrators running the Newark district to use the new tenure law—a weakling compared to prior job security measures—to fire tenured teachers. Under former state-appointed superintendent Cami Anderson and then her successor, former state education commissioner Christopher Cerf, the state-operated district sought to dismiss a score or more of tenured Newark teachers by using a patently wrong interpretation of the new statute.