I am not a big fan of teachers’ unions. In most cities, they are the primary obstacle to controlling budgets and improving education. But sometimes they are even worse than that.
Local 59 is the City of Minneapolis’s unit of the Minnesota Federation of Teachers. Minneapolis public school teachers have their work cut out for them: many of the city’s schools are poor. How much the union is to blame for this I don’t know, but it certainly bears some responsibility for the abysmal performance of the city’s public education system. So one might think that Minneapolis public school teachers would focus their efforts on doing their jobs, and trying to educate their often-challenging student population.
But no: like so many other public employee unions, Local 59 can’t resist meddling in politics. This email recently went out to all Minneapolis public school teachers:
From: email@example.com [firstname.lastname@example.org] on behalf of Lynn Nordgren [email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2012 3:11 PM
Subject: Taking on the KOCH brothers by boycotting their products!
BOYCOTT the ANTI-Union, ANTI-Teacher, ANTI-public education KOCH Brothers!
As many of you know, the very rich KOCH brothers (poster children for the 1 %) are a major funder of the effort to take down unions and public education.
They fund TEA party candidates and the far, far right agenda. They truly are trying to take over the government.
An email and Facebook campaign to boycott products made by Koch Industries is growing. There is also a new film out entitled: EXPOSED: The Billionaire Koch Brothers Who Are Buying American Democracy. MFT is trying to get a copy of the film as we speak.
What can you do if you wish to stop the Koch brother’s campaign?
You can boycott the following paper products:
1. Georgia-Pacific (GP) Products including paper towels, soap dispensing systems, toilet paper brand: Envision, Coronet, SCA, Tork and Fort James and Pacific Gardens soaps. They also produce ink and office paper under the labels Advantage, GP (including GP Harmon recycled papers), Image Plus, and the Spectrum family of office papers products.
2. Angel Soft toilet paper
3. Brawny paper towels
4. Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups 5. Mardi Gras napkins and towels 6. Quilted Northern toilet paper 7. Soft ’n Gentle toilet paper 8. Sparkle napkins 9. Vanity fair napkins 10. Zee napkins
Koch brothers are involved in many more American products that most of us are probably not aware of.
Wood products, textiles, and plastics (PET) polymers for carbonated soft drinks, water, beer, juice.
They produce coal and oil including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel. To learn more about how their products are embedded in our everyday lives, go to : http://inspirationgreen.com/koch-brothers-products.html
To see more about the campaign, go to: http://peoplesworld.org/online-campaign-to-boycott-koch-industries-grows/
The richer they get, the more power they have to take over. They have financed the downfall of unions in Michigan and Wisconsin and others.
This is just one way to fight back and a pretty easy one at that!
The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers
“Onward”? So these are the people who are teaching our children? Yes, unfortunately. Most people who have a choice leave the Minneapolis public school system by, say, the fourth grade, if not before. These union members deliver their politicized product to a largely captive audience. What must normal people make of teachers who link to a Communist web site (“People’s World”), advocating it as a useful source of information on public policy issues? No wonder most of those who can flee the Minneapolis school system, do.
The union’s email describes Koch Industries as “anti-union,” as well as “anti-teacher,” without, of course, offering any explanation for these claims. In fact, Koch Industries employs 50,000 Americans, many of them union members, in consistently high-paying jobs. Koch is known for the excellent relations it has with its unions. See, for example, this tribute by a national union official:
The Koch brothers own Georgia Pacific. It is an American consumer goods company that makes everyday products like facial tissue, napkins, paper towels, paper cups and the like. Their plants are great examples of American advanced manufacturing. Incidentally, GP makes most of its products here in America. The company’s workforce is highly unionized. In fact, 80 percent of its mills are under contract with one or more labor union. It is not inaccurate to say that these are among the best-paid manufacturing jobs in America.
…[T]he brothers’ company in practice and in general has positive and productive collective bargaining relationships with its unions.
As for being “anti-teacher,” the Koch brothers favor competence, hard work and accountability, so you can see why some members of Local 59–not all, of course–would see them as enemies. If these union leaders weren’t such dummies, they would understand that American workers need more companies like Koch Industries, not fewer.
The KochFacts site lists data regarding Koch Industries’ presence in Minnesota. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Koch is contributing a heck of a lot more to the State of Minnesota than the teachers’ unions are. One might say that Koch’s employees, whom the teacher’s union is trying to harm by urging a boycott of Koch products, should respond by boycotting the Minneapolis public schools. But my guess is that already, few if any of Koch’s well-paid employees are consigning their children to the problematic, left-leaning Minneapolis public school system.