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Detroit Teachers' Union Drives Out President

First posted on the Teacher Beat blog

By Stephen Sawchuk

The head of the Detroit Federation of Teachers was ousted Wednesday after the union's executive board found him guilty of misconduct at an internal trial.

Steve Conn won the presidency by only a handful of votes in January. The fractious leader, who has a long history of activism in Detroit, took a hardline stance against the city's emergency manager and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's proposals for the school district, organizing several protests at the state Capitol. But eventually those gave way to complaints that he permitted members of a social justice organization, By Any Means Necessary, to be improperly involved in union affairs. He was also criticized for not adhering to union procedures for holding meetings and votes. At one point, teachers circulated a recall petition against him, the Detroit News reported.

The DFT's executive board, serving as jury, found him guilty of affiliating the union with BAMN; of failing to follow the union's procedures for calling and presiding over meetings; of failing to address complaints of member abuses; and of failing to pass the required portion of member dues up to the American Federation of Teachers, the DFT's parent union. 

Conn has vowed to seek reinstatement, the Detroit News reported. (The union's membership can overturn the executive board's decision by a two-thirds vote.)  He has denied the charges, claiming that they are driven by his political opponents within the union.

It has not been a good few months in the annals of AFT governance. Recently, the union also moved to establish control over its Orange County, Fla., affiliate,  also for an alleged case of mismanagement.

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