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AFT Takeover of Detroit Affiliate Points to Larger Trends

The American Federation of Teachers will assume control of its Detroit local's operations, the Associated Press reports.

The move follows a period of internal upheaval, after Detroit Federation of Teachers President Steve Conn was forcibly removed from his position by the union's executive board.

The DFT appears to have invited the action, according to a letter to members from its interim president, Ivy Bailey. 

"This voluntary trusteeship would be a form of partnership between the AFT and the DFT. Central to the voluntary trusteeship is a comprehensive campaign, with AFT organizers, communications specialists, political operatives, researchers and education policy experts, working together to reach and involve every DFT member, strengthen our ties with community partners, fight back against the attacks, and create a path to a stronger future for our members and the communities served by our schools," she said.

In a statement, AFT President Randi Weingarten said: "Local internal political fights have diverted attention and focus from the external quadruple whammy of austerity, benefit cuts, widespread charterization, and layoffs."

These kinds of stories seem to be on the rise, probably a combination of membership declines, attacks on public sector unions by Republican-dominated legislatures, and plain old internal disagreements. The AFT also this year assumed control of its Orange County, Fla., affiliate. And the National Education Association isn't off the hook either; it took over its Alabama state affiliate this year.

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