Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Oaxaca, Mexico: Union trades support for seniority

Now this is unique. The teachers union, slowly but surely being abandoned by its members here in Oaxaca City, has turned to arm twisting in an attempt to maintain its numbers. The union is trading seniority for support. The union has also invited students in the various schools of education around the state to participate and earn seniority even though they don't yet have a degree nor are they teaching.

For every day spent living in the Zócalo tent city or sleeping in one of the blockades, a participant earns 10 "points". A participant can earn the same 10 points per day for joining AMLO's tent city in Mexico City. Every 2.5 points will be exchanged for one week's seniority. However, to retain those earned points, a participant has to take part in 80% of the activities. If I am reading this correctly, the SNTE will also exchange a student's points for classroom credit. Throw some rocks and earn a degree is how this appears to read.

One unhappy student, as yet not participating, said, "I'm sure we're going to come up short. Even if we were to spend three weeks participating in all of the blockades, marches, riots, assemblies or slept somwhere as a guard, we'd still fail to make it to 80% of the events that they ask of us to earn a semester's credit." Boo-hoo.

Veteran teachers who have chosen not to participate in the insurgency or who have left to return home are not too happy either. One said, "Every day that this continues it costs me 200 pesos (in lost seniority, I think). What the union is doing is trading seniority for points so that, according to another teacher, "After this is all over will come the punishment phase." He said that a first year teacher would, through an accumulation of points, have more seniority than the veteran with 20 years of teaching.

The SNTE's points program was detailed as follows:
10 points for 24 hours in the Zócalo or in one of the blockades.
10 points for 1 day's participation with AMLO in Mexico City.
10 points for participation in a "national march" which requires traveling.
5 points for participaing in a meeting or march in the state.
2.5 points = 1 week's seniority or 1 week's study.

One other thing about this report is notable. The reporter says that this points plan was presented by the union to its membership and to the students as a plan to "support the APPO". If this reporter, Nurit Martínez Carballo, is on top of things, he is saying that the striking teachers, who originally were joined by the APPO in a supporting role, have now been relegated to a supporting role behind the APPO. This, if true, would be as I suspected and have earlier reported.

This might be supported by the statements of Bishop Emeritus Arturo Lona Reyes who said, "The ungovernability of Oaxaca has been provoked by radical groups that reject dialogue, promote chaos, incite violence and have spoiled the teachers' movement."

The inmates have taken over the asylum.

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