The recent school board election has
demonstrated the division which has come to exist within our community. I am certain that
members are very much aware that the Chamber of Commerce played an active role in
supporting one slate of candidates while the D.F.T. and other unions backed another slate.
It is unfortunate that there was no overlapping support. 1. It is also unfortunate that
it appears that the Chamber was willing to back anyone not supported by the unions.
it is only natural that the D.F.T. and the Chamber would have differences of opinion on
many of the issues, 2. it is sad that these differences led to the Chamber PACT sending
out a fund-raising letter which contained information which was less than factual. It
often appeared that much of their campaign was anti-union rather than pro-education. 3.That
the Edison issue became a political football only compounded the problem and added to the
resulting hard feelings and mistrust. This should not be the case.
The nearly one thousand teachers and their families are a part of this community. We
live here. We pay taxes. We do business with the very people who seem so opposed to us and
the work we do. For example, one of the people whose name was on the Chamber mailing is
the same individual who represented the Duluth Teachers Retirement Fund in negotiating the
lease with Education Minnesota and the D.F.T. He also showed the D.F.T. commercial
properties when we were considering buying a building. Perhaps our money is fine, but he
just doesn't like us, I am sure that if members perused the list, they would find at least
one or two people whose names would stand out. 4. Do those who attack us believe that
we should still want to do business with them? In many cases we could go elsewhere.
One of the members of the Executive Board has actually compiled a list of those
people signing the Chamber letter and the business which they represent. We could
distribute this list to our members and members of other unions. We could exercise some
I don't believe that this is our best option 5.at this time. Yes, we could take
on the Chamber of Commerce, but would this be in our best interest? I think not.
It may well be that many of the Chamber's perceptions of the D.F.T. and teachers are
based on a lack of understanding. It may well be that if they were more knowledgeable of
our goals and efforts they might see us in a different light. To this end I have had
several lengthy conversations with David Ross, President & CEO of the Chamber of
Commerce and Glenn Slotness, Director of Public Affairs. They have come to our office for
-meetings. We have discussed the student test results, our position on ineffective
teachers, the effect of Edison, our position on Edison, research on education and many
other matters. They have invited me to speak to Chamber members in December and plan to
actually have one of their meetings in our office. We are getting to know each other. This
could lead to increased understanding and increased trust.
I believe that improving our relationship with the Chamber is better than fighting with
them. If it does not work, we can always reconsider.
In the same vein, we are working to achieve a better relationship with the Duluth News
Tribune. By the time you receive this I will have met with Pia Lopez, Editorial Page
Editor. We will have discussed many of the same things which were shared with Chamber
6.We are all a part of the same community. Hopefully all parties can come to