Detroit teachers union President Steve Conn under fire from members

By Jason Colthorp - Anchor/Reporter

DETROIT - Only six months into his tenure as president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) union, Steve Conn is fighting to keep his job.

On Monday, the man known for picking fights avoided one by skipping the informal hearings set to discuss allegations made by union members.

Conn is facing six charges from union members including the following:

1. Attempting to cancel meetings
2. Improperly holing "special mass meetings"
3. Holding meetings without agendas
4. Allowing DFT to affiliate with BAMN (Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary)
5. Failed to pay DFT's union dues to AFT
6. Allowed union members to be threatened, abused
(source: DFT website)

The last one on the list, the membership says, stems from a scuffle caught on video at a recent meeting.

"We have to unite to fight against the emergency manager and the cuts being made in Lansing," said teacher Patti McCoin. "So we're trying to move forward with or without (Conn)."

Members told Local 4 if Conn would simply obey the constitution and hold the regular meetings they would gladly follow him in their united goals.

"That's all we asked him to do ... do his job that he's paid for," said McCoin.

Conn posted an 11-page statement on the DFT website (read here) on Monday. In it he writes: "I have not been presented the members' alleged charges against me, but even if I had, I could not agree to proceed when my 'neutral mediator' is also a charging party."

The mediator he is referring to is Vice President Ivy Bailey. Conn told Local 4 he is willing to sit down and talk about any charges brought against him but not when his accusers also are his judge and jury.

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