Under Pressure, Change.Org Dumps Anti-Union Education Group

Change.org, the online petition clearinghouse, has won some amazing progressive victories through its pioneering use of "clicktivism."

Although it's a largely open-source platform, the company has drawn the line in the past against petitions that are anti-immigrant or anti-gay. So that's why in recent months many allies have asked Change.org to extend that line to anything that's anti-union. For instance, why were they partnering with a group called Students First, which is under the auspices of notorious union-busting former DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, and another anti-teachers' union group called Stand for Children?

As part of the grassroots pressure on Change.org to drop these partners, a rival clicktivist site, MoveOn.org's "Signon"--a nonprofit, unlike Change.org--began to gather signatures itself.

The petition's author wrote:

As a teacher, I'm so proud to be on the right side of this fight, but it's disheartening to find teachers once again under attack by knee-jerk teacher-bashers. In this case, the attacks are coming from the anti-labor group Stand for Children, whose former leader Jonah Edelman recently bragged on video about how he was nearly able to "dupe" politicians into ending collective bargaining rights for Chicago teachers. 
By taking money to promote this anti-union campaign, Change.org is turning their backs on teachers and endangering our efforts to provide a world-class education to our children. 

The momentum has been building, and finally Change.org agreed to part ways with the anti-union groups.

The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim reports:

The Washington-based progressive community has been attacking Change.org both publicly and privately. "For Change.org to claim to be a progressive organization or support the progressive movement while soliciting and accepting cash from corporate front groups is, at best, disingenuous," Aniello Alioto, national political director for ProgressNow, told HuffPost before the decision to drop Rhee was disclosed.

John Aravosis, who writes the pro-gay-rights AMERICABlog.com, said that Change.org, despite its petition-based strategy, is still a political consulting firm -- a reality that liberals ought to recognize. "I'm glad they're not allowing anti-gay campaigns, but why allow anti-union?" Aravosis said. "You just don't do that. Big, evil consulting firms that liberals attack all the time do that. The netroots has found itself in bed with a typical old Washington organization that plays both sides, except they're built by the netroots, and we're supposed to be better than that."

While Change.org spokespeople were adamant about the group's lack of alignment with a specifically "American progressive" mindset, clearly its progressive allies proved important enough in this case to win the day.

For now at least, it seems that no more union-busting petitions will be supported by the site's infrastructure.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at June 20, 2012, 3:09am

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