Saturday, October 15, 2005

Democracy, UFT Style

If you’re a high school teacher, you don’t get to select the vice-president representing you. You used to, but you don’t anymore.

Michael Shulman, representing New Action, won that post once. The UFT called a special re-vote, and he won by a larger margin. This disturbed the folks at Unity, as it threatened their monopolistic hold on power. What could they do?

Well, in 1994, they changed the constitution, so that all members could participate in the selection of all vice-presidents. This meant that elementary teachers, who outnumber high school teachers, and who largely tend to vote Unity, could drown out those nasty folks voting for the opposition.

So, if you’re a high school teacher wondering how the hell the UFT expects you to balance your current workload, plus the 37 minute sixth class, plus lunchroom duty, it’s not that hard to understand. The UFT has pretty much precluded your input by denying you representation.

When the UFT claims 90% of the vote in the executive board meetings, bear in mind that votes are not counted, but estimated. That’s why both sides tend to interpret votes in their favor, and it’s also why we, the members, never find out what really happened. Ballots are not even secret, so those of our representatives who are beholden to Unity for jobs or perks are not free to vote their beliefs.

Karl Rove could learn a lot from this system; if you don’t actually count votes, you don’t need a Katherine Harris to certify the results before they’re counted.
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