Saturday, March 10, 2007

Power Corrupts...

...and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I wasn't always so critical of UFT President Randi Weingarten. In fact, I saw her speak at my school, was very impressed with her, and voted for her as a result. I was optimistic about Edwize when it first appeared. In fact, I used to write for NY Teacher every now and then (before I opposed the contract).

But when the 05 contract rolled back every gain I'd seen since I began teaching, I knew we needed new leadership. When I found out that Ms. Weingarten had bought off New Action (the ex-opposition party) and its leadership with patronage jobs, I knew the UFT's lookout was not rank and file.

I just received an email from a very inside UFT source, claiming the following abuses were documented by the accounting department:

1. The lease and purchase of 50 and 52 Broadway were through a company represented by Thomas Pappas' (ex-UFT Director of Staff) son in law (not what you would call an arms length transaction).

2. When we moved downtown all furniture and equipment (computers, printers, desks etc.) no matter how new and usable, were thrown out on the street as garbage.

3. Randi has a car and driver all paid for by the union. This is used meetings as well as for commutation and personal.

4. Her teacher staff regularly cheats on their expenses (lunches, dinners, false receipts for car service etc.).

5. The PM staff paid per session puts in for sessions not worked.

6. More than a quarter of a million dollars spent unnecessarily on a new logo so she can revamp the UFT into the United Federation of Randi Weingarten.

7. Kick backs from the Hilton Hotel to one individual so that events would be held there.

Others have told me about 1, 2, and 6, so they don't surprise me. As for corruption on the part of staff, I find that believable too. Imagine you're a district representative, no longer elected, but hand-picked by UFT President Randi Weingarten. You now teach only one class, receive your full teacher salary, plus fifty thousand dollars a year. Are you going to bite the hand that feeds you?

If you answered yes, I have a bridge to sell you. Ms. Weingarten's minions think they own us, they don't do hall patrol, and they cannot tolerate anyone who questions their authority. How much regard do they have for real teachers? Well, one of Ms. Weingarten's entourage came over here last week and cavalierly outed me, writing my real name in the comments section. What did Ms. Weingarten do about it?

Maybe she had a chuckle with her chauffeur, who I'm told gets paid more than most teachers.

Actually, dissent enables democracy. But it's routinely ridiculed by our union's management. Instead of entertaining voices from the opposition, it presents an "opposition" party that fails to oppose. While New Action claims to have opposed the 05 contract, its leaders were on the committee that "negotiated" it, which voted unanimously for its approval. I was very active in the 05 contract fight, and I can tell you that New Action was absolutely nowhere to be found (unless you looked in UFT headquarters, where they hold meetings).

In an all-out effort to purge the union of the only existing opposition voices, New Action is running a slate for the high school executive board that's cross-endorsed by Unity. They think we're too ignorant to notice.

We'll soon find out whether they're correct.
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