Tuesday, February 24, 2009
We've seen some remarkable things over the last few years. We've seen part-time UFT President Randi Weingarten support and enable mayoral control. Though it's been an unmitigated disaster for teachers and kids in NYC, we've yet to see her oppose it, preferring to request a modification here and there. After all, a thousand teachers in the ATR purgatory she and Mr. Klein negotiated doesn't call for bold steps. Nor did a mountain of givebacks in exchange for a compensation increase that failed to meet cost of living.
When Mayor Bloomberg ran for a second term, when a third reorg actively hurt senior teachers, when Joel Klein was being considered as US Education Secretary, when Bloomberg hijacked the will of the voters, there was no reason to stand up. Charter schools exploded, with blatantly unfair advantages, but charters were good. In fact, Ms. Weingarten went out and started a few. Not only that, but she actively courted Green Dot, a charter outfit that boasts its teachers have neither tenure nor seniority privileges. Yet they're unionized (why, I have no idea.) So now, after actively building an unfair playing field, after helping Mayor Bloomberg paint targets on your workplace and mine, she wants to take a stand.
Well, bad though Green Dot may be for working teachers, its duespayers' money is as green as yours. Why not unionize KIPP, a la Green Dot, and squeeze a few bucks out of their 200-hour-a-week staff for a few years before they die of exhaustion?
But the latest threat by Mayor Bloomberg has gone beyond the pale. How could he even speak of firing 15,000 teachers? Do you know how much that represents in dues? This could have a seriously detrimental effect on the UFT budget. Ms. Weingarten worries about things like that. She has no problem with Emblem Health, which represents the overwhelming majority of city workers, privatizing. Is Ms. Weingarten concerned your costs will go north while your benefits head south? Of course not. She wants to know what portion of the IPO will end up with her ever-hungry patronage mill.
Because, ladies and gentlemen, the UFT treasury is vital. When it comes to mere teachers' issues, she and the patronage mill would just as soon have a little wine and cheese. But keep your hands off her dues collection, Mayor Bloomberg. That's where patronage hacks draw the line.