Friday, January 14, 2011

Deals with the Devil

After years of the DOE reneging on promises, stabbing us in the back, planting nonsense in the tabloids, complaining about contracts it signed, deals it made, UFT leadership still shows far too little evidence of having learned anything. Months back, UFT President Michael Mulgrew made a deal to incorporate value-added metrics into teacher ratings. This has great potential to backfire, just as Ms. Weingarten's deal to examine value-added has, rather spectacularly, blown up in the faces of all the UFT experts who deemed this a good idea.

Ms. Weingarten was determined not to be a stereotypical cigar-chomping union boss, forever demanding more money and better working conditions. And indeed, with inflation, teachers are not making more money. Ms. Weingarten didn't hesitate to toss away decades of hard-fought professional rights for a compensation increase that failed to match the NYC inflation rate. For this, she won accolades from anti-union zealots like Rod Paige, and 5 minutes of admiration from the anti-teacher, anti-middle class tabloids--before they went back to trashing us at each and every opportunity. Then her new BFFs made a propaganda film called Waiting for Superman that gleefully cast her as the Antichrist.

There is no upside to making unenforceable deals with people who can't be trusted, as the class size debacle clearly demonstrated. Still, UFT leadership does not admit error, ever. This stubborn inflexiblity is an unfortunate quality they share with Mayor4Life Bloomberg. On both their parts, this policy is wrongheaded and counterproductive.

It's time for Mulgrew to break from Weingarten, wake up, and realize we've had enough. Teachers are demoralized and cynical, and with good reason. No more trying to show what swell folks we are by giving in to unreasonable demands of demagogues. No more selling out the few rights we have left for pennies. No more kowtowing to those who'd destroy us, like Bill Gates (who attacked teacher pensions right on the heels of the AFT lovefest in Seattle).

And not one word of a contract until we get what the other city workers got. No givebacks, and if that means no new contract, so be it. No surrender on ATRs. No surrender on last in first out.

The sad fact is, once they give in on those things, we may as well not have a union anyway.

Because, if they want to maintain union in anything more than name only, we've got no more to give.
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