Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Rating the Fliers

Since Unity/ New Action persists with the fiction of opposing one another, I've been receiving campaign fliers from three caucuses. Despite my misgivings about New Action, I think theirs was the best, particularly the second one. It had a whole lot of appealing things on the front, and were I not well-aware of who they are, I'd probably vote for them.  They did not mention their deal with Unity at all, and they did not mention they'd endorsed Mulgrew until the fourth page. While I found that disingenuous, I also found it persuasive, particularly to a busy teacher disinclined to read the whole thing through. While I'm no New Action fan, I give their flier an A for effectiveness.

It's probably clear to anyone who reads this blog that I voted for MORE. However, their fliers were not as strong as they could be. I speak to people each and every day, and the thing that troubles my members most is the fact that they haven't gotten a raise in four and a half years. I didn't think MORE faced the meat and potatoes issues as thoroughly as they could have. I also think they failed to target New Action in remotely the fashion it merits. This was a huge fail, in my view. I'm going to give MORE a B- for the fliers they put out. I think they have a powerful case that they failed to make, and that's too bad, because it could certainly be the most appealing to an informed voter. It's a large problem that there's so much on which voters need to be informed. With a union that endorses junk science without telling members what it is, that is an uphill battle indeed.

What most surprised me was Unity. Unity has the deepest pockets, the longest history, but clearly not the best PR people. Their most recent foray into the flier war was disappointing. Fighting for a contract was a pretty weak start, because it's pretty well-known we don't have one. Blaming the mayor seems to work, as Unity's been doing that since I started teaching in 1984. It might be a good idea for an opposition to point out that if we keep waiting out the mayor, we'll all be retired before anyone gets a raise. Most of the Unity flier was nebulous and unpersuasive. I give Unity a C, and that's surprising. I could have written it better. However, the fact is Mulgrew is a well-known figure, and his name carries a lot of weight. Few have heard of his opponents. But they need new writers not only for Unity, but also for the UFT.

Here's the thing about Unity--no one should be in power for 50 years. No matter how good they are, there's too much inertia, too much dead weight, too much self-satisfaction. They need to be hungry, eager, and tricky to deal with a hostile mayor, a hostile environment. Giving in here, selling out there, trying to appear reasonable by giving into nonsense simply does not help working teachers.

Sadly, most teachers do not seem to know what's going on out there. A strong union would tell them, in no uncertain terms, and mobilize them. Unity is not doing this on nearly a wide enough scale. I'm certain that's the vision of MORE, but as an upstart it's not that easy to get the word out. I hope they're patient and determined enough to see this through for the long term.
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