Sunday, April 28, 2013

Unity Loyalty

There's a thread on Gotham Schools that's interesting not so much for its content, that Mulgrew won, but rather for its comment thread. Particularly interesting is the Unity fan, one "Les Vegas." Les has strong opinions about MORE. were running a slate of unqualified candidates, several with radical practices.

This is a theme that comes up whenever anyone has the temerity to oppose the Unity stranglehold on power. They're unqualified and incapable. I remember Unity calling New Action, "No Action" back in the eighties when NA was really an opposition caucus. Of course, no one will ever be qualified to run the UFT but Unity, because we, lowly teachers, apparently know nothing. Then, of course, Les drops the bomb:

Not your two Socialist organizers. 

Oh my goodness! Socialists! In a union! They might support subversive practices. Like trade unions, for example. Socialist is a loser of a label in the United States, which is why our corporatist President is repeatedly called one. But Republicans and Democrats have been pretty awful to teacher unions lately, and I'm much more worried about them lately. I mean, I've yet to see a "Socialists for Educational Reform" group. In fact, it's most recently the GOP opposing Common Core, though likely only because Obama supports it. Les continues:

Not your several high school "I'm an intellectual" bloggers.

That could be me, for all I know. I'm part of no caucus, and was not on the UFT ballot, but I am a blogger. While I don't much care whether or not people find me intellectual, I'm a little concerned about people who attack teachers for the offense of thinking. And with Unity supporting value-added and mayoral control (twice), what this union needs is more thought, not less. A well-informed union would not welcome working teachers being judged by junk science.

It's true you don't see many Unity bloggers. In fact, Unity members have signed a pledge to support all Unity positions in public, and question Unity policy only within the caucus. There is zero chance they would substantively dissent from the party line. Were they to do that, it's no more free trips to conventions, and no shot at the Holy Grail, a gig working for the union.

What surprises me most about Les, who calls people names, who gleefully tries to out another commenter without revealing his own identity, is this:

...someday I should write the detailed story that my girlfriend shared with me. She's the chapter leader at our school in Queens.

I don't know anyone who's passionate about Unity who isn't working for them. I know someone related to a Unity big shot who will do little things for them. Anyway, it's possible this Les simply has a girlfriend working for Unity. But I doubt it. For someone to repeatedly attack people on multiple blogs, there's got to be an incentive. For someone to defend almost five years without a raise, there's got to be a reason. For someone to support the new evaluation system, which Mulgrew says will cost 7% of teachers poor evaluations, there must be a personal stake.

Most chapter leaders are Unity, and it's entirely possible they persuade people to vote for them and their slate. But those who passionately defend it all over the place are, at the very least, planning a free trip to California next summer. That's the very bottom rung of the Unity gravy train.

Some people like these people, and that's how they become chapter leaders. Or perhaps they're the only people in their school crazy enough to want the jobs. But regardless, all these Unity chapter leaders were unable to rouse more than 25% of membership to even vote.

Most working teachers simply don't give a damn, or have given up and don't think filling in a box is worth their time. MORE failed to sufficiently get the word out, and while that's unfortunate, there's only so much a brand new caucus can do. They made a strong showing in the high schools, and if I were Unity, I'd be very nervous. They also managed to kick New Action's sorry ass all over the place, and that's an achievement.

If New Action were smart, they'd join MORE, reclaim their independence, and genuinely win seats in the next election. Of course, it's my understanding that their most prominent member has a 15K part-time gig over at 52 Broadway, and things like that ensure continued loyalty. That's the sort of thing that makes chapter leaders applaud Bill Gates.

But here is the bottom line--no one who is not receiving something from Unity is passionate about it.

No one.

And that, my friends, is an epic fail, election or no.
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