Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thompson Says No Raises for Teachers, to Near-Universal Acclaim of UFT Delegate Assembly

What happens when you publicly announce teachers don't deserve the raise all other city employees got between 2008-2010? Well, you get the UFT endorsement, of course. Now it's a little more complicated than that, of course. During the last mayoral run, it appeared that Thompson and the UFT were BFFs. In fact, sometimes I heard Thompson say things that could just as well have come out of the mouth of any UFT official.

But then, of course, came the moment the UFT declined to endorse him. This upset me, and I remember telling a UFT rep about it at my first chapter leader training. The rep confided to me that this was a practical decision, and that the UFT could only sway the public by 5%. All the polls said Thompson was way behind, so that did make some degree of sense.

At a later CL training, after Thompson had lost by precisely 5%, a more senior UFT official announced that we could only move the election by 3%, and that had Hitler been running we may have taken a principled stand. I was kind of surprised we would need Hitler before we asserted principle, but I'm just a lowly teacher, so what the hell do I know?

In between these trainings, Thompson, having been more or less stabbed in the back by UFT, said we couldn't afford to give teachers the raises everyone else had merited. This suggested to me a lack of conviction and character. When we like you, you love us. When circumstances change, you tell us to go screw ourselves. This is not precisely the sort of friend I want to have. While I disagree with my friends, we work things out and move ahead.

I've enthusiastically helped UFT when they supported straightforward pro-teacher candidates like Tony Avella and Grace Meng, and I'll continue to do so. But I question any candidate who thinks we don't need to make a living, and I also question any candidates who's BFFs with reformy Meryl Tisch.

UFT made a big show of releasing photos of discarded signs naming other candidates. But it's fairly obvious that when UFT leadership gets up and says we endorse candidate A, every Unity chapter leader who wants that free trip to genuflect to Bill Gates is going to vote for whomever. Perhaps we are to think it a coincidence that Thompson just happened to be in the building at that moment, or we're supposed to believe that all the other candidates were waiting there too.

Perhaps we're even supposed to believe there was substantive debate at the DA last night. But there was not. I don't know whether John Liu could win the nomination, but I know he's our friend, and I expect he'll remain our friend even after this decision. I'd be proud to devote my time toward helping him. Bill Thompson, not so much.

But who asked me? And who asked you? And who genuinely surveyed the vast majority of members, those who had not signed a loyalty oath compelling them to do whatever the hell UFT leadership saw fit?
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