Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to Stop UFT from Asking You to Make Phone Calls

A few weeks ago, I got a series of phone calls asking me to work for Bill Thompson for mayor. Several UFT reps made these calls, and one was pretty persistent. With Bill de Blasio as a serious contender, I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to do so. I might reconsider if he's in a runoff against Quinn, because she enabled Bloomberg's third term, and because the papers have all endorsed her. This tends to make me think she's even worse than she appears.

I suppose if you're a UFT employee trying to persuade chapter leaders, you have a number of tools in your kit. One, of course, is thinly veiled threats. "This is important. You must agree." In fact, no one outside of UFT has ever used that argument with me. Several UFT reps have now tried it with me, and clearly assumed it was a conversation-killer. They are not accustomed to hearing, "No, I don't have to agree, in fact I don't agree, and what kind of argument is that anyway?" They do not have anything at all to say when you give them that response.

Another favored tool is flattery. "I'm calling you because you're very intelligent and influential. We really value your participation." When you answer that, in fact, you actually wrote something in favor of Thompson, a good UFT response is, "Yes, I read it. It was eloquent." But it wasn't really. It was simply that you found him the least offensive alternative in the very small field of choices that appeared viable. And given that, whether or not the UFT rep actually read it is another question.

After the rep tells you one too many times how smart you are, ask, "Then how come I'm the only chapter leader I know who hasn't been invited to join Unity?" This question, it turns out, is the real conversation-killer, and will likely render that call the last one you get, ever, from that person.

I'm not persuaded de Blasio is perfect, and I'm certain that our endorsement of Thompson has not thoroughly endeared him to us, but I'm pretty surprised to see he's being attacked by AFT President Randi Weingarten for wanting to tax rich people to support education. I notice also that he, rather than Thompson, is the latest target of Bloomberg propagandist Howard Wolfson.

Clearly de Blasio is more viable than Mayor Bloomberg and his publisher pals would like. I don't know what they're worried about, but I count it a good thing that they're worried. On education, they've been wrong about virtually everything, and they already have too many friends in high places.

Related: Diane Ravitch endorses Bill de Blasio for mayor.
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