Monday, March 31, 2014

Why Don't Contractual Rights Apply to Our UFT Representatives?

 By special guest blogger Arwen E.
Eight-hundred delegates from UFT-Unity will attend the 2014 NYSUT convention this weekend.  If some don't regard the Loyalty Oath as morally null and void in this day and age and follow the dictates of their conscience or of their constituencies, then Mulgrew alone might as well hand deliver his eight-hundred pre-slugged ballots and dispense with the charade of democracy.
I love Article Two--Fair Practices in our last contract.  What I don't love, however, is the paragraph missing after #3.
Our NYC Teachers' contract (October 13, 2007 through October 31, 2009) stipulates in paragraphs one and two that neither the Union, nor the Board, will discriminate against persons based on "race, creed, color, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, handicapping condition or age or membership or participation in, or association with the activities of, any employee organization."


The third paragraph states, "The Board agrees that it will not require any teacher to complete an oath or affirmation of loyalty unless such requirement is established by law."
Sadly, there is no paragraph to affirm that UFT-Unity will not force its members to complete an oath or affirmation of loyalty.  In fact, they do force their delegates to sign the following UFT-UNITY LOYALTY OATH before they can be admitted into the ranks and the doors to potentially tens of thousands of dollars in extra income and free trips with spiffy accommodations magically open before them:
·       To express criticism of caucus policies within the Caucus;
·       To support the decisions of Caucus / Union leadership in public or Union forums;
·       To support in Union elections only those individuals who are endorsed by the Caucus, and to actively campaign for his / her election;
·       To run for Union office only with the support of the caucus;
·       To serve, if elected to Union office, in a manner consistent with Union / Caucus policies
and to give full and faithful service in that office;
Loyalty Oaths were wrong at the time of World War I.
Loyalty Oaths were wrong as part of the witch hunts of the 1950s.
Loyalty Oaths were wrong at the time of the Vietnam War.
Our Union recently pressed to have retiree votes weighted more heavily in Union elections based on the claim that it would make elections more democratic.   Yet, as long as leadership stays in power, it seems to care little that less than 20% of the currently-employed membership votes.   Disenchantment runs high.  Democracy is on its deathbed.

Loyalty Oaths are still wrong today! 

Given that I try to teach people how to think, not what to think, I object strongly to the demands of UFT leadership that its delegates, eight-hundred strong, vote as drones or as mercenaries given highly-paid Unity jobs.  Given that Unions are the lifeblood of the common people, our representative must listen to our voices (as a delegate) or their own conscience (as a trustee).  Nothing less than this will do. 
Leadership can argue that they listen to all opinions and then make the best decisions.  Yet, it irritates me to no end that some delegates are hushed by fears of reprisals and others who operate free of Unity's shadow find themselves restricted from speaking at meetings.  Is our Union a bully pulpit for but one point of view, claiming to represent all? 
For those who charge that I am sowing the seeds of divisiveness by raising the issue of the Loyalty Oath, I would say this is no better than saying an American who questioned the wisdom of the Vietnam War was un-American.  I am American and I will faithfully remain, in the best tradition of Woody Guthrie, a "Union Maid."
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