Friday, June 27, 2014

When's the Best Time to Activate UFT Activists?

I'm amazed at how we're under attack on so many different fronts. Aside from Vergara and its copycats, the US Supreme Court appears to be contemplating making the United States a Right to Work country. This is really not what its supporters would have you believe. If dues are optional, a lot of people simply won't bother paying them. Thus it will be tough for union to survive. I've read accounts of unions collapsing under such weight.

In our school, we collect 12 bucks a year for our Sunshine Fund, which buys gifts and does luncheons and such. Some people will say they don't have it, they didn't bring it, they have bills, or whatever. And that's over 12 bucks. When it's a thousand, it'll certainly be a tougher sell, and a lot of people will be thinking about a big screen TV, a new Mac, or whatever.

I'll pay, but I'll be cognizant that neither I nor my school gets any representation in the UFT, NYSUT, or the AFT.  Why the hell is that? It's because my union is run by an elite political machine that not only treats differences of opinion with outright contempt, but also requires loyalty oaths of anyone who wishes to act as a representative or advance within the ranks. And those who act as representatives are free only to represent leadership, under pain of expulsion. Thus there's no grassroots representation whatsoever. This extends to NYSUT and AFT, since UFT's rubber stamp is the tail that wags the dog.

I pay into UFT COPE, but when they send me a list of people who haven't contributed, I don't make it a large priority to solicit more contributions. It's hard for me to forget that UFT sat out term 3 of the Michael Bloomberg Experience. It's hard for me to forget that, for a few pennies, they enabled the ATR. The reformy nonsense we've enabled boggles the mind.

A few years ago, when it appeared the UFT was hanging tough on the junk science bill we helped write, I invited our local COPE guy to come speak to my staff. He didn't show up, forcing me to improvise. That was a little stressful for me, as I like to prepare before I speak or teach. When I checked my phone I found he'd called asking when to show. I told him now.

He didn't have time to do much of a drive, though I made a point of upping my contribution and signing the card in front of staff. This seemed to me a good opportunity for a pitch but he didn't bother. Instead he offered us a speech about how smart leadership was, and told us we would get our contract. Bloomberg, he said, couldn't have the evaluation unless he gave us a contract.

We later learned UFT was willing not only to negotiate the evaluation without a contract, but also to allow Reformy John King unilateral control over it, deeming him an impartial arbiter. If John King is impartial, I'm the second coming of Bill Gates.

The line from UFT now is that Bloomberg never wanted the evaluation. So why didn't they know that a few years ago? Why, given our extensive history with Mayor Mike, couldn't they anticipate his lack of cooperation?

Should the anti-union legislation pass, should Campbell Brown and the other reformies we've enabled gain a stronger foothold, I'll continue to contribute to union. But UFT leadership will need more help.

It's time for leadership to give up the insane shunning of the 25% of members who say no to two-tier due process, who reject the shallow logical fallacies leadership expects us to mistake for argument. These are our most fearless, passionate and active members. As Karen Lewis and the CTU have shown us, an inclusive union is a powerful union.
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