Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Note to UFT/ NYSUT/ AFT--Endorse Bernie Sanders

I'm friendly with a few people in UFT Unity. I certainly don't agree with their party platform, but I don't take that personally. These days, I don't make it personal here unless one of them does first. I was speaking a Unity member the other day, bemoaning the rather miserable state of things, and that person asked me, "What would you do?"

I mentioned things from the past, like failing to oppose Cuomo when he was running, like Weingarten's back door endorsement via Hochul, like failure to stand up when Eva Moskowitz eviscerated what was supposed to be mayoral control by forcing us to pay for charters whether or not we wanted them. But the question, of course, is what would I do now?

Right now, if I had any influence whatsoever in leading my union, I would endorse Bernie Sanders for President. I know there is some history with AFT President Randi Weingarten and Hillary Clinton. I know we endorsed Hillary when Randi was UFT President. In fact, I voted for Hillary in the primary against Barack Obama and given his education record, I don't regret that at all. But, while I doubt she could be much worse, I'm not entirely persuaded Hillary would have been better.

Bernie Sanders just told the world he would dump No Child Left Behind. He opposes for-profit prisons and I don't see him jumping up and down demanding for-profit schools either. He's a strong supporter of unions. He believes in women's rights and universal health care. In short, he supports working people. In fact, he goes so far as to say that the wealthy should pay their fair share, and I'm not sure I've heard that sort of talk, or believed it at least, in decades.

If the union wants to let us know they've changed, they need to dump the same old, same old of endorsing corporate sweethearts and making costly mistakes. Hillary's popularity was at its highest point when hubby Bill left the Oval Office. Since then it's been going steadily downhill. She even managed to lose the presidential nomination to relatively unknown Barack Obama, something most of us deemed impossible. I signed a petition to get him on the NY primary ballot, and told the person who gave it to me he had no chance. Here in NY, he really didn't.

It's time for us to stop endorsing people like Bill Thompson, who publicly told the Daily News the city couldn't afford to give teachers the raise it gave everyone else. It's time for us to stop endorsing people with corporate ties the likes of which Hillary Clinton has.  It's time for us to stand with working people, people like ourselves, people like the students for whom we hope to leave a route to middle class.

Bernie Sanders is step one. 
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