Thursday, September 17, 2015
This is a time for change. It's a time for renewal. New Action Caucus, far less credible for the unholy alliance they forged with Randi Weingarten's Unity, has finally dumped said alliance in favor of being once again a truly independent opposition. Without the quid pro quo deal to support Mulgrew for a few seats, there is no longer any reason to oppose them.
So I'm happy to announce here, whether or not you've seen it elsewhere, that the opposition caucuses will present a common front against Unity this spring. I've known this was coming for a few months and had been sworn to secrecy.
The UFT election is rigged. 52% of the voters have no stake in who negotiates UFT contracts. Most unions don't allow retirees to vote on who negotiates for working members. But leadership loves to have a big old office in Florida where no opposition candidate can go, and get them all to vote for whatever it is they get down there.
Mulgrew is a shoo-in, and anyone who tells you differently is delusional. But there are still a few spots that are chosen by the people who they ostensibly represent. Years ago leadership decided high school teachers, having selected a New Action candidate, were too irresponsible to select their own VP. Now, the high school VP is now chosen by the elementary teachers, the retirees, UFT members who don't work in schools, and everyone. That, frankly, is an outrage. But leadership forgot to take the Executive Board seats away from us, and from the junior high schools, and history suggests MORE-New Action will win, at the very least, the high school seats. They are far from a majority, but they are a start.
A few months before the election there will likely be UFT ads saying how the world would be better if people were nicer, or some other such profound reflection. The one that sticks with me was, one election year, a teacher saying, "It's just not fair." I don't recollect exactly what was not fair that year, perhaps that we were underpaid or without a contract, but that's not what resonates with the public. Often, I don't even accept fairness arguments from my students. This particular commercial seemed aimed at UFT voters.
I've been teaching over 30 years, since 1984, Unity's always run things, and I can tell you that things have not improved for us since then. I have never seen so many people discouraged, I have never seen so many young teachers fleeing from my school in particular, and I have never seen morale so abysmally low. I see people with big hearts running for the hills, and even more of them contemplating which hill they can run to when they get half a chance. People ask me if they can take another job and hold onto this one in case it doesn't work out.
There is grotesque incompetence in administrators, and if you can't see it firsthand take a gander at Sue Edelman in the NY Post. Boy wonder supervisors are now empowered to fire people based on whatever, dispensing poor ratings based on a rubric clearly beyond their highly limited interest, let alone comprehension. If they see things that didn't happen, or didn't see things that did happen, too bad for you, and having it on video won't make a difference. So don't let them tape it, unless you want them to have evidence to use against you.
The time of going along to get along, whatever that even means, is gone. The time for a seat at the table for the sake of sitting there is over. So is the time for saying, "Everything sucks but it's not leadership's fault." I'm sorry, but if we're going to be accountable, so are they.
Job one is making it through the door being indebted to leadership for nothing. No endorsement of Michael Mulgrew. No meeting with Randi Weingarten and forming a caucus the following week.
We will win, we will represent rank and file rather than leadership, and we will make leadership hear us, whether they like it or not. Make no mistake, this is our year.