Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Specter of Friedrichs Haunts Mike Mulgrew

Michael Mulgrew sent us an email the other day, telling us we needed to inform our members of the seriousness of Friedrichs. This was not really news to me, and I've been trying to do that for some time now. Of course I follow the news and I don't take this threat lightly. Those of us who are passionate about education and unionism have understood this from the beginning. We've  known we're under frontal assault and didn't need to wait for Mulgrew to tell us.

Of course, when you get an email from Mulgrew, whose caucus has held pretty much absolute control over the union since its inception, you have to question things. Here's the statement I had to question:

Unity among UFT members is essential in the face of this threat.

There's that odd choice of words. Why did he have to use the name of his caucus in that statement? Is it coincidence?

And then there's his odd niceness campaign at the DA, largely consisting of Mulgrew telling us how nice he is. He fails to personally insult people from the podium. He says something nice about Mindy Rosier. Then he briefly lapses back into character and suggests Jonathan Halabi is an anarchist for wanting to support ATRs.

Sadly, we've heard this song before, ad nauseum. Mulgrew constantly reminds us of how bad Bloomberg was. And I can't help but recall several Unity oath-signers coming around here telling me how I needed to stop criticizing leadership and face the common enemy, Mike Bloomberg. It's the same thing now with Friedrichs. Now, we are instructed not to dissent because of Friedrichs. There is never a good time to disagree with the all-knowing Unity Caucus, and if they had enough patronage to spread around they'd probably try to get all of us to sign the loyalty oath.

But even as Mulgrew speaks of togetherness, his hand-picked pawns at NYSUT spew vitriol over heroic independent-minded unionist Beth Dimino. They can't buy her (and they've certainly tried), so they attack her. They've attacked me too. Someone needs to tell Michael Mulgrew and BFFs that this is a two-way street. It's not enough for Mulgrew to stand in front of us and proclaim how nice he thinks he is. We have not drunk the Kool-Aid and we are not fools.

Mulgrew's niceness campaign opened up right on the heels of his throwing those who distribute policical union literature outside the building. Like Norm Scott frequently advises, we watch what they do, not what they say. The problem with those at the head of the Unity machine is they're accustomed to selling things to people who are already bought and paid for. They have no idea what argument is and they have no idea what persuasion entails. On multiple occasions, dim bulbs from Unity have tried to bully me into submission. You must do this and you must agree with that.

They have no response when I ask what they're gonna do if I don't do this or that. Are they gonna expel me from the Unity Caucus? Take me off the patronage mill? Do your worst, fellas.

You don't buy people off, demand blind loyalty no matter what, and end up with the best people. That's a good part of why we've bought into a culture of appeasement, and a good reason why our enemies are so emboldened. It's why fewer than 20% of working teachers think voting in union elections is worth their time, why rank and file is so poorly mobilized, why we've moved so far backward, and why we face moving further still in that direction.

We've seen this coming. We've watched every step of the way, with every concession Mike Mulgrew and his Unity army gave away. We oppose Friedrichs as much as anyone, perhaps more. But Mulgrew and company have ignored us every step of the way. It's pretty cheeky for them to now demand we forget what brought us here.
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