As awful as our union leadership is, they're our fault because the overwhelming majority of us can't be bothered to mark an X, lick an envelope, and drop it in a mailbox. And with all the bad things I say about them, they are at least better than nothing. Nothing is likely what we will have if Friedrichs becomes law.
I spend a good part of every year trying to collect for our local's Sunshine Fund. We collect 15 bucks a head. With that, we buy gifts for retirees, do lunches, and sometimes buy shirts for members. Some people won't pay. They tell me they have phone bills, electric bills, and all sorts of inconvenient things that, of course, pretty much everyone has. I will continue to pay the union, if we have one, but I dread the possibility of having to go around and ask people to contribute a thousand bucks a year.
And honestly, I don't know whether I would ask. Even if I pay myself, should I bust my ass trying to raise money for Michael Mulgrew to sit at 52 Broadway and have someone write emails he signs telling us how wonderful things are? Should I actively enable all the loyalty oath signers who we pay because they've shown an unshakable faith in all the nonsense our union has supported? Don't they include charter schools, colocations, mayoral control, two-tier due process, among their Great Victories?
Unfortunately, Friedrichs transcends leadership. I will pay 15 bucks for pretty much any half-decent cause in my building, and so will a lot of others, but when the ante rises to a thousand bucks it's gonna be a much harder sell. That would be the case no matter who was running the union, and that would be the case even if Unity had not stacked the deck to ensure their monopoly.
Even if Unity were to cut down on patronage and fire some of the blitheringly incompetent ass-kissers that pervade union employees, it's hard to imagine that the union would be able to provide the same level of service with significantly less cash. The political clout of union will diminish as its funding does, and the demagogues who hate us and everything we stand for will be in full party mode. If they can get this through the courts, they can get pretty much anything through the courts. After all, they'll have pretty much neutered much of the opposition by effectively defunding public unions. They've already got citizenhood for corporations. Why not further degrade the whole one person, one vote thing by crushing organized labor, the voice of working people?
Of course they can make exceptions for police, like Scott Walker did, because someone will have to guard their mansions when and if the bootless and unhorsed rise up with torches and pitchforks. But that hasn't happened to Walker yet, and considering the distance leadership has created between rank and file and themselves, I don't see UFT members rising up to follow Mulgrew anytime soon.
Make no mistake, we educators represent the last bastion of vibrant unionism in these United States. Our enemies want this to be the last nail in our coffin. Mulgrew says we will appeal at the state level if it passes, but my faith in his word is sorely limited. The middle class is rapidly disappearing, and the folks bankrolling Friedrichs couldn't be happier.
I can't believe we're left hanging, likely at the whim of one of the lunatic GOP Supreme Court Justices.
But what can you expect in the face of an incipient oligarchy? Am I overly naive in calling it incipient? Time will tell, if it hasn't already.
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.