Sunday, January 24, 2016

Let's Not Start Partying Just Yet

There's been a lot of interest in this article, suggesting a silver lining to the Friedrichs case. It now appears SCOTUS is poised to deliver a tough pill to public unions, saying that automatic dues collection is a violation of free speech. Friedrichs and her pals feel all workers have the absolute right to do more work for less pay and have had it with those nasty unions demanding otherwise.

The silver lining, according to the article, may be that our free speech includes the right to strike, long gone in NY with that Taylor Law, which takes two days pay for every day we stay out. This has proven a pretty effective deterrent, though the transit workers went out anyway a few years back. For this, they lost their dues checkoff for a year, which resulted in only 75% of them actually paying union dues.

Consider that this scenario occurred under a newly elected activist leadership. For us in UFT, we have the entrenched and clueless Unity patronage mill, which hasn't bothered to organized seriously in decades. 75% would be fantastic for them. But that's not the only issue, even if they could organize, strike, or whatever (which I doubt).

Add to this scenario the disappearance of the Triborough Amendment, something GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino wanted. Imagine if someone like Bloomberg didn't have to uphold the terms of an expired contract, and could do whatever he wished once the thing was over with. Would we be looking at no contract at all? Would we be looking at a unilaterally imposed thin contract, eviscerating job protections, like the one Bloomberg had wet dreams about years ago?

There are possibilities in this. We could, perhaps, energize the membership and be reborn as an actual labor union. But Friedrichs would only be a first step. Michael Mulgrew championed a contract with two-tier due process. This shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what a union is. And we, under the Mulgrew's appeals to fear (moving back 150 places in line, retro not a God-given right), approved this contract, showing we too have no understanding.

We are many steps away from being an active workforce. Michael Mulgrew is not qualified to lead such a union, and needs to be replaced.  Our loyalty-oath signing patronage mill has to go too--we need leaders, not self-serving sycophants. That's not a quick fix. A friend of mine used to say the UFT has two problems--the leadership and the membership. We're gonna have to fix both before we see the sunny side of Friedrichs.
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