Tuesday, January 19, 2016

There Are People

Last Saturday I went to a MORE meeting in Manhattan. I was wary, as sometimes I've heard much speechifying over things that boggle my mind, but I welcomed what I saw, and what we can now expect to see. Gone were the arguments about things I could not understand. Kit Wainer, Mike Schirtzer and Jia Lee led the meeting, and they did a very good job. We took a sober look at the APPR system and the UFT election, and I think everyone there came away with just a little more awareness to build on.

Not everyone knows what it is to be a New York City teacher in 2016. I certainly don't get the feeling Michael Mulgrew knows a whole lot about it. But everyone at the CUNY grad center seemed to understand it, even the handful of retirees who were happy not to be living through it. No matter how many times Mulgrew stands up and takes credit for improvements none of us can actually see, no matter how many times he pats himself on the back for the raises that won't hit our pockets until 2020, the ones our brothers and sisters got in 2009, he won't know. It's not like it had any effect on his expense account.

Don't lose hope. There are people who care about our union, about us, who aren't crazy. Jia Lee is just one and she is ready to stand up for teachers and students. There are a lot more of us, and there can be even more. That New Action halted its unholy alliance with Unity symbolizes a new hope and a new day. That we can finally stand together against those who pretend to represent us is remarkable. No longer do you need to settle for people whose motivation is a free trip and a gig doing whatever. No longer do you need to vote for people who want a seat at the table.

We have been patient, and we have been watching. We see what leadership does not. We understand what they refuse to see. We remember who wrote the law that deprofessionalized us, that placed us at the mercy of supervisors who know their jobs no better than Michael Mulgrew knows his. We know that they gave away our right to be innocent until proven guilty at 3020a. We know that they're sloppy and lazy, that they don't feel like pushing grievances for us, that going along to get along works for them but certainly not us.

We have been asleep for decades but we are strong. Michael Mulgrew is one person, punchy though he may be, but we are the union. The election is heavily rigged in his favor, but we need to face the odds with everything we have. We need to tell all our colleagues that this year is our chance. We need to get the vote out for MORE/ New Action this year, and we need to show Unity it can't just sit around the buffet table while rank and file is crying to be heard.

Send MORE five or ten dollars, or whatever you can. We are grassroots. We are the voice of working teachers. Add your voice, tell your colleagues to add theirs and we will topple the Unity monolith one brick at a time.
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