Monday, February 06, 2017

Calling a Trump a Trump

We are facing an existential threat right now. It's not really anything new. Last year we dodged a bullet when Scalia died before he could rule against us. But it looks likely that the next Friedrichs case will be more successful, and if that's not enough, Congress is introducing so-called right to work legislation.

I look at the Public School Proud campaign, and I see echoes of two past campaigns. The first is the one with Mulgrew running around with some UFT bus showing how wonderful some school or other is. The second is the "Union Loud and Proud" campaign that produced many buttons no one wears anymore and a signature line on UFT email.

Sadly, neither will really do the job for us. What we need is a different kind of organization, an organization that makes people stand up from the bottom up. I have seen zero effort from UFT to inspire members to rise up, and a large number of people I see at the rare street events we sponsor are on the UFT payroll in one form or another.

We have an entire generation of leadership that's never been active in organizing anything or anyone beyond dispensing patronage. We have an entire layer of patronage employees who mistake marching orders for activism, and for whom independent thought places their patronage gigs at risk. We have people who feel empowered to babble any nonsense that enters their heads as long as they are pushing the UFT leadership program.

So this campaign is just the most recent iteration of the same thing they trot out at times like these. Hey, I'm proud of my public school. We do incredible things under challenging circumstances. And of course we aren't alone in that. I'm sure there's something or other happening in most public schools that we could put up and be proud of. I'm not sure, though, that UFT will be able to do much with such stories. Placing them in NY Teacher is not going to reverse the druthers of those who hate us and everything we stand for.

Maybe UFT can find one or two stories and get them placed in local papers. I'm not sure. I do know that when I've worked to get things in the papers all I got from UFT were cautions on how things may not work out. I always thought things would've been a lot easier with the support of such a large organization, but what do I know? Still, even with positive stories about schools dotted through local papers, something I've yet to see any hint of, the publicity issue is not local.

There's a national movement against Donald Trump and his thugs and the United Federation of Teachers remains, at leadership's behest, fraidy-scared to even utter his name. We may alienate the Trump voters, they say. Are the Trump voters so ignorant they don't know their hero is virulently anti-union? Or are they themselves anti-union?

Either way it's hard to see how failing to mention the Trump name helps. Leadership needs some new tricks. Leadership needs to start organizing as though it's the nineteenth century, because that's exactly where Trump and the most unqualified and incompetent Cabinet in our history want to push working people. I don't guess Michael Mulgrew will be driving a taxi anytime soon, but we're gonna have to raise our standard higher than that if we want to thrive and represent vibrant unionism in the Trump era.

A bunch of photographs in the union paper, while we may feel good about them for a spell, just ain't gonna cut it.
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