Monday, August 16, 2010

Say Anything

It's been a trying week for UFT leadership, having just fired writer Jim Callaghan, who refused to go quietly into that good night. Callaghan claims to have been fired for, of all things, his efforts to unionize.  Naturally, brass needs to paint a more favorable portrait.

Yesterday, UFT mouthpiece Peter Goodman was waxing poetic over at Gotham Schools about the democracy that flourishes in the UFT.  As usual, no mention was made of the controlling Unity Caucus.  Said Goodman:

The give and take, the variety of opinions within the union is healthy, the thousand delegates, selected by members in each and every school gather monthly, debate is wide ranging, and usually strongly supportive of Weingarten, and now Mulgrew.

The latter is true, of course, because the overwhelming majority of those present belong to Unity and have surrendered their right to publicly dissent.  In addition, there are a few from the faux-opposition New Action, who are permitted superficial disagreement as long as they do not oppose the Unity presidential candidate (imperiling their patronage gigs).  Then there is a ragtag, disorganized bunch of individuals that truly disagree.  This group is routinely booed and ridiculed by both Unity and New Action.

Goodman contended those at the DA  "may or may chose to belong to a political party within the union."  I responded:

As you well know, Unity is not a choice. It is an invitation-only caucus that requires its members to sign an oath not to contradict it in public.

Goodman called that "almost laughable," and went on to claim,

"I’ve never signed an “oath”....  

This was remarkable.  The defining characteristic of Unity Caucus is its non-negotiable demand that its members represent the Caucus rather than the membership.  Most UFT members are unaware of its existence.  Personally, I never heard of it before I started blogging about five years ago.  That's the way it's supposed to be, of course.  Very few teachers would vote for a chapter leaders they knew followed orders from up high rather than promoting the interests of rank and file--and make no mistake, the 2005 contract, relentlessly promoted by Unity, was not in the interests of rank and file.  I responded to Goodman:

Verbatim from the Unity application, members agree:

To express criticism of caucus policies within the Caucus;
To support the decisions of Caucus / Union leadership in public or Union forums;

Are you saying you never signed that agreement?

I'm still waiting for Goodman to respond.  I suppose the best approach is to sit while I wait.

In the UFT hierarchy, chapter leaders are routinely bought off.  They sign the Unity oath and are kept in line with free trips to conventions, where they dutifully genuflect before the likes of Bill Gates.  Many live in hope of getting a union job just like Peter Goodman did.  Then they can drop most or all of that inconvenient teaching, earn a second pension, make considerably more than teachers, and get even more free trips and perks.

When UFT chapter leaders sign the Unity application, they agree to be "activists."  In reality, they agree to do whatever they're told without question.

Those who agree are not leaders, but followers.  This in itself is not necessarily bad.  But lately, they're following the dictates of demagogues like Bill Gates and the Wal-Mart family, to the detriment of teachers and working Americans everywhere.
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