Friday, July 05, 2013

Retirees Should Not Vote in UFT Elections

It's pretty disappointing to read that only 17% of working teachers could get off their butts to vote for UFT leadership. In fact, to check a box and seal an envelope, getting off said butt was not even a requirement. If you have family, for example, you could always ask a family member to mail the thing for you.

Even more disappointing was the fact that more than half of the vote came from retired teachers. Some were in Florida, where the UFT has an office. Actually, if there's a large concentration of UFT retirees in Florida, the office is not a bad idea. However, having the incumbent non-teacher President campaign there, directly or otherwise, is questionable. First of all, if the opponent is a teacher, the opponent has no way of getting her voice heard.

More importantly, retirees should not be voting at all. The issues facing teachers today are frightening and complex. The new evaluation system, despite a great recent Gotham piece, is so convoluted few people understand it at all. Maybe I'm just slow, and everyone else is catching the nuances. But I'm a teacher, and I will be facing this each and every day. I don't care how many free lectures they give in the Florida office, and that ought not to be a factor in my decision.

I worry about the day to day. I worry about what tens of thousands of my colleagues will face next year. I worry about people being fired for no reason. And that ought to be a prime focus for whoever leads my union.

I remember the 05 contract, a step in bringing us toward where we are now. I remember one of our school's delegates was planning to retire that year. He told me he voted for the contract because it would help his retirement. I understood that, but I also understood that it went against the interests of working teachers, 40% of whom ended up voting against that stinker. Now that he's retired, I'm not persuaded he's taken to voting the interests of working teachers.

Of course I know other retired teachers who do, in fact, vote in the interests of those of us still working. But as I'm still working, I suppose I'm voting in my self-interests as well. There's nothing wrong with that.

And there's nothing wrong with looking after our retirees. In fact, we all hope to be retirees someday. There should be an office to deal with retiree interests. We would be fools to abandon retirees, if for no other reason than we'd be abandoning our own future. Of course there are more important reasons.

But retirees ought not to be voting in UFT elections, unless they're voting specifically for retiree reps. To have them be the majority vote in our general election is an embarrassment and a disgrace.

They shouldn't be taking part in that election at all.
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