Sunday, January 19, 2014

On Reviving NYSUT

There's a new movement in our state union, and Norm Scott has written about it a little. Apparently there is a large rift between NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi and VP Andy Pallota. The movement seeks to dump Iannuzzi, so as to revive the statewide union. Of course Pallotta comes from the monolithic, top-down Unity-New Action machine that's successfully kept independent voices off not only UFT, but also NYSUT and AFT for half a century.

So it's tough for me to see how they'll improve anything. Can we expect to see even more total exclusion and isolation for the true activists of our union? How can they achieve that? Will they come to our homes and build actual brick walls rather than the figurative ones that ensure our voices mean nothing? Will they require loyalty oaths from all members rather than the elite few who are admitted to the Unity-New Action machine?

I don't really see how they can do that.

What is Iannuzzi's crime? For one thing, he's decided to rule out a Cuomo endorsement. While the NYSUT revival folks complain that he made that decision, they have also said they haven't decided to make the endorsement. I can only suppose they'd like the freedom to endorse the guy who's taken all those suitcases full of cash from DFER, and Eva Moskowitz, and all the other swell folks who'd like to see working teachers treated as Walmart associates.

Many people tell me that UFT is pretty much the tail wagging the AFT dog. As we're the largest component of NYSUT, and NYSUT is the largest component of AFT, that's somewhat understandable. The fact that three UFT presidents have gone on to become AFT presidents is pretty strong evidence of our influence.

But I don't actually see how ensuring UFT rules NYSUT helps rank and file. UFT has been making huge tactical blunders for years. We supported mayoral control once, when it appeared to be an awful idea, and once again after it was clearly demonstrated to be mayoral dictatorship on the part of anti-teacher, anti-union Mike Bloomberg. We not only started a charter, but also indulged in the co-location that has proven so destructive to public schools. We supported and participated in the authorship of a law that allowed teachers to be rated by what AFT President Randi Weingarten now acknowledges to be junk science. We brokered a deal that enabled the ATR brigade, and another one that condemned them to wander school to school week to week.

How much COPE money did we spend supporting Bill Thompson four years too late, after he'd publicly endorsed withholding raises from working teachers?

Is that the sort of vision we want to expand statewide?

I don't see it. Do you?

When are we going to revive our own UFT, the one that's engendered so much cynicism the overwhelming majority of working teachers don't bother to vote, and in which the majority of voting teachers are retirees?
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