Monday, January 04, 2016

Under the Specter of Friedrichs, UFT Doubles Down on Taxation Without Representation

I just read about an ATR teacher who was provisionally placed at a school, followed the UFT-endorsed procedure for participation in chapter elections, and won the position of delegate. Therefore, as the UFT claimed, this person could then vote in the DA and was not disenfranchised. Except this person was an ATR and was summarily moved from the school in September. So no more delegate, no more admission card, and no more voting rights. Also, no more choice of the staff who voted this person in.

This is just one aspect of what passes for democracy in our union, and longtime UFT activist James Eterno has been giving it chapter and verse over at the ICE blog. Although James and other ATRs have lost various appeals to remedy this with their own chapter, union leadership continues to maintain that a system where you can be elected for office and be tossed by the whim of a random principal is somehow fair. This is absurd on its face, but it's the sort of hubris you can expect from a party in power for half a century, a party that does no wrong and paints itself as all-knowing and indispensable. I'll resist the temptation to compare it to other such institutions.

It's outrageous that ATR teachers have second-tier due process, enabled by our latest substandard contract. While most of us would have a chance to present a reasonable case when fighting for our jobs, ATRs get only one-day to do so. Mulgrew told the Delegate Assembly that people complained their firing process took too long. Personally, I'd want every possible moment I could get to present my case, especially with my career on the line. Of all the people I've known who've beat back 3020a, none have ever complained they had too much time to present their cases. (Of course I'm not selling a contract that gets people paid eleven years after everyone else.)

If you aren't in the ATR, you don't have to worry too much about being affected by the aforementioned. Not at the moment. Of course anyone could become an ATR at any moment, so you may want to consider that. But if you don't want to consider that, consider this--if you add MORE and New Action votes, Unity actually failed to get a majority of votes during the high school election. This time, we have a chance to overcome Randi's deal to subvert New Action, since they've ended their alliance with Unity. Of course, Randi met with someone else, who one week later formed a new caucus, so there's that. But there's still a very good chance to break through via at least seven seats on the Executive Board.

But even if we do that, because of changes Unity made, high school teachers could select a Vice President who isn't elected. Decades ago New Action's Mike Shulman went and won that seat, and Unity needed to make sure it never happened again. They therefore made all VP positions at large. This would be akin to the federal government saying the entire country had to pick the New York governor because it kept picking the wrong party. Of course they did it anyway.

Consider also that your chapter leader is either Unity or Not Unity. Most are Unity, and most are therefore delegates to NYSUT and AFT, to which we all pay dues. All Unity chapter leaders have signed a loyalty oath, so they vote any damn way Leroy Barr tells them to. Therefore, unless you happen to agree with Unity 100% of the time, your POV is not represented in AFT or NYSUT. On the other hand, if your chapter leaders are Not Unity, they get no vote in AFT or NYSUT, and neither do you. It's a Lose-Lose (except for Mulgrew and his cronies).

If I were Unity leadership, I'd be busting my ass to be more inclusive before dues became optional. Of course I'm not, so I therefore do not accept the notion that everything leadership does is Absolutely Ideal (even when it contradicts the last thing they did that was Absolutely Ideal).

Your very best hope for any bit of activist representation is to vote for MORE/ New Action in a few months. After many years wandering through the wilderness, representative democracy is due for a comeback in 2016.

Happy New Year to all.
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