Friday, May 27, 2016

UFT Election---Sitting Here in Limbo

I'm kind of on pins and needles wondering what's going on in the UFT election. Voting is up, and UFT Unity is patting itself on the back for getting out the vote. After all, everything they do is a great victory. Three years ago, 4 out of 5 working teachers didn't bother filling out ballots. This year, only 3 out of 4 working teachers didn't bother filling out ballots.

The question is who actually got out the vote. Was it Unity or was it MORE/ New Action? We will know later in the day. I know I did everything I could think of in my building, and I know we got a much higher turnout here than three years ago.

But Unity has the edge in that a whole lot of their members don't have to, you know, show up and work anywhere. I can't really just say, "Hey, Mr. Principal, can I not teach today so I can run around and explain that the UFT is ruled by a 50-year-old monolithic caucus that allows for no dissent whatsoever?"

Well, I can ask that, but I wouldn't be highly optimistic about a favorable response.

Because there is quite a lot here that hangs in the balance. To wit:

Have we woken up and realized that our leadership aids and abets the reformies on a regular basis? Do we know that they supported mayoral control for Michael Bloomberg? Do we know that, upon its renewal, UFT Unity demanded minor changes, failed to get them, and then supported it anyway? Do we know that Michael Mulgrew boasted of co-writing the law that enabled the punitive evaluation system that makes life a misery for so many of our working members?

Do we know that most chapter leaders sign a loyalty oath to support whatever they're told to? Do we know that the last contract enabled second tier due process for ATR teachers? Do we know that, on top of the 4/4 that most city employees got, Michael Mulgrew negotiated a 10% raise over seven years, the lowest pattern in my living memory, and probably ever? Do we understand that putting off our back pay for ten years effectively reduces it considerably? Do we understand that a reformy mayor might renege after 2018?

Do we understand that the health care increases we've seen were not explained by Mulgrew when he sold the contract? Do we know that these are by no means the only ones we can see under the savings agreement Mulgrew bound us to in this contract? Do we understand that Mulgrew's tale that we'd have to get behind 150 other unions if we didn't take this offer was an appeal to fear, a logical fallacy? Do we know that logical fallacy is the Unity Caucus' prime and preferred form of argument?

Or were we bought over by the happy faces of loyalty oath signers who don't have to show up to schools and teach each and every day? Are we so afraid that we're unwilling to stand up and say we've had enough?

Are we unionists, or are we residents of yet another Animal Farm bought off by empty and ridiculous promises?

Or did we actually wake up, take a good look, compare Michael Mulgrew to Jia Lee and decide, hey, it's time to turn the page and stand up for ourselves? And even if Jia doesn't win, did we get ourselves seats in the Executive Board and finally create a genuine union voice for those of us who actually experience what it's like here on the ground?

We'll know the answer later today. Stay tuned.
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