Friday, June 03, 2016

Changing the UFT Constitution

New York State will put up a Constitutional Convention next year. I oppose it, and my union leadership will oppose it too. It should be clear that changing the constitution is a big deal. For one thing, all of us in public service work toward our pensions, and few of us want someone like Andy Cuomo to take away what we've worked for all our lives. But if it's passed, he could do that, and maybe pass on the savings to his BFF Eva Moskowitz to build charter schools. So UFT will fight it, and I'll support that fight.

After all, it's about what's best for the people, not what's best for Andy Cuomo, whatever he may say otherwise. And what's best for the people, in my opinion at least,  is democracy. I may have written recently about how I'm a fan of democracy, and as such, I kind of feel those of us in high schools should, you know, select our own vice president.

I thought we on the Executive Board could make UFT vote on that, you know, either for or against democracy, but it turns out, I'm hearing,  that you need a third of the Executive Board to vote on that, because it would entail a change to the UFT Constitution. That would be tough to pull off with all but seven of us beholden to UFT Unity via loyalty oath. And after all, UFT opposes drastic constitutional changes.

That is, unless they themselves make them. In that case, all bets are off. They did indeed change the constitution once they got rid of that upstart New Action VP Mike Shulman. If they had not done that, James Eterno would now be the Academic Vice President of the United Federation of Teachers. In fact, the only reason to have changed the constitution would have been to ensure that an opposition party not take that office. The fact that high school teachers could no longer choose their Vice President was of no consequence to UFT Unity.

It's disappointing, because I thought it would be a good idea to have the Delegate Assembly express whether it was for or against democracy. Now all we can do is ask the Executive Board whether or not they they support a vote to enable democracy. And if the Unity loyalty oath signers determine that a vote to enable democracy is not in the best interests of UFT Unity, high school teachers will continue to be utterly disenfranchised among UFT officers.

So, in short, changing constitutions is a dangerous practice, unless it's in the best interests of UFT Unity. Then it's fine. And of course we all support democracy because it is after all a fundamental social justice issue. Unless it's for high school teachers, who don't vote the way UFT Unity wants them to. In that case, they can all go to hell and they get no representation whatsoever among UFT officers.

And for good measure, despite the great honor of permitting us to pay dues, NYC high school teachers get no representation in AFT or NYSUT either. Except perhaps a few board members and blogs. I'll keep you posted.
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