Friday, July 29, 2016

Time to Update UFT Phone Banks

We're facing a really important election. While I am not jumping up and down about the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency, I find the notion of a Trump presidency unspeakable. Let's face it, UFT is the big dog in teacher unions. It controls NYSUT and it controls AFT. UFT is a tank that aims to crush any inconvenient force within the union, rolling over everything with no consideration whatsoever. In fact it changed the UFT Constitution to make sure we uppity high school teachers can't even select our own Vice President.

That said, we can't have a United States President who uses the UFT anti-democratic model, shutting out entire ethnicities, nationalities or religions just as UFT leadership freezes out the high school teachers. In order to use our awesome power for good instead of evil there are a few changes we're going to have to make.

1. Let's not waste our time calling locally for Hillary Clinton. Under our stupid and undemocratic American electoral system, New York votes are meaningless. As long as Hillary holds a lock on NY State we ought not to spin our wheels calling people whose votes are not going to influence the election. It's nice to encourage people to vote the way we want them to, and it may encourage some small feeling of solidarity, but that's not the goal here. The goal is to defeat Donald Trump. Trump is odious, shutting out Muslims and Mexicans just as UFT leadership shuts out high school teachers. We can't have that in a United States President.

If we are to show up to call centers, we ought to be calling our people in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and places TBD where votes will actually make a difference. Sadly, under our electoral system, those votes alone will determine who is President of the United States. We could do this by identifying ourselves as AFT rather than UFT. We do, after all, pay dues to AFT, and AFT represents members on a national level, except for NYC high school teachers.

2. It's time to replace the button phones in the call rooms with computers. No efficient call center uses such outdated technology. It's ridiculous that we're still mired in the 1970s when there is technology that can eliminate all that paper along with a whole lot of human error and mistaken button pushing. I don't know about all the offices, but I know the Queens office already has at least one room full of computers. We could get headphones, call with a mouse click, and record the results the same way. There is already a database for city voters and it's ridiculous we have to print it out and hand back papers.

There needs to be a national or state based database and it needs to be coordinated by AFT. It could be apportioned to various unions, or better yet shared by locals along with the responses. I would volunteer to participate, and I would encourage others to join me.  I understand that Michael Mulgrew doesn't believe in new-fangled stuff like Twitter, Facebook, or answering email from anyone who hasn't signed an oath to agree with him no matter what.

But sometimes it behooves us to forget our personal differences, stop sneering at people for no reason, and move together to realize our common goals. Sure, you can work against democracy and endeavor to suppress the voice of city high school teachers by any means necessary. But just because you're intent on screwing 20,000 working teachers and taxing them without representation doesn't mean you can't fight against a potential President who'd practice the same disenfranchisement against entire religions and nationalities.

Let's not only move the phone banks to the computer rooms, but also replace the ridiculously outdated telephones with new computers. We have to do all we can to make sure our Muslim and Mexican brothers and sisters aren't disenfranchised. Those of us who know what it is to be disenfranchised will do all we can to help.
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