Friday, November 10, 2017

Questions for UFT Doorknockers

I understand there's a door-knocking campaign to encourage union membership. I believe in union, I will absolutely pay dues no matter what, but there are things I'm not sure about. This is one of the reasons why I'm not an active doorknocker. The other is that I'm altogether busy and haven't even got the time to do the things I already do. How I find time to write this blog, for example, I have no idea.

Question one is why high school teachers are not allowed to elect their own Vice President. We have different jobs and different needs than elementary teachers, nurses, paraprofessionals and everyone else in the union. You'd think that would allow us to select our own leader, but it's not. After Michael Shulman had the audacity to defeat them, once, thirty years ago, the changed the rules. I'd argue they rigged the election so that they couldn't lose. I've made that argument on this page many times, and I've never heard even a whiff of defense. Therefore we 20,000 NYC high school teachers have zero representation on AdCom, which makes decisions that are automatically voted up by the loyalty oath bound Unity faithful.

Question number two is why we pay dues to NYSUT and AFT when we have no representation there either. All NYSUT and AFT reps are selected "at large," just like the high school VP. A few years back I went to the AFT convention in Minnesota, on my own dime. I got in a long Twitter discussion with one of the Unity reps saying we had no voice. He said, "I'm a high school teacher." I said yes, you are, but a majority of your fellow high school teachers voted against you. I can't remember what he said back.

As if that isn't enough, there's a Unity equivalent, the Progressive Caucus or something, that meets at the AFT convention. I sat in the hall while every single UFT rep sat and was told how to vote. Vote yes on this, no on that, and this one we don't care about so you may vote as you wish. I'm trying to determine how exactly that represents the priorities of high school teachers, or indeed UFT rank and file.

If you haven't seen James Eterno's post on the ICE blog, you should check it out. He's very much in the same mindset. Yes, it's a moral imperative to pay union dues. We are part of a community, and we have to pay our fair share. But how do I knock on doors and ask people to support a system that treats us like second-class citizens?

I live in Long Island, so I don't anticipate the doorknockers coming anytime soon. Of course, I'm not part of the inner circle that plans these things, and no one elected by my brothers and sisters in city high schools is either. Leadership knows what's good for us, and they don't need to solicit our rogue opinions, thank you very much.

I think we deserve answers to these questions. This notwithstanding, high school teachers elected me to the UFT Executive Board, and I haven't gotten a single answer to a question all year.
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