Thursday, September 15, 2005

Breaking Out of the Boxes

Being able to define our options is no different than using our fact-finding report as the basis of negotiation. Last night our president tried desperately to “control” the reaction to this report by employing some very obvious and disrespectful tactics to our Chapter Leaders.

Right down to props on the stage Randi tried to give the appearance we were having a chat with about 800 of our schools’ leaders. How do we, as a Union, react to a fact-finding report which not only is replete with givebacks but fundamentally disrupts the power dynamic in our schools by giving over “discretion” to the principals in some very basic labor relations areas? (No one has even mentioned the provisions in the report about performance based pay and salary differentials based on school taught).

Rather than deal with this anti-union report our leadership has embraced it and will no doubt try to sell it to our members by promising to “tweak it.”

But how do you convince 800 Chapter Leaders to sell it to their members? The way that was chosen was to define the “options” available and label all of the opposition as only demanding to wait.

What are the options? According to Randi the options are take this report as the contract or “reject” it and go out on strike…immediately. It’s like asking the condemned which method he wishes to be executed.

The second method to sell this is to dominate the discussion. Randi tried to control the comments of the Chapter Leaders. No doubt there were brain-storming sessions well into the night to prepare. Yet, try as she might each speaker, which was allowed to speak, spoke about how this report cannot be accepted in any form. As a result attempts to recognize paid union staff to deflect these comments were obvious tactics that showed how desperate the situation is. Additionally, though it was supposed to be a “discussion” Randi made sure she commented on every comment and filibustered most of the evening.

Obviously planning for effective action is something that must be done over a period of time. While we have lost a lot of time we have not lost our will to have our Union act like a union. We cannot let the discussion be framed by those who have vested interests in maintaining their positions.

Randi, if you don’t lead us to prevent the wholesale surrender of our rights we will lead you. Our members will clearly not put up with this report as the basis of anything other than a post-mortem of our union.


Lillian M. Varrassi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lillian M. Varrassi said...

The Scorpion and the Frog

One day, a scorpion looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a journey through the forests and hills. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river.

The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion stopped to reconsider the situation. He couldn't see any way across. So he ran upriver and then checked downriver, all the while thinking that he might have to turn back.

Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. He decided to ask the frog for help getting across the stream.

"Hellooo Mr. Frog!" called the scorpion across the water, "Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?"

"Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know that if I try to help you, you wont try to kill me?" asked the frog hesitantly.

"Because," the scorpion replied, "If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim!"

Now this seemed to make sense to the frog. But he asked. "What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!"

"This is true," agreed the scorpion, "But then I wouldn't be able to get to the other side of the river!"

"Alright do I know you wont just wait till we get to the other side and THEN kill me?" said the frog.

"Ahh...," crooned the scorpion, "Because you see, once you've taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?!"

So the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river. He swam over to the bank and settled himself near the mud to pick up his passenger. The scorpion crawled onto the frog's back, his sharp claws prickling into the frog's soft hide, and the frog slid into the river. The muddy water swirled around them, but the frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown. He kicked strongly through the first half of the stream, his flippers paddling wildly against the current.

Halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger from the frog's back. A deadening numbness began to creep into his limbs.

"You fool!" croaked the frog, why on earth did you do that?"

"It's my nature; it is what I do."

This fable depicts the truth behind the incessant rhetoric that the union has been spouting ad nauseum.

At a meeting with her last week, this member asked a question and was immediately given a rude and evasive answer, ending with a condescending remark. Needless to say, the staff at this meeting were quite shocked at her response.

We have been the frog that has been carrying the scorpion around on our backs, only to be stung time and time again.

Yesterday, after reading the fact-finding summary, someone told me I was cynical. Today, after I told this teacher than this report will probably become the new contract because the union will do everything in its power to make it so, he told me I was right.

When are we going to come together as members and stop this tyranny; the money-hungry power, control, the undemocratic way in which the delegate meetings are held, the back-room deals, the secrecy and the lies?

When are we going to get this scorpion off our back and stand up, and fight for our rights? You are all much stronger than she. Use that strength to say NO to this latest fiasco. There is nothing to be afraid of. Demand that no retiree be at the delegate meeting when you take that crucial vote. Do not allow this union to scare you into submission.

I believe we can become more unified if we stop believing the lies. If we can all agree that the course this union is taking is a dangerous one; if we can agree the removal of this union leader is in all our best interests, we might have a fighting change.

If we accept what is given without a fight; if we accept what is masked as truth; if we accept that this is the only path - we will lose more than we have ever gained.

Finally, to the union leader who came to my school and for the first 20 minutes talked about the police department's contract - (none of us in that room were wearing uniforms or badges) - let me respond to your rude comment....."Yes, he is my friend, and I am proud of it. Why? Because he has the utmost integrity, doesn't lie, and is always there for me when I need him to be. He has helped secretaries more than you or your so-called secretaries chapter."

As for the end of this story, the scorpion drowned as well.