Many NYC educators are wondering why the leadership of our Union, the United Federation of Teachers, does not represent the views of their school. The reason is that many chapter leaders and delegates are members of Unity Caucus, an invitation only political party that has run the UFT since the 1960s. Unity members must sign an obligation statement. One of their obligations is to “support the decisions of the caucus and the Union leadership elected from the caucus in public or Union forums.”
Former AFT President David Seldon stated in his book, The Teacher Rebellion, “…unions can become political machines, and that is what happened to the UFT.” He added, “[Unity] is a closed caucus; one must be voted in. Its decisions must be followed in every detail” (p. 156- 157).
ICE believes the Unity Caucus loyalty oath and patronage system have hurt our union because Unity chapter leaders and delegates are devoted to Unity and not the members in the schools who elected them. This leads to cynicism in schools as member wishes are routinely ignored. Unity chapter leaders must stay loyal to Randi/Unity if they want to be part of the spoils machine that offers free trips to conventions, part time Union jobs after school and full time Union jobs with six figure salaries and double pensions.
How can we have a Union that will represent its members?
The UFT belongs to rank and file educators, not the Union’s leadership. Change needs to come from the schools. Step 1 to taking back our Union: elect more independent people to chapter leader and delegate positions this May and June in Chapter Elections.
If additional independents were in office last year, the fiasco that was the contract vote might have been avoided. If there were a greater number of autonomous chapter leaders and delegates, they would have stood up to UFT leaders at the Delegate Assembly (the union’s highest policy making body) and in schools when the leadership touted the giveback laden contract (longer day, longer year, loss of ability to grieve file letters, hall patrol, loss of seniority and SBO transfers, etc…). Unity people were forced to obey and dutifully sold the horrific contract.
You can help by electing chapter representatives who are independent!
• Independents need to seek chapter leader and delegate positions in schools. This is a difficult task but ICE will help with campaigning. We’re an open group.
• If you are unable to run for union office, then please question candidates and volunteer to serve on chapter election committees to ensure fair chapter elections.
• Elect chapter leaders and delegates who will represent your school, not Randi’s Unity political machine. Make sure your chapter is a Non Unity school.