Sunday, April 09, 2006

Did your Chapter Leader and Delegate(s) sign a Loyalty Oath to Support Randi Weingarten’s Policies even if they hurt your school?

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.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting. There's been nothing in the UFT newspaper or the Edwize blog about chapter leader elections. Isn't it true that all schools require an election this Spring regardless of how long their CL has been in that position? Aren't there specific arbitration rulings that allow for campaign material to be placed in teacher mailboxes? Aren't there specific rules about the election being run by committee- not the CL? Thanks for your information.

iwannavote said...

My Chapter Leader is a Unity member. He says he doesn't have to be re-elected this year. Now I see he's wrong. How do we nominate others? How do we start an Election Committee?

Anonymous said...

My Chapter Chair was elected this year because our previous Chapter Chair retired. She says our school doesn't have to hold new elections this year. The District Rep was at one of our meetings and heard this. She didn't say the Chapter Chair was wrong. Do we have a right to an election this year? How do we get a new election?

Norm said...

Please email me the names of the district rep and chapter leaders (and school) who say they don't have to run. This info is important to help us force the UFT to make a statement. We'll keep you anonymous.
norscot@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Do you have a copy of this oath and if I ask my CL about this, do you think she will tell the truth?

Anonymous said...

The part of the obligation that concerns being loyal to caucus positions is in the piece.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting how you are all only interested in the politics and not in the substance of any issues members care about. This is why you talk about caucus politics but are unable to bring up real comprehensive solutions to any current problems. i have yet to hear the massive moanings of this "unfair contract" you have all complained about. Why aren't the masses saying something if it is true?

Anonymous said...

Elections should be held in every school run by an election committee in May or June, no excepetions. The election packets explaining the process are usually mailed to the schools. If you want more info contact your borough office.

Anonymous said...

By the way, why keep the school and the DR a secret to just Norm. Let us all know which schools are doing something wrong.

Anonymous said...

I believe in annon wants to hear about complaints about the contract, he/she should read NYTeacher. Complaints about rise in LIF, complaints about illegal use of extended time...

UTP snakehead said...

I think the message is clear... vote out every single Unity Delegate and Chapter Leader. It has to be done if we are going to break Unity's stranglehold on our union. The only way to have a democratic union is to break the one party dictatorship of Unity. It starts with taking back our chapters, and making the Delegate Assembly a place where issues of importace to the membership can be voted on in an environment that is not Unity controlled and dominated. Even people who aren't anti-Unity per se can see the dangers of allowing one causcus to have unlimited power over the DA the Exectutive Board, and every other aspect of this union. The fix is in, but we have a chance to change the rules they are playing by. We have to take a stand... Unity must go.

Anonymous said...

Once again UTP has spoken aboutthe politics but has refused to get involved themselves. On their blog theay have said thatthey don't want to be part of "union leadership" but rather they are content to complain without taking on responsibility.

At least ICE is putting their money where their mouth is.

Anonymous said...

Hey TJC is asking for a whole membership meeting. Does anyone know where we can house 100,000 members?

Anonymous said...

"Make sure your school is a non unity school."

So if my chapter leader is doing a great job supporting and protecting the staff, I should vote against him, better yet run against him, because he may belong to a particular political faction of the UFT the people on this website don't like?

If that makes sense to you, you're a fool. We need all the strong, supportive, knowledgeable, effective chapter leaders we can find. Their personal political bent, in terms of the UFT, is their own business. As a classroom teacher I'm more interested in how my chapter leader interacts with the principal and the staff then I am with his membership in a largely ceremonial union faction.

Anonymous said...

Being sworn to a union policy is not necessarily in your interest. Besides most of the forms are on the internet already.

We need representatives who can represent us. The DA is not a far off group. It brought us the wonderful contract we work under.

utp research and development said...

Unity Caucus Application for your viewing pleasure (www.theutp.com).
You might want to pay special attention to "We Encourage and Promote" (p.1), and compare it to "Membership Obligations" (p.2).

utp snakehead said...

You'd have to be an idiot not to realize that if you keep voting for Unity chapter leaders and Unity delegates -- Unity will continue to dominate this union with its dictatorial stranglehold. They do not represent the interests of the rank and file members of this union, they work for the benefit of the Unity caucus and their own self-interest. If you want more of the same, and don't care about working under the constantly deteriorating conditions that our current leadership will only contribute to, then you are the fool. The people who are trying to reform this union and make it more democratic are working to benefit all the members of this union. A simple thank you would suffice. Unity must go.

Anonymous said...

If you read the UTP site you would see their position explained. I like the fact they that are working to reform this union, but not working to gain postions for themselves. I think it shows that they really only have one goal... union reform.

Anonymous said...

At least 85% of the membership will vote Unity. Are you calling them fools? They are looking out for their own interests and realize that only Unity has the means and the track record to do that also.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Unity hacks who tell you that a majority of teachers do not read ICE or other blogs and will vote for the CL of their choice. However most CL are unopposed not because of the wonderful jobs they do, but because no one else wants these jobs.

I can tell you that most teachers I speak to do not like Randi and didn't vote for her so there is a chance that Randi can be defeated if the oppositions get off their blogs and get their voice directly to the teachers.

UTP snakehead said...

But heres the problem... Unity has restricted the use of mailboxes, and Unity chapter leaders will never allow opposition literature to be distributed. The New york Teacher is a Unity propaganda rag, how else can the opposition have its voice heard? Unity uses all its resources to silence the opposition and make sure teachers don't hear our voices. If they put as much effort into protecting teachers as they do into silencing any dissent things could be much different. It very clear who they lookout for -- themselves.

Anonymous said...

To Snakehead,

All you have to do is find one teacher in a school who will distribute the literature. If you don't have a network in place by now, that's your fault, not Unity's.

You have known for years what you were up against for years. Start using your imagination. How many members combined do you have? How much of their own money are they willing to invest to this cause? You are not going to win any elections if the majority of teachers do not know you are out there. If you start brainstorming ideas, you will be surprised with what you can do.

Norm said...

To anonymous 9:24 -
Nothing will change until people like you are no longer anonymous and become willing to distribute literature. Even if you are not in total agreement with the opposition, at least give the teachers in your school the opportunity to hear that voice. So, using my imagination as you request, I am asking you and others to sign on to end the Unity attempt to embargo use of the mailboxes.

A supremely powerful one party system such as Unity has many inherent advantages on so many fronts (the lure of union perks as way of getting out of the classroom, fear of reprisals from union officials if you join an alternative group, etc.)

The entire activist opposition (in contrast to people who just don't like Randi or Unity but don't do anything about it- I use the UTP as an example of a group of disatisfied people who just 7 months ago organized themselves into an effective force and I can say that we in ICE are thrilled and wish there were a hundred groups out there like them) consists of a fairly small number of people who put time, money and effort into trying to build a progressive movement (as opposed to trying to build ICE at the expense of other groups) in the UFT. That at least is where most of the active people in ICE seem to stand.

As to winning elecions: an understanding of how Unity has set up the election process would make it clear that even with a machine that can compete with Unity (a long way off) and through the use of retiree votes (so easily reachable by Unity) and at-large voting for most Exec. bd and officer positions the chance to "win" is a very long shot if not impossible.

The major purpose of taking part in an election would be to be able to reach out to people with our positions and use the election to build. That is what happened the last time 2 years ago when ICE, a 3 month old group that we were not sure would continue after the election, was able to reach out and grow into a more viable organization. TJC did the same and between us I believe we got over 5,000 votes. If even 20% of that vote became active as distributers and working with people in their schools to build the alternative, all groups would really be rolling and we would begin to see postive changes in the union taking place even while Unity was still in power. So elections are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.

On your point: "If you don't have a network in place by now, that's your fault, not Unity's." you may be right that it is our fault though the Unity network works actively to discourage and coopt people who seem to be moving towards the opposition, in particular during chapter leader training sessions. But it is as much your fault for allowing the situation to exist by sitting on the fence.

Anonymous said...

I will continue to remain anon for many reasons. One being, you have not put out any candidates to run against Randi and company. Once I have that information and I know they are not flaming radicals which for me is a real turn-off, I will support you.

We had someone in my school who used to give out New Action material, and I know there is a teacher in my school who has contact with ICE and will be running for CL. However she has never given out literature, probably because she has never been asked and does NOT read this blog. She does read Ednotes and is on that mailing list. Use your mailing lists to get people to distribute for you. And ask them to contract friends in other schools to do the same. I will probably vote for her, not because I think she will do a great job, but because the idiot we have now doesn't.

Norm said...

Dear Anon.
I understand your position. I'm not sure what constitutes "flaming radicals" in today's world - maybe a year or two ago people opposing the war in Iraq were probably considered flaming radicals.

As one who is retired for almost 4 years I don't expect to doing this much longer so I hope people like you will become active in whatever role you can. We started ICE about 2 and a half years ago because a group of independents in the union were not comfortable with where the rest of the oppostiion was at. We have tried to maintain that same sense of independence. To many of us elections are less important than trying to illuminate the complex issues faced by educators. Our failure has been that we have not done this as effectively as we would like and when we do we do not get the results out to people in a meaningful way.

ICE is still an open group with a lot of points of view with positions, such as they are, open to discussion. If they become "flaming radical" it would be because the most active people are often very politically motivated toward activism. Voices like yours are important to lend to the debate. So I hope you will not just wait for the "candiates" but join in the discussions of the broader issues like fighting for democracy in the union. The candidates for the winnable positions - the 6 HS exec bd and maybe the middle schools might have an impact if they win. But reforming the union is of greater importance than the election though I hope that process will make it clear why without such reform, the 1 party system dominated by the voice of the maximum leader, each of whom (Shanker & Feldman) appointed their successor much like a monarchy, is to a great extent responsible for the situation we are in. Example: they pull 1000 people out for Stossil but are silent while chapter leaders are sent to rubber rooms as political retaliation.

Anonymous said...

So then why are so many posts about defeating Randi if you don't have a candidate and not even known in the schools?

If you have been around that long, and want to change the system, then YOU have to get the word out. I only heard of you through your comments on Edwize during the strike.

I was going to hand out a post here that was put up before the contract and hand it out to my teachers. But as I kept reading, some the the sentences turned to hatred about Randi rather than staying on the issues. It was even too emotional for me to hand out.

What did New Action do to get themselves heard before selling out? How many members does ICE have? Are they willing to invest their own dollars into this cause?

BTW: Elementary teachers are very creative people. As more join your cause, they will find ways to get the word out.

Norm said...

Dear Anon from April 17
The posts about getting Randi out are not necessarily from people associated with ICE. Those who have been with ICE since it began over 2 years ago understand the need to build a network to seriously challenge Unity that goes way beyond getting Randi out and really starts at the chapter level where Unity has so many people.

But that is not necessarily what ICE has been about. The discsussiona we have held about the issues facing us as eduaators and insights we have gotten from each other have been so valuable to the people who have taken part. To many that has been enough and the election stuff turns them off. More recent arrivals may be more interested in the election stuff but it is all a mixed bag.

As to your question as to how many members ICE has a) I wouldn't necessarily anwser that so openly but would do so if you email me and b) ICE has been a floating crap game with a lot of people participating at various levels and in various activities. We meet every 2 weeks and these meetings are open - feel free to stop by. We haven't chosen any leadership and have barely ever voted on anything as we try to reach consensus - a pretty interesting way to try to build a democratic organization. It has been so open that people who have come fairly recently have been shocked to find themselves taking a leadership role. Hey, I don't want to do it. I'm retired and need to get those golf lessons in.

Anonymous said...

It is ratherfunny to see how ICE has complained about spposed "retirees" electing Randi and yet you have a retiree (Norm) speaking for the caucus. Isn't this hypocritical?

Anonymous said...

Not as funny as having 2 lawyers who taught full-time for 6 months running both the DOE and the UFT.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where you guys get your information, but I'm a chapter leader who was elected by the majority of teachers at my school. I have never claimed to be a member of "unity" or any other union caucus. I was never asked by anyone about whether or not I supported unity and NEVER asked to sign anything pledging allegiance to unity.

Where do you guys get your information from?