I don’t know about you but I take signed pledges seriously. When we agreed to become part of the mammoth negotiating committee we wondered how negotiating strategy was going to be discussed in such a large forum….we wondered how a discussion could take place without “tipping” our hand.
Then, our concerns were answered at our first meeting. Randi stood in front of the throng and told us that this negotiating committee business was serious…so serious, in fact, that we were all required to sign secrecy oaths. On a form prepared, according to Randi by looking at other models of large negotiating committees’ experiences, we were to promise not to reveal any of the “goings on” of the committee to insure that everyone can speak with candor and our strategies would not be revealed. Also we would speak with one voice so as not to give the impression that there was dissension in the ranks.
Several of us wondered how this agreement could be actually work in practice and we got our first taste at the Executive Board meeting held on April 10th. As we jealously guarded our pledge, there in the Executive Board session (open to any UFT member) a long and proud member of the Unity caucus spilled the beans. She went into detail about the meeting in a way that clearly broke her pledge (if in fact she signed it).
We were amused. This demonstrates at least how one person viewed the pledge but we vowed to keep our secrets.
Then comes the New York Teacher. On page 3 of the April 13th edition is not only a description of the negotiating committee meeting but a “blow-by-blow” account with pictures. How did a reporter get into the room of committee members who were sworn to secrecy?
While such hypocrisy is not surprising in our experience with our Union never in our collective memories has it been thrown in our face after taking a pledge.
We will still keep our pledge but we will still wonder.