We were recently contacted by a member of the media to respond to questions about the UFT's blog, Edwize. The following are the questions and the answers we submitted:
Q.: According to UFT staff, Edwize was intended to be a vehicle for the UFT to join the debate about education policy. It was not intended to be a space for discussion of internal union politics. However, before and during the contract vote last year, Edwize became a forum for discussion of the contract. Is this accurate?
A.: Edwize not only supported the contract but vehemently attacked the opposition. Some of the attacks were personal.
Q.: Is Edwize a valuable resource for you and other UFTers? Why? What should Edwize be that it is not, in your view?
A.: Edwize is viewed by a handful of people since it was clear, early on, that it was an uncritical mouthpiece for the then current union policies. It is clearly partisan and those members who view it, know this.
Q.: Was Edwize an important forum for debate of the contract? What were the limits? What were the benefits? Did rank-and-file members who were not already activists talk about Edwize and content posted there?
A.:While the main posts were in total support of the contract certain comments were deleted. There was a clear agenda and they did not hide it.
Q.: Did you experience any censorship of your views on Edwize?
A.: See above.
Q.: Should Edwize be a forum for discussion/debate in the upcoming UFT elections?
A.: While the opposition does not need this forum I sincerely believe they will keep far away from election issues for fear of the LMDRA. They do not want their messages seriously questioned.
Q.: Edwize does not link to ICE-UFT, as far as I can tell. Have you asked them to link to your site?
A.: That is correct. I asked the person in charge early on to link us and other teacher sites since their list of sites seemed to be quite extensive. I was politely told that the blog was "not for partisanship." Chalk one up for anti-Union Democracy.
Q.: Any other comments?
The ICE-UFT blog was started shortly after Edwize began. We are consulted by many of our members and the media as the only clear opposition to UFT-Unity politics. We support our Union but not its leadership and all of us work very hard to force our leadership to allow the Union to become more democratic. When we question Union policy we are labeled, on Edwize and elsewhere, as anti-union. While we have a small presence on the Executive Board we are effective in raising critical issues to our members. Our blog has been a strong voice in that effort.