Sunday, January 14, 2007

ICE Platform: Union Democracy


We need a union that is structured to insure that no matter who is elected to leadership they will be accountable to those of us who are working in the schools. An active, well-informed and honestly represented membership is the necessary backbone of a union that is capable of standing up to the attacks on teachers, children and the public schools.

Instead, what we have is a union that has gotten progressively weaker, a teaching staff that is defenseless, demoralized, disengaged from unionism and resigned to tolerate all manner of abuse, and now fears that any change will be for the worse. A large part of the problem is the fact that our union is led by people who are removed from the reality of our schools.

Since its inception in the early 1960s our union has been dominated by one group, Unity Caucus which constantly adjusts its methods to insure that it monopolizes decision-making. President Randi Weingarten knows how to portray herself as a concerned and responsible leader at union meetings and in the pages of the NY Teacher, but her number one concern is to manage the membership rather than advocate for us and represent our interests.

The three levels of decision-making in our union are the ADCOM (citywide officers), the executive board, and the delegate assembly. All three are tightly controlled by the overwhelming presence of Unity Caucus members, who rubber-stamp all of President Weingarten’s policies, even when they themselves disagree.

In order to make each one of these bodies more representative and democratic we propose the following:

1. Divisional vice-presidents (high school, middle school, etc.) should be elected by those they serve, members in their respective divisions.

2. The number of at-large members of the executive board should be reduced and a method of proportional representation should be used to elect them, with seats awarded to caucuses on the basis of their proportion of the vote.

3. The number of retiree members of the delegate assembly should be reduced and their election should also be on the basis of proportional representation.

4. District representatives (a full time UFT position to support the chapter leaders and members in a district) should be elected.

5. Every issue of the NY Teacher should be opened to opposing viewpoints, with space available for the printing of statements both for and against ratification of proposed contracts.

6. All caucuses (political parties) who have met requirements to run in an election should be able to mail at least one piece of literature to all the members at union expense during election time. All caucuses should have access to teacher mailboxes for distribution of union-related literature and each caucus should be able to email campaign literature during the election. (Rejected by Weingarten at the Jan. 9, 2007 Ex. Bd. meeting, ICE will continue the fight for this right throughout the elections and beyond.)

7. There should be an open microphone at all union meetings.

8. Retirees should not vote for UFT officers, who are responsible for negotiating the contract for active members. But they should vote for the three teacher members of the Teachers Retirement System Board, something they presently cannot do.


Most important for democracy is an underpinning of active school chapters where meetings are held monthly and school issues are discussed openly. Chapter leaders are there to protect the interests of the members with respect to the administration and also to see that the flow of information between the chapters and the various levels of leadership of the union travels on a two-way street. This means that chapter leaders must do everything possible to encourage attendance at meetings and to carry out the wishes of the members, both within the school and as a representative to other union bodies. It is the concerns of chapter members, who are the best informed about the issues, that should be driving union policy.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want you nuts to have my address, and I wouldn't want to listen to you for ever at every UFT function I attend. It's enough I have to deal with your nut in my building. Everything you put in your platform has to do with the Randi and Unity. Did you forget that we are fighting the DOE? Bunch of losers you are!

JustdaTruth said...

Read this post and weap Unity. If you really see yourselves as trade unionists you will see the importance of this issue in relation to keeping this Union strong over time. Personally I don't care about 2 pensions, $200,000 salaries, 2 conventions, 2 Suits etc. My question is why would anybody be against true Union Democracy? Many people could answer that one. Can the UFT as it presently run stand up to scrutiny in that area? I think not. I know many members are resigned to thinking that the current Union Leadership is unbeatable and if you can't beat em join em. Not me. To the degree that this Union resists becoming as democratic as possible, it will be weakened. You'll never get the best and brightest running things if things stay that way. I say UFT leadership be courageous and change. Dictatorships whether they are benevolent or not will not last. We deserve the most democratic union possible and that's the truth and you know it.

NYC Educator said...

Amen.

The Losers and Nuts said...

Let's see Unity actually fight the DOE instead of being partners with them.

When Randi is gone soon what will you say then?

Your very presence at this blog shows that you listen to us nuts all the time. And it makes you so agitated. You don't seem able to control yourself. Take a sedative. Poor guy.

Anonymous said...

Great platform on democracy within the union ICE. I wouldn't change a thing.

Anonymous said...

Where are the Unity people to tell us about how democracy isn't that important?

Anonymous said...

Isn't this all Norm's mantra? I've read your postings regularly but I get very discouraged when I read Norm's comments. How much say does he have with you guys?

Anonymous said...

This all sound wonderful. But you guys have proudly declared that you WILL NOT win and DON'T WANT to win. So your claim is simply to oppose? What does that mean? Why should I vote for you?

Anonymous said...

Norm has as much say as anyone else in ICE. The group works on consensus. Come to a meeting to see it function.

ICE knows the odds are tough as Randi is running UFT commercials now. However, the platform on democracy speaks for itself. it's good, positive stuff, not a bunch of complaints.

Anonymous said...

Unity people would you please comment on the platform and steer away for a change from the personal attacks on Norm or anyone else.

Anonymous said...

This is a really good platform on democracy. Anyone would be proud to run on it. ICE is not complaining; they are advocating for something that is very positive.

Anonymous said...

Please Unity people tell us what's wrong with this platform? We're waiting.

the ICE Central Committee said...

Norm who? We keep him in a box with a muzzle and only turn him loose when we are surrounded by Unity.

Anonymous said...

If "Norm has as much say as anyone else in ICE" than why does he have ICE candidates for officers on his blog before ICE does? Can I just post my own candidates and claim them to be ICE?

Anonymous said...

ICE has been working on a leaflet. Norm just put it up before Jeff did here. No big deal.

UNACS United said...

You should post your own candidates and run them as ICE. Better yet, run them as New Action. Or call them New InAction. Or "Unity New Action Caucus" (UNAC). Say it real fast 10 times.

Anonymous said...

How can I be listed as a candidate? Do I have to be in a school? I am currently reassigned.

Anonymous said...

As fine as this platform I hope we are all active onthe class size campaign. Here is a great opportunity to make a difference in a cause we all agree on.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little unclear. Norm praises that Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) endorses ICE TJC candidates. Who is ACT? It seems to be a party of 1.

Anonymous said...

And what's wrong with a party of one? Let's have 70,000 parties of one.

As long as they are all anti-Unity.

Hypatia said...

That's your platform?

Nothing about raises, contracts, curriculae, programs, class size, hiring, medical benefits, retirement tiers, CFE, school governance or how we're going to deal with the mayor and chancellor for the next two years?

Just change how people get elected in the UFT and oust Randi. That's the whole platform.

You people are pathetic. You think you can run a major union serving over 100,000 members without ideas or know-how? You're not fit to run a lemonade stand outside a school on a hot day.

Anonymous said...

Let me guess you are also against the smaller class size campaign. You just want to make it in the contract with "these guys" and forget about the state government.

Anonymous said...

This is a small part of the ICE platform.

ICE didn't vote against any of the campaigns to lower class sizes. We just know they have little chance of success.

Anonymous said...

So you on'y participate or promote it? Or do you just want it to fail?

Anonymous said...

I thought you guys were running for office? Who is running for what?

Anonymous said...

Kit Wainer is running for President. He is the chapter leader from Leon Goldstein HS. Camille Johnson is running for Secretary. She was a chapter leader for many years and now is a delegate at Humanities and Arts HS.

There are nine other chapter leaders and delegates running for the top 11 positions. ICE-TJC will run a full slate for all 89 executive board positions. Petitioning is going on this week and next.

Anonymous said...

I'd be thrilled if the class size campaign worked. We just know it has a little chance of succeeding.

Anonymous said...

So you are waiting for petitions before announcing your candidates?

I think we need to know more than just where they work.

Anonymous said...

Look on the Take Back the UFT blog. The candidates are listed there as the ICE leaflet is already out in many schools with the names of the candidates on it. They'll be here soon.

Anonymous said...

How come Jeff, James, and Norm are not running? Ok. forget Norm.

Anonymous said...

Jeff and James are running for the high school executive board.

Anonymous said...

So what are you ICE people doing for this class size campaign? I guess you are all just hoping it fails so that you can blame Randi. My ICE chapter leader discouraged everyone from participating in this stuff with the legislators. Remind us again how much you speka for the membership.

Anonymous said...

ICE voted to support the class size campaign. We would love to see it succeed as it would benefit all of us.