THE UFT ELECTION ENDED
By James Eterno UFT Chapter Leader Jamaica High School
For the last two months, we have arrived at Delegate Assembly meetings and received Unity Caucus literature attacking ICE. What's going on here? The election results were counted in March. Why the non stop smear campaign?
Yesterday's Unity attack on ICE was totally unnecessary. Unity is so obsessed with ICE that they feel the need to react to everything we say to anyone. In Monday's NY Sun there was an article entitled: "End of the UFT is Talk, After A Parley in L.A." The piece was about Green Dot Charter Schools. According to the Sun, Green Dot School teachers lack "privileges for senior teachers." Randi visited Green Dot in California last month because apparently they have empowered teachers in some ways.
In NYC we already gave up many of our seniority rights. All that senior teachers have when their schools are closed is the right to be an absent teacher reserve somewhere. Everything else such as seniority transfers, preferred placement if a school closes, and guaranteed placement if excessed were given away in the 2005 Contract. Yesterday's Unity leaflet quotes ICE's Jeff Kaufman in the Sun article saying, "This is the end of the Union." Unity neglected to mention Jeff's next line where he says referring to Randi: "She's going to leave in her wake now a real change in terms of what teachers unions are." Jeff has a point and for proof just refer to the 2005 Contract which ceded so many of our professional rights to management and certainly did change the nature of teacher unions. However, my point in writing is not to keep re-fighting the Contract or 2007 election battles again and again. We want to turn this around.
Instead of continuing in full 24/7 election campaign mode bragging about themselves, Randi, Jeff Zahler and their Unity Caucus should do what Randi said she would do on April 10, the first Executive Board meeting after the election. At that meeting Randi stated that she would work together with other groups and that she was reaching out to people. These sounded like positive steps. However, yesterday's Unity piece reverts to boasts about Randi's election victory saying how Unity's election victory was a "tremendous vote of support from all our UFT members." All of them? What about the almost 78% of teachers who didn't bother to vote? In Chicago recently, close to 2/3 of their teachers voted in their union election. I brought this fact up at the last Executive Board meeting. The UFT is a weak irrelevancy in numerous schools in NYC . The Contract doesn't matter in too many places. Countless teachers who I know feel tremendous burn out as this interminable school year finally winds down. We need to work to build a strong union if we are to have any chance of restoring our professional dignity.
Since the UFT leadership is so fascinated with reading blogs and obsessing over what we say, I have some free advice:
The UFT election is over; you won; now Get Over it!
Move on & fight to rebuild our union!