According to the UFT Constitution, one of the main objectives of the UFT is “To protect members whenever necessary.” Unfortunately, that goal has been abandoned by our leadership which comes from Unity Caucus, the “invitation only” group that has controlled the UFT for almost half a century.
We have posted numerous articles on this blog showing how members (who are required to pay hefty dues) and Chapters have been left hung out to dry by the UFT. Many of us who gallantly try to uphold our professional dignity are left on our own to fight the Department of Education. This must stop at once. However, turning the UFT from its current weak state into a real union won’t be easy. It’s up to YOU to make it happen.
To understand what we are up against, look closely at the August 13, 2009 edition of NY Teacher newspaper for the debut of the latest union style “cult of personality” dedicated to UFT President Michael Mulgrew. We counted no less than eight pictures of the newly appointed leader on the first four pages and multiple articles too.
One such story is a laughable piece on how the Executive Board elected him unanimously. There is no mention that opposition caucuses were not permitted to speak at the meeting where Mulgrew was nominated or about the political make up of the Executive Board. There was nothing about how Unity Caucus obligations require their members to support caucus candidates.
We are not, however, writing this piece to slam Mulgrew or criticize his selection as UFT President. The less than democratic rules for succession of UFT officers have been in place for a long time. In fact, we wish the president well.
We are posting this so we can start to emphasize to the readers of this blog how difficult it will be to unseat Mulgrew and Unity Caucus.
The NY Teacher is a house organ and as such it is a very efficient propaganda newspaper, spinning a positive message about the state of our union and its leaders. In addition, Unity has money as people who accept their invitation to join have to pay a fee.
Since being in Unity has guaranteed victory in UFT elections, Unity has a very deep treasury; they will use it to smear us in the general election in 2010. They are extremely adept in one area: keeping themselves in power. They count on member apathy. Sadly, the vast majority of teachers do not vote.
Unity even has a loyal subsidiary group called New Action. The traditional opposition party has not run a candidate for UFT President since 2001 and yet they remain on the ballot in UFT elections. Their purpose appears to be to confuse people who want to vote for something different. Their reward has been union jobs.
If we want to see real change in the UFT, ICE-TJC can lead the movement. We have union passion. Many in our group are experienced chapter leaders, delegates and activists. Some of us have even sat on the UFT Executive Board. We have served on the inside so we can clearly see how to repair the Union.
If elected, we will protect every member and Chapter as fully as possible. No UFT member should ever feel that the UFT doesn’t completely have their back.
We will also mobilize the sleeping giant: the UFT rank and file. It’s time for us to stop being afraid of the DOE and for the DOE and city to worry about our collective strength. Teaching and learning conditions will only improve if we mobilize to make it happen.
However, we are not yet a large group and we are up against the Unity machine which controls all Union patronage and enjoys the status quo. Loyalty to Unity caucus has been a necessary prerequisite if someone wants free trips to conventions or a union job. They will do what it takes to keep their positions. It will take more than just reading the blogs to create a real union in our schools.
ICE is under no illusions that unseating Mulgrew/Unity in 2010 will be simple. It will be a monumental task. ICE-TJC winning a UFT election would be the political equivalent of David slaying Goliath.
Here are some ways you can become a part of a movement to start a rank and file controlled UFT.
We need members to become active in the union in their schools to show how the UFT can work to benefit all of its members.
We need people to help distribute our literature in their schools. You have a right to use mailboxes for this purpose and we will defend it. (Baizerman grievance decision)
We need people to spread the word about ICE-TJC to other schools throughout NYC.
We need people to get on line and spread the word virally about ICE-TJC.
We need more members to become actively involved by joining ICE. We would love to hear everyone's ideas to make this a truly bottom-up campaign for UFT offices in 2010.
To expose Unity, we need money to run a campaign. The ICE website can tell you how to donate.
The U in union stands for YOU becoming an activist so all of us can win.