Thursday, February 04, 2010

UFT Election: Victory won’t be Easy

Gothamschools.org and Ed Notes are reporting on the upcoming UFT election. UFT Elections 2010 blog is also reporting on the issue. As the ICE-TJC presidential candidate, I would like to put out a call for assistance to everyone who reads this blog.

At the January Delegate Assembly meeting, I couldn’t understand why it was so crowded. There was standing room only in the auditorium at 52 Broadway and the overflow had to go on the fifth floor to watch on closed circuit TV.

The main resolution to pass at the DA said that we would support relief for victims of the earthquake in Haiti. That one was an obvious no brainer to pass. Building for the January 26th rally at the PEP meeting was also discussed as was the usual reminder of how bad the budget is. A resolution from the floor to support the march at the Mayor’s home on January 21st was defeated and some questions were asked but there was nothing on the agenda that would account for such an unusually large turnout. Alas, looking around the back of the room I discovered what was so important: multitudes of Unity Caucus members were circulating their nominating petitions for the UFT election.

For those who are new to this blog, Unity Caucus (Michael Mulgrew’s faction of the UFT) is the closed, invitation only group that has controlled the UFT since the sixties. They rule the UFT with a top-down corporate style system that one time AFT President David Selden said made the union function more like an insurance company rather than an organization that is part of the labor movement. His book, The Teacher Rebellion should be required reading for anyone who wants to become involved in UFT politics. Selden’s description of the UFT under Unity rule forty years ago is as applicable today as it was then.

The Unity machine is one of the last huge political machines to remain potent in the US. Here is how it works. The leadership (Mulgrew, Randi Weingarten or whoever) dispenses patronage to its followers in exchange for complete loyalty. If a UFT member wants a free trip to AFT and NYSUT conventions or a UFT job, one has to join Unity Caucus or their wholly owned subsidiary since 2003, New Action. Unity makes a big pitch for newly elected chapter leaders to join them. After someone is accepted to the caucus, they have to drum up 100 signatures to get on the ballot for the UFT election to win those free trips to conventions.

A friend informed me that the leadership is asking that Unity members submit an officer petition along with their own petition. Therefore, the Unity faithful will circulate a petition for Mulgrew along with their personal one. They are able to link themselves with Mulgrew so he gets school level recognition and support. In return, he dispenses the patronage. The system works very well for Unity and it explains why so many of the Unity believers were at the DA in January. They were exchanging their nominating petitions.

For a Unity member, showing loyalty to the Caucus is the main goal. Caucus obligations require that Unity followers support the decisions of the caucus in union and public forums. People who dissent are liable to be thrown out of the caucus and lose their perks. These perks include the aforementioned convention trips as well as part time union jobs after school and the ultimate goal which is a full time UFT job with a salary well over a senior teacher coupled with a union pension in addition to the DOE pension. The main requirement for the jobs is that one stay loyal to Unity and not the membership in the schools. They must sell the party line in their schools.

This breeds cynicism and mistrust among the rank and file in the schools as when the Unity crowd sold the awful giveback laden 2005 Contract (longer day, extra small group class, return to cafeteria and hall patrol, loss of ability to grieve letters in file, loss of seniority rights which created the ATR situation and more). Most UFT members respond by not voting in UFT elections. This is a mistake.

Norm Scott and I have written extensively about how the Unity machine operates. To watch them function at the DA last month was something I observed with a combination of grudging admiration mixed with frustration as so few UFT members are aware of how their union really operates.

How can we beat this well oiled political machine? It won’t be easy. We need your help.

If the UFT rank and file really wants to see change within the Union, members should help ICE-TJC. This means voting for us of course. It also involves distributing literature (you have a right to distribute in letter boxes) in your school and in neighboring schools. We also must spread the word on line and through word of mouth that there is an alternative to Unity Caucus. Please get in touch with ICE and become involved in our campaign. Without organizing from the bottom up, we will have no chance and the Union will more than likely continue on its current downhill trajectory no matter who the leader of Unity is.

ICE stands for a democratic union with an involved membership. We will go back to union basics if elected. Our people running for office have proven track records of activating their chapters. If we had the resources of the UFT at our disposal, we know we could activate the members throughout this city. Our public relations campaign on day 1 will be much more hard hitting. No more cartoon commercials; we will show the public the protests that have been occurring at closing schools. Elected officials and PEP members will also be held accountable for what they are doing to us.

This election is too important to sit out. Please join our campaign.

29 comments:

Pogue said...

Is there a link to where a good flyer can be found and printed to be put in our school mailboxes?

John Lawhead said...

http://ice-uft.org/ICEUpdate11-09.pdf

Anonymous said...

Wonderful job. Too often UNITY uses its patronage symstem to buy the support of their loyal fans to the detriment of the rank and file.

Anonymous said...

When will the UFTers wake up and see that the Union has allowed Bloom-Klein to destroy trade unionism?

Anonymous said...

The UFT has been afraid to antagonize Bloomberg, but it's time for real trade unbion activism to begin.

Anonymous said...

Above, apparently you've been too busy criticizing Mulgrew to follow what he's been doing. His fists are up and he's ready to do some fighting.

No I'm not a "unity", nor am I a chapter chair. He visited my school a few days ago. He is a leader and he has flair. He is just what we need now! I encourage everyone to talk with him and you will see. I will vote for Michael Mulgrew.

Anonymous said...

Talk is cheap. Mulgrew backed mayoral control which put us where we are right now.

Anonymous said...

The only reason Mulgrew is showing a little fight is because, he just realized that Bloomberg played him and Randi for fools. They taught that if they backed Mayoral control and stayed out of the Mayor's election Bloomberg would be nice to them and give us a big raise! But as aways he played them for fools. As soon as he won he gave us no rises, but cut backs and he is closing more schools than ever before! And evebody knows this! so now Mulgrew is trying to act tough! But not too to tough he don't want to piss off Bloomberg too much!!!!!!!! After all Mulgrew does not have to worry about becoming an ATR himself! He also has to show off so that he can win some votes! He knows that most of our members are piss of at the UFT and Randi for supporting Mayoral Control twice, the give backs in the 2005 contrack, and staying out of the Mayoral election allowing Bloomberg to win!
Now Mulgrew has to win and there is a good chance he could lose! So now he wants to show off that he is a fighter! Bull! As soon as he wins it will be business usual. James this is your chance! Campaign like crazy. Let our members know that there is another choose, don't make the same mistake that Thompson made! We at Tilden will support you and get the word out as best we can! Send us some flyers.
Blue Deivle.

Anonymous said...

Jim, After Massachusetts, incumbents are in deep trouble. Mulgrew should be no exception. Be optimistic. You have to make your program strong. If you raise issues like the Mulgrew's lack of opposition to the bailout,which is driving the budget cuts, his refusal to support Thompson, and his meaningless healthcare resolution, you can explode his image as a tough leader. If he wanted to be tough, he wouldn't be afraid to educate and mobilize the membership. Go for it; this is a golden opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I think lack of opposition to mayoral control is the issue.

ed notes online said...

Where was the UFT all these years when the DOE closed 90 schools? So you say now it's a new ball game. Fists up Mulgrew is in charge. Check out the UFT law suit on closing schools. The DOE didn't follow procedures. But if they do follow procedures it's ok to close schools. Watch how the law suit won't play out until the election is over. Go ahead and vote Mulgrew this time then come back here and tell us if anything has changed other than a different form of rhetoric than Randi (who was deemed a breath of fresh air when she took over for Feldman by reaching out to the opposition- New Action - which gushed all over her and now gushes all over Mulgrew. Dancing for their jobs and Ex Bd positions.)

Anonymous said...

Congrats to the Unity Caucus, from what you write, it is a well disciplined and effective. Compliments to the leadership who has the majority following and provided members with a 43% raise, a strong contract, superb servicing, wonderful pensions at a time when the economy is failing. I know I will be called a unity hack...so I will say it before you do!

Anonymous said...

get the fliers out; post a link on all the teacher websites.


Any UFT member who is confused or has doubts about the leadership ought to ask themselves one question:

Would a strong democratically run union support Mayoral Control?

Rank and file-- your future is in your hands.
Make sure to VOTE!

Anonymous said...

Why do workers/laborers sign on to the corporate mentality?


To the anonymous post who just defended UNITY and says we should feel lucky with what we have since the economy is so bad- I say wake up-
The increase in pay was an increase in time and long overdue wages as teachers had been working well below salary in NYC for decades--and anyone who truthfully values education knows teachers are woefully underpaid/ undervalued.

Bloomberg only takes $1 a year while he makes billions--ever wonder how he does that?

wake up!

You are buying into their divide and conquer schemes

With the right leadership who values their members and works to create a participatory rank and file we will take our union back and uplift our profession.
And the days of Mayoral control
will be history!

ONCE AND FOR ALL!!!

Anonymous said...

If the Unity guy really thinks things are wonderful in the schools, he must be delusional.

Anonymous said...

Is Unity still defending the 2005 contract, the dive on renewing mayoral control, sitting out the mayoral election and more?

A Teacher In The Bronx said...

ICE can win this.

Anonymous said...

Unity Chapter leaders in every school have 5 periods free per week to help the UFT members. However, most of them do nothing and have all this free time.

Anonymous said...

They have to make reservations for AFT and NYSUT conventions. Do you think that is easy? You ingrateful people.

Anonymous said...

Great, how progressive to trash the chapter leaders in schools. So pathetic.

Anonymous said...

I can not believe the Unity Hack James Vasquez describes himself as a leader of the Jamaica High School fight. His only contribution was organizing a Pizza delivery for the parent-teacher phone banks!

Anonymous said...

Unity caucus works like the MOB.

Anonymous said...

The Lawsuist of the "Closing of the Schools" that Mulgrew just put WILL NOT go ANYWHERE. It will be like the AGE DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT. A BIG FARCE!!

Anonymous said...

James Vasquez brough sense to the Jamaica fight and thanks to the Queens UFT borough office for saving Eterno from himself at the hearing. With the UFT assistance, Eterno was permitted to showcase his powerpoint!

Why not blame Mulgrew for getting the schools closed during an early time frame! Perhaps persuasive is not something you want to attribute to our fighting president! Good job mulgrew

Anonymous said...

You got to be kidding me. To give the Queens UFT any credit for the fight at Jamaica is like Tommy Aaron taking credit for being part of the the best home run hitting brother duo in baseball history along with his brother Hank. The people of Jamaica did most of the mobilization on their own.

Anonymous said...

Does Mulgrew get credit for the schools being opened on Thursday while they are closed in most of the rest of the area?

Anonymous said...

I was just outside. It is horrible and still sleeting. Why is there school tomorrow? Please help me out Unity.

Anonymous said...

Vote for ICE man.

Mulgrew has got to go.
You blew it Mike. You sat out the mayoral race. It made you look like a coward. Afraid of a midget of a mayor.
You're done.

Time for a real change.

Anonymous said...

The Post is hanging our members.
WHAT WILL THE UNITY HACKS UFT DO?

The following educators were legally cleared to return to the classroom after facing accusations of wrongdoing but remain idle in “rubber rooms” at the chancellor’s discretion, at a cost to taxpayers of millions.

ALAN ROSENFELD

Typing, IS 347, Queens

Got a wrist slap for making lewd comments. Since 2001, he has been overseeing a $7.8 million real-estate portfolio and his law practice in the rubber room.

Salary: $100,049

RADHARAMAN UPADHYAYA

Guidance counselor, Long Island City HS, Queens

Served a three-day suspension after he was accused of fondling a learning-disabled student at his home. A witness was found not credible. In a rubber room since 2003.

Salary: $102,852

ARYEH ELLER

Music, Hillcrest HS, Queens, Admitted making lewd comments, but an arbitrator said he was not informed of his rights. In a rubber room since 2003.

Salary: $85,426

WAYNE MILLER

Biology, Jamaica HS, Queens, In a rubber room since 2002, he was accused of sexually assaulting a child, but the alleged victim recanted the allegation, sources said.

Salary: $78,039

FRANCISCO OLIVARES

Math, IS 61, Queens, Allegedly impregnated and married a 16-year-old student. He allegedly sexually molested two 12-year-old pupils a decade later. In a rubber room since 2003.

Salary: $94,145

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/leazy_of_rubber_room_vJlavofm7uiZjmfrTAgTxM#ixzz0fi4vUJzM