UFT President Michael Mulgrew took dictatorial control of the Delegate Assembly to new depths that one time Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev would have been elated with. The issue at the special DA today was the worst part of the new agreement with the City-Department of Education that will permit the DOE to reassign Absent Teacher Reserves to new schools every week.
The low point of the meeting was not the agreement that contained some positives including a no layoff agreement and new procedures to help ATRs get hired. The nadir was that the president had to be forced before he would allow anyone to speak in opposition to his new agreement. When he opened up the floor for debate, multiple loyalty oath signing members of his Unity Caucus heaped praise on him for preventing layoffs. (Unity members must sign a statement saying they will support the decisions of their caucus [political party] in public and union forums.) We certainly agree that not having layoffs is an excellent outcome. Only after a Unity person moved to close debate did I stand and raise a point of order so I could have the opportunity to defend the Absent Teacher Reserves who in the new agreement are being shoved to the back of the bus if they can’t secure a position.
Roberts Rules says, "Debate of a question is not ended by the chair's rising to put the question to vote until both the affirmative and the negative are put;" I read this clause verbatim to the Delegates. Roberts Rules goes on to say, "A member can claim the floor and thus reopen debate.” That is exactly what I was attempting to do. Mulgrew passed to the UFT's parliamentarian who the president noted is paid for by the UFT. (By the way, I read Roberts Rules closely tonight and a point of order [procedures not being followed] takes priority over a motion to close debate.) The parliamentarian abruptly ignored Roberts Rules and told Mulgrew he had to have a 2/3 vote to let someone speak against the motion (the ATR and no layoff agreement) at this point. Mulgrew then improperly asked that the rules be suspended to allow someone else to speak. He got the vote to suspend the rules which was ridiculous but at least we thought were going to be heard.
We were still muzzled, however, as President Mulgrew for some reason did not call on me but instead called on a delegate from my school who yielded his time to me. That wasn't good enough for the president who at this point quickly said the delegate couldn't yield time to me and called on someone else who didn’t speak at all about the ATRs. What is the president so afraid of? Were 900 or so members of the Unity Caucus going to vote against their leadership and side with me because of my rhetorical skills? I doubt it very much. At least the DOE gives us two minutes to speak at their Panel for Educational Policy meetings before they cast aside what we say.
Mulgrew didn't even afford me any time to make the important points I made in tonight’s earlier piece. Leonid Brezhnev would have been so happy with the way our union conducted its business.