Thursday, January 29, 2015

DON'T BE PRESSURED BY CALLS FOR UNITY FROM LEADERSHIP WHO HAVE DONE NOTHING TO FOSTER IT

Later today (Thursday) there will be a rescheduled emergency Delegate Assembly to discuss the UFT's reaction to Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to strip teachers of many of our remaining rights.

Cuomo has made a number of anti-teacher proposals that will hurt students, parents, and public education. Now that Sheldon Silver has resigned as Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Albany politics are a great unknown.

While we have to work to support a decent new speaker and continue the political battles, anything we salvage through the political process in Albany will more than likely not be enough to move forward a strong pro-public school agenda.  We must mobilize at the school and community level to save public education as we know it in New York.

Under these desperate conditions, I fully expect UFT President Michael Mulgrew to call for unity among the members. He will probably argue that any internal division will embolden our enemies.

Under normal circumstances,  he might have a point. However, these are anything but regular times. Mulgrew and his loyalists from Unity Caucus are in no position to call for a temporary halt to dissent as they in many ways are responsible for our current predicament and have done nothing to make us feel like we are one union.

Remember that it was at the January 15, 2014 DA where we introduced the resolution to repudiate Cuomo. Mulgrew's Unity Caucus voted it down. Throughout the year, Unity at the city and state level stayed neutral in the election for governor and then doubled our defeat by pushing for but failing to gain Democratic control of the State Senate.

Now, Mulgrew and the new heads of NYSUT have no real plan after the governor is repaying us for staying neutral, as opposed to endorsing his opponents, with an attempt to basically finish off teachers with a proposal to base half of our annual ratings on student test scores on inappropriate, invalid/unreliable common core exams. The union's reaction has been a call for us to tweet Cuomo until he cries uncle. In addition, Mulgrew last year shoved an inadequate contract down our throats while attempting to stifle all dissent. While many members continue to feel battered in the schools, leadership continues to thrive.

At the state union level, Cuomo has not, however, left the newly elected Revive NYSUT leadership out in the cold. Four new officers and one incumbent, helped enormously by UFT leadership, ousted former NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi and his increasingly anti-Cuomo team.  The governor rewarded the new Revive group by signing a bill granting NYSUT officers credited service time in their districts for time spent as NYSUT officers. They will now get the same double pensions at the state union that Unity officers, district representatives and special representatives receive here in NYC.

Are NYSUT'S new handsomely rewarded officers up for the real fight it will now take to save public education? Can the leadership of the UFT and AFT lead this struggle?

Norm Scott of Ed Notes fame often compares AFT-NYSUT-UFT leaders to Vichy France where Marshal Petain infamously collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II. I think Norm's analogy is somewhat harsh. Instead, I would rather compare AFT-NYSUT-UFT top brass to the British government before and during the early stages of World War II. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in the end proved to be an honorable person because he relinquished power to do what was best for the people of Britain.

Chamberlain has gone down in history as the man who gave away 1/2 of Czechoslovakia to Hitler at the 1938 Munich Conference. His appeasement strategy obviously failed when Hitler then took over the rest of the country and then went after Poland in 1939 thus starting World War II. Chamberlain's government then went to war but most historians feel they were unprepared. By 1940, after an unsuccessful Norway campaign and just before France was about to fall rapidly to Hitler, there was a vote of no confidence in Britain's Parliament that Chamberlain won easily but he still stepped aside which allowed Winston Churchill to become Prime Minister. The opposition Labor and Liberal Parties would have nothing to do with working with Chamberlain. Even at the low point of a major war, dissent continued.

Churchill subsequently placed opposition Labor and Liberal Party leaders in prominent positions in his wartime coalition government including making Labor leader Clement Attlee the Deputy Prime Minister. It worked; the country survived The Battle of Britain in 1940 and Hitler was eventually stopped by the US and the Russians along with Britain by 1945. After the Germans were defeated, Churchill lost the next election to Labor's Attlee who used a wartime report as the basis for the modern Welfare State.

My purpose in telling all of this here is not to say that the plight of teachers today is analogous to what Britain faced in 1940. Losing our profession, as bad as that may be, does not compare with the sacrifices the people of Britain and many other countries made during World War II that should never be forgotten.

My point is that when any organized entity calls for being unified at a time when it is threatened, its leaders must show they are willing to put the needs of the whole ahead of their own personal interests. Britain's leaders did that brilliantly during World War II.

Can anybody today see Randi Weingarten, Karen Magee or Michael Mulgrew sacrificing their perks or positions for the good of the membership, which except for loyalty oath signing Unity Caucus members and a few others, has completely lost confidence in them?

I didn't think so.

Their main strategy of playing the political game has been such a colossal failure; we need a new plan that requires more than tweets, emails or even rallies. Can they be truly inclusive?

I am picturing readers laughing right about now and saying, "Are you serious James? Not in a million years."  "They'll concede a few Executive Board seats but they will not do anything of any substance to fight back."

I will support almost any union action but at the same time, we must continue to criticize our union heads for their failures. When Mulgrew-Weingarten-Magee call for unity, I recommend asking what they are prepared to sacrifice in the name of unity and then point them to Britain in 1940 as an example of how it was done properly.

53 comments:

Pogue said...

Weingarten and Mulgrew have been weak. They are currently weak, and they will continue to be weak...unless they take your position and lead a great fight (with parents) against Cuomo, Tisch, Gates, Duncan, Obama and these destructive reforms.

Until then, we are not a unified union and will never be.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to tell all the teachers at my school about the Cuomo nightmare unfolding. They have no clue that a nuclear bomb is about to be dropped on their heads.

NYC Educator said...

I too will support any union action against Cuomo but will not sit down and shut up. It's idiotic that the union ices us out and places us in a position where we must fight them as well as the reformies. We could certainly help them more if they werent meeting in their cone of silence and shutting out every questioning voice.

Bronx ATR said...

"We need a new plan ..." There is no we. The union is an exclusive organization with the main objective of keeping its control. There will be next to nothing done other than tweets, articles in their propaganda paper and finally a closed door deal that will be spun as a "best deal scenario in this anti-education climate".

NYCDOEnuts said...

I'm not so sure we should stop questioning or even pushing, but I do think it is a time to round the wagons. This fight is all about legislative votes. Yes, they screwed up during the elections for governor and for Senate (and I thik they're screwing up in this speaker election by what looks to be getting behind the Ed Comm. Chair (if she doesn't win, they may have enemies running the Assembly, too!). These things are true. But it's also true that politicians move when people complain and cause a scene... and you here know social media is a (a) tool for that. The ad in today's News is another as is the commercial I've seen on YouTube. I think we have to do what we can do to move the opinions of legislatures (it better not JUST be social media BC that alone will not do it) and I think that means finding a balance between pushing them to do more and criticizing them for not doing enough.
We in some type of war (our leadership has said so). Finding the right balance between solidarity and dissent is, I feel, a real obligation here. And I think that, until this budget is settled at the end March we should consider leaning toward rounded wagons and unity.
My two cents

John Kamps said...

What I find amazing is that Cuomo has laid out a plan that clearly shows how he wants to go after traditional public schools bring more charters in and basically kill what we do everyday. And even with that on the table there are people in this union who call them selves activists but refuse to act!! I fully support all calls for us to be united against Cuomo and if you cant see the danger ahead of us then I feel sorry for you. We need a truce and to come together as one voice to take on this fight! And when its over we can go back to fighting with each other but we need the UFT now as One. I hope you'll all join in!!!

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what the emergency UFT meeting today is about?

Pat Groves said...

History dictates that United we have a chance to make things better. What we need is be united under leadership that sees the whole picture. This is going to be a tough fight. I have been a teacher for 29 years and can truthfully say that our current leadership has gone above and beyond the call of duty in defending our rights and making things better for all of us. We must continue to be unified in this battle.

Anonymous said...

The sadder thing is you'd rather play politics to make you political statement rather than fight for our members, our profession and our kids. Politics is politics for you no matter what

Anonymous said...

Hey Pat Groves: Are you for real? I have been teaching for 20 years and I have NEVER seen our professional rights so disregarded by our union. Teacher morale is the lowest it has ever been and teachers are afraid for their very livlihoods due to back door deals with local and state goverments. I suggest you look a little deeper into how things are developing now.

sullio said...

Calls for unity are pointless unless you give people something legitimate to rally around. The "I Refuse" movement is a great place to start. http://www.nysape.org/

Anonymous said...

Interesting. So teachers refuse to give the test and the theory is they'll stop using the tests as our evaluation? That might work. Or they'll pay outside people to give the tests and the kids will do worse because they have strangers proctoring. What a mess. It's worth a try. It will at least get media coverage.

NYCDOEnuts said...

John Kamps & Pat Groves;
Then again, talk like that is precisely what makes it difficult to experience the struggle with colleagues like you in the first place.
Let's face fact here:. You're taking a page out of the dissent's playbook; You're using social media to change people's minds. The irony here is that people who have been in the dissent for many years, and have become experts in using social media, developed that playbook because leadership sat out the last 'war' here in New York City.
Don't get me wrong. I'm glad you've all decided to do, you know, something and all, but don't go slapping yourselves on the back too hard here, ok?
The folks from the dissenting caucus' are some of the most finest teachers and union men & women that I've ever seen. I've met you folks from leadership. Condescending. Holier than thou. Often empty headed. And while leadership folks like you condescended during the 07-14 period, many good teachers were pushed out of the profession because "leadership" who "sees the whole picture" simply did nothing under Bloomberg. Those folks who see the whole picture screwed up in the governor's race. They screwed up in the Senate races. They (you?) are a very large part of the reason why we're all in this mess to begin with. That's a far cry from going above and beyond. In fact, it feels an awful lot like we're cleaning up your mess. Now I understand why you need folks like ICE and MORE behind you (we all understand that) but united (which is not a caucus. It is a verb. No capital "U" needed there) doesn't mean one big happy. It means folks will tuck in and support. But don't expect not to hear about (alll of your) past failures as we do.

I guess what I'm trying to say is don't push it, ok?

Anonymous said...

They did not bring an outside force to write tickets during the police ticket writing slowdown. Do you really think the DOE is going to be able to find people to give the test. They can't find enough people to mark the tests as it is.

Anonymous said...

I am so sick of the entire, "We need a seat at the table" and the "We need to look at the big picture". That strategy has not worked. Time and time again, we were sent up the river when we tried to bargain with the Devil. The only way to step up the game is to learn from our brothers and sisters in Chicago. Time to play hardball. The sad thing is that our very union is responsible for the current mess we are in. Things have been sliding downhill since at least 2005. The next few months can literally make or break what is left of the teaching profession in New York.

Anonymous said...

Starve the data beast like the last post said

Anonymous said...

What sacrifices is Mulgrew making Mr Kamps?

Anonymous said...

Clearly, we are under attack and find ourselves in a disturbing political atmosphere. Those who want us eliminated as a Union are singing and dancing now, and they can even smell the blood of a wounded enemy. We must re-group and fight as ONE. This is not a time for infighting amongst the team, for we have a critical to play, and we must play it together. If not, we must certainly will be doomed. Thank you, Dr. John Marvul.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, we are under attack and find ourselves in a disturbing political atmosphere. Those who want us eliminated as a Union are singing and dancing now, and they can even smell the blood of a wounded enemy. We must re-group and fight as ONE. This is not a time for infighting amongst the team, for we have a critical game to play, and we must play it together. If not, we most certainly will be doomed. Thank you, Dr. John Marvul.

James Eterno said...

Unity Trolls - Could you kindly respond to the points made in the post instead of doing exactly what I said you would do: make a meaningless call for unity.

Anonymous said...

Thank you James once again for a truthful post. We, the members, must "continue to criticize our union heads for their failures". Otherwise, the leadership will make poor and biased decisions that hurt the members and erode the purpose of unionism.

I like what Accountable Talk wrote on his blog.
http://www.accountabletalk.com/2015/01/why-cuomo-and-mulgrew-are-both-wrong.html

wwoodruff said...

Even more then all of this we do need to stand united. For all of your anger that UNITY does our political conversations behind closed doors and not in the view of the public it is a tactic that has worked. It has created the united front that has kept the caucus strong.

Don't get me wrong, I am not against hearing other views. But when you are fighting a battle you do not give your upcoming playbook to the opposition to fight against you. it is exactly what we need to battle Albany. We need to stand strong and united, together and fight as one voice.

as the saying goes a single twig is easy to break, but a bundle of twigs is strong. Rather than spend out time pointing fingers at our brothers and sisters in opposing UFT caucuses we need to direct our energies into coming together in our school communities and develop strategies in the communities we serve to create unity with the parents, families and community groups we call allies.

Anonymous said...

That is why Arthur Goldstein posted the entire DA on his blog 2 minutes after it ended. Great battle tactic. Thanks James and Arthur for telling our enemies our internal discussions.

Mr.Hughesonline said...

James is asking/suggesting that the current leadership sacrifice something for the greater good of the whole, if I read his post properly. However, I feel that if you're going to make such a suggestion, you should at least be specific as to what sacrifices need to be made.

Moving on, I will reiterate the responses of others on this board: now is not the time to point fingers and play the blame game. Now IS the time to charge forward collectively and make progressive change. While James wants to make parallels between our struggle and the British Government pre-World War II and suggest our elected leaders sacrifice themselves, remember that there is a film in theaters that beautifully depicts the beauty in unity and coming together for a common cause.

We all recognize that Dr. Martin Luther King made tremendous strides to promote racial equality during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950's and 1960's, but keep in mind that among some other Civil Rights leaders, Dr. King's nonviolent approach wasn't well received. Many people believed that while Dr. King was making speeches about his dreams, people in the Black community were still getting killed. They believed his "Seat at the Table" was a wasted one, since Black people, not just in the Segregated South, but also up North, were still routinely discriminated, threatened, profiled, brutalized and murdered. J. Edgar Hoover called him "A National disgrace". Ultimately, it was proven that Dr. King's methods produced the most results. No Other Civil Rights advocate or group that was prominent and visible during that time-not the Black Panthers, not Malcolm X-can claim to have changed *laws* and government policy the way Dr. King did. While the aforementioned left legendary, indelible marks on American history, it was Dr. King who got the most done. One can argue that had there been a nationally endorsed philosophy by all involved, more progress would have been made.

Our governor doesn't care what caucus you belong to. He just wants your pension. Are you going to get in the game and fight to keep it, or are you going to stand on the sidelines and kick rocks?

James Eterno said...

Please learn to read a little better guys. I said I would support just about any UFT action but nobody is going to take very seriously UFT actions when members clearly don't trust leadership and with good reason. Your attempts to justify one party rule here just keep reinforcing my points.

Mr.Hughesonline said...

You literally spent half of one sentence expressing your willingness to support your Union, while the rest of your post focused on:

1) who is at fault for the situation teachers are in
2) our current contract and how t was "shoved down our throats"
3) what elected Union officials should be willing to sacrifice in order to show membership that they do have our best interest at heart.

Even the title of your post, "Don't be pressured..." Suggests your ultimate position on this topic.

Perhaps our compression would be more to your liking if your ability to express your true feelings was more evident.

J said...

I will support almost any union action but at the same time, we must continue to criticize our union heads for their failures. When Mulgrew-Weingarten-Magee call for unity, I recommend asking what they are prepared to sacrifice in the name of unity and then point them to Britain in 1940 as an example of how it was done properly.

There is a difference between criticizing union heads within the union in a productive manner and writing blog posts that give people outside the union more fodder to attack everyone within the UFT.

You recommend asking what they are prepared to sacrifice; what is it that you would suggest?

ed notes online said...

If you Unity trolls want a "unified" union and for the "opposition" to support you, try a little democracy that will make the union look more than a banana republic. Even in Russia Putin doesn't control 100% like Unity gets to do with the Ex Bd. 52% of the voters were retirees. Repent and then reform and then we can talk about some kind of united front.
I've been hearing the same crap coming out of you guys since Giuliani days. Randi restricted democracy even more by getting rid of district rep elections. Why not start right there. All you guys get up at a DA and call for elections of district reps - and watch yourselves lose those trips to conventions.

VPrimiano said...

It's strange to me that this blog along with others like it, who've used social media and blogging for quite some time now, are criticizing the union for doing the same. It doesn't make sense.

Your post focused primarily on criticizing AFT, NYSUT, UNITY caucus members and the leadership. Rather than proposing ideas and suggestions on how WE as a union can fight the attacks on our profession you chose to once again express your distaste for the leadership.

You also stated, no tweets (which many of your supporters do), rallies etc. I do not doubt that you would support Union action in this fight but as I said, your blog did not offer up any suggestions that the members can take for the Governor's attacks. Do you have you suggestions on the matter?

Anonymous said...

" Mulgrew has declared “war.” On Thursday, he issued a report claiming charters don’t teach enough kids with special needs. So the charter cap should be frozen “unless and until charters meet their obligations to the city’s neediest children.”

Now, this could be taken for a stand-up shtick, given the charter run by Mulgrew’s own union has fewer than half as many special-ed kids, per capita, as its district — and barely a fifth of non-English-speaking kids.... NY Post

Anonymous said...

Their perks and all of yours too. That would be a nice start.

Anonymous said...

Read the last post V Primiano. There is a whole plan there.

Anonymous said...

There are so many Unity Trolls here I thought there was a contract or a UFT election. ICE, MORE and NYC Educator must be having an impact.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone outside of Unity Caucus take anything he says seriously?

Anonymous said...

Any analogies between our current union leaders and people in the civil rights movement is too absurd to break down.

Anonymous said...

What will leadership do to unite us?

Anonymous said...

There's true democracy where the leader and its members are upholding a unified belief. And then there are union loyalists, where obvious perks define their democratic position.

Which side are you on?
http://atradventures.blogspot.com/2015/01/should-union-members-give-unconditional.html

James Eterno said...

Unity Trolls-It's been a while so again welcome back to ICE. The only one who is missing is Raving Lunatic.

Lots of the post was spent explaining what true statesman do in times of crisis. You guys from Unity show who you are when dealt uncomfortable facts about yourselves. We all knew the response to this would be to call us divisive. You are very predictable.

Statesmen welcome dissent and want to hear from people who have differing views. Tyrants try to stop dissent. Which describes Mulgrew/Unity?

James Eterno said...

Something else dear Unity friends-Norm has called you Vichy France. I said that was a bit harsh and tried to appeal to your better nature by showing the British situation in 1940 to show how statesmen can disagree even in the middle of a life or death struggle. Our plight is not nearly as desperate and you are doing your best to prove Norm right.

As for Mr Hughes, I can't let your comparison to MLK go without noting how King risked it all on so many occasions including when he was killed in 1968. Wasn't he in Memphis supporting sanitation workers who were on strike for union recognition? That would have been an illegal strike then.

The day Mulgrew calls for a job action, you can bet that even if I think we might not win it, I will be supporting it and urging everyone I know to endorse it. I don't think I will ever have to concern myself about that day coming.

Anonymous said...

James,
Thank you for hard work and for always striving inform everyone, Unity and Non-Unity, members. Please there are many union brothers and sisters who appreciate your goal of fighting and joining the leadership when it's needed and bringing to their attention their flaws when you see that democracy is not be enforced. All I can say is that I look forward to your blog on a weekly basis and I hope our union brothers and sister wake up and see that we need to work together for the good of our union. Your comments at 4:52 is on target. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ooops made too many typos, but I think you understand my message

ed notes online said...

James - Churchill became prime minister in a democratic election - and lost in 1945 in a democratic election - Petain as Vichy leader - NOT.
So looking at the state of democracy in the UFT which is Unity Caucus closer too in operation - Churchill or Vichy? [and note - I only use Vichy as an example of a way of thinking not to compare anyone to Nazi supporters -- the idea of Vichy was better to have French people running things than Germans -- it gives us a seat at the table.]

James Eterno said...

Churchill was not elected until 1951 Norm. He became PM in 1940 when Chamberlain resigned after WINNING his vote of no confidence in Parliament. Members of Parliament in "backroom deals" picked Churchill. The first time he faced the voters as PM was in 1945. He lost fairly decisively. (I know he won his local seat but his party was trounced so he wasn't PM.) My point was to show how leaders can put the good of the entire entity ahead of their personal interests.

Sacrificing perks or asking for District Rep elections (as you called for in an earlier comment) or giving ATRS a voice would be nice ways to show that the UFT agrees that we can't have a union that operates as it always had. I am not holding my breath waiting for any of those things to happen.

Raving Lunatic said...

Let's get things clear. The DA is top secret and no one should ever know what we do there. That's the only effective way we can communicate with our members.

Furthermore, the only way we can be effective against Cuomo is by being proactive. The best way to be proactive is for you duespayers to do whatever we tell you to do.

That is all for now, and thank you for your attention in this matter.

Raving Lunatic said...

Let me address the points made by Mr. Eterno. Since we are united, and speaking as one, we will tell you what's good for ATRs and you will abide by what we say. That's the only democratic way to do it.

Also, you can't expect a bunch of chapter leaders to pick a DR. They don't know anything unless we tell them to know it. And experience has shown us that they can fail to know what we tell them to know, or to vote for who we tell them to vote for. This is a by-product of individual schools electing chapter leaders, and we are hard at work at a solution to that problem.

I hope that clears up these issues. Kindly stop submitting comments to this site unless they are pre-approved by my office at 52 BW. Thank you.

That will be all. Nothing to see here.

Mary Ahern said...

I'm fairly new to the party but the way I see it if Unity was truly concerned with solidarity maybe they should have listened to some of the legitimate criticism and acted to make changes that would unite membership. Instead they chose to ignore it, ridicule it, disparage those calling for it. Now they want everyone to come together to fight Cuomo and forget about all that other "stuff".

Yes, of course, we will fight Cuomo and others out to destroy public education but that does not mean that the underlying issues that plague our union (lack of democracy, lack of trust, archaic election process, loyalty oaths, lack of member voice, loss of focus on issues members pay them to address) have changed.

I believe that we would have even less of a "war" against Cuomo if nobody criticized and challenged union leadership to step it up.

The challenge that lies ahead does not mean that those critical of Unity should just shut up and go along. It means that union leadership should acknowledge the criticism, work to address it and make it possible for all of us move forward together.

James Eterno said...

Raving Lunatic was all that was missing from this discussion. I guess it is now complete.

Would enjoy hearing your views on Britain in WW II.

Raving Lunatic said...

I think we should all be on the same page on Britain in WWII. We need to stay unified in this time of crisis, and that one too.

Anonymous said...

Unity Caucus won WW II. Had nothing to do with that Churchill guy.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew doesn't care about solidarity Mary.

ed notes online said...

Very good points Mary - now when you are no longer new to this and have been hearing the same Unity line for almost a half century you might begin to grow a tad exasperated and come to my conclusion - they are collaborators which puts them in the enemy camp no matter what missives comes out of their mouths. Just look at the UFT/Unity/AFT/NYSUT for the past 40 years - history does count.

Anonymous said...

The UFT is more concerned with keeping the good Ole boys club of Unity intact than protecting the rank and file.

Anonymous said...

True statement.