Wednesday, January 04, 2017


The Independent Community of Educators has been a strong supporter of the statewide opposition to Unity Caucus in the New York State United Teachers called Stronger Together Caucus.

Arthur Goldstein wrote an excellent piece yesterday on the state of our state union that has truly made me wonder about about the future of the opposition at the state level. ST Caucus gave me and many others real hope that there could be change at the state union level.

I have copied Arthur's blog post in its entirety below and ask our readers this question:

At what point would we be forced to withdraw our support for ST Caucus?

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Will Stronger Together Caucus Buy Into Fatal Timidity of the UFT, NYSUT and AFT?

After a bruising loss in a presidential campaign, United Federation of Teachers leadership has redoubled its quest to learn nothing whatsoever. It wasn't enough that we went all out for a presidential candidate who stood up for half-hearted, warmed-up pablum rather than real solutions for America. We needed to continue our march toward mediocrity because that's our prime directive.

As such, even after a loathsome reptile manipulated his way into the Presidency of the United States, even after he swore to cripple our power via the Supreme Court, even after he enabled and emboldened vile bigotry, racism and homophobia all around the country, we remained too timid to even utter his name.

Leadership knows best, after all. They understand about manipulated elections and suppression of democracy because that is their stock in trade. When high school teachers get uppity and elect officers of whom they disapprove, they change the rules so they can't do that anymore. When chapter leaders dare to elect the District Reps they wish to support them from opposition, they simply change the rules and hand pick them. That's how you maintain power by any means necessary without regard for democracy.

And now there are stirrings in NYSUT. After UFT and NY State Unity leadership led a coup to overthrow a sitting President who objected to financial support of Andrew Cuomo, there are still hundreds of locals who feel disenfranchised. There is a lot of anger, rightfully so, that NYSUT has now become just another arm of the UFT, and doesn't even bother to pretend otherwise. Thus, there is for the first time ever, an opposition caucus in NYSUT called Stronger Together. Stronger Together is largely the brainchild of firebrand Beth Dimino, the outspoken President of the Port Jefferson Station Teacher Union. Alas, Dimino is stepping down and while there are some very capable people remaining, it's an open question whether there is anyone remaining who can rival her vision and passion.

There is, of course, a potential NYSUT solution for all those pissed off locals. They could run a few members of the opposition on the Unity ticket. This would not only preclude a contentious campaign, but also perhaps mute the vocal opposition. It might even give NYSUT locals the impression that it is no longer being run by the machine that shoved Hillary Clinton down the throats of rank and file with little to no member input. The new members could voice opposition within NYSUT, and perhaps the machine would be forced to pay lip service to member concerns. But it's hard to believe that they will accomplish anything substantive. In fact, it's hard to believe the machine would do even that, obsessed as it is with perpetuating itself via absolute control.

Remember this? This is the campaign pamphlet that Revive NYSUT passed out at the convention in which they overthrew mean old Dick Iannuzzi, who'd finally objected to Pallotta buying tables at Cuomo fund raisers. Despite ostensible opposition, President Karen Magee pretty much said it was Common Core or anarchy. NYSUT never opposed Cuomo, and never opposed APPR. In fact, the only legislative accomplishment they can boast of is making sure that leadership got double pensions.

There really are good people, smart people, in Stronger Together. I'd feel better with them in leadership than the current UFT pawns. But the fact is, even if they make any such deal, I'm absolutely certain it would be contingent on said pawns staying in place. When one of them is replaced, it will be by a sitting UFT official. That deal is already in place and UFT leadership can't even be bothered keeping it secret.

As bad as UFT leadership is, a strong bastion of principled resistance to the counter-productive and anti-democratic machinations of the dual Unity Caucuses is still right here in Fun City. I am very proud to be part of it. It's nice that Revive NYSUT can campaign on transparency, but the heart of NYSUT still lies at 52 Broadway, and they are nothing if not secretive and manipulative. We're still waiting, for example, to learn when it will be okay to mention Donald Trump's name, as opposed to disingenuously attributing the explosion in racism and bigotry to "The Presidential Election."

I certainly hope that Stronger Together succeeds in reforming the union. The rationale is that we are facing a really tough time, and that the only way we can face it is by presenting a united front. Here in NYC, we've heard that song before, specifically from the New Action Caucus. New Action made a deal with UFT Unity in the Bloomberg era, citing the threat that Bloomberg faced to our very existence. But New Action learned that didn't really work for them. Last year they decided to join the MORE Caucus and we took the important first step of winning the high school seats on the UFT Executive Board. Though we are massively outvoted by the Unity machine at Executive Board, we've shown that leadership is unwilling to take firm stands against things like class size violations and abusive administrators. When members see proof of what leadership does and does not stand for, high schools will no longer be alone in opposing ridiculous "seat at the table" politics.

MORE is affiliated with Stronger Together, and has been for a few years now. We ran in opposition to the machine, and I was proud to run a David and Goliath campaign against Executive VP Andrew Pallotta. I don't speak for MORE and I don't make decisions for it. But as a New York City high school teacher, I certainly pay dues to NYSUT, and I can't help but notice that there are exactly zero people elected by UFT high school teachers who have a voice in its decisions.

You could argue that NYSUT has UFT representation, and that's certainly true. But the fact is, in the last UFT election high school teachers decided to go another way. And before you dismiss us as a bunch of cranks, the fact is we have more members than the Philadelphia Teacher Union, not to mention the overwhelming number of NYSUT locals. In fact, my school alone has more members than some NYSUT locals.

Again, I'm not speaking for MORE, or ICE, or any UFT-affiliated caucus or teacher organization. But I can't and won't support any movement that doesn't provide a voice and vote for the high schools I represent. I'd be very surprised if MORE took a position contrary to that. If Stronger Together chooses to go ahead and ignore or even tacitly endorse our disenfranchisement, it's no better than the machine it purports to oppose.

And if UFT, or AFT, or NYSUT thinks that backroom deals will protect it from Friedrichs Mach 2, it's laboring under a serious misconception. We need representation, not rationalization. We've had the latter for decades, and it's gotten us precisely where we are today.  


Anonymous said...

"...and emboldened vile bigotry, racism and homophobia all around the country..."

Completely false. And the stats, including the exposed islamofauxbia phenomena, demonstrate the calumny. I'll assume the remainder of the piece is equally so.

Anonymous said...

ST caucus= unity what have they done- they care about no one or nothing- other than the prize of some officer position
Im ashamed for them

Anonymous said...

4 blacks kidnap and torture white male in chicago, record and post on facebook. Wow, black trash strikes again. Where is black lives matter, al sharpton, nbc, barack obama?

Anonymous said...

Hate to join in, but record it their taxpayer paid for phone, kind of like how our poverty stricken students have 10 pairs of 200 dollar sneakers, iphones, etc. And this was clearly an anti white attack. Maybe they need some type of pat on the back or a learning circle.

Anonymous said...

They can be heard telling fuck trump and fuck white people. Could you imagine if the roles were reversed? Chicago would be burned down by now and the news would be all over the racist whites. Not even a peep when the white is the victim.

James Eterno said...

You see why I get crazy about the comments. This posting was about Stronger Together. This is a major state union story. I totally condemn what happened in Chicago but there are about a million other sites where you could comment on that. The comments have nothing to do with the piece. I understand you have an issue you are passionate about but be reasonable and try to stay somewhat on topic.

Anonymous said...

James, i think people have real8zed that the union ussues have been and are going nowhere. Remember when Randi made us fill MSG 13 years ago? Remember when Mulgrew told us to tweet everybody? And a million other instances? Where did that get us? Thibgs have gotten worse. I think tjis story from Chicago is what society is, and it does display actions commonly seen in NYC public schools the i can do whatever i want and you cant stop me attitude. These are bigger problems than tweeting Cuomo. If a discopline code was enforced in schools and in society, these things wouldnt happen.

Anonymous said...

We go from one school to another, and is gets worse and worse. And when we see the faces in this story are the same as the ones disrespecting us, threatening us, cursing us, calling us white piece of shit, its reminds us of work. We are so far past the stronger together union. And these kids, who live of my tax dollars, get the most expensive and best material goods out there, wont bring in a notebook, have babies left and right, are arrested over and over, who get free grades, free rides through HS, credit recovery, apex, and get a million excuses made for them...When is it gonna stop. So the answer from Obama is to let everybody out of jail early, and the answer from deblasio is to lower expectation so much that nobody gets suspended and everybody graduates. And then the teachers have the " we have to pass everybody attitude." if I said the wrong work, just a word, I would be on the front page of the NY post and stripped of my salary...What a double standard, and its sickening. They are quick to blame the white man who is supporting them.

Anonymous said...

James, I think we understand where you are coming from, but this is what the NYC teacher deals with, and is more important than, as said above, a tweet coumo campaign, which has proven to be meaningless. You wrote, after the loss to Trump, UFT has redoubled its quest to learn nothing. So why should we bother? We already pay almost $60 per check, some of us would rather address real everyday problems. Look at the new evaluation system. Should we have tweeted more? Gone on facebook more? Written letters? It doesnt work, its a waste of time. Did we get our retro moved up since the city isnt in financial peril as we were told? Did we get the TDA moved back to 8.25% since the state is no longer in financial peril?

Anonymous said...

At least they arrested those 4 pieces of garbage. Kidnapped him in a stolen car, taped mouth, tortured, 4 blacks vs 1 white. And he is mentally disabled.