Wednesday, April 03, 2013


New Action is supporting Michael Mulgrew for President in the UFT election. Ballots will be mailed today so now it is up to members to decide who will lead our union. The only caucus running an opposing presidential candidate is the Movement for Rank and File Educators (MORE).  MORE is running Julie Cavanagh for UFT President as most readers of this blog already know. This blog endorses Cavanagh/MORE.

Unity and New Action are the two longest running caucuses (political parties) in the UFT.  Unity has run the UFT for five decades; New Action opposed Unity for years.  I was a member of New Action from 1995 to 2003 and was elected to the UFT Executive Board three times while in NAC.  In those days they were a genuine opposition group that actually ran a candidate for UFT President.

When I was a new Chapter Leader in 1996, NAC co-chair Michael Shulman spent a great deal of time teaching me about the job and was a valuable resource as was NAC's Ellen Fox.  Therefore, it was very painful to leave NAC in 2003 after they decided not to oppose Unity's Randi Weingarten for UFT President, but it was necessary. Camille Eterno, Ellen Fox, Lisa North, Chris Ash and others have not looked back since we defected although I do miss my New Action friends.

It appears to many that New Action in its current form basically exists to confuse members into thinking they are still the main opposition group within the UFT.  They put out literature that looks critical of the leadership but they do not run against President Mulgrew; instead they endorse him.  In exchange they are given ten candidates for the UFT Executive Board that the majority Unity Caucus is cross endorsing so they are pretty much assured of victory.  NAC maintains this arrangement gives them a voice inside the UFT much like the Unity leaders say they have a voice at the table with Bill Gates and others. What good does that do us?

NYC Educator correctly points out that supporting the other party's candidate for president would be akin to the Democrats in 2004 saying they are the main opposition party and then supporting Republican George W Bush for president.  You wouldn't think that is much of an opposition, would you?

NAC is running for these seats and others based on their record.  However, a look at that record shows that some of what New Action is taking credit for is a little far fetched.

New Action states that they have opposed mayoral control from the start.  I remember it a little differently. While on the UFT Executive Board, I seem to recall the subject of mayoral control first came up around 2001.  The Unity majority brought forward a school governance recommendation that supported giving the mayor the majority control over the Board of Education.

Norm Scott showed up at the Executive Board and schooled me quickly on how it would be a disaster. Chicago was already ahead of New York on mayoral dictatorship; there were already horrible consequences for teachers and students.  I spoke up and voted against supporting mayoral control that night but I don't remember some of the other NAC members of the Executive Board voting with me. NAC had no position on the subject at the time.  I also recall members of New Action enthusiastically supporting the creation of the UFT Charter School.  I was alone in my negative vote.I oppose charter schools and so does MORE because they take precious public resources away from the public schools.

Currently, New Action is making many claims in their literature where they take credit for their accomplishments within the UFT.  Former NAC member (now running with MORE) Lisa North comments on what they do.

"While it's true that NAC proposes some resolutions on important issues at Executive Board meetings, they do little or NO organizing!  It was MORE people who held meetings, sent emails, had rallies, circulated petitions, passed out fliers, contacted other community groups for support, etc. New Action is just like UNITY....pass a resolution and DO NO ACTION to organize to make a real change happen."  

Gloria Brandman sits on the UFT Social Justice Committee along with Lisa.  Here is her critique (in italics) of New Action:

New Action says they are: The only caucus to repeatedly call for action on the disappearing Black and Latino educators- 
Reality: This issue was originally brought to the Social and Economic Justice Committee (which is co chaired by a NAC and a UNITY person) by MORE's Sean Ahearn with support from Lisa and Gloria,Sean and other MORE people. Teachers Unite, and CPE worked on this issue even before it was brought to the UFT.

New Action says they initiated a resolution in Support of Puerto Rican Teachers Federation Leadership- 
Reality: Not sure if this is true but whenever Rafael Feliciano who was the President of the PRTF came to NYC, he spoke at many events in NYC, none of them organized by anyone in NAC.  It was GEM (Grassroots Education Movement) people who took leadership in supporting the PR Teachers and members of GEM who organized speaking engagements, forums  and fundraising events for  President Feliciano.

New Action says they called on UFT to support the April 9, 2011 anti-war demonstration. 
The Whole Story: This is positive but resolutions without actions do little to make change. It was members of ICE who are now MORE members that formed UFTers to Stop the War. UFTers to Stop the War brought anti-war resolutions to the DA as well as worked to make sure all high schools had information about opting out of military recruitment. NAC supported some of this work, but they did not do the organizing to bring any of it about. It was MORE people! And for the anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC on Jan 27, 2007 it was MORE members who requested and got the UFT to provide two buses, and Lisa and Gloria were the bus captains on the buses. One or two NACs may have attended as well. 

New Action says they achieved: 
Bipartisan Social and Economic Justice Committee passes rent control resolution
Bipartisan Social and Economic Justice Committee gets resolution passed  on Reducing the Environmental Footprint. Calls for an end to plastic bottles at UFT and for recycling bins.
Reality: Not Bipartisan- There were people from three different caucuses at these meetings. 
(Bipartisan =including members from two parties or factions) I will say that getting rid of the plastic bottles at the DA is probably the most concrete and successful  action that has come about due to this committee!  
New Action says they exposed SESIS as a “nightmare.” Called for help for our members.
Exactly how did they expose this? Most of them have never even seen SESIS as they are retired.

New Action says they won bipartisan support in solidarity with Chicago teachers
The Whole Story: It was MORE that brought teachers from Chicago here, wrote and circulated petitions, organized and participated in meetings, rallies and a march that started in Union Square.

New Action asks the UFT to join NAACP suit on selective school entrance exams
MORE actually proposed a resolution at the DA which was combined with the Executive Board's resolution and approved

New Action called for support for Seattle teachers who refused to administer standardized tests.

The Whole story: It was a MORE member who brought a resolution to DA.  it was combined with the Executive Board's resolution and approved

One final point: New Action met with some people from MORE last fall and NAC says there was an agreement that MORE would not attack them.  Kit Wainer from MORE was at that meeting and says no such agreement was ever made.  I know Kit and I will stand up 100% for his integrity.  I will be diplomatic and say that apparently there was a misunderstanding.


Anonymous said...

shy is nobody commenting here? New Action must feel lonely. Oh, just vote MORE

Anonymous said...

that should say why is.....

Anonymous said...

Serious credibility issues here as It has been confirmed that Gloria lied about raising her hand and voting no at the Governance Committee.