As soon as there was the slightest hint of controversy at the June Delegate Assembly, UFT President Michael Mulgrew gave up any hint of required chairperson impartiality. Instead, as usual, he treated someone who disagreed with him in an unfair and inappropriate way. This month's target was the Movement of Rank and File Educator's (MORE) Megan Moskop.
The issue up for discussion was democracy, a subject our President is not too well acquainted with at DA meetings. During the ten minute new motion period, Joan Heymont from the Progressive Labor Party had introduced a resolution saying the following: "Resolved that we, as educators will join our class brothers and sisters at a rally sponsored by Congregations for Justice and Peace calling for welfare benefits and food stamps adequate for workers to live."
Since the resolution was for this month's agenda, no debate was allowed and 2/3 of the Delegates needed to vote to add the resolution to the agenda. After Joan read the resolution, which had been properly disseminated before the meeting, there was a vote. It looked from where I was sitting that most people didn't vote but that a significant number of people who voted wanted to add the resolution to the agenda. It did not look like it was the 2/3 necessary but someone could have reasonably made a motion to divide the house (ask for an actual count).
Ms. Moskop rose and stated that the vote on the last resolution looked awfully close. Mr. Mulgrew, instead of being an impartial chair, said the vote wasn't close and then added, "You're out of order." Megan responded, "You're interrupting me." To which Mulgrew replied, "I can interrupt you because you're out of order." She never had the chance to make a motion for a count. Democracy at its finest again as a Delegate who was seeking clarification on what looked like a close vote was instead put down by our chair. But wait, it gets worse.
Later in the meeting, there was a resolution on political endorsements that the leadership forgot to put on the agenda so they had political director Paul Egan ask the Delegates to add it during the new motion period. Here is the language: "Resolved, that the United Federation of Teachers' Delegate Assembly authorizes the Executive Board to consider, make or modify endorsements that will be recommended to NYSUT during the summer in order to have a timely impact on any such campaigns."
NYSUT does make our recommendations for state offices but there is no reason why the UFT can't have our picks ready for endorsements by June for most State Assembly and State Senate seats in NYC. Instead, our political team just expects the Delegates to defer to the much smaller, mostly elected at large, Executive Board. Megan objected to this resolution as an affront to democracy.
She made a passionate plea that the Delegates should not cede their authority to make endorsements to the Executive Board. She wondered aloud why this resolution was added at the last minute and thought maybe this was done so people wouldn't have time to think about it.
Rather than being an impartial chair and just listening, once again Mulgrew interrupted the speaker to say that Paul Egan made an error (in not bringing this resolution up sooner) and was a "bad boy" but he also cut in because Megan made a remark about how we are making back room deals exchanging money for support (routine stuff in Albany's pay to play culture although we do it in a more sophisticated way). Mulgrew responded by acting as if he was shocked by such an assertion. He should have kept his mouth closed and just let Megan finish. He has no right to circumvent Robert's Rules like this. Megan declared that we should be discussing endorsements out in the open. She called for a special DA in the summer on endorsements or electronic voting (very possible in 2014).
The head of Unity Caucus, Leroy Barr, followed Megan and said something about how this is what democracy looks like. UFT democracy maybe, but not a real one. The resolution was rubber stamped by the Unity Caucus majority but a minority including me voted no. Megan made some very valid points.
It was troubling seeing how she was treated but heartening to watch her persevere in spite of the difficult time given to her by the Chair for just having an opinion different from his. At least he is asking for speakers against each motion but his new method of killing debate is to just interrupt anyone when they say anything he does not like (read the May DA report for further details). A sad ending to the school year at the DA. I will have a more thorough report on the routine items later.