Do you want to fix the United Federation of Teachers? Do you really seriously want to be involved in repairing the mess that our union has become? If the answer is yes, then right now is the time to step up and be a part of a movement for change by running for a Chapter leadership position.
We all know President Michael Mulgrew and his ruling Unity Caucus are in bed with management now that a Democrat, Bill de Blasio, is mayor. Unfortunately, their collaborative relationship has not led to improved teaching and learning conditions in most schools. The mayor's Chancellor, Carmen Farina, has done little, if anything, to advance the teaching profession in NYC.
In addition, our union's leaders did almost nothing to put a halt to Governor Andrew Cuomo's anti-public school agenda and now UFT officials are not lifting a finger to assist parents as close to 200,000 students statewide are boycotting invalid, abusive Common Core exams.
Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, other social media and complaining in the teacher's room about how awful the union leadership is can be helpful but it's not enough. Right now is the time for each and every UFT member who has seen our profession come close to being destroyed to do something about it.
Chapter elections are coming in May or June in every school. These are the really important UFT elections since the Chapter Leader and Delegate basically control the flow of information from the union leaders to the rank and file. Many UFT members are too busy to follow the day-by-day workings of the union. They count on their Chapter Leader and Delegate to help them understand what's occurring.
Sadly, however, too many Chapter Leaders and Delegates belong to Unity Caucus, Michael Mulgrew's political party, that has dominated the UFT for half a century.
Unity requires its members to sign an obligation compelling them to support caucus positions in public and union forums. Critics call it the Unity loyalty oath. In exchange, they get free trips to conventions where they endorse whatever the leadership wants, even if it is harmful to teachers.
Unity Chapter Leaders and Delegates return to schools after union meetings to spread the Unity party line no matter how horrific it is for the rank and file. Examine the contract with its paltry raises or the anti-teacher evaluation system that changes every year that Unity always claims is a victory. We know conditions are rapidly deteriorating but Unity paints a rosy picture so they can stay in power.
Many members hear the Unity nonsense and become apathetic. Some wish to ride out the perpetual storm in a low key way until retirement. The indifference is understandable but it is not the answer to our problems.
If we ever are to change the union and improve working conditions in the schools, we need at the very least a few hundred independent people to take Chapter positions away from the Unity Party. We must stand up to the leadership when necessary instead of having what one Unity member once called "blind faith" in the UFT president.
It is not that difficult to be a UFT change agent. A Delegate has only nine meetings a year to attend and then report back to the Chapter on what goes on.
Chapter Leader is a more complicated position but groups such as ICE and the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) contain within their ranks experienced Chapter Leaders who can provide a great deal of support.
Email us if you or someone you know wants to help rescue our union from its current pathetic state.
Step I is taking back the Chapters one-by-one.
Remember, the U in union stands for you!