The New York State United Teachers made their political endorsements for Congress and the New York State Legislature last week.
I am somewhat surprised that NYSUT is backing members of the Independent Democratic Conference who go along with the Republicans to make up the Senate majority that has worked to hurt the public schools, teachers and students.
In a NYSUT article about the endorsements, here is how the leadership described the process:
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said the NYSUT endorsement process "is truly a grassroots, organic process, with PAC members and local presidents surveying their own members in their own communities about who they wished to see NYSUT support in this year's elctions," Pallotta said. "Those candidates who earned NYSUT's endorsement have won the backing in their home communities."
This statement about this being a "grassroots, organic process" seems odd as I also received two Facebook postings from Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association's President Beth Dimino which directly contradict Pallotta's explanation of the process.
From Beth Dimino
NYSUT members-this is important.
It's important for you to know that Tuesday, in the Long Island room, presidents voted to NOT endorse Flanagan, LaValle and Marcellino. We did this because these three men have consistently voted against public schools, teachers and students. We presented candidates for NYSUT to endorse who are running in the election this November against these three incumbents. INSTEAD...The NYSUT Board of Directors overturned our recommendations and decided to allow NYSUT to endorse LaValle. Further, Andy Pallotta brought Senator Flanagan into the Board of Directors meeting to influence their vote. Your NYSUT contributions paid for this BS! Only in NYSUT Folks, only in NYSUT.
Here is a follow-up message from Beth:
Just some additional information NYSUT Members...
You have true friends in the BOD room. The Suffolk PAC and Suffolk BOD Members fought like crazy to get a NO Endorsement for Flanagan, Marcellino and LaValle. I stood and fought with them in the President's room and other BOD Members reported back to me that they fought valiantly in the PAC and BOD rooms. So you ask: How was the regional decision made by the Presidents from that region, made by the PAC from that region, made by the BOD Members from that region overturned? Well, Folks, NYSUT is run by the largest five locals in the state. They don't have to listen to any of the other locals because they have the votes to overturn the regions. What does that mean for you and I? We have NO VOICE on the Statewide level or the NATIONAL level, and that is precisely why NOT one member of the PJSTA contributes to vote cope.
The leaders of NYSUT and AFT count on this advantage every time they spend our money, change our resolutions, have relationships with the deformers, and make decisions the rank and file DO NOT agree with!
The only way to change this is for every local to send a delegate to the RA this April so we can vote the bums out!
To be clear, NYSUT did not endorse the anti-teacher Republican Senate head John Flanagan (2nd District) or Long Island Senator Carl Marcellino (5th District). They are staying neutral in these races but by not endorsing their opponents, they are in effect giving them an unofficial nod.
For historical examples of this, see the UFT not opposing Mayor Bloomberg's opponent Bill Thompson in 2009 or NYSUT not endorsing Zephyr Teachout in the 2014 Democratic Primary for governor against Andrew Cuomo. Union neutrality is not really being neutral.
We are stuck paying dues to the UFT, the largest local in NYSUT and the AFT. In the UFT, as we have explained, there is zero real accountability.