Protocols are important for the functioning of any organization. When I was first elected Chapter Leader of Jamaica High School way back in 1996, I remember going to Queens High School Chapter Leader meetings and being overwhelmed with all of the information we received from UFT District Representative Danny Foceri. One of the most important points he hammered into the Chapter Leaders was that we Chapter Leaders were the Union in each school. It wasn't President Sandra Feldman or Danny Foceri or anyone else who represented the UFT at the school level; it was the Chapter Leader.
To make this point even more forcefully, the accepted protocol was that UFT officials from the President on down went through the Chapter Leader in order to be invited into a school. For UFT officials to go around the Chapter Leader to do their own event in a school was unheard of in those days of yore when the UFT still functioned as a labor union.
I read with disgust on Saturday Arthur Goldstein's post as Unity Caucus (Michael Mulgrew's political party that runs the UFT) has arranged to do a UFT event in a school without first going through the Chapter Leader.
It seems the two UFT High School Vice Presidents have set up a Meet the Vice Presidents afternoon for Francis Lewis High School, where Arthur is Chapter Leader, but they have not asked for his ok. To put it another way, the Unity Vice Presidents have invited themselves into Francis Lewis.
Here is part of the NYC Educator piece:
Yesterday, a Unity rep who went behind my back to arrange an event in my school told me he was sorry that I "felt" high school teachers have no representation in NYSUT and AFT. Here's the thing--it's not something I "feel." It's something, period. And when UFT Unity ignores elected chapter leaders to do any damn thing they feel like, it's counterproductive and stupid on multiple levels.
For one thing, there's no need to run around backstabbing people and doing things surreptitiously. We can get things done that benefit all of us by communicating directly. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm not really big on dirty tricks. I don't see the point in cooperating with people who deliberately deceive me. I'm busy, I have priorities, and I'm not wasting time playing juvenile games.
I have some news for High School VPs Janella Hinds and Sterling Roberson as well as Queens Borough Rep Amy Arundell and High School District Rep James Vasquez:
Arthur Goldstein represents the UFT at Francis Lewis High School. If you want to do a Meet the Vice Presidents event there, you should go through Arthur and he should be approving it and arranging it with the Principal, not you or your people.
This is just the latest slap in the face of a school union representative that shows how the UFT no longer functions as a labor union but is a top-down organization that has completely lost touch with how a union is a democratic organization.
The UFT members at Francis Lewis and the high school teachers citywide have elected Arthur Goldstein to be their representative at the school and Executive Board level. Ms. Hinds and Mr. Roberson only have their VP jobs because middle school teachers, elementary school teachers, non-teachers in the UFT and retirees are allowed to vote for the High School VPs. High school teachers did not elect these two. Unity's candidates lost the High School Division by 5 percentage points in 2016.
Sterling and Janella should show professional respect for Arthur, who was elected by a majority who voted in his school and the high school division, by letting him decide if there should be a meet the Vice Presidents event in his school.
The least Unity Caucus can do is follow some rudimentary etiquette.