The most democratic way of apportioning seats in a democratic assembly is by proportional representation. If a political party gets 20% of the vote, that party is entitled to 20% of the seats in an elected body.
The UFT abhors proportional representation as it may lead to them having to answer tough questions or deal with groups that won't listen and follow everything Michael Mulgrew says. Michael Mulgrew's political party is called Unity Caucus. Unity members must sign a membership obligation that forces them to support all of the decisions Mulgrew and his followers make inside of Unity Caucus in union and public forums. Dissent is not allowed.
Unity is the caucus that has run the UFT since the 1960s. Unity controls its members by offering part-time and full-time union jobs as well as free all-expense-paid trips to AFT Conventions and NYSUT Representative Assemblies in return for absolute loyalty. They take this obligation very seriously. If an opposition group wants to change the UFT, they must defeat this highly successful political machine that serves itself better than its members. The Unity machine is at its most powerful after teachers and other UFTers retire.
If anyone wants to change the UFT, they have to deal with the retiree issue. The Retired Teachers Chapter is 70,000 strong which entitles it to 300 Delegates at the Delegate Assembly. That is the Delegate Assembly that makes policy for the entire Union, including active teachers. The RTC is by far the largest chapter in the UFT.
For anyone who still doesn't think ousting Unity chapter leaders and delegates is important to changing our union, I submit for your consideration this story that was covered in EdNotes online.
The leaders of the Retiree Advocate, the group opposed to Unity in the Retired Teachers Chapter, approached Unity Retired Teachers Chapter Leader Tom Murphy to ask Unity to support five Retiree Advocate candidates for Delegate Assembly positions as a show of union solidarity. Recall there are 300 retiree delegates so this would be a tiny sign of union solidarity.
Since Unity supported three independents for the 102 person UFT Executive Board that constitutionally runs the UFT in the 2019 general union election, Retiree Advocate figured 5 out of 300 at the DA was possible. That's less than 2% of the Delegate Assembly seats that the Retired Teachers Chapter is entitled to. Unity said NO. Retiree Advocate has run for years in the Retired Teachers Chapter Election and has received up to 30% of the vote in the past and garnered about 20% in the last election. They asked for less than 2% of the seats and were rebuffed. It is all about power to Unity. Only you can change that.
For full disclosure, Norm Scott of Retiree Advocate approached me about the possibility of being one of the five and I said no as Unity would not approve me. More importantly, I wouldn't want their endorsement. I was elected to the UFT Executive Board for a decade without a Unity endorsement because opposition to Unity won the high schools.
I will be running for a Retired Teachers Chapter Executive Board position on the Retiree Advocate slate this spring. If you are a retired UFT member, email Norm (information below) to join the slate. It won't be easy, but let's make Unity worry that there is strong opposition even among the retired teachers.
Those 300 retirees that are Unity are all going to do whatever Mulgrew tells them to do at the Delegate Assembly. Understand that as we move forward. If you are active, tell your retired colleagues to support the Retiree Advocate. We are a diverse group of independent thinkers.
UFT Retirees are invited to join us (you must still be a union member)
We have a few more days left and I thought that if there any retirees left reading this blog I'd invite you to join us. Email me with name, address, phone, file # or last four of social and email if interested to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.