Friday, October 30, 2015

The Failure Of Our Union To Make Life Better For Their Members. Part VI, Lack Of Democracy And Transparency.

In the final chapter of my six part serious on our union leadership's failure to improve the working conditions and gain respect for their members.  We look at the lack of democracy and transparency that is an unfortunate trademark of the controlling caucus.This caucus is known as the "Unity caucus" and to get a paying position in the union or go on an all expense paid union junket, you must take a "Unity oath" that promises that you vote for the leadership position even when its against the best interests of the members.

The "Unity caucus" has dominated the union leadership since Albert Shanker and over the last two decades the trappings of union democracy has been eroded and in its place is an overly controlling and secretive leadership that ignores member needs and plays politics for their own gain at the expenses of their members.  The "giveback" laden  2005 contract was a prime example of the betrayal of the union leadership.  Despite widespread a anger and dissatisfaction Randi Weingarten and her cronies rammed it down the trouts of their members by danging money that barely exceeded the inflation rate for a longer day and extra working days.  Moreover, the once democratically elected district rep was eliminated and appointed by the union leadership.  Finally, the original ATR committee which consisted of Michael Mandel and Leo Casey didn't bother to talk to the ATR before they made decisions that affected them such as the useless weekly rotation that demoralizes ATRs.

Our union is the only union  that allows retirees to vote and in the last election they made up the majority of votes.  Is it any wonder they became the winners in the last contract?  Getting all their retro payments upfront while active members get it in drips and drabs, assuming they don't resign, get terminated. or die.  Is it obvious why the retirees voted overwhelmingly for the "Unity caucus".

Accountability is the buzz word in the education world.  However, when it comes to the union leadership, they are not held to the same accountability as the members since they have effectively made real change impossible by allowing the retirees to vote and by ensuring that any opposition is silenced.  Not a democratic union if you ask me  and certainly not one that has their members interests in their cold hearts...

The five other parts of this series are as follows:

Part I, The classroom

Part II, The contract

Part III, The APPR

Part IV, The ATRs 

Part V, PINI principals 


Anonymous said...

Nice analysis. I'm sure the union leaders must be cringing that you put the six issues together in one post.

Keep up the good work, love reading your posts.

Anonymous said...

Since many rank and file members read your blog, I thought this video of Lois Weiner,a professor of education at New Jersey City University. She brings to her wide-ranging scholarship first-hand experience, as a classroom teacher and union officer. One statement that she made that I feel that it's pivotal in the members' understanding of their rights as union members is the fact that our union "shouldn't understand it as being a business. We should understand the union as being a social movement." Moreover, she states that she's "a member of the AFT, American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, who is the president, works for me. But my will as a union member has to be expressed collectively, through the democratic processes of the union."

I always wondered why we allow the UFT/NYSUT/AFT Presidents to treat the members as employees and they behave as though they are our bosses. They work for the rank and file and that's why dues are paid so they can be a "democratic process" for all the members. It's a great video. Please share with others.

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully produced series. I enjoyed reading all the different parts and can't agree more with what you wrote.