Sunday, January 03, 2016
A Thumbnail Sketch Of The UFT Caucuses.
This post is a thumbnail sketch of the three UFT caucuses as we look to vote on the different elected officials to run the UFT. Presently, I have not endorsed any caucus or any individual candidate. However, based upon what I have seen and heard I do have my preferences which will be listed as we get closer to the election date.
"Unity" has been in power of the UFT since the beginning of the union and even the most optimistic opposition member doesn't expect them to be voted out of office, especially when they receive 90% of the retiree vote. Worse, the retirees make up the majority of voters, a tough hill to climb for the opposition.
"Unity" has become increasingly disconnected from the active members under Michael Mulgrew. His love affair with Chancellor Carmen Farina continues as the classroom teacher is still subject to the "gotcha system", excessive paperwork, and ignores numerous complaints about principals from hell. Under President Michael Mulgrew, it's all about what is best for him and not the members. Remember how he supported that racial arsonist Al Sharpton with union funds against fellow union members? Or how about his backroom deal with the new Mayor Bill de Blasio to give us a vastly inferior contract that's back loaded while screwing the rest of the municipal workforce that also made ATRs a second class citizen? Who can forget how he supported the APPR, refused to support the "opt out" movement, and threatened to punch you in the face if you insulted his beloved Common Core.
In my opinion, the "Unity" caucus has been in power far too long, while there are some very talented people in the caucus and I will happily vote for them in the upcoming election. However, the "Unity" caucus as an organization that is more about loyalty than about talent and any dissent to the leadership will result in their removal from their cushy union job. This is the only UFT caucus that requires a "loyalty oath" to join the caucus.
These are two separate caucuses who have decided to bury their differences and run a joint slate to try to unseat the "Unity" caucus. They have a real chance in catching the high school seats and erode the margin of victory by "Unity" elsewhere. The MORE/New Action coalition has a pro teacher plank with their advocacy of teacher rights and classroom improvements, especially lower class sizes, identifying vindictive principals, and supporting the "opt out" movement. Issues, the UFT leadership has refused to address. Finally, there are many very talented people as part of the coalition who I will gladly vote for.
Unfortunately, missing from their 2016 plank is the ATR issue. Was this a deliberate omission or a mistake? If the caucus wanted to advocate for the ATRs, their plank would have clearly stated it. Furthermore, MORE's obsession with "Social Justice" is displayed in their plank. They believe in restorative justice issues (they don't work), student rights to have cellphones in school (most teachers find them distracting in the classroom) and a more Socialist view of the world then I feel comfortable with.
The newest UFT caucus and is suffering from the usual growing pains. On the good side, their plank is pro-teacher and trade unionist. None of that "Social Justice" crap that muddles the message that the other two caucuses have. On their website they have already identified vindictive administrators called Administrators In Need Of Improvement. Further, I find their toolbox very useful. Moreover, they have taken the lead in advocating for the ATRs and list the field supervisors and any comments about them on their web site. However, the caucus is dominated by one person and that is a problem. Until this caucus matures and adds more people who are respected by the general membership, it is only as good as that one person in charge of the Solidarity caucus.
Note: I was one of the founding members of the Solidarity caucus but have decided to become unaffiliated to retain my independence.
When I vote it is what's in my best interests as a classroom teacher not the ideology, politics, or issues unrelated to education. I want my vote to count and so should you.