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UFT elections – short version – support New Action

March 7, 2007 am31 5:46 am

The teachers union in the largest city in the United States is about to have its officer and executive board elections.  There are three slates:

Unity. Current leadership. Thinks the current leadership is just fine. Bears some responsibility for the weak current level of internal organization in the UFT. Bears large responsibility for the 2005 contract (worst we’ve ever had), both for negotiating it, and for selling it (telling members that we would have to strike if we voted no). Doesn’t have a good record on internal democracy. In the 18 or so months since the 2005 contract was approved by a surprisingly close margin (60-40 among teachers), has taken steps towards increasing member involvement, towards organizing chapters, towards organizing newer members. Opened up a large negotiating committee which played a role in getting us the 2006 (neither good nor bad) contract. Has been open to suggestions for strengthening the union.

New Action is not locked into an irrevocable position of knee-jerk opposition like ICE-TJC, or total blind-support like members of Unity

New Action. Not currently in the leadership. Sometimes supports, sometimes opposes Unity. Highly committed to organizing (reorganizing) our chapters to better support both new and experienced members. Thinks our weakness comes from weakness at the base. In a deal with Unity, secured jobs for some members – all of these jobs are field organizing jobs. Opposed the 2005 contract. Supported the 2006 contract. Strong supporters of increased member participation and internal democracy. Has cross-endorsed a handful of slots with Unity.

ICE/TJC. Current HS Executive Board members. Very loud, very ineffective.

(Continues below the fold –>) Opposed the 2005 contract. Opposed (or was it divided?) the 2006 contract. On the negotiating committee, but didn’t really participate. On the exec board, but developed few proposals. Blames Unity for all that is wrong with the UFT, and runs with an anti-Unity platform. “We would never….” statements do not reveal what they would actually do. I am not convinced that they have any sort of coherent ideas beyond denouncing Unity (and New Action) and being super-angry, all the time. The TJC portion of this alliance may be a bit more coherent than ICE.

Unity has made some positive moves in the last year, but this was in the face of member reaction to the 2005 contract. UFT members were angry, and many remain so. Most UFT members are angry enough to consider voting for ICE/TJC, but rational enough, smart enough to understand how counter-productive that would be.

New Action knows that we need to reorganize, from the chapters up, and has a track record of being able to do the grinding yet necessary day to day work to build and rebuild chapters. By cross-endorsing some Unity candidates (including president Randi Weingarten) New Action has indicated that it wants to work together to effect positive change (something TJC has proven unable to do). A vote for New Action sends the message that the member, including the new member, and the chapter are the core of the union, and that organizing them and protecting their rights come first.

I support New Action, and I am running as part of the New Action Slate. You will be receiving your ballot in the mail. I strongly urge you to vote New Action.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. You Know Who permalink
    March 8, 2007 am31 6:28 am 6:28 am

    Of course Shulman and Dehler, the New Action reps on the 2005 negotiating committee did not vote NO, allowing Weingarten to sell the contract to the members with a claim the negotiating committee was unanimous in support. Then New Action put out a tepid leaflet raising doubts about the contract but in no way tying criticism of Weingarten to it. Sort of like condemning the knife but no the murderer. When it came to real opposition to the contract, you came to the TJC meeting organizing the opposition, not to a New Action meeting. Why? Because New Action did as little as possible other than putting out a 2nd stronger leaflet that did not go beyond the DA. To claim New Action opposed the 2005 contract is a half truth at best.

    As for ICE being angry, there is a lot to be angry about. But as usual, you ignore the entire ICE positive platform over years calling for class size to be a negotiated item, a moratorium on small schools being shoved into lareger schools – sure ignore the work of iCE’er John Lawhead at Tilden who happens to run the ICE web site with it’s calls for the end to high stakes testing and the willy nilly closing of schools which the UFT has gone along with all along. Ignore the call for a democratic union and an absolute new form of governance other than mayoral control, ignore the constant calls to protect chapter leaders which the union leadership has opposed and has lead to the undermining of the cherished chapters you talk about. Ignore the ICE calls to pay attention to people in the rubber rooms and Kaufman’s call for the UFT to hire paralegals. The problem is you listen to teh propaganda of the New Action leaders. I was at Ex Bd meetings for years and one of your candidates for HS ex bd spoke exactly once on an inconsequential matter. In fact the performance of the New Action Ex Bd team over those years was abysmal and you could have read accounts of that in Ed Notes from 97 on.

    Your constant attacks on ICE are even less than half truths than trying to convince anyone that New Action did anythign more than pay lip service (knowing full well they could not run this year if they did) when they “opposed” the 2005 contract.

    And we won’t get into your little red baiting deal where you tried to tie ICE to the actions of people in the left-wing party by identifying them as ICE supporters (did they wear labels?) instead of the party they represented at the DA. I guess you had a little birdy telling you who exactlty supports ICE.

    Sure we’re angry. Outraged in fact at the conditions in most of the schools. The problem with Unity and New Action is that you are all not angry enough. Our opposition has done more to push Unity into stronger positions than anything New Action had done and the higher the vote total for the Unity/New Action coalition, the more givebacks we will see.

  2. March 8, 2007 am31 7:31 am 7:31 am

    When New Action was on the executive board, the only ones who ever said anything were James Eterno, now with ICE and Ed Beller, now retired. Doug Haynes sat mostly quiet for three years, although he seems to be a decent guy. The other New Action people didn’t do much of anything in those three years. Why should we want them back? They are another rubber stamp for Randi and weak unionism.

  3. March 8, 2007 am31 7:34 am 7:34 am

    If I wanted Randi, why not just vote for Unity? Vote ICE-TJC as the only hope for a change. If ICE-TJC wins the high schools, you will see Unity make moves to shake things up. If New Action-Unity wins, it will be more of the same ineffective union that sits at the mercy of Bloomberg and Klein and then blames its members for not being strong enough after the union allows them to be beaten down constantly.

  4. March 8, 2007 am31 8:13 am 8:13 am

    “If ICE-TJC wins the high schools, you will see Unity make moves to shake things up.” Um, ICE-TJC won the high school exec board last time. And… (really, there’s not much that goes after those dots)

    ICE’s focus on the election above building the union means using a distorted lens that sees Unity as a bigger problem than Bloomberg and his chancellor.

    Norm should know this. I was opposed to the 2005 contract, and came to a TJC/ICE meeting organizing against it, but they were more hostile to the UFT than to the DoE. They were planning on demonstrating against the union. Needless to say, I did not return.

    A vote for New Action is a vote for platform. It is a strong, positive, constructive message about which direction our union needs to move in. It is a vote for building chapters, for protecting our newest and most vulnerable members.

    And it is a vote for me, which is a very very good thing.

    Norm, you never explained yourself in response to these comments: Norm evades responsibility for his words. OK, I will live. But you can’t stay appropriate on my blog?

    If I identified someone as ICE who is not, you could correct that (But where did I do it???) But you’ve accused me of redbaiting??? You’ll need to either back up the accusation (I don’t see how) or correct yourself.

  5. March 9, 2007 am31 4:36 am 4:36 am

    ICE is running this time with three years worth of experience on the Executive Board as a group. I personally have been there for a decade: seven years with New Action and the last three with ICE-TJC. There is no comparison. The last three years with ICE we have been more active and effective as compared to the prior three when NAC was on the Exec Board. We have a solid record of raising issues and actually getting some stuff accomplished at the UFT Executive Board.

    Chapter leaders and people in the rubber room are getting more support because of our advocacy. With ICE pressure, Randi has finally come out against closing schools and displacing staff. Back in 2003 and 2006, Unity refused to support resolutions opposing the closing of schools. I know; I brought them both up.

    We have come out for distributing caucus material in mailboxes and being able to email campaign literature to members. Our position on mailing campaign literature is now union policy. When we raised the issue, Randi told us we didn’t know labor law. We were right; she was wrong.

    We have called for the election of district representatives. NAC abandoned that cause after 2003. In 2004 when the resolution to appoint DR’s was up for renewal, only Ed Beller and I voted no. In addition, you will not find stronger advocates for people who have received U ratings than ICE representatives. We got an executive board resolution amended to include high school students in ESL testing exemptions. We have continued some formerly cherished New Action policies of demanding a VSF for UFT members to include all retirees. We have done a great deal more but I don’t want to go on all night.

    On the Contract, we pleaded with Randi not to go to fact finding in 2004 because we knew we would lose based on the 2002 and 1993 precedents. We also asked her to reject the horrible fact finding report in 2005 when it came out as it was non binding. I raised the possibility of working with the transit union and other unions. (That summer when my wife and I were in California walking a picket line with Northwest airlines workers, we watched their eyes light up at the thought of a general strike.) We told Randi that the threat of working with other unions would give us more leverage. We hoped at the very least that they would reject the report and start over. Randi got angry and her people ridiculed us. I believe New Action’s people on the negotiating committee voted for every one of those disastrous policies having to do with fact finding that led to the awful 2005 contract. Also, even after every idea we had was rejected and we knew there was no UFT plan to wage a real fight against Bloomberg, we still supported every UFT action, no matter how small, that the union came up with to try to engage the members.

    If you would like to take a look at the prior term, the last three years New Action was on the Executive Board from 2001-2004 the representatives, with the exception of Ed Beller and me, raised very few issues. When the Ed Evaluators chapter was eliminated, New Action’s representatives voted for the watered down version known as the IEP teacher. Ed Beller and I did our best to question the leadership but we didn’t get much backing.

    In fact, one of New Action’s representatives from the last time they were on the Executive Board from 2001-2004 was so dedicated to the UFT that she resigned to become an assistant principal in the middle of her three year term. That’s the NAC commitment to the cause of trade unionism for you. I’m not making this up. Doug Haynes is a holdover from that group who is running now. Doug is a really good guy who I will not say a negative word about, but Doug didn’t exactly bring up a bunch of resolutions so let’s not knock what ICE is doing now when you have very little in terms of the facts to support the case for what New Action did.

  6. March 9, 2007 am31 6:26 am 6:26 am

    James,

    while there is certainly not much of an ICE record on the Exec Board to speak about, I am not in a position to dispute what you say about the years previous to ICE.

    However, we need a focus on organizing, that is where New Action’s committment shines, and where ICE, Unity, and TJC are wanting.

    1. The UFT is our union. 2. It is weak. 3. The key to making it stronger is rebuilding the chapters.

    This is what I was saying over two years ago. #1 is the primary reason I chose not to work with ICE. #3 is the key reason I work with New Action.

  7. March 10, 2007 am31 8:18 am 8:18 am

    Look at our chapters. Whose chapters are organized? Do some research and you will not find too many that are organized like ICE-TJC chapters. We can spread that.

  8. March 10, 2007 pm31 6:49 pm 6:49 pm

    You should spread that. Solid chapter leaders should be helping others, encouraging others. And I am glad that you say that you can spread it.

    But it is not central to ICE’s message. In fact, last spring I was solicited by your allies for help removing a solid chapter leader (who belongs to Unity).

    That’s the difference between a focus on winning elections and a healthy focus on building the UFT through building chapters.

    New Action retirees have taken some of the hardest, most thankless jobs in the union, on the Organizing Committee, and do this work regularly. It’s not that we can do it. We do it.

  9. Michael Shulman permalink
    March 13, 2007 pm31 8:07 pm 8:07 pm

    James Eterno has a distorted view of New Action’s role on the UFT Executive Board and an inflated view of the abysmal record of ICE-TJC on the current Board. While he is dismissive of our record he fails to mention that in almost three years ICE/PAC-TJC have introduced less than a handful of resolutions. Yes, they have raised many questions, like questioning whether retirees should be members of the UFT, but have produced very little else.

    Eterno is dismissive of New Action reps, yet fails to mention that their six members are almost never in attendance. How do you represent members when you don’t attend. Check the record on this.

    In terms of the high schools, where is the track record–an amendment here or there. What about the harassment of our members by administrators. What about the closing of large high schools (Oh yes, they discovered the issue in Jan. 2007). What about disruptive students? Micromanagement, the move towards privatization.

    It is easy to beliitle New Action efforts on the UFT Organizing Committee. Another point that is glaring regarding the six ICE/PAC -TJC members is that they rarely vote together on issues raised at the Executive Board. Or, is this a New Action fabrication. Again, check the record. So, they cannot agree among themselves, they have not raised solutions to high school concerns, and cannot present a united opposition against to attack Weingarten and New Action.

    By the way, the slurs on New Action are typical of their attacks on colleagues they cannot agree with. Lie and turn the truth on its head (example: Eterno states, “NAC abandoned that cause [the election of DR’s] after 2003). This is untrue. New Action still calls for the election of DR’s. Anyone wanting the truth about New Action or about our positions can contact us at NewActionUft.com

  10. David Kaufman permalink
    March 14, 2007 am31 7:47 am 7:47 am

    There is a big difference between when New Action served for many years on the UFT Executive Board and the last 3 years of ICE-TJC’s “participation.”

    For all those years Unity was at war with New Action and unresaponsive to any of our many motions at the Executive Board. Whenever we presented a good idea it was voted down or tabled and coopted months later.

    For the past three years ICE has been on the Executive Board with a leadership that has been more receptive than any. What has ICE done? Almost nothing. The only motion effecting the HS division was made in January 2007 at the same meeting this 2007 UFT election was opened.

    Usually an incumbent touts their record of achievement when asking to be reelected. ICE is trying to keep the last three years a secret. They complain and are angry. That’s all you get from an ICE Exec Bd member. New Action gets angry, complains and starts a campaign to achieve some benefit for the members.That alone is reason to reject ICE in this election.

    The leaders of ICE live in the myth of their own perception. That perception isn’t close to reality. The membership deserves the truth. They can’t get it from ICE- not even solid ICE.

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