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Last night’s Delegate Assembly

August 15, 2007 am31 4:59 am

[I seem to have written this June 23rd, and not published it. So here it is, almost two months late.]

Last night’s? Sure. Just not the UFT’s.

I belong to two AFT locals: AFT Local 2 (the United Federation of Teachers or UFT) and AFT Local 2334 (CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress or PSC). And last night I attended the PSC DA.

Now, for those of you with some first hand knowledge of the UFT DA, there are similarities, and there are difference. Both meetings are held on Broadway: the UFT at 52 B’way, the PSC at 61, (prime), across the street.

They both have food: the UFT puts out boxes of apples (green and red) oranges, sometimes bananas (yeah potassium!) or pears. The PSC had crudite with dip, fruit plates, cheeses and crackerses (hmm, crackers of different varieties), cookies, and there must have been some main dish as well. I got there late. Both have coffee, and neither one has very good coffee.

(more, and a comparison chart, below the fold —->)

Both meetings are chaired by women: the UFT has Randi Weingarten, the PSC Barbara Bowen. But while Randi has a slight suburban NY sound to her voice, Barbara’s is too carefully pronounced flat American. I forget that words have so many syllables. Both explain the Rules of order as they follow them, Barbara more closely than Randi, who exercises quite a bit of personal privilege.

The delegates look different. UFT delegates include more young people, and UFT delegates are Blacker and more Spanish speaking. And there’s more of them. I don’t know the real count at our DA’s but maybe 1000? There were something shy of 100 at the peak of tonight’s PSC DA.

There are other differences. The president’s report opens the PSC DA (20 minutes last night); the President’s report dominates the UFT DA. I think sometimes it goes on for an hour. For those of us who read our e-mail in advance, there is usually not so much new, but there are up to the minute reports, and especially details of discussions with DoE officials, other unions, reporters, and of course, politicians. Some of our delegates come specifically to hear all these details, take copious notes, and leave when it is through. The PSC agenda sets a time limit for the president’s report (and for all agenda items, actually).

Perhaps time limits are more important for the PSC DA, since it starts later (7PM) than the UFT (4:30). Also, the UFT has an automatic motion to adjourn at (used to be 6, is it now 6:15?); the PSC has no such animal. Last night’s PSC DA was scheduled to end at 9:30. I think adjournment was about 9:40.

“Questions” and “Motions directed to the agenda” are integral part of any UFT DA. They are absent from the PSC’s. Instead, appropriate questions are asked under corresponding agenda items. And the agenda is approved as the first item of business.

Last night four resolutions were discussed, debated, and voted on, held over, or tabled. It seemed that almost everyone who had something to say, did so. That’s a function of scale. Not too hard when 1) the people running the meeting want this to happen, 2) the people in the meeting want this to happen, and 3) there’s less than 100 people in the room, not all of whom have something to say.

Oh, and clean-up. At the PSC DA, three chapters are responsible for cleaning up at the end (the chapters rotate). The UFT, again, I believe, as a function of size, has a building staff.

Coffee 2 1
Food 9 4
Presidents Report 5 3
President’s Accent 2 6
Chance to Participate 10 3
Roberts Rules followed? 8 6
Opportunity to Schmooze 3 9
Chances to informally conduct business 2 10
Time 4 5
Hour 1 8
Chance to get stuck cleaning up 2 0
Overall 5 6

Advantage UFT. Chances to schmooze and informally conduct business are big.

(I guess I shouldn’t joke. Participating in your union is an important thing to do. I don’t know exactly why I give up my free time to participate, but I am impressed that so many others are willing)

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