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Does signing a card make you a UFT member?

June 22, 2008 pm30 9:55 pm

Yes.

But not completely.

Most new teachers used to sign a card, give it to the Chapter Leader, and then think of the union as something apart from themselves. “What will the union do about X?” is a question we hear a lot of.

Today the UFT, acknowledging implicitly that we have problems with chapter organization, allows new teachers to sign up on line. It’s not a good thing not to meet your Chapter Leader.

The DoE runs a nasty campaign, trying to trick new teachers into thinking they don’t have to sign up at all. There’s likely hundreds of newer teachers who are not UFT members as a result.

But the biggest problem is that there are schools with no functioning chapter. What difference does signing a card make when you are joining something that only exists, for you, in Lower Manhattan? (answer: the right to vote in certain elections, many of which will not occur if your chapter is not functioning, and benefits through the Health and Welfare Fund, which are important. Certainly you should still join. Absolutely you should.)

Not every UFT member is going to be an activist. But even in schools with chapters, too many don’t hold chapter meetings, and in schools that do hold chapter meetings, too many teachers do not attend. There should be an obligation that comes with membership. Not just dues, but some minimal participation in the life of one’s chapter. Like coming to meetings once a month or every other month. Like participating in elections.

[Reworded, per comment, below: We need to build our chapters, to get regular functioning. And once we have that, there should be an expectation, not necessarily of activism, but something beyond dues: maybe coming to chapter meetings a few times each year, and voting in elections]

Signing a card should be a beginning, not the end of union involvement. And making it available on-line makes it too easy to bypass the chapter, or to ignore that the chapter does not exist.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachel permalink
    June 22, 2008 pm30 11:55 pm 11:55 pm

    There should be an obligation that comes with membership. Not just dues, but some minimal participation in the life of one’s chapter. Like coming to meetings once a month or every other month. Like participating in elections.

    I would turn this around a bit… Once an organization charges dues, I think the existing leadership has an obligation to the membership to be relevant enough to encourage activism.

  2. June 23, 2008 am30 12:15 am 12:15 am

    Yeah, the primary obligation is on the organization. I would balance it about 90% – 10%. Unless the union takes it seriously, there is no way to expect anything from anyone.

    I think I worded that one poorly – I’ll try to fix it.

    Thanks.

Trackbacks

  1. What issues matter to new teachers? « JD2718
  2. Posts from last summer about new teachers « JD2718

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