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New Action, the Organizing Committee, and UFT jobs

March 15, 2010 pm31 10:17 pm

Unity and New Action entered into a bipartisan relationship several years ago. One of the biggest products of that has been the Organizing Committee.

The OC works with District Reps, and sends teams into schools and helps newer or weaker chapters. The Organizing Committee teams are made up of two retirees, one Unity, the second independent or New Action. The Committee itself is co-chaired by two UFTers, again, one from Unity, and one from New Action.

The work of the OC dovetails with work that New Action believes is crucial: building and rebuilding the UFT from its roots, from its individual chapters. It’s work that many of our supporters have thrown themselves into with enthusiasm. And it is a committee that I think (and I am an outsider here, so grain of salt, please) could continue to be expanded.

As UFT jobs go, I don’t know where working on an OC team ranks, but I know that there are many who would prefer not to go into tough schools day after day. When I see the team members in my borough, Unity, New Action, and independent, I see a particularly hard-working, all-business group of former chapter leaders. They’ve chosen tougher work and direct member support.

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New Action has been accused of trading our endorsement of Mulgrew for these jobs.

  • it’s a bunch of folks who’ve sold their values for a few jobs in the UFT.
  • a former opposition that has sold out to the leadership for a few Executive Board seats and some minor positions on the payroll of the UFT.
  • the New Action leadership led by Michael Shulman and David Kaufman and some others have been given part-time jobs by Randi and if they were to allow New Action to run on a platform crticizing Unity, guess what happens to those jobs?

Really? Let’s look more closely.

OC jobs are, arguably, among the least desireable in the UFT.

OC jobs are not available to active members, and New Action supporters (like me) include people not even close.

Many (?) most (?) New Action supporters could have gotten better jobs – or additional jobs, by joining Unity, which we haven’t.  Hm. Actually, that remains a problem as the lure of better jobs (or a job at all) occasionally gets to someone.

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UFT jobs were traditionally given out on a patronage basis. This is still, unfortunately, the rule in many offices.

But the breakthrough, giving field jobs to independents and supporters of an opposition caucus, that rolled things around a bit. I was offered (didn’t take, bad fit) a PM spot. And there is even an ICE person now working as a PM staffer (Brooklyn Office? Staten Island Office? Somewhere out there).

The rules haven’t changed. But the rules are changing. And that comes directly from New Action showing willingness to work in a bipartisan way with Unity.

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In many schools, chapters remain weak. Rights that have been codified on paper don’t have chapters to guarantee their enforcement. New teachers are hired, pushed around, not defended, and end up bitter, if they stay at all. The next generation of teachers reaches tenure without a sense of the importance of the Union, of collective action.

The efforts of the Organizing Committee are vitally necessary. Building, rebuilding chapters is a key step towards restrengthening our union and better defending all of our rights.

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