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Elections for UFT Exec Board – caucuses behave differently

March 25, 2010 am31 10:20 am

In the UFT elections there are three slates running:  Unity (the current leadership), New Action (partially in a bipartisan relationship with Unity, partially in opposition), and ICE/TJC (apparently two distinct organizations joining together to get more votes). The only part of the UFT elections likely to be anywhere near close (and I hope that they are not so close) is for the 6 high school seats. At the high school level, Unity and New Action cross endorsed three candidates each (including me). We are running against three ICE and three TJC candidates.

What would happen if ICE/TJC won?  We sort of know. They won once before. From 2004 – 2007 they held those six seats.  The official New Action leaflet says that they did nothing with those seats. It is true that they offered few resolutions (was it only three in three years?) But there’s worse. They were hostile and argumentative… not only about the issues where they disagreed, but personally. What were they trying to accomplish with the shouting?  Now, all of them? No. But they run together, they have to share some of that responsibility.

What were they doing? I’m going to guess that very often they were just making the record. They were demonstrating to anyone who was listening that they were opposed, not only to specific policies, but also to the UFT leadership as a whole. The noise, to a certain degree, was the end in itself. How did this help the members?  Hmm.

There’s a very different problem with Unity, and again I am painting with a broad brush. The Exec Board is a leadership body. It is drawn from across the union, the boroughs, the titles. It is a mix of people with and without union jobs. But it mostly sits silently and listens, and applauds when appropriate. Once or twice each meeting a member other than an officer makes a comment or asks a question, but there’s not a whole lot of that.

The union suffers for this. By keeping discussion private, and then by not having the private discussion, the leadership denies itself feedback. Unions are membership organizations, but here membership initiative is – I’m looking for a passive form of “discouraged” – perhaps “dis-encouraged.” Everything hunky-dory? Then it doesn’t do much harm to the leaders. Still not good. But today, where we are under attack from multiple directions? The feedback from the members, and even initiative from members is sorely needed. Having 80 silent Exec Board members doesn’t help.

On the high school level, all three Unity candidates do rise to speak: Alan Ettman, Greg Lundahl, and Patty Crespino. But there should be more. Unity is doing itself a disservice by not encouraging questions and discussion.

And New Action? We ask questions. We offer resolutions. We offer amendments. Sometimes we just throw out ideas. Sometimes they are accepted. Sometimes we compromise. Sometimes we are voted down. But when we get things passed, or improve a resolution, that benefits the members. And when we get a discussion going, 80 people learn something – if not from us, then in the back and forth.

Last Exec Board, perfect example, nothing exciting. We pointed out the representative from NYC who voted against the Health Care bill (Mulgrew later reported on him, and didn’t tip his hand, but made sure we knew we were looking) and in light of the UFT Charter School getting a 3 year reauthorization we asked for a report from the chapter leader later this spring (agreed).

Previous exec board – we offered amendments to the Central Falls resolution to include the Obama and Duncan remarks in the “Whereas” and to add as the first “resolved” to offer concrete support.  Adopted.

Small things? Perhaps. But who else does them?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. xrediscoveriesabc permalink
    June 1, 2010 pm30 12:53 pm 12:53 pm

    Just saying Hi to all the members here!

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