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Did Unity Just Start the Election Campaign by Sticking It to Retirees?

February 28, 2016 pm29 11:45 pm

Did you see that the increased copays announced Friday affect non-Medicare retirees? Retirees vote, and heavily Unity. And right as the election period gets going? I don’t get this. Received wisdom has it that Unity’s deals mainly hurt groups that either do not vote, or are unlikely to vote, or don’t vote for Unity.

Unity’s Bad Deals Don’t Hurt Everyone (Directly)

When Unity let the City informally extend probation without a fight, and then watched as the State formally extended it to four years, those were probationers getting the short end. Many do not last in the system. Those who do have a fairly low ballot return number in the UFT elections.

When Unity struck deals with the Klein to break up many of our large high schools,* everyone knew that high schools already voted for the opposition.

When Unity unintentionally helped Bloomberg swell the ATR pool, and then struck repeated deals that kept the pool large, and rotating (so that the teachers subbed, and did not work long term in one place), the victims were relatively small in number (relatively – several thousand teachers have gone through the pool, but generally only 1000 at any given time) and in many cases were on their way out of the system (willingly, or not). This was not a big group of voters.  And those that voted were probably not voting Unity anyhow.

When Unity quietly deep sixed the program designed to deal with abusive principals, it was only the members in those schools who were (directly) affected. (Actually, an injury to one is an injury to all, but some of us in the UFT need a refresher).  And if those members were organized, the leadership would have already come in. So it was the unorganized who were left in the lurch, and the unorganized are often non-voters.

Giving up Step Two grievances affects all of us in the short run, but only a few of us directly felt the loss of due process at the time.


Unity opposed Race to the Top – until right after the 2010 UFT election. During that election Mulgrew opposed tying ratings to testing, and opposed a law that would undermine due process. As soon as the election ended, he flipped. These guys are masters of timing the bad news well. This election is late, and the timing matches, perhaps inadvertently, a contractual raise.

But hurting retirees before an election?

True, the dollar amounts are not huge. But they are real. Some people will shrug their shoulders and say that they understand “cost savings.” But a lot won’t. Why was Unity willing to take this risk? What’s going on here?

Unless there is something else going on here, touching retirees’ health care looks like the second worst move Unity could have possibly made (pensions would have been worse). Anyone have any insight?



* Weingarten and Gates’ NYC people chose to preemptively shut down large Bronx high schools, and create mini-schools. There was no legal requirement, no State mandate. She did this over the objections of her members in the schools, and over the objections of her elected chapter leaders in the schools. Stevenson, Walton, Columbus, South Bronx, Kennedy, Evander.  The massive Bronx high school closures of the early 2000s required full support from the UFT leadership. Weingarten and Unity Caucus gave their full support to this destruction.




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