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What does Unity do when they see a Problem?

March 28, 2022 pm31 11:35 pm

When real leaders see a problem they deal with the problem, they try to fix the problem.

But Unity caucus holds for now the leadership of the United Federation of Teachers. I have often accused Unity leadership of hiding problems, rather than addressing them.

When a school is full of untenured teachers, terrified of an abusive administrator, you’d think the DR would march in, with back up, and begin to set things straight. Sadly, the more common response is to say nothing, to hide the problem, to pretend it’s not there. Without opposition on the UFT Executive Board, there are no reports of abusive administrators. Instead instances of bad principals get swept under the rug.

(There was a celebratory report recently on a school that had defeated such a principal – but the pattern is clear – if they had not won, the leadership would have said nothing. And a school in that situation getting help is the exception)

When there was opposition on the Executive Board, we used to call them on it. Teachers from such schools would come in, and appeal for help. But the Unity leadership would point out that the teachers in those situations have often not begun to organize themselves. This is the wrong answer. As union leaders we are supposed to fight for people who cannot fight for themselves.

But today, bizarrely, we have a clearer example of how Unity deals with problems.

In the 2022 United Federation of Teachers elections, the reigning caucus, Unity, is stuck with the most unpopular president in UFT history – Michael Mulgrew. He got a lot of exposure during the pandemic (Town Halls did not help) and a surprisingly large number of members think he’s a jerk. He’s identified with the union’s slow, indecisive pandemic policies and inadequate protections for members. Mulgrew’s tied by his unwavering support to Andrew Cuomo. And Mulgrew is the front man for the Medicare Advantage flim flam. Unity has themselves a turkey.

Unity has a problem. Michael Mulgrew.

What does Unity do when it faces a problem? They hide it.

Last week they mailed – I don’t know – 70,000? 100,000? 150,000? 200,000? pieces of campaign literature to members’ houses. Lots of pictures on those mailers. Know who they left off? Mulgrew.

The high school piece included a list of their candidates who work or worked in a high school. Some have been out of the classroom for almost two decades. One for four decades. One never worked in high school. But you know who worked in a high school? Michael Mulgrew. Except they left his name off the list.

Now they have new literature, with all the officers’ photos. I’ve seen it. Mulgrew is running for an officer position (President). They couldn’t leave him off – but they made him the same size as everyone else (actually, a bit smaller. Richie Mantell is leaning in, smiling at the camera. Mulgrew is glaring from afar.) And where is? Lower row, 3rd from the left.

Don’t believe me? Measure the heads!

I didn’t get this in the mail. I went to the Unity Facebook page (like jumping in icy water, or eating a roach – simultaneous tempting and frightening or gross) to see it. I also noticed something interesting; his name is absent from the page.

Michael Mulgrew is a problem for Unity. So they are hiding them.

And that says a lot of what you need to know about how they run this union. When they see a problem, they bury it, or run from it, or hide it.

We need better leadership than that.

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