If you read part 1 (UFT Delegate Assembly, Democracy NOT) of Seung Ok's Delegate Assembly report on Weds, Randi's farewell performance, hold on to your hats as you see how the UFT hacks are coming down on Seung for daring to call out during Queen Victoria's speech. They are sending in the clowns - er union officials, most likely Unity hack supreme District rep Charlie Turner (who once had a teacher threatened with losing his job for inviting me to speak to teachers) and holding a special union meeting at 8 Am ON THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL to try to get Seung recalled as a delegate. Seung's part 3 report tomorrow ought to make interesting reading.
Dear colleagues 6-25-09,
Yet again, we see the ugly head of fiefdom rear its ugly form - aka Unity Caucus of the UFT. As a result of voicing my opinions at the DA, after essentially being denied a fair and equitable debate on Tier V, the all too comfy powers-that-be in our union have decided to do some Bloomberg/Kline-esque tactics of intimidation to rule out dissenting voices.
Tomorrow they will be sending their foot soldiers (including Charlie Turner, who actually teaches at my school and is a District Rep) to Maxwell High to decide whether I, as a delegate should be barred from future DA meetings, or, that my delegate position be stripped. And on top of that, they want to speak to my principal, to add another layer of intimidation. Wow, who would have thought – Unity Caucus and principals – such strange bedfellows indeed arise in these times. I applaud our union in keeping up with the times, and learning from our beloved friend, the mayor. I’m learning so much about how things work in the union, and I just got elected. Lucky me – thank you Unity.
So this is how I see them attacking me. They will say that I deliberately flaunted procedure by shouting out my opinions to Weingarten during her farewell speech. And that I’m even anti–union. And here is my response:
1.- I didn’t see them being upset when members of their caucus shout out things like “We love you Randi!” “Thank you, Randi!”. I just wanted to join the group discussion, that’s all. Each of us has a different way of saying farewell.
2 – If they at all cared about the democratic functioning of the Delegate Assembly, should they not have trained a new delegate such as I on the Robert’s Rule of Parliamentary Procedure? All those say AYE? Are they afraid that someone might actually learn to have a voice besides them?
3. Unbeknownst to me, as a new delegate I was not even supposed to show up until September. The previous delegate should have finished her year by attending this DA. I guess they can blame their incompetence in not notifying me of anything. The similarities between Unity and the Mayor are startling, don’t ya think? Gee, I wonder what they actually do with millions of our hard earned money up there in 52 Broadway (I mean, besides cheese and wine parties - and believe you me, the cheese is already present and accounted for).
4. But seriously, and this is the biggest charge I make upon the union leadership. If at any point in the past 3 months, someone, anyone returned my email or contacted me about the concerns of a paying member of OUR union – I would not have had to shout out my opinions like a fool. The following is a chronology of events (Flash back fade and music):
a. In the April Assembly, I stood up from the guest section and called out a question at the very end of the meeting, when most people had enough of Weingarten’s soliloquies and filed out. When I asked about her support of charter schools and whether it would endanger the future of public education, she again hid behind the most sacred of all books, the Robert’s Rules of Order. Now I don’t know who this Robert guy is, but it seems he was pro Unity.
b. But she asked me for my name, and promised to respond if I send an email to her. I did just that, and to this day, I still look longingly for her response. Any day now (tick – tock, birds chirping, grass growing, Unity actually defending its Rubber Room and ATR members).
c. Now to yesterday’s assembly. Had she actually been fair again and given voice to an equal number of dissenters on the subject of Tier V – and of course, it didn’t have to be me - I would have sat quieter than a lamb unwittingly being put to sleep.
And this is not just me, I know dozens of people who have emailed the union and have never gotten a response. This is inexcusable for OUR union, to whom we pay hefty salaries to ignore their own constituents’ concerns. Even politicians know enough to have a staff that handles calls and emails. But let’s even forget that for a second. Don’t ya think that for such a change as Tier V, the rank and file could be kept informed a lot earlier than a day before the actual vote? Again, the similarities to the Mayor’s office is remarkable.
But insult to injury, I have to be concerned about watching my back from my own union? Folks, this whole experience has been an eye opener. We need to clean house in our union leadership, just as we need to clean house in the mayor’s office and in the NY senate. Fat cats that have been getting too comfortable, arrogant and undemocratic are stinking up their own litter box. Whatever happens, whether I remain a delegate or not, please vote for a change in the next union elections, and let’s get some of these cats teaching again – how about that for a humbling experience.