Sunday, May 30, 2010

Defeat for Weingarten in DC? And Pittsburgh Too?

We've been chronicling the various stages of revolt by teachers in many urban centers over the sellout policies of the AFT/UFT. For those new to this blog, we team the AFT and UFT up because the massive numbers of members in NYC-based UFT controls the 650 thousand member NY State United Teachers which dominates the 1.6 million member AFT – a classic tail wagging the dog story. There is no separating the AFT/UFT though many teachers in NYC unfortunately thought that Michael Mulgrew would be in some way different that Randi Weingarten, only to find out since his 91% victory in the recent election that his difference is more style over substance. Did anyone think that when Shanker gave up leading the UFT in 1985 to Sandy Feldman that Shanker wasn't still in charge.

We've seen teacher unrest in AFT bastions Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, and throughout the state of Florida and NEA dominated cities like Los Angeles and Oakland.

Now, I've been saying all along the autocratic AFT, which has had 3 former UFT leaders, all hand-picked by their predecessors (they do that in monarchies) running it since 1974, will do everything in its power to damp down this movement, including manipulating elections (see Washington DC and Detroit and Chicago if they can. For instance see: Why AFT President Weingarten stole my elected union job! from a Washington teacher.

Here is some good news from our buddy Candi Peterson and maybe a glimmer into where things stand in DC Saunders/Peterson Slate For WTU Elections Committee Wins Overwhelmingly !

Some of us have maintained that when threatened, the AFT/UFT would use every means, legal and illegal, to hold onto power. That's the way dictatorships operate. (See AFT Hack Attack on Portland Local 5017, Randi Goes to Portland As AFT Threatens ...).

How Unity Tried to Steal an Election
A great example occurred back in 1985 when NAC (a predecessor to New Action) won an officer position for VPHS - as a matter of fact it was NA leader Michael Shulman who defeated George Altomare by less than a hundred votes. The Unity controlled Ex Bd refused to certify the results and wouldn't seat Shulman claiming the very election they had run had irregularities. Unity controlled the election committee. Chutzpa in spades.

NAC was forced to submit to an arbitrator who ruled a new election which didn't take place until Jan. 1986, leaving the high school VP seat vacant for 6 momths. Shulman won this time with about 60% of the vote as the high school teachers revolted against Unity. Unity then did everything it could to undermine Shulman over the remaining 18 months of his term. The AdCom even held secret meetings without Shulman.

In 1991 NAC barely lost the high schools and junior high school officer positions but did win 13 HS and MS Exec Bd seats, the high water mark for the opposition.

Feeling the threat, in 1994 Unity pushed through a constitutional change taking away the right of high school teachers to elect their own VP (elem and middle schools too) by making them at-large (so everyone in the union including retirees vote for VPs) so the opposition would never again win an officer position. It was pushed through the DA at a meeting held on day there was a snow storm and never went to a general vote of the membership.

Rift develops in city teachers union
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The fallout from an election of four new executive board members of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers this week highlights what some teachers say is a growing schism between the union's leadership and its 2,700 members.

Their election to the board marks the first time that challengers defeated incumbent officers in a union election in at least 30 years.

The four who won the seats -- teachers at Pittsburgh Carrick High School - - contend their victory in Monday's election shows how dissatisfied their ranks are with union leaders.

The group won four of the 16 positions open on the 32-member board.

Two days after their victory, however, the teachers said they were shocked to receive a note from union President John Tarka notifying them that Mr. Moss and Mr. McManus will not assume their positions as staff members at union headquarters on the South Side on July 1, the start of their four-year terms. Instead, they said, Mr. Tarka told them that Mr. Moss and Mr. McManus will remain in their teaching positions at Carrick, while Mr. Gensure and Ms. Wilson -- whom they defeated-- would keep their jobs as union staff members at district headquarters.
Read full story at Norms Notes.

Yes, in NYC all this is a long, long way from happening again, but if it ever did - watch out.
In the meantime, some of us may head to Seattle for the AFT convention to find out why this city is different from all the others.

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