Thursday, January 17, 2013

On Eval Deal, What Do UFT Leaders Fear Most: External or Internal Criticism?

Given the idea out there that Mulgrew is between a rock and a hard place, my thesis is that the hard place is not so hard while the deadline of the rock is. 
They do not want to get into this fight with Bloomberg for the rest of the school year. They will take their chances with the members who are upset and their proven ability to manage them.
They know that Bloomberg will take the lost money out of their hides by threatening layoffs and that will be tied to keeping the "effective" -- young, white, E4E types (can't you hear the wails) and getting rid of senior teachers and tenure. In fact this coming assault is one of the behind the scenes talking points by Unity. After all, the very essence of the evaluation deal is getting rid of tenure in a less messy way.

The Daily News which never cared very much about the excessive rises in class size suddenly is crying over the possibility.  Boo, hoo.
 
Thurs, Jan. 17, 10:30 AM.

Given we are hours away from the Delegate Assembly and the deadline for an agreement and the possible loss of $250 million in state aid, there is some speculation that it will be impossible to reach a deal in time for the delegates to read and absorb the details in time to make an intelligent decision. Then add to that the fact that they are supposedly casting a vote to represent the people who elected them, none of whom will get to see the details.

So how does this situation equate with reality?

Let me point you to some of this speculation before I delve into my analysis.

Philissa Cramer at  Gotham Schools has an extensive piece analyzing many of the options the mayor, the DOE and the UFT have pro and con.

Tim Clifford at Schoolbook goes deep.

Reality-Based Educator has a few posts on the approaching deadline, including a link to a Daily News editorial saying talks are dead in the water.
Last night:29 Hours And Counting: So far, no deal on APPR, followed by this morning:  No Evaluation Agreement Announcement Yet.

The press is going ape over the loss of the money if there is no deal.
At last night's PEP I raised the Francesco Portelos case (Protect Portelos)
to point out that not only does Walcott NOT to teach as just one example of the enormous waste in the DOE.

The Daily News which never cared very much about the excessive rises in class size suddenly is crying over the possibility. The UFT, which should not only be pointing out all the money the DOE wastes but also how if we do sign a deal not one cent will go towards reducing class size or directly into the classroom. That should have been their commercials, prepping the public for a rejection of the deal instead of crying (like E4E and Students First) that we need a deal.

And that is what makes me suspicious that this is all being scripted. Today, at 4:30, someone runs into the DA waving sheets of paper, saying we have a tentative deal which is then passed around to the delegates for a quick read while Mulgrew spends an hour explaining it, followed by a batch of Unity speakers defending it, with a few MOREs thrown in to oppose, and then a quick vote.

Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit but I've seen this act before with other agreements where the leadership does a bums rush to get people to vote (especially since they know they have the house --- you can bet every Unity person was told to show, including as many of the 300 retiree delegates who are not in Florida).

Sounds almost impossible to believe this can happen, which is why some people think this DA can not feasibly be about a vote for a deal and leave the leadership with any credibility with the members and even segment of the public. And I can just see some of my pals in the press who have been around for a while (leave out the NY Times ed people who clearly do not have a clue) rolling their eyes.

RBE's experience, like mine, is that the UFT leadership has never resisted the pressures before so that makes a deal likely. But he does point to the pitfalls for Mulgrew and Unity Caucus in terms of member reaction. And if you read my posts from last night (UPDATE: MORE Statement on Rally)
you can see that some schools with an activist chapter leader explaining all the issues are turning against any deal. Unfortunately, not enough.

I do not believe the UFT leaders are really as worried about member reaction as some think and in fact as an external PR factory (poorly run at that) they put priority on their perception in the public eye over that of the members though their internal PR machine using brute force has much more effective. And that is what they are counting on if they put forth a deal today. My guess is that the DA will vote 70-30 for whatever they put forth and that will be hailed as a victory for democracy.

They have weathered these storms in the past. And in fact are very sure that can manage the members way more easily than they can the press and ed deformers. They have a lot of experience doing that, given they pretty much control all the means of communication within the UFT. Which is why the biggest long-term threat to them would be an alternative like MORE inside the UFT that would have the ability to counter their spin in every school in the city.

If you are looking for an 8 month old group like MORE to do that, you are missing the essentials of what it will take to build an organization to be able to manage that. Even CORE has 2 years to build in Chicago before being able to challenge seriously and they only had a third of the number of schools and geographical area to cover.

Given the idea out there that Mulgrew is between a rock and a hard place, my thesis is that the hard place is not so hard while the deadline of the rock is. They know that Bloomberg will take the lost money out of their hides by threatening layoffs and that will be tied to keeping the "effective" -- young, white, E4E types and getting rid of senior teachers and tenure. In fact this coming assault is one of the behind the scenes talking points by Unity. After all, the very essence of the evaluation deal is getting rid of tenure in a less messy way.

They do not want to get into this fight with Bloomberg for the rest of the school year. They will take their chances with the members who are upset. (Never forget how they controlled the reaction to the 2005 contract, which started us on this decline.)

First, back up the UFT elections just enough to give the entire horde of people working at UFT HQ and in the boroughs to inundate the schools to explain how good a deal this is before the election when MORE will not have access to the schools other than the ones where they have a live body to counter the UFT line.

Next, every single school would get a visit from a UFT honcho. After about 6 weeks of softening people up and attacking MORE for opposing the deal as being merely negative and obstructionist and really wanting to lead you all down the road to a strike and so on and so on.

Meanwhile, they get sort-of accolades from the critics, which is really what they care about.

Given the realities of the way the UFT elections is rigged, people are paying way too much attention to it. And don't forget Unity has New Action as the house opposition. Teachers not happy with Unity who have not heard of MORE, given 2 non-Unity choices on the ballot, may well vote New Action without realizing they are also voting for Mulgrew and a batch of other Unity people. So whatever vote NA gets also goes to pad Mulgrew's numbers.

In the UFT the real elections are the chapter leader elections every 3 years (next one is spring 2015) where the battle for control of the schools take place. Unity uses their training sessions for new chapter leaders to grab them into Unity, a black hole from which they never emerge given subtle and not so subtle offers of jobs and perks, hard to resist for many people who have not been active before.

For any alternative like MORE to get real traction, it must begin to capture these elections while trying to recruit as many current CLs who are independent -- and that is what part of today's events are about. Some people will be showing up who usually do not show and maybe something strikes them to get involves in opposing the Unity machine.

Now MORE is not taking a position today as an attack on the union leadership but as an attempt to pressure them to do the right thing.
The rally outside the DA is directed against the junk science teacher eval schemes that are being foisted upon us, and demands that the rank and file have a say in a ratification of any agreement. It calls for our union to end the self destructive "collaboration" with union hating corporate "reformers" and politicians in both political parties. It is our union even when it is wrong. The rally is not against the UFT leadership.
I for one do not think Unity generally does the right thing but the younger activists in MORE who have not been fighting the Unity machine for 43 years actually have some hope. So they are not viewing today's action as part of a the election campaign. As a good soldier, I am going along. Luckily MORE is a democratic organization where every person has the right to express their personal views without facing expulsion.


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Later if I get some time I will post some of the arguments the union is and will be using to soften up the members.

I will be there from around 3PM on with leaflets and will be working outside with whatever people who show and want to make their voices heard even if they can't go in.

After the DA some of us will gather outside the building for a brief huddle -- all are invited -- maybe with some comments from Julie Cavanagh and Jack -- and then a bunch will go off to a local bar to celebrate or drown our sorrows.  All are invited to join us.

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The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.

9 comments:

  1. Of course here in Buffalo it looks like the Kingdumb has more problems with the BTF's agreed upon eval with the district. On our city school's website the Superintendent advises all to call the union and pressure the union to agree else $59 million will be lost to "the children." In the local fishwrap, not surprisingly a heavily pro charter rag they cite a number in the $30 millions. Seems to me $20 million is kind of a large sum to be off by. But I guess if you are fudging numbers even $20 mill "for the children" it's all good.

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  2. Right On Michael Mulgrew...I always KNEW you had some BALLS left...SHOUT OUT FROM GRADY !!!...We're PARTYING tonight...YES...it DOES matter...Thank You Guy...!!!

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  3. "I'm sorry Michael, it's not necessarily grounded in reality, but it's in my nature to sick and lock on like a rabid pitbull." Norm

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  4. Just a reminder. Mulgrew admitted he caved last night and was saved from selling out by the real rabid pit bull, Bloomberg. So I was still half right and will be over the long run -- well over the long run you will still have that 6 figure salary and double pension so what diff does it make to you? Mulgrew spent meeting defending growth models. I love models but not that kind. Glad I stayed outside in the cold. You missed a nice rally by the way -- film at 11.

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  5. Stop the presses: Norm claims he was right after all. Norm, you keep hammering away at "six-figure salaries" for union reps. Since our senior members make 100k at top salaries, don't you think it's time to select a new mantra? AS a liar, you are peerless, but as a polemicist and propagandist, you're an amateur.

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  6. Nope Norm, you were wrong. Pull the wedgie outta your butt and admit it. Loser.

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  7. Sure, Mulgrew was willing to give Bloomberg 2 years while even principals and most of state gave one year sunset. I was right. Mulgrew was ready to cave and was saved by Bloomberg. And if not for MORE pressure and election Mulgrew would have given Bloomberg whatever he wanted. And how nice you guys making 50% more than even the highest salaried teachers have the time to spend reading blogs. Do you get a triple pension for that?

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  8. No Norm, why is it so hard to accept that I am a fellow retiree blogger, one who remembers your delegate assembly shenanigans from the 90s?

    It is very funny that you are still all wrapped up in conspiracy theories, name calling, and your own inflated self-worth. You are still a loser.

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