Thursday, January 1, 2015

An ‘Uncaucus’ Proposal to Boycott UFT Officer Elections

The boycott would be a protest aimed at making the union more democratic through specific, substantial reforms. It would be attempting to break the stranglehold of unity caucus not in favor of this or that organized grouping but on behalf of the membership in general. ... Our system of union leadership is corrupt. The membership can't control it until it's been made to work democratically. ... John Lawhead, "An Uncaucus Proposal"
From the winter of 2012 as MORE was forming, John Lawhead made this intriguing proposal, which I raised in early pre-MORE meetings. Back in 2009 when ICE was deciding whether to run in the 2010 UFT elections some of us also called for a boycott - let Mulgrew look like Putin and get 100% of the vote - expose the UFT election process for the sham it is.

John was very prescient and pointed out the impact of the predicted low turnout - but lower than even we expected - 52% of the voters were retirees - an embarrassment to the Unity Caucus leadership.
An ‘Uncaucus’ Proposal (c. March 2012)
By John Lawhead.

There must be a fuller discussion of any decision to launch a new caucus. Another possibility I find more appealing would be to form an "uncaucus" -- a movement aimed at undoing caucus perogatives and making the union itself more democratic. Why not make it clear from the get-go we have no interest in the spoils?
Our strategy might be to boycott the election for union officers unless specific reforms are implemented. This would not be a passive boycott but a loud campaign based on a demand for substantial democratic reforms. The leadership could risk ignoring it, run against New Action and maybe TJC as usual, and then let us trumpet any low turnout as a "victory." They might try to outdo us by revving up their PR machinery to promote the vote in a big way but in that case they'd be putting a trust in the membership that goes against all instincts. 

We could still concentrate on rebuilding school chapters and running for school reps on local issues. Indeed there'd be more time and energy available to be put there rather than tied up with things like discussing a general political platform encompassing enough and amenable to the various tendencies in the opposition. I personally think building collective power in the schools is more important than electing school representation to the delegate assembly. There's currently no way for DA resolutions to be enforced. Our system of union leadership is corrupt. The membership can't control it until it's been made to work democratically. 

I want to clarify also that this would not be some stunt that's really meant to promote any "shadow list of candidates" or some alternative political platform. 

The boycott would be a protest aimed at making the union more democratic through specific, substantial reforms. It would be attempting to break the stranglehold of unity caucus not in favor of this or that organized grouping but on behalf of the membership in general. 

It should be obvious that an effort concerned with reforming election procedures, access to union media and union facilities on behalf of everybody is going to have very different priorities than an effort that's aimed at putting together a "winning" political platform and building support for it. 

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