Friday, March 6, 2015

How Unity caucus controls the UFT/NYSUT/AFT - An Analysis

Updated -

Arthur Goldstein at NYC Educator has a piece today - Weingarten Supports Hochul, Hochul Thanks Her by Supporting Moskowitz.

Randi Weingarten's made robo-calls for NYS Lt. Gov Kathy Hochul, who made a slug appearance in front of the Moskowitz rally. I had a piece on this the other day-   Demand Accountability From UFT/AFT/NYSUT/Unity Caucus..., as did RBE at Perdido St., Time To Ask Randi Weingarten About The Kathy Hochul Robocalls Again.

Arthur raises some essential questions regarding the continuous bad policy decisions being made by the union time and again.
....How many times do we need to fall on our asses before someone in leadership gets tired? How much inexcusable nonsense do working teachers need to experience before someone says enough?
when are we gonna learn from our mistakes? How many times are we gonna kowtow to people who hate us and everything we stand for just so they can crap all over us? I guess there's some logic to this, but my mind just can't get around it. Norm Scott regularly posts explanations, but even after he explains it I don't understand.
I'm apparently not able to articulate a clear explanation for the WHY behind the UFT's actions -- and let's make it clear, Unity Caucus, being the largest block in NYSUT and the AFT, controls both those organizations. So for those who try to make it seem Mulgrew is not Weingarten, that is just blowing smoke. All style and no substance in the difference.

Michael Fiorillo has a piece in the upcoming High School Voice newsletter on Unity control which we will try to get into as many high schools as possible (email me if you are willing to distribute.)
Chaz blog

The real problem is not just a small oligarchic leadership who sit in offices but the loyalists in Unity caucus who are actually in schools, many as chapter leaders, and still force feed the Unity line to the people they supposedly represent. Note the comments of people like Unity supporters Paula Washington and John Marvel on blog posts critical of the union as examples - loyalists rushing to rearrange the deck chairs.

You need to look at the institutions the union sets up and controls that extend their control into the schools.

If you attend one of the 50 district and functional chapter meetings which are aimed at chapter leaders, you will find a room dominated by Unity and controlled by the Unity person running the meeting. I know MORE CLs who feel there is little headway to be made with these people. In only one district I know of have MORE and other independent CLs been getting to a point of critical mass where their voices are being heard.

People focus way to much on the elections every 3 years. The really important elections take place this May and June for CLs.

[MORE chapter leader election workshops on March 14 at CUNY.]

Even if independents get elected, they are often pulled into the orbit of the union-employed District Rep and also union training weekends where they are shown the advantages of joining Unity - and many do right away. Then they are told the opposition is poison, radicals, crazies, etc. And they spread the word in their schools if someone asks about the opposition.
NYC Educator blog

One of our new people had a friend who basically knows nothing about the union with disparaging remarks about MORE, which astounded this person. Where did she get that from? It is the Unity Caucus rank and file who are fed the line and pass it on.

Co-opting the opposition is another tactic. They target certain people. They never give up on people other than people like Arthur, James Eterno, Jeff Kaufman and myself.

Many of the newer activists in MORE are being approached by union officials, if not outright offers to join "you will rise quickly in the union" but also more subtle -- we hear you, let's work together, join our working committees, etc. I call this "defanging" the opposition. Hey, it worked with New Action so effectively.

And for people who got involved with a group like MORE only recently, it can be heady stuff being approached with offers to give them a voice. Especially when Mulgrew himself is doing this - as Randi did with me for so many years - and yes, I admit fully to buying it for a long time. So I am not blaming them for being enticed. I can't tell you how many people who  used to distribute Ed Notes from 1998-2003 ended up being co-opted into Unity -- I usually know that happened when they suddenly stopped saying hello to me at the DA -- though they are more friendly at AFT conventions in other cities.

Call them incompetent on policy but in this venture of control they are as good as it can get -- the Unity of Chicago was incompetent and that opened the way for CORE. Unity will make sure that never happens here.

Pogue made this excellent comment on Arthur's piece.
I don't believe leadership and Unity are out of touch, I believe they make decisions on fear... The fear that those at the top of our union leadership will lose their power, fear they will lose their double pensions, fear they will lose all the perks that come with keeping destructive policies the way they are. I imagine backdoor meetings with politicians and rich policymakers are made up of UFT leadership being told what's going to happen, then being assisted on formulating how Unity can make it seem like they are fighting back. Unionized marionette strings, if you will.
I used to think leadership made honest mistakes, too many mistakes, one worse than the last, over the course of the past 15 years, have made it crystal clear they are collaborative and complicit in public education's problems.
Leadership and Unity are not stupid, they are just scared.
I've been putting forward the Vichy-like-collaborationist theory for some time. I don't mean to compare them to Nazi sympathizers but with the kind of thinking that would get a significant group of probably decent people in France to think that a cooperating Vichy was better than the Resistance - which by the way was left wing -- and that is a story for another time given that ANY opposition will always have a left wing because, well, that is where activists and organizers are likely to come from.

One of the major tactics of Unity is the indoctrinate its people that the opposition are oddballs leftists to scare people who might venture into that camp. That MORE has been attracting a broader range of people is a threat to Unity and thus Unity woos them to try to winnow down the opposition to the extent they can be more easily branded.

What disturbs me is when our friends get all riled up when they hear some left rhetoric and end up, unwittingly, enforcing the Unity plan.


  1. You say that it disturbs you when friends get riled up after hearing leftist rhetoric. It's not clear why you're disturbed. It disturbs me when I hear references to "capitalist courts" and "proletarian values" and it disturbs me when I read flyers extolling the virtues of Stalin and North Korea's valiant struggle against injustice. It disturbs me because it makes me think that MORE is more concerned with the eventual, long awaited triumph of world communism than it is with our profession. So, I hope you're disturbed, not at the short-sightedness of those who are put off by such talk, but rather by the dangerous fools who continue to pursue such a line, and who make it so very easy for UNITY to stay in power. And please be honest, Norm, would you just look the other way and smile a bemused smile if a right wing caucus began agitating about the malign influence of, say, "rootless cosmopolitans," for example.?

    1. Let me get this straight. You've seen MORE flyers extolling the virtues of Stalin and North Korea? How do you really know what MORE is concerned with? I advertize MORE events - like protecting chapter leaders and running for chapter leader and fighting testing. MORE is no more left than the Chicago Teachers Union - the VP is in ISO and Karen Lewis is probably to the left of me -- how have they done? Yes I am disturbed when I hear rhetoric on the left or right because that allows people like you to extract a few words and slander a group like MORE or ICE which obviously contain people on the left, thus feeding into the Unity line of attack. Yes you help keep them in power by spreading this nonsense. I guess you want a purge. You clearly are a red-baiter of the worst kind and have no clue about the left or the right. You might ask yourself why there is no right wing caucus and in fact there won't be one. I am proud to be left-leaning and find at least people on the left care enough to get off their asses and do something, even with their rhetoric. I taught in ghetto schools for over 30 years and if any teacher doesn't recognize the impact of race in schools like this they shouldn't be teaching.

    2. You're absolutely right, Anonymous: All Hail Great Leader Michael Mulgrew, the Heroic Unity Caucus and Its Loyalty Oath, and Down With the Running Dogs of Opposition!!!

  2. Teachers are getting fucked left and right. Democrats and Republicans are united in their campaigns to destroy public education. Can we really afford to be debating amongst ourselves? No body is going to save us.

  3. If it concerns you that members of the Unity Caucus (allegedly) refer to other caucuses as "Poison", "Radicals" and "Crazies", how can you justify and endorse other blogs and caucuses who publicly make inflammatory comments about Unity, as evidenced by the illustrations on this page? You can't have it both ways.

    It also concerns me that these blogs and caucuses seemingly pride itself on focusing on worst-case scenarios, versus focusing on positive outcomes. There's an old Chinese proverb that states, "One cannot refuse to eat just because there is a chance of being choked". Nothing is perfect. But it would make more sense to make forward steps rather than remain stagnant and point out everything that could go wrong if you go forward. Case in point (and I adderessed this to you a few weeks ago): many, many, many members said the '09-'18 agreement was a bad deal partly because, as James Eterno put it, "Anybody can become an ATR at any time". Well, wasn't that the case before the new agreement? People argued more ATR's would be let go at a more frequent pace. I think it's safe to say that hasn't been the case. You know as well as I do, that the word would have been out en masse if they (ATR's) were being unjustly released.

    I also take offense that CL's join Unity out of blind allegiance. Can't we argue that people join other groups blindly, without fully understanding *their* agenda? A strong and documented history of social justice confirms my support for Unity. From MLK and Albert Shanker, to Bayard Rustin and Sandra Feldman to Randi Weingarten, Rev. William Barber, Rev. Al Sharpton, Michale Mulgrew and the NAACP, there is a marriage of civil rights, community activism and education.

    1. I don't assume joining Unity is out of just getting perks. I'll give you your motivations. But the cost of being in Unity is supporting all the bad policies -- you can;t support opt-out or oppose common core or the charter school, and the dirty deal with New Action etc. It is you that empower them to be undemocratic and keep them making disastrous policy. You are the problem not the solution.
      I can have it both ways. You guys have been in power for 60 years - so you are a target. My groups are miniscule and powerless. You cannot equate the two -- it is like the right wing that equate teacher union financial influence with that of billionaire ed deformers. You are the billionaires in this scenario and we use our pea shooters to take shots at you. That you so often feel the need to defend the indefensible on the critical blogs is a sign of insecurity in your own position. Stand up and object to retirees being 52% of the vote in a UFT election. And also tell me you turn down those perks -- did I see you in LA this past summer when I paid my own way?

  4. What the leadership of the AFT has established are company unions.

    Defeat of the unions was at the heart of Nazi ideology when they took over.

  5. PART !
    We can debate left, right and in between and the extent of a caucus' social justice"ishness" til the cows come home. My concern remains the same: Unity lies and they are weak. LIES: Unity claims that Danielson is "not a gotchya system." Unity claimed the NYC cupboards were bare and we couldn't do better. Unity proclaimed full retro on the 8%. Unity conducted workshops during which members were told that we were getting 5% interest on money owed to us. WEAKNESS: Unity refuses to fight tying teachers to test scores. Unity refuses to engage in the opt-out movement. Unity doesn't demand the resignation of thieving, abusive principals like Linda Hill.

    Now let's consider the premise set forth by Anonymous 8:12. "MORE is more concerned with the eventual, long awaited triumph of world communism than it is with our profession." Even if true (but it's not) I'd still support them over Unity. Why? Because i'm tired of being lied to. I'm tired of pusillanimous leadership. Does red baiting even work anymore? Teachers I know are concerned about the unreasonableness of Danielson and their jobs being tied to test scores. And they're willing to back a caucus who will fight to change it.

  6. PART II

    I don't agree with MORE on everything they stand for but they are fighting for things that are important to me while Unity hides under the covers again and again and again. Danielson is an evaluative tool that is inherently unreasonable. Are you willing to admit that Unity supporters? Tying teachers to test scores is a 4th amendment violation and should be fought in the courts. Are you willing to admit that Unity supporters? NYC cupboards were not bare and we could have done better. Additional PT night conferences were a slap in the face. Are you willing to admit that Mulgrew was wrong on anything? It's hard to take anyone seriously when they willingly allow Mulgrew to gag them. Unity people are forbidden from disagreeing with Mulgrew on anything. That's the hard truth. You are all Mulgrew's bitches. Completely and utterly owned by him. You accepted the censorship for the perks or the promise of perks. And now you're trying to convince us that MORE is comprised of commie pinkos and Unity is full of flag waving real Americans. Well, Archie Bunker I aint buying it. I'm pushing 50 and my only commie reference is from a 70’s tv show (All in the Family.)

    Considering that I'm one of the oldest staff members in my school, I don't think you're gaining any sway with the young-ins with commie talk. More than half the teachers in my school were not born or still in diapers when the Berlin Wall came down so communism as a scare tactic is just plain silly to 20somethings.

    For the record.... I support gay marriage. I believe religion has no place in politics or government or public schools. I want to pay taxes and help take care of the less fortunate but I want lower taxes for what's left of the middle class. I want welfare fraud investigated and prosecuted. I do not want to pay for your 2nd baby if you get pregnant while on welfare but I will pay for your abortion. I believe in student suspensions away from the school and teaching children there are consequences for their actions. Parents too. Can't get your kids to school on time every day? We take away your benefits. I want political corruption to be considered an act of treason with a death penalty for those convicted. I believe the corporate profiteers should be removed from health care and our school systems but I back the efforts of real business people and the supply and demand profits they make for themselves and their shareholders. I do not support gun control laws. I want organized labor unions and I’m willing to pay a little more for my goods and services to have them. So am I a liberal? A right winger? A communist? I consider myself a modern day political hybrid but who cares? It's all irrelevant. If Julie Kavanaugh (MORE) or Michael Mulgrew (UNITY) held the exact same beliefs as I described above, I would say, “Who the hell cares?” It would have nothing to do with my support for them as union president. My concerns remain the same regardless: Will you fight to unveil the inherent unreasonable of Danielson and the tying of teachers to test scores? We know the answer: MORE will fight. UNITY will not. Communism?? PUHLEEEZE!!!! No one cares. Roseanne McCosh

  7. Hey Roseanne. I'm with you. I am not a communist or even a socialist. I consider myself a left=leaning social democrat.
    Some of my colleagues in MORE are socialists, many from the Leon Trotsky wing. Others are independent. Some are very into the social justice stuff - which I admire. I am too - always was from my earliest days as a teacher. In fact these are often the very people who are willing to put in the enormous time and effort to organize a caucus and keep it running. Many are young(er) -- in their 30s and 20s. So good for the younger generation - and they have taught me a lot. their SJ comes from a humanistic point of view. Julie used to introduce me as her mentor - which I was about the union -- but believe me, I learned a lot more from her about being a mensh than she learned from me.


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