Thursday, September 17, 2015

MORE and New Action to Run Joint Slate in Upcoming UFT Elections

MORE announced a potential ground-breaking agreement with New Action to run together in the UFT elections, subject to ratification by the membership. Read it here: morecaucusnyc
MORE and New Action Propose Joint Slate for UFT Elections

James Eterno and Kit Wainer, two former UFT presidential candidates were joined by the always amazing Lauren Cohen, chapter leader of PS 321K and a rising star in the movement, as MORE reps in meetings with New Action over the past month to hammer out an agreement.

There is a long convoluted history behind the announcement of a united slate for the 2016 elections by MORE and New Action, still to be ratified by the MORE general membership after a discussion at this Saturday's MORE meeting - the first of the school year. MORE steering has already voted to recommend ratification.

At Saturday's meeting MORE will also discuss and nominate potential presidential candidates. The agreement with New Action allows for the candidate to come from MORE.

I will be telling a more detailed story with background in upcoming blog posts because I think in order to move forward we have to understand the historical context and the lessons learned. I posted Part 1 of the history of opposition caucuses in the UFT  which took us up to the mid-90s.
My thesis has been that multi slates and multi caucuses has been a hindrance to developing an effective opposition. There is some irony in taking this position, given that I helped form a new caucus called ICE in late 2003 in response to the New Action deal with Unity, which disemboweled the opposition in the UFT. Over time it became clear to many of us that we needed to create one big tent and MORE was the result. New Action has been invited into the tent since MORE's formation. 

This is not exactly what is happening - at this point - though one might get that impression from  headline  from NYC Educator 
New Action Joins MORE - New Action has come to its senses and decided to align itself with tried and true activists in the MORE caucus. Opposition is finally coming together.

I wish New Action members actually joined MORE so we could build one brand for the opposition. But New Action prefers a joing MORE/New Action slate where we work together but as 2 separate organizations.

New Action and MORE are running much along the lines that ICE and TJC ran together in the 2007 and 2010 elections. I think that even though it is better than having 2 separate lines on the ballot it still sends a message to members - why do you need 2 caucuses?
ICE and TJC finally got the message that we had to be in one caucus together in order to move forward and withdrew from UFT electoral politics even though ICE maintains itself as a non-electoral caucus. I have no problems with various groups putting forth their ideas but for UFT elections I believe we need one group. While the current agreement with New Action is not an ideal one from my perspective, I view it as a beginning with the hope that New Action members will get involved in MORE and join MORE steering to help run it.

Many of us have been severe critics of New Action over the past decade, non more so than former New Action member who was tossed out, along with Ellen Fox and Camille Eterno and Lisa North when they balked at the deal with Unity and then joined me and other Ed Notes supporters to form ICE.  Here is James' take on the announcement on the ICE blog where some of his reservations seeps through.

MORE and NEW ACTION TENTATIVELY AGREE TO RUN TOGETHER IN 2016 UFT ELECTION

I will urge MORE members to ratify the agreement on Saturday because it is the right thing to do and a way forward for the opposition. MORE, unlike the older caucuses, has been successful in attracting a new generation of activists, mostly in their 30s with a long career ahead of them. Most members of ICE and TJC understood back in 2011 and 2012 that we had to give up some of our independence in the interests of building a force to challenge Unity. I am hoping that this elections is a transition faze towards that aim.

The reality of groups like ICE, TJC and New Action is that we are too loaded with retirees or soon to be retirees. You can't build an opposition on the backs of retirees or teachers looking down that road even though Unity relies very much on retirees to hold on to power.

MORE is being run by 8-15 year teachers, not even halfway through their careers. Retirees like me have been happy to take a step back and let them take over. They are the future.


7 comments:

  1. When I became a part of the UFT in 2002, I knew NOTHING about the union outside of it being called the United Federation of teachers and Randi was the president. As the years passed, I gained no further information about the union. Randi made a personal visit to my then school. Teachers were mad and up in arms about somethings which I can't remember. Non-the-less, as a still new teacher, I lived in a world of, I don't know what they're (the teachers in the building) mad about. I'm fine. It's not affecting me. So, I'm just gonna keep on keeping on. I joined rallies outside of the building in the morning. Wore my UFT pins and hats, but really didn't have a true understanding about what was going on.
    Fast forward 11 years and I have become a chapter leader. I went to chapter leader training and (sad to say) still didn't know anything about there being a caucus let alone a few different caucuses. I was excited about being a part of the body that will make life better for teachers and subsequently our students. I knew I wasn't happy with not having a contract, excessive testing, workplace bullying by principals, excessive paperwork and some other things, but that's not the point I'm trying to make here. My point is this, many chapter leaders don't know about the UFT having caucuses. I asked about 10-15 different chapter leaders in the past 3 months, what UFT caucus are you aligned with? [A]nd many gave me a puzzled look. Caucus? they asked. What caucus? Aligned with? I think it is important to do some real grass root informing of the rank and file teachers; new and mid-level. If you're told by your chapter leader, vote for this it'll be good for us and you're overwhelmed with lesson plans, unit plans, portfolios, trying to find time to eat, use the restroom or breath...you're guessing/assuming/trusting that you're chapter leader is looking out for your best interest... So, you vote not knowing you may have just been sold the Brooklyn Bridge. It is not until I was badly burned by a principal, superintendent and the union that was supposed to protect me, UFT...that I did some research on my own. I had time to "google it", time to talk with older rank and file, time to gain a truer understanding of what the UFT/ Unity caucus is about. I'm not implying that everyone is the same, I am however saying that I believe to unseat Unity, more has to be done... An alliance amongst the "no more Unity caucus" caucuses is a good thing. There's strength in numbers.... Is it possible for MORE, ICE, New Action and Solidarity caucuses to form an alliance and stand together as one slate against Unity?

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    1. Your experience is fairly common. It took me 3 years to begin to become aware. You are on the right track - the goal is to use the election to help build up the opposition at the school level -- until we have someone in most of the schools to challenge Unity the elections don't mean much.

      In fact every group has come together - ICE, TJC, GEM, NYCORE and others to form MORE. New Action has been around for generations in some form. The year old Solidarity has already declared its presidential candidate who is unacceptable to everyone else. So that leaves them out. Maybe one day Solidarity will understand what it means to work together with other groups. Demanding every other group endorse their choice for president, who has alienated pretty much everyone else in the opposition, indicates some poor decision making on the part of people in that group. Of course people are welcome to run with the MORE/New Action slate.

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  2. Not since Hitler and Stalin hopped into the sack. This must be wormwood for you, Norm. A decade of NAC perfidy all forgiven in a trice. I can't believe you will vote for cosying up to that Judas, that Benedict Arnold, that Iago, Michael Shulman. Say it isn't so, Joe. Tell us you'll vote no to this devil's bargain.

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  3. Which is Unity? Hitler or Stalin. Don't you believe in the power of healing? My guess is that Shulman is not in the forefront of this - whatever rank and file New Action has seems to have been pushing back for a few years. At least that is what some of them have been whispering in my ear for quite some time. I am sort of surprised that Shulman's iron lock on them seems to have faded. That has been the biggest surprise and even until they voted last week I was still wondering ....

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  4. What does MORE have to lose in making this deal?

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  5. Credibility? MORE has been critical of New Action and ICE has been vehement. How do you guys splain this?

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  6. Bernie Madoff could win a credibility contest against Mulgrew's Unity Caucus so I'm not too concerned. I have been vocal of my support for MORE and my disgust with New Action. My disgust with NA was rooted in their support of Mulgrew's presidency. Now that NA has removed that support, my disgust is waning. MORE still has credibility in my book. Roseanne McCosh - PS8X

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