Sunday, November 29, 2015

Building MORE: Challenging Unity Can Only Be Accomplished by the Un-Unity - a Democratically Run Caucus

If there is one thing I have learned and firmly believe in it is that in a UFT election, in schools where there are respected members of the opposition caucus who engage their colleagues on a regular basis, there will be votes for that caucus in the election. Theoretically, if a caucus has people in half the schools it could win the majority of votes of working UFT members. (I leave off retirees because there is so little access to them - and I also don't believe they are as important a factor until an opposition can reach the point where they are going 50-50 with Unity in the schools.

Furthermore, I also believe that a caucus must establish internal democratic principles that would apply to running the UFT if it were to take power. That is why I would not want to be involved in a top down leadership at the top organization that is run like Unity because that is a recipe for "new boss, same as the old boss."

But doing that is so incredibly hard and at times debilitating but worth the time and effort to get it right -  and I touched on some of this in my reports (Reports of the MORE Meeting: A Maturing Organization) on last week's MORE meeting with links to the Eterno (MORE CONTINUES TO GROW) and Zucker (South Bronx School Endorses Jia Lee as Next UFT President).

MORE must make sure it is the un-Unity to be credible. But democracy is harder the bigger you grow. Trust in each other also becomes a very important factor. I do want to get into some of the details of the democratic issues that came up before and during that November MORE meeting because what emerged were differing view of democracy, with some people claiming that a vote of an entire membership must be taken while others said that the decisions of people on voluntary committees should be trusted. I'm still rethinking some of this so I will do a follow-up piece getting into specifics.

The democracy issue dovetails into how to organize city wide to build an organization. I and others have come to see that this cannot be done by a sort of central committee trying to manage addressing 1700 schools and over a hundred thousand UFT members. I can only be done by localizing organizing using the basic structures of the DOE and UFT - chopping things down into districts and using concentrations of strength locally and not so spread ourselves too thin.
MORE local organizing event coming up

This requires a long and arduous process that must go way beyond an election every 3 years in the UFT.

Having been part of political movements inside the UFT since 1970 my experiences have led me to the point there are no quick and easy ways to challenge a Unity Caucus machine which has the ability to reach into every school and touch every single one of the roughly 108,000 active UFT members and 60,000 retirees.

It will take building a comparable machine in every district and school before any opposition has a chance of making a serious challenge.

Now over the years I have been criticized by readers for this attitude who tell me if we put a lot of money into advertising during election time it would make a big difference.

I reject this notion as being a diversion of resources - and going at it from the top down rather than bottom up organizing  --- an attempt to find a quick fix and skip the hard work of creating an organization that will go beyond an election campaign. I believe in spending money but on long-term organization building blocks.

The mistake these people are making is that they view a UFT election campaign as similar to regular political elections where a campaign organization is built and then dissipates after the election.

In the UFT what is needed is a permanent organization that doesn't miss a beat after the election and in fact uses the election to built out and extend its reach.

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See also:
And if in the neighborhood or want to hang out with MOREs

MORE UFT to District 15 Happy Hour
District 15 happy hour!
Friday, 12/4 at Abilene on Court Street. $5 drafts and a full menu
http://tiny.cc/D15 ‪#‎MORE2016‬

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