Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Day With Stronger Together

A NYC chapter leader told this story at the conference:
She defeated her Unity predecessor by getting 85% of the vote in her school. Yet the person she defeated who lost 2 elections in the school gets to go to NYSUT and AFT conventions as a delegate - representing no one other than her Unity bosses and joins 749 others and they are the shock troops supporting Randi and letting her set national union policy and Mulgrew setting state union policy - while the legitimately elected rep of the rank and file sits home or must pay her own way.
I had to go so far out on Long Island I could see Europe - or Rhode Island - to get to the ST event organized by our pals, Brian St. Pierre and Beth Dimino in Port Jefferson Station. The event was held at Beth's middle school and she made sure we could get our hands on some great hot dogs. But enough about what I had to eat - on to the business of the day.

[See NYC Educator report]

Restoring Power to the Teacher Means Union Democracy

MORE's Mingling - Brian St. Pierre on right next to me
Jia and Beth
The event attracted local union reps from around Long Island and areas north of NYC, many of them union presidents.
And I got to meet blogger Sullio -
Mulgrew Declares Victory, Promptly Surrenders

This crew ain't your mother's Michael Mulgrew. As one of them said - I wouldn't want to be a union president if I couldn't teach. Amen! MORE presidential candidate Jia Lee was a star attraction and spoke on the early panel along with Beth and Samantha Winslow from Labor Notes as Mel Holden skyped in from Buffalo - as Mel put it - "Great panel of women discussing unionist issues. Great stuff here:!"

Jia said on FB:
Stronger Together! What an amazing day we shared with teacher union leaders from across the state! The rank and file are leading the way! 

Mike Schirtzer James Eterno Arthur Goldstein Norm Scott August Leppelmeier Michelle Camille and Brian Beth Dimino. Tim Farley I repped the RESPECT PUBLIC EDUCATION shirt proudly!!

The entire Eterno clan was there - and James had a report on the ICE blog.

Camille [Eterno] is not easily impressed by some of the groups that have attempted to activate our membership. The people of ST Caucus won her over today as they are some of the most dedicated educator-trade unionists in New York.  They understand the big picture of our profession being attacked and aren't content, as our UFT, NYSUT and AFT leaders are, with a "seat at the table" with the corporations and politicians who are destroying our profession.


In the workshop I attended on caucuses and the one on Unity Caucus controls I worked with Brian St. Pierre, we talked about the Unity mechanisms of control that are not always clear to people who are not involved day to day with them.

One method that came up was co-optation - so successfully used by Unity with New Action. An offer for a seat at the table and elected positions supported by Unity. We heard hints of Unity attempts to woo people away from Stronger Together and warnings we issued about how that really works - and what is behind it. The idea is to defang the opposition. And with a NYSUT election coming up next year, Unity is desperate to avoid a contentious election that might carry over nationally to the national AFT in 2018 when it is possible Randi (if Hillary wins) might step down and Mulgrew step up to the AFT.

So glad I went and met so many involved people. Contact with ST has led me to think about alternative routes to breaking Unity control --- outside NYC. If ST can avoid being co-opted by Randi and Mulgrew and can grow to a third of the state it can challenge Unity on the state level. A key is how the other big cities play and if ST gets some traction and Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers and the CUNY and State college unions move in ST's direction we have a game changer. But that will play out over the next year.

As we expect, the UFT elections will have little impact.

UPDATE: PJSTA Report:  STCaucus Conference


  1. Could not disagree more (no pun) with that Chapter Leader you mentioned. That AFT/NYSUT delegate represents EVERY Member in the Union. That is what she ran for and that is what she will do. True, she ran with a caucus, and that caucus as a set of principles and goals. A set of principle and goals that continue to be supported by the members at large as they have been for close to 60 years.

    I am Glad Michael is no longer n the classroom. He represents the largest local union in the country. Larger than many national unions. Do you really think he has time to teach.

    Beth's local is smaller than our smallest district. We have Chapters that are larger than her local. Of course she should teach and continue teaching.

  2. By "supported by the members at large" you mean "supported by the retirees and a very small portion of our active membership" I presume?

    Out of curiosity, you don't see a problem with the fact that the NYSUT/AFT delegate, who couldn't even garner the support of her own building, likely won from votes of people who never even met her or likely even heard of her name before? Is that real democracy to you Unity folk?

  3. The criticism isn't just of Mulgrew. There is a whole platoon of union muckity-mucks and do-nothing's at 52 Broadway who do not teach. They serve as a firewall between Mulgrew and the concerns of members. He looks to them when he asks, "how'm I doin'?" And what do you think they say? "You're doin' great boss! Keep it up." They don't answer to us, they answer to him.

    And the bloat at 52 Broadway effects the level of solidarity in the schools. Some people see the sinecure jobs at 52 as something to aspire to. So, they go along hoping to get in on the gravy wagon.

    A good union serves its members, not the other way around. Maybe a case could be made that Mulgrew doesn't have to teach. But, the rest of those goofs and lap dogs down there had better do so. Chicago has by-laws which stipulate that officers in the union must be active teachers. Their local represents. Ours does not.


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