The following was posted as a comment on the ICE blog and is well worth reading. Would you be shocked to see Unity attack TJC for breaking "non-disclosure" after Weingarten did just that by announcing to the DA how Jeff Kaufman voted.
I bolded the damning statement: "When the Unity position won, Weingarten suggested TJC should no longer be on the Negotiating Committee."
Inside the UFT Negotiating Committee
by Megan Behrent, Peter Lamphere, Kit Wainer
We are three members of Teachers for a Just Contract, who were part of the 300 -member Negotiating Committee. We took part in order to take advantage of whatever opportunities it presented to assure UFT members a “just contract.”
President Randi Weingarten and the UFT leadership have been trying to establish the legitimacy of this new proposed contract by presenting the negotiating process as “more democratic and inclusive than ever,” and the negotiating committee as “mostly rank-and-file members” with “representatives from all school levels, the functional chapters and every union caucus.”
While technically accurate, the picture it suggests of open, democratic discussion with input coming from the grassroots and free give and take among the caucuses, is false.
From the very first meeting, President Weingarten and her ruling Unity caucus absolutely dominated the proceedings. It was not unusual for Weingarten to talk for hours, and to speak at length after each and every person had spoken from the floor. No idea except those that came from members of the dominant Unity caucus was allowed to be given serious consideration.
Here are just two examples of how proposals that came from outside Unity were handled. The first proposal was even adopted later when it was proposed by the Unity leadership.
At the first meeting of the Negotiating Committee in April, Marian Swerdlow of TJC made a motion to reject “any and all givebacks.” Representatives from both New Action and Weingarten’s Unity caucus spoke against this. It was said that this would be “refusing to negotiate” and would violate the Taylor Law. The ludicrousness of this criticism was exposed during the summer when DC 37 negotiated a no givebacks contract and at that point, the UFT negotiating committee did adopt this “illegal” position. However, in April, the threat that this was illegal frightened the independents on the committee into defeating the “no givebacks” resolution. The majority of the Negotiating Committee, as members of the Unity caucus, were required to vote against the resolution, since Weingarten opposed it.
In the fall, Kit Wainer of TJC proposed that the UFT adopt the position that the Department of Education could not dictate educational methods to teachers. President Weingarten prejudiced the discussion by claiming this was an “ideological position,” as if it were any more or less ideological position than any other bargaining demand. As if that were not enough, she again played the “fear card,” claiming illogically that this position could lead to teachers getting disciplined. Again, the independents were frightened and manipulated into voting against a position that was clearly in the interests of UFT members, and of course the Unity majority automatically supported Weingarten’s position.
What is perhaps the UFT leadership’s most outrageous claim about the Negotiating Committee is that no one on the Committee raised the proposal to “win back what we gave back.” Although it has not so far appeared in print, this is being used by Unity members all over the city in what are clearly coordinated “talking points” to discredit TJC’s position that the contract should have restored at least some of what we lost in 2005. Many of the Unity members making this criticism were not even members of the Negotiating Committee.
This Unity criticism of TJC is totally false. At the September 13 meeting of the Negotiating Committee, Peter Lamphere of TJC called for a campaign to restore the givebacks, and argued that this goal would energize and mobilize the union’s membership. Weingarten and other Unity leaders reacted with great hostility. At the October 25 Negotiating Committee meeting, he repeated this call, focusing on eliminating the requirement that teachers work the two days before Labor Day. Weingarten recognized that Lamphere was calling for nothing less than a completely different strategy for the contract campaign, a strategy of mobilizing the membership to fight to restore givebacks and to make gains. She called for an immediate vote by the members of the Negotiating Committee on whether to “stay the course,” or to adopt Lamphere’s strategy. When the Unity position won, Weingarten suggested TJC should no longer be on the Negotiating Committee. In the light of how strongly Weingarten and Unity reacted, it is ludicrous for them now to claim that no one on the Negotiating Committee suggested we should be fighting to restore the givebacks.
One of the reasons that we joined the negotiating committee was out of the hope that it would be a tool for mobilizing our members in a fight for a better contract. The reverse turned out to be the case: this contract has come with even less mobilization than the last one. This is a fact that Mayor Bloomberg even bragged about at the Nov 6th press conference, when he argued that this contract shows how it “doesn’t work to yell and scream.” We in TJC feel the exactly the opposite: that we must organize our members for action to present the credible threat of a strike if we ever want to win a contract that goes beyond the low expectiations of recent concessionary deals. Our members volunteered on two separate occasions for an “action committee,” that was supposed to coordinate mobilization efforts, but after a brief initial meeting in the spring, this committee never convened.
There is one last point we want to make. We participated in the Negotiating Committee despite our reservations over the “secrecy provision” in the “Negotiating Committee Membership Agreement” we had to sign. We had to promise information would “not be disclosed during negotiations.” Since negotiations are now concluded, this part of the agreement is no longer in effect. We also agreed to a “confidential relationship” with other members of the committee. Having watched President Weingarten and other Unity leaders reveal in public meetings (most conspicuously Weingarten at the November 8 Delegate Assembly) how various opposition members of the Negotiating Committee spoke and voted in its meetings, we must conclude that this confidentiality agreement is likewise no longer in effect. Nevertheless, the only names we have used are our own and President Weingarten’s.