Wednesday, February 14, 2007

UFT Election Notes - Feb. 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day to all!

UFT election petitions were turned in this past Monday. Getting this organized is quite a task and thanks to Ira Goldfine, it all got done for ICE. Having TJC as a partner made the process so much easier. ICE and TJC have their own style of working and we haven't wasted a lot of time trying to coordinate the activities of both groups but have been able to easily work things out when we have to.

Getting involved in an election is not a simple thing and involves a major outlay of resources that small groups consisting of mostly working teachers don't always have to give. Many ICE'ers are very active in their schools as chapter leaders with a large membership to serve and others like John Lawhead at Tilden and Peter Bobrick at Lafayette are trying to keep their schools open. Some are active in groups like "UFT'ers to Stop the War." There was a certain reluctance, but once the petitions were out in January, the old election blood began to run. There was really no choice. Leave TJC out there to battle the New Action/Unity alliance alone?

Compared to the last election 3 years ago when ICE was just weeks old trying to form a group in the midst of an election campaign, getting people to run for key positions this time was a breeze. There is something to say for going through a previous experience to learn a few lessons. Having TJC come up with half the candidates made a big difference and coalition building was one of the lessons everyone learned last time. There's still a lot more to learn.

The petitioning process can be tedious but it also gives people an opportunity to engage in conversations with people in the schools. Core ICE'ers went out to their schools and as expected came through. But this time we sent out petitions to people who are not directly involved with ICE, many of them part of the Ed Notes network. The response was fantastic.

When we needed to hold mass signings, people in the schools responded. In some schools there were lots of people willing to give up their lunch hours to sign masses of petitions. Similar events took place at Port Richmond HS, home base of our friends from the UTP, Jamaica HS and PS 193K, where the incredibly popular chapter leader Yelena Siwinski, running on the ICE-TJC ticket for one of the top eleven officer positions, organized things. Seeing how colleagues in her school feel about her was affirmation that with people like Yelena on our side, whatever the outcome, we are making progress in building a progressive alternative to Unity.

Teachers from Francis Lewis HS hold a signing party.

I joined Arthur Goldstein, ICE-TJC candidate for Executive At-Large, at Francis Lewis HS and the response of people I met in the school to the campaign was wonderful. Their obvious respect and admiration for Arthur makes us proud to have him running with us.

With James Eterno as the popular chapter leader at Jamaica HS, there is no doubt as to the allegiance of the school. The announcement that they will be an Impact School seriously jeopardizes their future, but with James at the helm, the teachers there will have the very best representation they can get.

What can you say about the UTP gang at Port Richmond? They have been a breath of fresh air with their in your face attitude. Joe Mudgett who works with the UTP over there and also has his own point of view at ACT was a great help in getting things organized along with chapter leader Jeff Brace. We are proud to have both of them running for Ex. Bd at-large on the ICE-TJC ticket.

Petitions kept coming in and we went far over our limit. One school gave us 35 signatures and specifically asked us "Will you protect us from retaliation by the union?" It shows the fear there is out there as Unity has allowed the DOE to run rampant and people are frightened of both the DOE and Unity. Does Unity check the petitions to see which schools have helped us to see where opposition strength lies, then target them for special attention with extra visits from District Reps and other union officials to reinforce the Unity line? What do you think? We didn't turn in some petitions from certain schools that support us but want to lie in the weeds.

Not that more attention from the union is a bad thing. Remember — they are basically a PR machine that will dash off to fight what they perceive as a fire and schools that work with us often get better service. But people new to the political game do not know that. Weingarten takes disagreement with her as a personal insult but her response is to try to win people over rather than retaliate. Not necessarily a bad thing and it is what makes her so effective in managing the membership's anger. (Her skill will be hard to replace if she goes to the AFT in the summer of '08. Even if she doesn't give up the UFT Presidency, which is what I believe, she will not be here that often to race around from school to school.)

A perfect example was Ron Isaac, alias Redhog, who ran with ICE 3 years ago because he was so disenchanted with the union and got us most of the signatures for middle school. Soon after the election, he went over to the dark side (or maybe that was his plan all along) and was welcomed with open arms after he became a shill for the 2005 contract and began to worship Weingarten. He ended up with a job with the NY Teacher as Weingarten's personal reporter when she visits schools.

Was Isaac's defection a gain for Unity? Why am I smiling?

To be continued.

Ron Isaac stalking -- er-- covering Weingarten at the SOS Tilden rally on Feb. 6


  1. Feelin' the love, Norm.
    Thanks for all your hard work.

  2. "Weingarten takes disagreement with her as a personal insult but her response is to try to win people over rather than retaliate."


    I talked briefly with Randi at the Tilden open house, and I felt this was her attitude. By pushing for some way to keep Lafayette open, I hadn't been going along with the Unity policy. We had worked on Lafayette, she said, -- meaning the campaign against the principal -- and now I had gone and tried to change the focus to saving the school. How could you do this to me (us)! seemed to be implied. But of course I praise her statements on behalf of Tilden.
    Just wished she put up a fight for Lafayette, too, beyond criticizing what kind of small schools will be set up there.

  3. Winning over, rather than retaliating, does happen to be one of the great hallmarks of leadership.

    I'm glad you recognize that the UFT has that in Randi.

  4. This post doesn't seem to be written by Norm.

  5. Right. It was written by Redhog. He is a double agent.

  6. No one is saying Weingarten isn't a great leader -- for Unity and its purpose of staying in power. She has great skills that are used to manipulate the members. It is not all her as she is aided by high priced consultants like Grover Park. Her Clintonesque - a term used to describe her in a phone conversation I had with a former ed reporter for the NY Times — "I feel your pain" goes a long way with people and lasts for years until they find out that is all there was and nothing changes.

    Remember the prime directive -- watch what she does, not what she says and check the results.

  7. Seriously, does ICE even serve a real purpose other than to drive a wedge within our union? Has ICE ever accomplished anything worthy of mention? And no, a sham presidential candidate in the last election, shoddy quality YouTube films, and heckling during the Delegate Assembly doesn't count.

    -Son Of Unity, the next generation
    I'll be back!


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