Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Unity Propaganda Machine Treads in Dangerous Territory

Considering the attack on ICE-TJC presidential candidate Kit Wainer as being old-century, the McCarthyite tactic of branding the opposition as "Reds" seems so old century. But this is an old tactic on the part of Unity Caucus. Ironically, they used this time and again against their current allies New Action, many of whose leaders have strong connections to socialist political parties and are themselves so-called red diaper babies, whose parents actually faced persecution by the real deal, Joe McCarthy himself and have a visceral response to "Red-baiting." Not the least of risks for Unity in taking this action is the potential is the negative reaction from some of New Action's core members who have gone along with the Unity/New Action deal out of loyalty.

Of course, there's the UFT legacy itself where most of the leaders are/were members of the Social Democrats, USA. And then there's the additional danger that the same right-wing audience Unity is trying to incite against ICE-TJC will come back to bite them. What if the right wing anti-Unity forces (of which there is a considerable number) start mud-slinging and get other areas, such as race-baiting or gay-bashing? Ultimately, a right-wing group, not comfortable with some of the politics of ICE or TJC will spring up. Unity may consider that a good thing, but when you get what you wish, sometimes there is a high price to pay. They ain't seen nothing yet.

Before I even knew about the mailing, calls of outrage started coming. Some thoughts expressed were, "Isn't it a slam dunk Unity will win? This smacks of the kind of desperation of someone who is losing a political campaign instead of expecting to win with a 90% vote. Why is it so important that a 70% majority is not enough? "

I agree sending out this to the homes of so many people appears desperate but desperation is in the eye of the beholder.

To Randi Weingarten/Unity/New Action there are a lot of balls in the air in this election.

The most common analysis I heard from people is that Weingarten is most interested in an overwhelming victory so she can sail into the sunset with a glorious victory and head off to the AFT in the summer of '08.

It is not that simple. For Weingarten, it is important to keep the ICE-TJC vote low as a way of margianalizing ICE-TJC, which if it starts attracting 25-30% if the vote, threatens to pass the vote totals New Action was getting when it was THE opposition. For Weingarten to leave an orderly union for her successor, she must reduce the threat ICE-TJC present and promote her home grown opposition New Action.

By getting more votes than the ICE-TJC upstarts New Action can claim, despite their alliance with Unity, they are still the main opposition, albeit totally tied to Unity's apron strings. They also have to prove to Weingarten that they are viable and that she still needs them. It should be pointed out that despite enormous inroads ICE and TJC made into the New Action support base 3 years ago, New Action with the addition of retiree votes actually outpolled either of the 2 groups.

For ICE and TJC, this election is about establishing a base of support and then building out from there. (ICE got less than 5% and TJC around 6-7% in 2004.) It takes a long time to establish a brand name and both groups are beginning to work themselves into people's consciousness as an alternative to both Unity and New Action. But legitimacy as an opposition will not truly come until they begin to reach into the 25-30% range.

As pointed out in a recent article in The Chief, the real battle is in the high schools where Weingarten is desperate to keep the ICE-TJC people off the Executive Board where they can raise questions about UFT policy. They would be especially dangerous when she is not around to keep things under control. A lot of issues are coming up with the expected UFT support for the current system of mayoral control (with just a few cosmetic tweaks) high on the agenda. No embarrassing questions, no answers.

Weingarten is so enamored of New Action's leader Michael Shulman because he has proven time and again he can control the troops. When she announced the purchase of the new buildings on Broadway in 2003 just as the alliance with New Action was in the earliest stages, some of the New Action members on the Ex. Bd at the time wanted to raise questions. Shulman, not a member of the Board, passed by each one and ordered them not to raise any questions. "Randi doesn't want this to become an issue, so don't say anything," Shulman said.

Now there's the kind of opposition Randi can be proud of.


  1. There's a "responsible" opposition. As I talk to people, I see eyes widen when I tell them what goes on. Actually, I'm convinced 4 out of 5 teachers with whom I speak have little or no notion about union politics, what's at stake, or who's running one way or another. I discussed that with a Unity guy a few weeks ago, and he seemed to agree.

    Do they call those guys "connected" or "made?"

  2. What we have in ICE and TJC is a bunch of people who think that they should be able to publish ultra-left rants that accuse Al Shanker of being an "imperialist ideologue," attacking him for promoting teacher professionalism and for saying that strikes should only be employed as a last resort, and not have those views mentioned in an election campaign, much less criticized.

    In a democratic election, the electorate has a right to know the political views of the people who are running to be their leaders. If you don't want to share your political views, then you should not run for public office, and you should not publish them. Once you enter into the public world with publications and election campaigns, once you say you want to lead a union, members of that union have a right to know what your views are and where you will lead the union.

    Al Shanker, Sandy Feldman and Randi Weingarten have never hidden their politics. Attack those politics if you want. It would be a giant step up from the slanderous and sleazy lies you publish about how Randi arranged to have the DOE falsify her records to receive tenure.

    In ICE and TJC we have a group that lies habitually as a political strategy, and then get outraged about opponents telling the truth.

  3. Make sure to share the views of your allies in New Action running on the Unity slate who are in the Communist Party. Do people voting for Unity know who they are voting for? You guys would find a way to justify genocide.

  4. EdNotes – you don’t have to be right wing to not want your union taken over by socialists whose agenda has nothing to do with education and everything to do with ideology . I’m left – well left.

    And it isn’t red baiting,either -- though a heck of a lot of Weingarten-baiting has gone on in your little publications over the years.

    Meanwhile, here is one of the many things Kit has written in his pamphlets (and that he should have put in his campaign speech instead of the lies).

    We need to “build a revolutionary socialist organization that can organize the work of socialists in the labor and social movements, educate its members as revolutionaries and socialists.”

    And here is another one: “Solidarity believes that revolutionaries today need to…promote the development of a revolutionary socialist current within this layer of labor….”

    Clearly, socialism isn’t a hobby of Wainer's,it’s the agenda. No Sunday Socialist, this. And Kit Wainer should have told the voters that.

    He totally lost me.

  5. You've got to be kidding II.

    Oh my! Just another posting from your average teacher in the schools who just happened to read Ed Notes for years.

    No one truly on the left would make this kind of argument. You are way left - field.

  6. Red Baiting is a tactic of desperation. When ever an opponent can not win with reasoning and clear positions about their politics, they resort to personal attacks. Unity's attack against ICE-TJC is an attack against the positions such as the total sell out of the membership in the last two contracts. They, also, want to cover up the fact that the call for strike is a tactic that has to be back up with real actions as a show of strength against a powerful opponent as the DOE is, Unity refuses to recognize this. TWU fought valiantly for a few days, they were betrayed by the City Unions like the UFT that refused to support the TWU in words and deeds and also because the TWU leadership began to separate itself from the membership that supported him all the way, Toussant went to Weingarten for help, instead of the membership.
    The UFT is weak today because the leadership gaveaway many gains from the past. UFT leadership relies more on the mayor of NYC than its members for strength. Attack individuals, red bait, cover up the real issues this is the tactic of the Unity bankrupt element. The struggle for union democracy does not come easy, is a long process fought in many fronts. As long as we have have sell out leaders the opposition will grow, move on ICE_TJC!

  7. Interesting. Ask Roger Tousant or any of the dozen TWU workers I & many of my colleagues that brought coffee to the striking workers if they felt betrayed by the UFT.

  8. Ah! Coffee. That's what they needed. Wish I'd thought of that.


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