Friday, April 20, 2007

UFT Incorporated

Sean Ahern posts a lengthy analysis/critique of the UFT leadership and the opposition and poses suggestions for a new direction.

After four years NAC (pursuing the change from above) has pretty much disappeared into Unity without discernible effect on the mothership. ICE/TJC's challenge to Unity(change from below) may be likened to 'grabbing an elephant by the tail', not much in the way of a budding insurgency here.

I used to think the UFT was a labor organization ultimately subject to the expressed will of working teachers. I know there are dedicated Chapter Leaders on this list who have held the fort in their schools and kept members active and involved. I applaud such efforts at the school level, I just don't see how the positive change can go much beyond this.

Consider for a moment that the UFT is neither a teachers union, nor a company union, nor a corrupt union, nor a retiree association, but a management corporation, UFT Inc., with two large office buildings, a health insurance plan, the $40 billion TRS, The Teachers Center and other properties and investments, perks and privileges to maintain.

Read the rest at Norm's Notes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

<< The large size of the local (largest in the US I think) and the small size of most of the schools creates a federal type system which gives inordinate power to a central leadership that can weather any localized rebellions. >>
Read the whole piece. Interesting.

There are a couple of SEIU locals that have huge memberships. Local 880 in Illinois (home health care workers; child care providers) and a huge local in California have similar bulging memberships. Within SEIU, however, the huge locals are usually comprised of the lowest paid members of the working class
(often, those with family incomes of less than $25,000 per year).

Anyway, UFT is unique. How to organize for change within the unions is another question. Anyone who thinks things would be better without the present unions should take a close close look at what's happened in places where the unions
were gutted (New Orleans being the most recent example).

The objective of the ruling class is to make every worker an "at will" employee, either directly (through busting unions) or indirectly (through company
unions). Since the majority of the lowest paid workers in the USA today are non-white, it also needs be incorporated into your analysis that the expension of unions is necessary to improve the lot of working class people, viz. the not
white majority in the USA.

During the past 13 months, Chicago has witnessed an unprecedented upsurge in working class struggle, ranging from the March 10 and May 1 immigrant rights marches to the recently concluded battles for control of the City Council,
where the unions (except the teachers) supported candidates who opposed our mayor's candidates. These are important events as the struggles of working people evolve in the present reality. I will be publishing as much as I can get into print about these recent struggles, just as I've already gotten as much as I can into print (with photographs) of the struggles from last Spring (see, back issues of April and May 2006).

I'm a little bit worried about how people approach the unions in the coming period, because there is a great potential for some progressives to line up with the bourgeoisie against the unions. We've witnessed it here in the past
eight months, and it's likely to escalate.

George Schmidt