Friday, December 7, 2007
Union Leadership Promotes New Action - 12/2001
While glancing through a back issue of Ed Notes, this item popped up from the December 2001 edition.
When [former UFT Staff Director] Tom Pappas said “We have a 2 party system in our union” at the last DA, a lot of people had to suppress a laugh. We assume Pappas was referring to New Action as the party of the 2nd part.
But exactly where has the 2nd part been? Now that NA has been lured into a United Front with the leadership as a show of unity until we have a contract NA has been completely silenced. Smiles had to be suppressed by Unity Caucus people, since they have little respect for NA and consider them opportunists. NA has put out little literature since the United Front.
Unity’s biggest fear is that NA will fade into obscurity and a real opposition might blossom. Unity needs an opposition to claim we are a democratic union. What better opposition than New Action, growing steadily weaker and less effective? Much of their support comes from being perceived as the only opposition game in town. But many of their supporters are disgruntled with New Action’s collaboration with Unity. They are also unhappy with the autocratic way the United Front policy was decided.
By breathing life into NA, the union leadership can give them an air of legitimacy as the “loyal” opposition. NA is perfectly happy to occupy the position. As long as they play this role for Unity, there is little chance of seeing a serious opposition take hold. If NA didn’t exist, Unity would have to invent them.
Unity and New Action make nice
It took two more years of New Action's canoodling with Unity Caucus before The Independent Community of Educators (ICE) came into existence in November 2003 and Teachers for a Just Contract (TJC) became more active as an opposition. In the 2007 election, New Action received only 9% of the vote, coming in last, behind the ICE/TJC slate, especially in the high schools where they doubled New Action's totals. The high schools had been a particular strength for New Action for 20 years.
But our prediction about Weingarten breathing life into new Action in 2001 came true in 2007 when their special arrangement handed New Action 8 seats on the Executive Board while ICE/TJC have none. The New Action EB reps have totally supported Unity on every single issue without a note of criticism. New Action goes to Delegate Assemblies with leaflets that totally support Unity and try to pretend they are a legitimate opposition.