But is there any way Randi could end up leading a merged organization when the AFT is so much smaller?
We know there are significant differences - the NEA has term limits while the AFT has had only 4 presidents in 35 years.
The AFT is tightly controlled and has little democracy, with the UFT's Unity Caucus in NYC exerting control over the entire AFT through the Progressive Caucus, the national version of Unity. The NEA/AFT merger in NY State (NYSUT) has created a 600,000 bloc in the AFT and potentially the NEA.
Though I often disagree with Educational Intelligence Agency's Mike Antonucci, I respect his knowledge and opinions. (We spent a couple of days chatting in the press section at the AFT convention in Washington in 2004 - Mike though based in California, is originally a Bushwick guy from Brooklyn.)
With the ascension of Randi Weingarten as AFT president due to take place next week, I was wondering how strategies towards an NEA/AFT merger will emerge, so I sent him these questions:
I'm looking forward to your coverage of the NEA. Are you doing the AFT too? I cannot make it (I'm going to a Zombies concert in NYC and would rather see those zombies than the Unity drones in Chicago.)
One of the issues of interest is how a merger will play out with Randi leading the AFT and I hope you might touch on some of these issues.
Can she emerge as the head of a merged union? Will she be at the NEA convention and play a prominent role?
We know that the AFT/UFT model has resistance in the NEA but can a Unity Caucus-like machine be implemented state by state?
What role does the 600,000 member NYSUT play? Is this a strategy to take the NEA from underneath? What about other merged states?
What role will the UTLA play - will their more militant/left political orientation emerge as a counter to Weingarten's collaborative model that has so set back the teacher union movement in NYC?
There are groups meeting in Chicago working on the peace and justice caucus and some people from ICE will be there.