The UFT, following its "successful" Tweed candlelight vigil of a year ago for rubber room denizens (check to see how much good that did) has changed the call for a massive rally into, guess what? Another candlelight vigil.
Randi just loves candles.
John Powers and Marjorie Stamberg of the Ad Hoc ATR committee have sent a strong letter of protest to the UFT which is posted on the ICE blog. Here's an excerpt:
we were not consulted on this change, which was made without our knowledge, despite assurances from Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew that we would be included in the planning. The first we heard of this was in a changed rally leaflet we received this morning.
A candlelight vigil is a silent "protest at the suffering of some marginalized group of people, or in memory of lives lost to some disease, disaster, massacre or other tragedy."
We want to make precisely the opposite point -- that ATR teachers are not marginalized, that we stand by them, and the UFT will fight to ensure that they do not become "lost lives," a "massacre," a "disaster" or other "tragedy." We can "bear witness" all we want, but it won't stop Joel Klein from trying to drive out our colleagues. And it won't stop the likes of the New York Post from vilifying them and our union.
We will continue to plan for a mass citywide rally as "a show of our unity and strength" as the motion called for.
(click to enlarge)
If you can print some copies, please share with the people in your schools. If you are a chapter leader or delegate, support them at the Delegate Assembly tomorrow (Wed. Nov. 12 starting at 3:30 in front of 52 Broadway.) Numbers count as the UFT leadership is always worried about the PR aspect.
Here are some important dates in an email sent by Marjorie.
Update on the ATR rally, and some important planning events. Please mark your calendars.
1. The News We just learned that the rally format has been changed to a "candlelight vigil." Groan, this toothless silent method of demonstrating is the opposite of the powerful show of strength and mobilization that we have been building. Moreover, we were NOT consulted on this. We found out about it when we saw a "corrected" version of the official UFT leaflet. John Powers and I sent off a letter to the Randi Wiengarten and the E-board vigorously objecting to this.
2. Wednesday, November 12 Delegate Assembly
We will have the new leaflet at the D.A. to hand out. Please come if you can, and gather outside to hand out leaflets for the rally, get names, etc. This is important--the presence of a number of ATRs, RTRs and supporters outside the last D.A. actually influenced the outcome.
3. Friday, November 14 Meeting of Ad Hoc Committee to Defend ATRs
This will be a really important meeting to make signs, have reports from the schools, planning further outreach. Everyone who has worked on this demo, or who wants to start working on it--we need you Friday. Place for meeting to be announced.
4. Panel on Education Policy--Monday, Nov. 17
This is the monthly meeting at Tweed Courthouse where Joel Klein comes and "deigns" to hear the concerns of the community. The date is probably Monday, November 17; will confirm tomorrow. We plan to go and sign up to speak there. It is a very good place to get press attention of the situation with ATRs. Again, we need people to come out and speak.
5. November 24 ---Rally date!
Starting time is 4:30, but we'll need people there at 4 pm sharp, we plan to have signs and will not be silent.
Some people are extremely upset at what they call the UFT hijacking of the rally and morphing it into a candlelight vigil. ICE's Sean Ahern took a more positive view:
May I suggest that your language may be interpreted by your foes as intemperate and even provocative and could be used to discredit efforts on behalf of the ATRs in particular and the work of opposition caucuses and adhoc groups generally?
Expression of righteous indignation at policies of the Mayor and the UFT leadership should not even hint at the lighting of fires under anyone nor make references to funerals of those alive and well nor indulge in sarcasm or bitter recrimination. I think this diminishes the effect of your protest and may attract unwarrented attention.
Additionally, while I share your dismay at the lack of leadership, wouldn't you agree that it was a positive effort to organize the ATRs and seek out support from the DA? From what I hear there was a positive response from your sister and brother unionists who are not ATRs. That's solidarity, labor's credo, an injury to one is an injury to all.
Even as the leadership may seek to diminish or coopt the spirit of the resolves, new ground has been broken. The ATR brings to light fundamental longterm weaknesses in the UFT bargaining strategy that must be identified, understood so that an ever larger number of members may give serious consideration to alternative strategies going forward.
Whether you stand in place holding a candle or march around in cattle pens under the watchful eyes of our militarized police department matters less than what brings us together in the first place and what we say to eachother and the public while we are there. How will you use this effort to promote solidarity, to make more connections and build support for the ATRs? Be positive. It's a beginning not the end.