Thursday, December 4, 2008

Weingarten to Meet with Washington TU Exec Bd Tonight

The Washington Teacher blog reports:

WTU Executive Board members have been notified that a special meeting of the executive board will be held Thursday, December 4, 2008, at 7:00 p.m. at the WTU. Ms. Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), has been invited to the meeting to discuss critical issues affecting the WTU. I am sure that issues related to our tentative agreement (teacher contract) and recent discussions with Chancellor Rhee will be among the hot topics to be discussed.

In addition to dealing with Michelle Rhee, the Washington TU has internal issues with what looks like a top-down leadership that acts without input of the members. But the union does seem to have people on the Exec Bd who will raise issues with the leadership, something the UFT has made sure cannot occur in NYC.

Maybe that will be Randi's advice to WTU leader George Parker who has failed to hold a representative assembly meeting in September, October or November.

Keep up the good work. Now just get those people who criticize you off the Exec Bd and all will be well.

Randi will come on all militant at this meeting. Maybe even throw a few curse words around about Rhee. My message to the rank and file of the WTU is: make no mistake about it. The AFT is not your unequivocal advocate in the war with Rhee, who has so much support from politicians and the business community which Randi so much wants to court. So out and out support for the WTU will not be in the cards, though Randi's speeches internally will make it look that way. We have learned here in New York to watch what she does, not what she says.

The AFT, which is after all controlled by the UFT – Ed Notes has written extensively on this tail wagging the dog situation – wants to be viewed as "ed reform" friendly. Witness recent quotes from Leo Casey about not being wedded to ideology. They are "realists." Translated that means the winds of reform are calling for merit pay, measuring teacher quality by standardized tests, developing flexibility about tenure, having the union play a role in removing teachers, etc.

This mindset has existed since the early 80's when Al Shanker shifted the role of the union (without any internal discussion, of course) into this reform camp in exchange for a seat at the reform table even when "reform" has been narrowly defined by the enemies of teacher unions. So don't blame Randi for instituting this policy. In fact she is even better than Shanker at this stuff because she play the I feel your pain role so well.

And that is exactly what she will do at the WTU meeting. But behind the scenes she will urge a deal with Rhee in which teachers will lose half a loaf and then proclaim that a victory. That is what Rhee is after. She and Joel Klein put outrageous demands on the table and then Randi gives them part of what they want with lots of gaps left open for them to get the rest over time. What Randi will get is a bribe for teachers to give up their rights by getting them money, some of it for longer days and years. This is a good short term investment in the world of Rhee who full well knows with the absolute power to hire and fire, she can make sure few teachers will reach the higher salaries promised.

Only democratic elements within the WTU can put roadblocks in the way of the almost unstoppable events set in motion when your own union stops functioning as your advocate but shifts to the role of mediator between people like Rhee and Klein and the rank and file.

Fighting a frontal assault and a rear guard action from the likes of Randi Weingarten and justifiers like Leo Casey can easily turn into a lose-lose proposition.

It is not too soon to start to scream.


  1. I hope the members of the WTU are cognizant of the fact that Randi has recently failed to contain a rebellion against her by a significant element in the rank and file, who overcame her devious efforts to prevent a militant rally and strong stand calling for hiring the ATRs, a rally strong on sentiment defending tenure rights.

    She may flaunt the side agreement as a victory, but it remains to be seen whether the agreement will diffuse or only fuel discontent with her leadership.

  2. The agreement is not a victory at all. The majority of the ATR teachers whose salaries come from central will not get jobs. There is no incentive for the principals to hire them. RW knew that before she signed that paper.

  3. Randi Weingarten and her $600,000 in yearly compensation lives in a different universe from the people she purports to speak for. She has gained entre into the arena where they experiment with the lives of working teachers and their students for fun and profit.

    Nothing good will come from a meeting with this labor aristocrat.

  4. Hi Norm: I appreciate all of your advise and the advise of NY Teachers. Believe we are under no illusions and trust no one. Our WTU Executive Board asked for the intervention of AFT approximately 1 year ago and signed a contract with AFT to have supports from them due to our concerns about the management of our local by our union President Parker. This opened the door to getting an assigned AFT rep and assistance from AFT given the anti-union, anti-worker climate DC is in under our mayor.

    Unfortunately, even though our contract with AFT indicated that the AFT rep. would be a part of teacher contract negotiations- he bailed out at the urgings of our president without telling the board initially. Unlike NY, many of our elected teacher board members and teachers are not outspoken and take a back seat to challenging our dictatorial style of union by our local leader. This herein represents the problem.

    I don't think that Randi will be able to get anything through our union president because it is he that I believe that wants this teacher contract that guts our long earned job protections.

    Right now I am really concerned because I have recently learned that the Rhee administration has encouraged principals to place a quota of teachers on 90 day improvement plans so they can fire them. The worst part is we have confirmation that Rhee's administration has encouraged principals to lie about what is actually going on in DC teachers structured observations. How do we stand a chance against fraud ? If you or NY teachers or others ,have any ideas I am open to listening. Teachers and principals are afraid to be forthcoming due to fear of losing their jobs but it seems that some are now at least speaking anonymously to get the information out. Please help. The Washington Teacher @ ,

  5. Today's climate is just a horrible atmosphere for teachers and students to live in. How is anyone able to keep their sanity through all this mess. I think the next move should be to reach out to our assemblymen, senators, congressmen and the legislative body to try and get their attention. I met with my Assemblyman friend the other week and he said that because he was on the education committee and knows people on it, that he could get the proposal our committee recommended through. I told him that the union did not seem to agree that there was any interest in this proposal. To wit he said.."I am getting too old too fast to fail to deliver for my constituents". He is going to get this done. As citizens of this great city we have every right to approach our politicians and elected officials to present our ideas and our agenda as the rank and file who have to work in this mess. I think the idea of petitions and rallies is a good one. There is strength in numbers and when we organize we can move this thing forward. People are frightened, but we must continue to ORGANIZE our members to break this horrible stranglehold that exists in the system that strictures the freedom and creativity of our teachers.
    By the way could someone please tell Norman that I am not a member of the UNITY caucus. I am not a member of any caucus. I am just a member of the UFT. Thank you!
    I still love ya Norm!


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