I have heard a lot of people complain about Randi selling out the union but what's her motivation, what does she have to gain. Does it help her political career or is she just doing what every petty dictator needs to do in order to survive. Wouldn't it be easier for her to do the right thing?
She may think she is doing the right thing from her point of view. Making the union a partner rather than antagonist goes way beyond Randi and if you read the Tough Liberal book you will see Shanker laid the seeds.
After '68 the union had no stomach for going through confrontations. But for Randi there is the added element of personal glory as she tries to be viewed as a so-called progressive leader. Which translates into selling out.
The privatizing forces and money that are against the "real" reform of public urban education are VERY strong. Randi knows this. It will take building a movement and awareness of the general public as well as teachers. Union leaders do not see themselves as movement leaders...they see themselves as "managing the members" to get the best they can for them at this point in time and also staying in power themselves.
I'd also add that Randi wants it both ways: to be seen as a "progressive unionist" and as a "collaborator" (her term) with management. But something's got to give when there's that kind of contradiction. And guess which one it is?
The members interests get short shrift, because "collaborating" gives her more credibility in the eyes of the Important People whom she seems need validation from. Additionally, it advances her career in ways that truly representing the interests of teachers and students would not.
I don't know if you've ever heard her speak of herself as a combination of John Dewey and Samuel Gompers; she's done it more than once at the DA. The totally-off self-perception is enough to make you wince but it says a lot about how she sees herself. Sadly, the reality for teachers is far different.
Thanks Bill for your question. I am sure many are grappling with that one also.
I agree with the above.
AND would add that we can characterize the UFT/AFT/NEA as:
-business unionists who sell its members a service. We pay them to manage us for the interests of the corporate sectors.
They are the professional corporate CEO unionists who will manage us and put the militancy and grassroots struggles in deep-check. The necessary strategy of mobilizing & organizing the membership will not be done because in addition to threaten the powers that be, also threaten their bureaucratic CONTROL over their members. Instead of militancy, these bureaucrats only sell us futile strategies of lobbying and backing so-called "sympathetic" candidates in elections.
- - top-down bureaucrats
- - in bed with government, management and corporate sectors
- - complicit with promoting right wing reactionary foreign policies
- - undemocratic well-paid labor aristocrats (making 6-figure salaries - close to the 1/2 million dollar range) who are out of touch with their rank and file
- - co-opters & saboteurs of grassroots democratic struggles to improve education and worker/teacher rights.
- - their income levels and comfort zones keep them more in tune with the corporate sectors
- - opportunistic dues-suckers (literal translation of chupa-cuotas term from Puerto Rico) which better translates with something like Dues-Vampires or Dues- Vultures. The AFT served to sabotage the progressive education struggles in Puerto Rico -- that is why the FMPR disaffiliated successfully in 2005.
- - pro-war & militarism (and zionism, I believe)
- - ideologically see capitalism as the answer to our societal ills. As anti-socialists, they will rebait viciously whenever it suits their needs. They are in essence class-collaborationists who sell out the working class interests.
It would be good to have a workshop or forum on these important questions and what Bill raises. I am sure many of us have begun to or have studied these union characterizations and questions that apply to our AFL-CIO and other federated union formations. There should be analyses and critiques of that we can collectively study, publicize and disseminate especially to new recruits to our democratic progressive dissident wing.