Thursday, June 25, 2009

It Really Wasn't Personal, Randi

Reminder: GEM Happy Hour today from 5 to 7 PM.
at Jimmy's no. 43: 43 E. 7th (downstairs), between 2nd Av. and 3rd Av.
We will have an area in the back near their kitchen. Jimmy's serves food.

On The Two Labor Day Days, Mulgrew and Randi

I was asked by people at the DA yesterday about my report regarding the 2 restored days being only for 2009. While I'm still getting some mixed signals about exactly what has to be renegotiated in the next contract (expiring in Oct.) it appears (for now) this is permanent.

What tickled me at the DA was how many people genuflected to Randi for getting back the two days she herself agreed to take away in the first place. Of course she made it seem the UFT had nothing to do with it. Sort of like having someone take money out of your pocket and you thank them for putting it back.

Naturally, the mass of delegates were overwhelmingly in favor. But there was one hell of a gutsy speech from Jonathan Halabi, who strongly raised the issue of union solidarity with future teachers and the creation of divisions between people. Because he is a member of New A
ction, I sometimes tweak him. But people in the besieged math department at Bronx High School of Science praise him to the sky for being the most supportive voice out there. And his blog is the place to go to find out schools you should not apply to because of vicious principals.

The attitude he expressed yesterday about union solidarity on a general basis and regularly on his blog is a sorely missed component from this union.

On Mulgrew

One point on the article on Michael Mulgrew at Gotham, in which I was quoted. It was basically half of what either I said or wanted to say.

“He comes across as a non-waffler,” said union activist Norm Scott. “For people who despise Weingarten, there’s already a sense of, ‘Oh, maybe Mulgrew will be better.’

Add this part: "But while this change in style will work for him for a while, it is a change in style not substance and ultimately will make little difference in the UFT's inability to make a stand against all the anti-teacher and anti-union attacks going on."
I don't know Mulgrew at all, having almost no direct contact, so all information I have is second hand. Many people I know like him. Others say he is the ultimate Unity hack. Some say
he runs Executive Board meetings when Randi is not there with a heavy hand. I know of one incident at Grady in relation to union elections where he showed a heavy hand. Other than that, he will be a breath of fresh air in terms of style, at least for a while.

On Randi
Some people consider me a leading Randiologist. Education Notes has spanned her entire career and I believe is a chronicle of her tenure. So if anyone is thinking of writing a book on Randi (Randi Weingarten, Semi-Tough Liberal), Ed Notes is the place to go. One day I'll get them all online.

I'll do a more in depth piece on her legacy when I get a chance, but here are a few quick thoughts.

Randi took disagreements personally. In our years of email correspondence, I kept trying to tell her it was not personal and we functioned in the same manner with Al Shanker, who never whined about personal attacks and brushed us off like the fleas we basically were.

Not Randi. She raised every single issue, no matter how minor, into a hysterical pitch. We all used to look at each other at Ex bd and DA meetings as she would contend on points that were laughable.
I hope that Mulgrew will not view criticism in that way and take more of Shanker's approach.

She helped make Education Notes the thing to read at the DA by saying, "I love to read Ed. Notes." That was in the early years when she was real insecure and not sure of the full support in Unity, where a number of old-line Shanker people resented a lawyer being in charge. In her first year or two she was also unsure in running the DA and I managed to establish my ground early on and began to play a role. After a while she learned the tactics that ended up making her more undemocratic than Shanker or Feldman, who at least followed some basic rules. Randi started making them up as she went along. Today, the UFT is at its lowest state of democracy I've seen in the almost 40 years I've been involved. Her true legacy.

Her ruthlessness and demagoguery evolved as her power grew. In the early years it was different. She once did an unprecedented thing (in Oct 2000, I think, possibly at the same meeting that Hillary Clinton appeared) when I raised a resolution calling on the NY Teacher to print every over-the-limit class size every year. She called me up to the front and gave me her microphone, giving me the opportunity to address the Delegate Assembly from a unique position. The resolution passed overwhelmingly, though the NY Teacher only printed the data for only two years, and only after I reminded them. So much for DA resolutions.

That was the height of our relationship and it went down hill in the months that followed over her push for merit pay (she avoided calling on me for months when I wanted to make an anti merit pay resolution and my early warning system went up) and mayoral control in the spring of 2001.

Ed Notes turned extremely critical in the 2001/2002 school year. After I retired in 2002, Ed Notes went city wide in an attempt to reach out to people who would be willing to fight her and Unity. Out of that effort, ICE was born. Thus, Randi's actions spawned ICE. We call her "Mom."

In one of my last emails to Randi years ago I told her about how my principal also used to say my activities as chapter leader were personal. After I left the school to take a district job (when my new boss told her he was hiring me, she said, "My car was stolen today, but this makes up for it") I returned once a week as a computer support person. My principal started greeting me with hugs and kisses and even gave me money for Ed Notes. Our relationship was fine once we were out of each other's faces.

I told Randi that when she left to run the AFT this too would happen and she would come to see there would be little change in our approach to her successor. But somehow I do not expect her to change her mind about it being personal instead of political.

So I won't expect
Randi to follow my principal's example and give money to Ed Notes. Or hugs and kisses to me. Besides, when Randi gave me her microphone at that DA back in 2000, she had a vicious cold – which I caught. I'd take the money, but I'll pass on the hugs and kisses.

Accountable Talk has some thoughts on Mulgrew and Randi


JW said...

Maybe you weren't there, but he chaired a bit of a DA this year or the end of last year and said something in a "heavy-handed" way at that meeting also. I thought to myself: this guy has the "thug" quality RW always lacked but you see (and hear) it a lot in some of the senior execs.

When it's put to good use, more power to them. When it's used to intimidate the rank and file (good example: Larry), we can do without it.

proofoflife said...

Norm, recently I asked Mulgrew if we could get the merit pay out of the contract he said that "many schools were requesting it."So much for that thought!