Sunday, June 21, 2009

Randi's Options Restricted by UFT 2010 Elections

Randi Weingarten's supposed decision to turn the UFT presidency over to Mike Mulgrew sometime this summer is being squeezed by upcoming UFT elections for officers and the Executive Board. The election season traditionally opens in January (2010) with ballots going out in March and the results announced, appropriately, around April Fools Day. So if she is to give Mulgrew a chance to funcion as president before the election, time is running out.

Let's remember that the UFT has been run by 3 people since the mid-60's and each functioned as both AFT and UFT president for a period of time, Al Shanker for 11 years and Sandy Feldman for 2 or 3 years. Both ran for re-election while they were AFT president and soon after turned the job over to their hand picked successor (rubber stamped by the Exec. Bd.) who could function in the job for a time before having to run on their own. Pretty undemocratic, but good strategy.

If Weingarten leaves with only a few months before the election, she will be breaking the pattern. Mulgrew, who has been racing around meeting with people all over the place so they get to know him, is still not the president until she is really gone. I predicted she would have had to get off the stage last January to give Mulgrew a good year in the job. With every passing month, his time as a fully functioning president is constricted.

Was Randi forced to move up her timetable based on a recent secret UFT survey reported on by NYC Educator that may have shown she was so unpopular that a relative unknown like Mulgrew would do better than she would?

Now, before we go on, at the risk of being labeled a defeatist, there is no chance - I mean zero chance - and yes, you do have a better chance of winning the lottery - that Unity could lose anything other than 5 or 6 seats on the executive board (out of 89) in the 2010 election. Their control of most chapter leaders and their unlimited access to all the schools has been solid, though based on anecdotal evidence, there may be some anti-Unity slippage in the elections just being completed now. But they are always able to recover and get to these people at weekends full of food at chapter leader training sessions where they recruit them into the Caucus and cover them with the cones of silence, training them to put the interests of the Caucus over those of the people they work with.

So why the angst? And believe me, there always is much angst. Think of the effort and money that has gone into buying off New Action, which was only getting around 22% of the vote when they gave up? Randi spent enormous amounts of time scheming and meeting with them and making them think they were important.

Unity Caucus leaders are very concerned about the stuff that is important to them. Or course, that concern doesn't include the conditions of the rank and file, unless they perceive some threat to their power and control of the union. They have always made sure to try to keep any opposition movement from gaining traction.

So even though they always win the total vote with 80%, they worry about an opposition forming that begins to reach 1/3 of the vote, which begins to make them viable.

Maybe Randi stays on long enough to screw people with another sellout. Tier 5, paying more for health care, a final solution for the ATR problem? Then she can skedaddle so Mulgrew doesn't get all the blame.

Reports are beginning to trickle in about Mulgrew's performance as chapter leader at Grady Vocational HS. Oy!


Ira Goldfine said...

The non-Unity vote among classroom teachers in the Elementary, Middle and High schools in the 2007 election was just under 1/3 of the vote. Only a bit more than 20% of the classroom teachers cast votes. To be viable the opposition needs to mobilize and reach out to all of the angry union members and get them to cast a vote. Imagine if the majority of classroom teachers voted against UNITY and they won with the votes of retirees and other non-DOE workers.

Chaz said...

Well it could be worse. Leo Casey could be UFT President and his first order of business would be to purge the UFT of all teachers he doesn't like. His second order of business would be sending resources to Darfur while ignoring the classroom teacher.

Anonymous said...

That's just it Ira, the teachers need to mobilize and not give up the fight for reform. I have spoken with many teachers and have asked them why they do not just vote out the leadership. Many said they were scared. Scared of what? What's scary is what is going on right now with an abusive DOE and an inactive self-deprecating union. Now that is scary. Simply said: VOTE THEM OUT. We need not be afraid of people who do the wrong things. Remember what Edmund Burke once said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".
And women also need to get moving too, and organize these inactive and fearful teachers so the rank and file can TRIUMPH ONCE AGAIN!
We must never be discouraged until justice prevails for all educators on this city. It is up to ALL OF US!

Michael Fiorillo said...

But Norm, didn't you leave out the strongest possibility? Namely, that the basic outline of a caretaker, two-year contract has already been negotiated, Randi steps dow, and as the clock ticks towards expiration in October, Mr. Mulgrew announces it as his own.

The inferential evidence of a tacit deal seems overwhelming to me: Randi's public obeisances to the mayor and mayoral dictatorship of the schools, the dive on term limits, the likelihood of a dive during the election...

I think we'll be offered close to what the other municipal unions have gotten in exchange for their political neutering: two years at 4% and 4%, with no major givebacks. Before the crisis hit, Bloomberg had announced that he had already budgeted for those raises.

No major givebacks, you ask, how can that be? Well, I didn't say we wouldn't be attacked, just that the contract will be a placeholder until the financial crisis deepens, but ensuring Bloomberg's relatively smooth progress toward coronation. After he is re-elected, he and Klein will go postal attacking us and the system, closing schools, opening charters, pitting communities against each other in competition for declining resources, etc.

Meanwhile, Randi will be quite the labor statesperson in DC, helping to oversee the hostile takeover of the urban public schools.

Anonymous said...

Even though he has not posted in awhile, I am endorsing ICE's Ty Johnson.

ed notes online said...

I assume a contract is signed but not in exchange for mayoral control because that is part of the agenda for the UFT. I think more Tier 5 or ATRs or health care. I think Randi said she wanted to stay to negotiate one more contract. It's hard to imagine she worries more about Mulgrew than herself. Whether he gets credit or not we and they know they are winning. What would drive her crazy is if he gets more votes than she did.

I know there's a bit of tongue in cheek in mentionning Casey and he is seriously disliked both within and without Unity, but we should never forget that no matter who is in charge that person wants to purge the opposition. Maybe that's why Michelle Bodden disappeared into the UFT charter school - too nice. We can't afford to get caught up in whether this Unity or that Unity person is better. Unity is the problem.

Ira- I think the total numbers from the 3 divisions for ICE/TJC were closer to 22%. 37% of the high school teachers voted against Unity/NAC.

Numbers can be checked at
UFT Election Results 2004/07 Compared