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!