Influential teachers' union leader Randi Weingarten is due to make it official next Wednesday that she will depart as head of the United Federation of Teachers on Aug. 1 to head only the national affiliate American Federation of Teachers, the traditional retirement route for that union's past presidents, according to reliable sources. She already officially serves in the AFT post. Speculation abounds that she will agree with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with whom she has frequently been allied, despite what you may gather from some press reports, to allow a cheaper pension tier, or Tier 5, for future union members in the Department of Education.
There will be lots of comment and speculation on the implications of this move, which she will formally announce at next Wednesday Delegate Assembly according to this report. Is her anointed successor Michael Mulgrew prepared to take over? This will give him a 6 month window as UFT President before the next election season opens in January 2010.
If Weingarten does give in on a Tier 5, since it will only be for new teachers, the UFT leadership must feel they vets will not be concerned. They may be forgetting that in 1995, the membership rejected the first incarnation of the contract due to a clause penalizing new teachers. I guess she is thinking she will take the hit for this and then leave so Mulgrew could obfuscate his responsibility. I can see the election campaign, "I was in the bathroom when she decided to do it."
If this happens at the DA, let's see Randi make the announcement, shed a few tears as the Unity Caucus faithful rise up and cheer, and walk off the stage, handing the mic to Mulgrew, who has never run a DA as far as I can tell. But my guess is the delegates will be forced to listen to another endless report before being able to exhale with a sigh of relief.
ICE and TJC are expected to run a slate against him. ICE may determine its choice of candidate to oppose Mulgrew at this Thursday's meeting.
Would Weingarten leave Mulgrew out there to run with a contract due to expire? There is speculation that a secret deal will be announced on the eve of the UFT election - think Oct/Nov/Dec 2009 – that will put money (what else can they get) in the pockets of some teachers in exchange for screwing the unborn. And maybe a few ATRs and rubber room people too. And maybe a little relaxation on the tenure issue. And support for a lift of the charter school cap. Or "have them work Labor Day," as one reporter joked. Pick one or all of the above.