Question posed by FK on ICE-mail after Angel Gonzalez posted an excerpt from a book on teacher power:
How do we get power within a union which won't grant us any? And the UFT has positioned itself as a kind of "reasonable person facing new realities" -- and the public hates teachers anyway. The UFT makes it seem as though we compromise or nothing. The public thinks we are not compromising enough and that we don't do our jobs. Even with national tests contradicting our local ones, people don't challenge Bloomberg. We need leverage from somewhere. The parents aren't enough because they are not an active enough body of constituents. Plus they are scattered around the city and they don't all vote together. We need help, I think, from other unions, at the very least. DC 37 no longer has the power it once did. Who does? Why would they help us -- except that they can see the destruction of a major section of the civil service is almost a foregone conclusion. If we lose security, who's next? Still I don't feel support from neighbors who work for the MTA or Postal service. On an individual basis, they see teachers as the enemy. I feel like the entire city does.
- struggles to be democratic on all levels (in its caucus and at the schools-the base structures)
- is a bottom up democracy built from with the rank&file membership
- defines issues of our members & fights with and for them
- union officers get paid no more than what s/he would get at the workplace
- accountability of officers to the rank & file through a regular reporting system
- labor & community solidarity - where our issues are defined and explained so that others can understand the importance of our teacher-worker issues as quality of education issues as well. (e.g. good schools need small class sizes and well compensated teachers).
- respect for the constituencies we service (i.e. students, parents, community)
- lots of educational work targeting our membership and communities (we need to counter that Corporate-Govt media misinformation)
- lots of organizing and mobilizing (our rank&file caucuses must grow quantitatively and qualitatively to challenge to business union beast as well as the well financed corporate govt/media.
- and more that I don't recall and am researching....Labor notes and other left literature I am sure has lots. And I am sure Latin America union movement (in Spanish) will have more for us. Unfortunately, today I think only FMPR and Union of Electrical Workers may be the best living models to study.
I did 2 youtubes with Rafael Feliciano, Pres. of the FMPR in English which I think are important contributions: