Thursday, October 15, 2009

Endorse Thomson Resolution Trashed at DA Fearful UFT Leaders Surrender to Bloombergs’s Reich

Special to Ed Notes

By Philip Nobile

Sometimes union loyalty asks too much. Like heeding the advice of UFT leaders at yesterday’s Delegate Assembly NOT to do the right thing by endorsing our ally Bill Thompson in favor of our enemy Mayor Bloomberg and avoiding his payback in contract negotiations.

Stretching for the offensive historical allusion, President Mulgrew, Political Action Director Egan, and Staff Director Barr told us not to join the Resistance because the Fuehrer might get mad. And the delegates, who originally voted enthusiastically to discuss the endorsement resolution, turned around and cheered Barr’s full throated, morally compromised, debate ending cri to postpone a decision. If things change in the next three weeks, he said, we can bring you back. As if.

Mulgrew telegraphed his Thompson position prior to the debate when he said, “I suspend my emotions” (read conscience) and voiced his mantra, repeated ad nauseam by the non-endorsers, about acting “in the best interest of the membership” and “our job is to protect their well being” … without adding “because a sweeter contract is more important than our integrity,” thus killing his shot at a Profile in Courage Award.

Speaking relentlessly against the resolution, Political Non-Action Director Egan earned the Dick Morris Triangulation Award for ticking off realistic political reasons for icing Thompson—the polls are bad, there’s an eight point gap, the best an endorsement can do is move three points, no winning strategy, other unions back Mayor, negotiations would end, why take the risk. Egan went further to ridicule the highroaders—“It’s not the Alamo. There’s nothing virtuous in falling on our sword.” So don’t fight Santa Anna in City Hall. Mulgrew profusely thanked the Triangulater for justifying surrender.

Speaking boldly for the resolution was a delegate who dared to unleash his emotions: We’re dying with bad data, U-ratings, reassignments, Bloomberg regime is brutal to teachers, to students, Thompson has supported us and he’s not Bloomberg who’s making hay on education. And virtuously falling on candor, the delegate conceded that Thompson would probably lose. Camus would love this guy, but not the Vichyites in the room.

In the end, Barr killed with his let’s-wait argument. “If we endorse Thompson,” he said, negotiations end. Now we are players. We have to do what’s best for the members.”

Contract, contract über Alles.

To understand all is not to forgive all.

Philip Nobile is a former staff writer for Esquire, New York, and the Village Voice. He has been reassigned to Brooklyn’s Chapel St. rubber room for the past two years on two trumped up (he says) corporal punishment complaints. Although OSI substantiated the complaints, to date the DOE has failed file charges.

Note: Ed Notes has not endorsed Thompson due to his refusal to rigorously attack Bloomberg's education record but urges people to vote for him to keep the Bloomberg winning percentage as low as possible. Nobile points to UFT political director Paul Egan's point that a UFT endorsement would at most mean around 3% points for Thompson (now we know the value of all the time and money the UFT spends on endorsements). The closer Thompson comes the weaker Bloomberg would be in the future based on a lower perceived mandate which would weaken him politically. We will add our own thoughts on the DA later.

See James Eterno's report at the ICE blog:


  1. What is wrong with acting “in the best interest of the membership”?

    Before I throw my support behind either candidate, I want to see them fighting to earn that privilege. To date I have yet to see either do that.

    Also, he comes across as a good writer, but talk 5 minutes with Philip Nobile and you will realize that his perceptions aren't always grounded in reality. Take that challenge and make your own opinion.

  2. Part of my "reality" is the integrity of the profession and what we owe society as citizens.

    When a long chancellorship is as corrupt and fraudulent as this one's been and a mayor has hurt a generation of children, to say nothing about what he's doing to our communities, I'd rather our union take its chances with the contract and throw its weight behind the new guy.

  3. To the above, you see what's been happening to DC37 school aides? I don't think that it would be responsible for our union to "take its chances" with teacher layoffs. Mulgrew's comment about the membership's best interests rings true. We cannot risk a myopic view here.

  4. "We’re dying with bad data, U-ratings, reassignments, Bloomberg regime is brutal to teachers, to students, Thompson has supported us and he’s not Bloomberg who’s making hay on education."

    Sure, the best interests of teachers. Like sucking up for the 4% is worth all of the above. A non-endorsement in this race even if Thompson loses amounts to an endorsement of all of the above. Have you no shame?

  5. Our union's approach is akin to battered wife syndrome: a long train of excuses to stay in a bad relationship: "Oh, don't upset him (mayor or abusive partner) because this will only make him more violent."

    On the other hand, the withholding of the endorsement might be a backhanded complement. Has anyone considered that a UFT mayoral endorsement is counterproductive with the greater electorate at large, beyond "our members?" The track record has not been good for the UFT endorsements. Does anyone remember mayors Mark Green or Freddy Ferrer? Perhaps the absence of an endorsement might be good for Thompson.

    I would urge all concerned citizen, not only concerned about the abuse of teachers, but also concerned about the vulgarization of education into perpetual test-prep, to vote for William Thompson and against Michael Bloomberg.

    The real test will be the performance of President Mulgrew. Will he stand up to the chancellor in returning to the seniority transfer in the coming contract negotiations, to avoid the creation of future ATRs? Will he audit the DoE to force the DoE to be transparent about hiring practices (to confirm whether the reports are accurate about the pattern of hiring novices over the experienced ATRs)?

  6. Standing up to the lies, manipulation and deception of Tweed, Bloomberg, Klein and the money from their corporate backers is no easy task. Our union, the teachers and ultimatley our students are at a crossroads, while the executive board of the UFT is led by COWARDS! They lack vision and the wisdom to understand that delaying the fight is tantamount to surrender. For what are we surrendering? A 4% raise? Four more years of Bloomberg and Klein will result in more ATRs, rubber rooms, closed schools, meaningless tests that undermine the classroom, more lies and the ultimate demise of our Union's clout. I am afraid that this is the "Now or Never" moment in our union's history. It is painfully obvious that Unity stands for PACIFISM. If Mulgrew is afraid, he should stand aside and allow someone with confidence and a vision for the future to take the lead.

  7. Such short sightedness. It must be nice to live comfortably, travel the world, and own your own homes (whether that be in the Rockaways or elsewhere)...but it's a luxury that most new educators don't share. Those are the people most at risk in these tough financial times, those are the people that Mulgrew and co are looking out for. Those are the people with the most to lose right now and those are also the people that the above posters are forgetting about.

  8. We're hardly forgetting about anything.

    It's not a matter of being better or less well off. Educators who have made it to top salary and are somewhat comfortable have had a contract that protected them to get there.

    Fewer people are going to last the 22 years to top salary, because the union is already tolerating school closings instead of adjustments (= more ATRs), trainee teachers in the thousands, harassment, and intimidation. All that leads to a transient profession, with relatively few people being able to stick it out to the last third of a potentially satisfying and long career.

    There won't be a profession the way this union is caving in, especially a long-term one.

    It's certainly not us who are being being short-sighted.

  9. I'm wondering if the union is holding back on supporting Thompson because the 4%-4%, two-year contract will benefit the few remaining tier 1&2 members and hopefully, the majority will retire by the end of 2011. Eventually the union will try to renogiate with the state to change the tier 4 pension and create a tier 5 pension. Just wondering.


Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.