Thursday, March 11, 2010

UFT/Unity Uses Paid Employees to Suppress Opposition in Union Election

UPDATED, 8:40 am, Mar. 11

It has long been known how the UFT/Unity machine uses paid personnel in union elections. As most schools have Unity chapter leaders, they have a ready means of keeping control of the schools. But when they are faced with an independent chapter leader they use the district reps to try to intimidate them into not putting material in the boxes. And of course, we have constant reports of Dist. Reps going into these schools on union time to stuff Unity material in the boxes. If they see ICE-TJC lit, they even pull them out themselves.

For people who are not committed ICE or TJC activists (who they don't dare bother), these actions by the Dist Reps can be intimidating because in the union hierarchy the DR is the single most important person the CL, especially newer ones who feel very insecure in their knowledge, must deal with for help.

Now the use of this personnel has been standard operating procedure for the Unity machine.

What people don't realize is that the elections every three years for union officers are not as important as the elections for chapter leaders which occur the year before (next elections are spring 2012, which is where serious battles will take place when it becomes clear that Mulgrew will be as big a sellout as Weingarten). This is not an accident. Unity pulls in all new chapter leaders into training and uses those sessions to recruit them into Unity just in time for the big election the year after, which in most cases shuts down the ability of the opposition to reach those schools without schlepping physically into those buildings. Since ICE-TJC are working teachers, the ability to impact the vast majority of schools is minimal.

But even if they could get a leaflet into all the schools, that is minimal compared to having a thousand Unity people in the buildings actively bombarding people with pro-Unity material and intimidating people who are sympathetic to the opposition. In fact, Unity chapter leaders often just pull out the leaflets from the boxes after the ICE-TJC rep leaves. One ICE chapter leader who stuffed boxes throughout her district sent me this email:

Three years ago, in my district, many school chapter leaders who are Unity pulled out ICE-TJC literature and thrown them away. I have had teachers that I know call to tell me and even a security guard. Who knows what will happen this year?

Well, we know what is already happening this year. Yesterday I received this email from a non-ICE chapter leader who is an independent critic of the UFT leadership. It got ugly.

My district rep gave me an argument about putting ICE flyers in mailboxes. She said that everything gets back to her. I said that I have the right to do this, just as the New Action person had the right to come to my school and distribute, and that she had the right to come to do this.

She said that she doesn't see how I can think that a chapter leader could run the union. I pointed out that Mulgrew was a chapter leader, and so was she.

She was disgusting. Told me I am a member of Ice (you and I know that I'm not). I pointed out that Weingarten laid the groundwork for many of the problems that we are dealing with now. She said Weingarten isn't there anymore. I said that RW handpicked Mulgrew.

I mentioned Diane Ravitch. She said that Ravitch is mentoring Mulgrew. !!!!!!

Are they very threatened?

Now this District Rep (I am protecting the CL from retaliation of giving no support) is notoriously incompetent. When we blitzed her district in 2004 we were stopped at every single school by the Unity chapter leader, who told the principals we didn't have the right. Or they created so many delays on purpose that it just wasn't worth the time. So they win that battle. For now.

As I said, the opposition must have a critical mass of chapter leaders who will stand up to the Unity goons to make a dent. To all those who talk about the need for more ICE literature and advertising they are missing this essential point. I hear some say, "look at how Obama won!" Again they miss the point. Obama had a massive machine to support him. Over the past few years ICE and TJC have understood that and have focused on building this machine, which they had to start building from scratch when New Action, which had 40 years to build a machine, abandoned the fight and joined Unity. Much of the New Action vote, which was less than ICE-TJC last time, comes from this machine. Now that many NA people are retired, they have about 40 people going around schools pushing their stuff. And some people are not aware that they have sold out and just check the NA box thinking they are still the opposition - just this weekend a retired friend asked me if he should vote NA to vote for me. I gagged.

I can't tell you how many independent or ICE-leaning people are frightened to come out of the closet. We get anonymous pleas to put out lit but they don't send us their names and schools so we can get it to them.

Since I am available during the day, some people have asked me to come to their schools during lunch or come to a union meeting to give our point of view. Their Unity CL throws up all sorts of road blocks - like that's not allowed - but every Unity slug can come into the building at any time.

With ballots going out tomorrow (March 12) and must be returned by April 6 (the count is on Apr 7 and open to any UFT member), the consciousness about the election should rise. Since only 22% of the working teachers voted in the last election (the drop in Unity votes (and New Action too) was palpable while there was a rise in ICE-TJC votes, but still fairly negligible.

This year, we have focused on getting out the vote in the buildings we have people. For the first time we have attracted some newer teachers, including even a former Teach for America, to run with us. Still just a small group but a beginning of building that machine into the newer teacher crowd.

Teachers Unite and NYCORE have gotten involved by reaching out to their younger teacher constituency. They held a fabulous candidate forum last Friday with all 4 caucuses represented by Michael Fiorillo, Megan Behrent, Leo Casey and Michael Shulman (see a 10 minute slice:
ICE, TJC, Unity, New Action at TU/NYCORE Candidate Forum).

Today they are holding a Get Out the Vote training session (see side bar but you must rsvp as there is little space). I will be there to explain the process and take some video.


Pogue said...

In addition to putting ICE leaflets in mailboxes, is it also okay to post them in cafeterias, stairwells, and restrooms?

Anonymous said...

What do you want to know that for!
In schools where there are ICE
Chapter Leaders nothing has been
put in the Mailboxes about James or ICE. Unbelieve! I have gone to as many schools that I can to put ICE flyers and copies of articles in Ed notes new york educator and ICE blogs! But you know what? it's not enough! Where is everbody from ICE! What aren't you guys out there talking to people in your schools about ICE. Every week there is a new flyer in my mail box about Mulgrew, and to vote for him and unity. In a few of his flyers he attacks James! What the hell are we stand around doing nothing again! And this is a school where their is an ICE Chapter Leader! And nobody knows about ICE. GREAT!
The chance of a life time to kick Mulgrew and unity out of office and we are going about it nice and easy! Hell I say it! We are sitting on our hangs watching Unity and Mulgrew out campaging us!
We are playing it just like Thompson! Everbody hates Bloomberg, but he wins anyway because Thomspon did not campagin hard enough! And yes I know ICE does not have the money that Unity has but for crying out loud, we have ICE Chapter Leaders in Schools and IEC members and very few people are passing out flyers and put the word out there about ICE and James! How much money do you need to do just that little bit! Pass the word around about ICE mouth to mouth! Not even that!
You guys made more noise when they were going to shut down Jamica Hight School and the other Schools!
You should have used that monent to campagin as well and tell people this is all unity falt and Randi's. I said it way back then, Guys start campagin! Win the election and you will save Jamica High School! Now you lost the election and Jamica High School! Some people never learn from history, I'll guess your condemned to repeat it!

Anonymous said...

There are 1600 schools. Almost everyone is ICE and TJC actually work as full-time teachers. People are doing whatever schools they can get into. ICE are just too few at this time. But times are a changing.

ed notes online said...

Put them wherever you can. But most important is to talk to people and get them to send in their ballots by checking the iCE-TJC box.

The higher the vote total the less Mulgrew will be able to sell out.

And as I said, Unity hacks pull stuff out all the time so watch out.

Hypatia said...

Your post is filled with distortions and lies. Perhaps you believe that the only way your caucus can rise to power is by distorting the truth to fit your warped version of events.

I'm a District Rep. (a slug, as I believe, you so politely described the position) and I have informed every chapter leader in my district that all caucuses are entitled to have access to the mailboxes. I have even brought the issue to the attention of the Superintendent so that he could inform the principals not to impede the democratic process.

Unity members (thugs, I think you call us, or was it also slugs... well, no matter, some cute little rhyming word) have nothing to fear from the ICE/TJC campaign - a campaign bereft of ideas, experience and direction. Michael Mulgrew is not only our current and future president, he is a man of strength and vision, with the courage to stand up to the DOE and lead us well into the 21st century.

Oh well, I suppose all your whining is just your way of saving face when you're trounced in the election.

Hypatia said...

Pardon me, *you're* not your.

Unitymustgo! said...

I am currently my schools acting CL, I have placed material for ICE/TJC 3 times and Unity 0, even though they have mailed me 3 different flyers to place in the mailboxes. As I see it, the flyers were political material from a party not official material for me as CL to have to place in mailboxes. It's interesting that only the first flyer actually included a little card asking for cooperation in placing the flyers. The second 2 no card, I guess just an assumption the CL will do it. Not here!



Anonymous said...

I was looking for an alternative to Mulgrew's anti-charter school stance, but it seems the entire UFT is against its own members such as I who work at a union charter school. Not only are we UFT, the office staff is DC37 and the management is CSA. Only CSA seems to know that charters are public schools. DC37 thinks we are private and pick our students. UFT knows somewhat more, but Mulgrew needs to get re-elected, so he says nothing in favor of UNION charters. I can understand not supporting non-union charters, but not supporting its own DUES-PAYING members???
I hate using "anonymous", but I don't want all the hate mail charter teachers seem to get from people who are nominally trying to do the same thing: the best they can for the children.

ed notes online said...

Mulgrew is NOT anti charter schools. Track the UFT and they do not oppose charters. They even will be willing to lift the cap under certain conditions.

ICE supports union teachers in charters but is against the entire charter school movement because it ultimately destroys the public schools. Since charters have a private board not elected they are not public but only use public money.