Tuesday, July 20, 2010

AFT Convention: CTU and UFT Compromise on School Closing Reso

Want to see why the CORE victory in the June Chicago Teachers Union election has national implications? The UFT dominated convention was faced with a much stronger resolution on closing schools from Chicago than they advocated. The UFT backed off and offered a deal to include the CTU language in the school closing reso. Follow the bouncing ball with this excerpt from a powerful article written by CTU delegate Jen Johnson for Substance.

On Friday, July 9th, UFT Vice President for Educational Issues Aminda Gentile approached CTU convention delegates Carol Caref (also CTU interim Staff Coordinator and CTU Area A Vice President) and Jen Johnson (also CTU Area B Vice President) to discuss possible ways for CTU and UFT to work together on the issue of school closings.

Vice President Gentile was in the Educational Issues Committee and witnessed the work of CTU delegates to have their concerns heard by the convention. That morning, CTU convention delegates Jen Johnson, Xian Barrett (also CTU interim Legislative Coordinator), and Carol Caref met with UFT Vice President of Academic High Schools Leo Casey, UFT Special Representative Janella Hinds and UFT Special Representative Amy Arundell to negotiate what amendments could be made to existing UFT resolutions based on the language of the CTU resolution.

The CTU and UFT representatives agree to add language to Resolution 8, which was the UFT’s main priority resolution and Resolution 58. The representatives also agreed to adding one from the CTU resolution resolving that AFT demand that RTTT funding being used equitably rather than competitively was also agreed to be added to Resolution 60, which was not made a priority in committee so the amendment never made it to the convention floor.

Because of disagreements between the CTU and UFT representatives over how charter schools should best be dealt with, the amendments to Resolution 58 did not include a call for a moratorium on new charters despite the CTU representatives’ desires for one. The CTU representatives made clear to the UFT representatives that CTU delegates would make the final decision as to the delegation’s support for the proposed amendments and that CTU delegates were free to speak their mind on the floor of the convention if they had disagreements, especially concerning their perspectives on charter schools.

Here is Jen Johnson's full report to Substance which includes the entire amazing resolution proposed by CORE/CTU.

AFT CONVENTION: Resolution on school closing, charters required hard work, some compromises

Jen Johnson made a passionate speech from the floor, followed by new CTU president Karen Lewis. They were preceded by Unity's Janella Hinds who also made a good speech, which we'll parse in our followup article.

See the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bhailiqr4uQ
(The video is also at the GEM blog and playing in the ed notes sidebar.)

By the way, if you haven't noticed, Karen Lewis got the 2nd highest vote total for AFT Ex Bd VP.

Let's remember that CORE has just come out of a grueling half year election campaign, took control of the CTU on July 1 - only 2 weeks after winning - and then left for Seattle on July 6. Most had little idea of how a convention operates especially one controlled by the UFT out of NYC. (Think: Block of 800 out of 3400 - almost 25% - and they control many other blocks - a lot of NY State which has 650,000 out of the 1.5 million AFT members. By the way, most of these 800 - Unity might have as many as 1500 or more members - also pack the Delegate Assemblies in NYC - in a room that only holds 850 people.

So, they get there and have to figure things out. And they start learning quickly. In every conversation I had with a CORE member I was impressed — by their knowledge, their passion, their commitment to public education. Remember - almost every one of them, including Karen Lewis, were in classrooms teaching just a few weeks ago. Quite a contrast to New York City.

CORE/CTU/Local 1 delegate Katie Hogan left this comment on Jen's article at Substance based on what happened at the committee meeting:

It's hard to understand, unless one was there, the total and complete orchestration of Local 2 - New York - of all committees and floor debate. I did get up in my committee (Organizing and Labor Issues) and try to add our original Resolved: "Resolved that the AFT and its state and local affiliates will march, petition, rally, hold media events, mobilize its members and utilize the help of supportive community partners and use all resources at its disposal to dispel the myths about the success of charter schools compared to traditional public schools, to expose the inequalities that exist within the funding and management of public education and to improve the public perception of public education" -- the amendment was voted on by voice -- and in audible surprise it was unable to determine to pass or vote down. You had obviously NY delegation voting against -- they had actually stacked the committee. It went to vote by hand and we were unfortunately defeated -- but not overwhelmingly. I also got to speak in that committee about WHY it's so important to add this particular resolved considering the national wave that is on its wave courtesy of Arne Duncan. This was a huge learning experience for everyone and I think when we go to Detroit and can write our own resolutions we will be much more prepared. However, we were fighting tooth and nail for anything we could get with our limited experience and resources. I was very proud to represent Local 1.

George Schmidt over at Substance has started posting these wonderful reports from inside the CORE caucus who sent 108 delegates to Seattle and came up against the massive 800 member Unity juggernaut, totally controlled and under caucus discipline. They listened, learned, fought back and compromised when they could and stood their ground when they couldn't.

Ed Note:
Look for the follow-up article later in the day that discusses UFT policy related to closing schools.

Good point by commenter Esteban who said: "Call me a cynic, but passing a resolution and actually following it are not the same thing" Esteban is so right. The Unity compromise was for PR purposes and will have zero impact on policy - unless there is an increasing national uprising, especially in New York.


  1. Call me a cynic, but passing a resolution and actually following it are not the same thing.

  2. Correct, however, the mere fact that Unity had to reach out to Local 1 means they are already trying to work their way into the ranks with the purpose of underminding the leadership. More locals will follow and 2012 in Detroit may take the wheels off the Weingarten/Mulgrew sell out to the deformers.

  3. Mulgrew 91% - Weingarten 95% -- The majority of our friends in Progressive Caucus reached out to our friends in Chicago because we are a national union concerned with all our members. Norm and Company are you trying to break union solidarity? We have two many enemies to fight within. Norm made the first right step by finally crossing over and joining the progressive caucus. Unity, New Action, ChicagoCORE and now even Norm - A stronger union to take on the deformers.

  4. Too many -- not two many. I passed all my test.

  5. Norm's story is slanted yet again.

    1. The UFT did not "have to" reach out to CTU.

    2. Karen Lewis joined the Progressive Caucus at the last minute. If she hadn't she would not have garnered all of those votes.

  6. CORE was willing to walk away from the VP position and that would have been the first time Local 1 wouldn't be on the AFT Executive Board. Too embarrassing for the AFT and also Randi's style it to try to coopt. She wanted Lewis on there.

    Weingarten tried to force the entire CORE caucus to join or she wouldn't run Lewis for VP. CORE called teh bluff and said NO. W came back calling for 50% joining. Again NO. In the end she blinked and only Lewis and one other CORE member joined Progressive while other CORE members ran with BAMN.

  7. Really, your logic is that it would have been embarrassing for the AFT if there wasn't a Chicago VP?

    Surely you jest.

  8. Surely Weingarten demanded all CORE join Progressive at first or no Chicago VP. Surely only two ended up joining. Surely Karen Lewis received the second highest vote total. Surely that was more than Michael Mulgrew received. Surely there is a sign of some people nationally not happy.

  9. Hey Unity slug: Ask Randi why she had to bring me up in a meeting with the Chicago leadership. She must miss me more than I thought.

  10. Norman, you are the court jester.

    To laugh is divine.


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