Monday, July 12, 2010

Breaking into the Progressive Caucus

July 12, 2010

When I attended the AFT convention in Washington in 2004 with Loretta and Gene Prisco we were surprised when we heard that membership in the Progressive Caucus, the national version of Unity Caucus, was open to all. We joined and were able to attend the first meeting and see how they going to manipulate the rest of the convention. No one said anything to us about being there.

Thus, when I got to Seattle, I asked if that was still the policy and was told it was - all I had to do was pay $20 and I was in. So when Unity hack Washington Sanchez saw me and came over to challenge my right to be there, I was mildly surprised.

"How did you get in here? You have no right to be here," he said. He asked me to show credentials.
"What right do you have to ask me for credentials," I said?
"I am a member of this caucus and have the right."
"No you don't. Only officials have the right."
"You're saying I'm nothing," he whined. "Is that what you are saying?"
"In your case you are nothing."
He walked off in a huff.
I knew that Sanchez was a low level (and low life) do nothing Queens special rep who people I know complain often about his arrogance and incompetence - a guy who as a full-time union employee has no qualms about booing and hooting at opposition speakers at UFT delegate assemblies while on union time. HE would have no clue about national caucus policies. He would follow orders to march off a cliff.

Two minutes later he reappeared with UFT Staff Director Leroy Barr.
I expected Leroy as a top union official to know the rules.
"You have to leave," Leroy said. I just sat there. "You have to be a member to be here."
"I got in didn't I? Only members can get in."
"Come on Norm, we can do this inside or outside. Come outside and talk."
I didn't move.
"Then show me credentials."
"Who are you? Are you an official here? Why should I show you credentials?"
He and Sanchez walked off in a huff. Two minutes they were back with a Sergeant at arms. I showed her my credentials. "You are a visitor and not a delegate," she said. "I don't know if you can be here."
"I asked that question when I paid my $20 and they assured me it was OK or why else would I pay?"
She said she would check. She never came back.

I moved to the back of the room. Whispers. People pointing. Lots of hostile stares. Some friendly nods and a few nice words.
Michael Mendel stopped by to chat. As usual we talked sports. He said, "You are really topping yourself being here, Norm. I really don't care, but you really aren't supposed to be here." I told him the open policy and he seemed truly surprised.
Then retiring UFT grievance head Howard Solomon. "Why are you here? This is a private meeting." Not in a nice way.
Then UFT middle school VP Richard Farkas: "Norm, does this give you reciprocity to attend Unity Caucus meetings?" Rich at least seemed to be having fun with this.
Finally, I get slapped on the shoulder.
It was Randi: "Norman, I see you joined the caucus. You must miss me."
Randi also seemed surprised that I could be there.
"I think you miss me more," I said. "I joined because you finally convinced me. Best 20 bucks I ever spent."

So with the top UFT officials either unaware or not expecting someone to take advantage of a loophole in Progressive Caucus policy, don't be surprised to see that policy modified in Detroit in 2012. And other policies like restrictions on the movement of visitors like they have done at the DA.

I realized that this is the first AFT convention that Randi has run - she was elected in 2008 at the end of the convention. Given her history of taking what was an undemocratically run UFT and doubling the lack of democracy in such a way as to make Al Shanker look like a paragon of free thought, expect an even higher level of tightening in the future.

5 comments:

  1. INSIDE THE UNITY CAUCUS:

    BARR THE CHANTER ONLY ACTS TOUGH WITH OTHERS AROUND- HE IS A WATER BOY FOR FOR MULGREW. HE DOESNT KNOW THE UFT CONTRACT, SO WHY WOULLD HE KNOW CAUCUS RULES?
    HE IS THE LAUGHING STOCK OF 52 BROADWAY. HE WAS THE HENCHMAN WHO WAS THE DOUBLE AGENT IN THE RUBBER ROOMS- HE TALKED AND TALKED AND DID NOTHING TO HELP ANYONE- UNDER ORDERS OF COURSE. HE WOULLD TAKE INFORMATION FROM TEACHERS -CONFIDENTIAL STUFF -AND IT WOULLD WIND UP AT D.O.E. THE SAME DAY.
    CAUCUS MEMBERS REMEMBER HOW HE AND RANDI KNIFED BODDEN AND NOW SEE HIM FIGHTING WITH VARGAS OVER D.O.E. JOBS WHICH WILL BUY THEIR SILENCE- NOT THAT KLEIN NEEDS TO SPEND MUCH TO BUY ANY OF THESE GUYS.
    BARR IS ON HIS WAY TO NYSUT IN ALBANY. LEO CASEY MOVING OUT TO D.C. TO BE CLOSE TO HIS STUDENT RANDI.
    MENDEL? WASNT HE LIKE RANDI'S 4TH STAFF DIRECTOR WHO COULDNT CUT IT? WHO CAN NAME THE OTHER THREE?
    SOLOMON IS RETIRING- THANK HEAVENS- ANOTHER BURNED OUT DO- NOTHING IN BED WITH D.O.E.

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  2. Washington Sanchez is a low life and an arrogant suit wearing piece of shit.

    CC

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  3. Washington is great!!! He helped me sooooo much! He is a brother from another mother.

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  4. What did Sanchez do for you? He's a lackey and a bad one a that

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  5. Would washington's lackey status mean he knows how the DOE will rule on their decision to terminate teachers? I want to know whether to believe him or not when he said that a friend of mine in the rubber room will probably be pribably be terminated before getting a chance to go to court and plead not guilty

    Thank you to everyone for posting here

    ReplyDelete

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