Saturday, February 19, 2011

Who's Been in Power Longer? Arab Dictators or Unity Caucus

Last Update: Sat., Feb. 19, 1pm

So I was watching the News Hour and an expert on the Middle East was talking about those fossilized leaders of the Arab nations in revolt and how the lack of democracy had created a status quo situation that was a major cause of the unrest. He ticked off each dictator:
  • Tunisia's Zine: 24 years
  • Mubarek: 30 years
  • Bahrain: 40 years
  • Ghaddafi: 44 years
And I was waiting for the longest running dictatorship to come next:
  • Unity Caucus in the UFT/AFT: 45 years +
How outrageous that the News Hour has Randi Weingarten as our voice on the Wisconsin issue? Whining how the unions want to talk and give up everything but the governor won't sit down. Let me tell you, the unions in Wisconsin are extremely fortunate that the right wingers are so rabid they won't sit down with the likes of Randi Weingarten. They should talk to Joel Klein and Bloomberg and ed deformers in other major cities (Detroit, Chicago, Washington DC) to see just how easy it is to get most of what they want.

The exact same mechanism of decay and failure that is tearing down the Arab states is operating in the UFT and AFT. Except there is a greater chance of every Arab state being toppled than Unity Caucus, which will be left standing long after the union is an aging white dwarf.

See the NY Times today on the use of cell phone cameras: Cellphones Become the World’s Eyes and Ears on Protests

But not in the UFT. More irony in that because I took some video at a Delegate Assembly and at the UFT wine and cheese party  - the UFT banned video at DA's.  Randi tried to pin the rap on me that I was blogging live from meetings. Mubarek and the Arab leaders learned at the feet of Unity - shut down the proof of your crimes.

Here are links to the 2-part video I made of the ATR rally: Part 1 - Wine and Cheese, Part 2 - march to Tweed to meet the ATRs who were there for 2 hours waiting for Randi and Unity to show up.

A Tale of Two Rallies

Watch the rank & file hold their own spirited rally while the UFT staff holds a wine and cheese infomercial.

The Video the UFT Doesn't Want You To See: The ATR Rally

See Randi Weingarten scream, "Norman, put down that camera!"

Hear her approach me near Tweed and ask me to hand over the tape.

Hear people boo her and shout her down in front of Tweeed.

No wonder she pushed through a gag-rule resolution at the Jan. 28 Delegate Assembly (read James Eterno's account at the ICE blog.)

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.


  1. The title of the post alone made me laugh so hard, I had to respond. It has been quite bewildering to watch and listen to the Unity Caucus controlled UFT rightfully call out the DOE/Tweed/Mayor/ for abuses of power without the slightest remorse, reflection or perhaps even apology for their own undemocratic practices.

    It is not even necessary to drag out a laundry list of Unity decisions or practices when talking to someone with little or no understanding of how the Unity/UFT operates (sadly, I was one of those people for over ten years). All one has to do to initiate a discussion about Unity and Democracy with the uninitiated is: What if I told you our Union has been controlled by the same political party for fifty years? What would you say?

    The other's eyes light up. This is followed by: Really?

    Well yes really.

    Paul Egan did a heck of a job last week on quail and drinks. His story is one of hubris, power, wealth and dishonesty (misappropriation of our cope money). But make no mistake about Mr. Egan, he is not alone. This is the inside culture of Unity. Play by their rules. Don't make noise. Don't push them or question them. Play the sheep and you will be rewarded. Patronage is the game.

    However, Paul Egan, whose famous, overblown, longwinded, and bloated speeches at many DAs is perhaps the prime example of excess because he was unwise and unfit enough in a particular moment to bring it to the surface and create fodder for a group of people and institutions out to destroy teachers' unions (as well as all of labor). He is now their poster/play/boy.

    Some have questioned why UFTers who are concerned about the ed deform movement and the lack of democracy in our union would dare speak out at such a dangerous time in our political culture. In others words, why not keep it in house and wait for a future time to help transform the UFT? I imagine one can only answer the time is now. There is no turning back the clock. There is no turning the clock ahead. History has caught up with the Weingartens/Mugrews/Egans of the labor movement.

    The Dems are hiding. Like Unity, they are waiting to ride out the storm. Why can't it all just go away? There is a brighter day on the horizon? Right? I love when Mulgrew continues to talk about "Wall Street" turning around. The hope is that Wall Street, the same rapists who have brought the world to its knees and unleashed the worst in neoliberal tendencies, will rebound and recover in a way where they will begin operating in some Pre-Repeal-of Glass Steagall Act kind of way.

    Isn't it all very sad? My heart goes out to the Wisconsin workers fighting for democracy right now.

    Can anyone imagine Mulgrew and Egan leading an occupation of anything besides 52 Broadway?


  2. Take down Unity and the Mayor!


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