Thursday, March 15, 2012

Refining the Message: Obama and Bloomberg and the UFT and CTU

My version of Bob, Carol, Ted, Alice.

Some good points from Arjun Janah based on the recent lunch between Obama and Bloomberg. Unfortunately the people battling ed deform don't have anywhere to go in the presidential election --- and don't expect things to change. Arjun also points to Cuomo who was supported by the UFT and NYSUT. Listen, government will always be against labor. With a waffling union where else can one go?

Now Chicago is where there is some real action. While the results may be the same in terms of closing schools, charter co-locos, etc. the Chicago Teachers Union is engaging in a battle that might have long-term effects. I imagine that in the 2013 election, the powers that be will do everything they can to support whatever remnants of the old Unity-like Caucus exists (and I won't be shocked if Randi and her crew are nervous about the difference between the CTU and the rest of the AFT). Below Arjun's points I'm including some comments from George Schmidt on what is going on in Chicago.

George makes the point that the CTU has linked all the struggles to each other along with the community while the UFT here has kept each school basically apart. At most they plan venting sessions. (John Dewey HS Leads Opposition at Meeting With Elaine Gorman).

Note the borough events like today --- separate actions with even the Queens one turning into a press conference. The UFT without a true fight back strategy has been left floundering (some of the 33 schools are organizing by themselves.)

The main point in teaming these together is that a major reliance on political action given the state of the two parties on ed deform is a distraction. At least until we can bring an enormous number of people to the table to bargain with. The UFT reliance on back-room deals is a dead end for rank and file teachers though as I point out it is not a dead end for the leadership and their cadre as the difference between the Democrats and Republicans is that the latter wants to wipe out unions completely while the former just wants to neuter them and use them to control the members to keep militancy at bay. Thus, the Dems will concede a few minor things when faces with some pushback, which in my mind makes them infinitely more dangerous.

By the way, since I posted this Occupy DOE: Educators Stand Up to Murdoch's NY Post - March 22, 5PM I've been getting some responses from rank and filers asking to post the pdf in their school.

Arjun Janah
While Santorum and Gingrich appear to appeal directly to the insane sections of society, and Romney shamelessly caters to the same to get elected, you can see that Obama belongs, owing to his associations and supporters, in the same bracket as Bloomberg, who is viewed, correctly in relative terms, in much of the country and even in New York, as a moderate, with political views not that far from Obama's -- or his secretary Duncan's, who presided over the attack against the union and the dismantling of the public schools in Chicago, much as Klein did here, only far more fiercely and with even more disastrous results.

What teachers who have attained relatively high salaries and, with spouses also working, attained upper middle class status, do not realize is that they are in the same class, basically, as security guards, custodians and other public workers. The custodians unions' will also be dealt with, but with delay -- as they are, over here, predominantly white and the teachers present a far more visible target at present. Our degrees are of little use against the attack, which is from both Republican and Democratic quarters, although clearly fiercer from the former. Look, however, at Cuomo -- whose views were, by the way, clear before he got elected, endorsed by the NY Post. Obama's views on teachers were also clear before he got elected, for anyone who was paying attention. His views are not crude or pandering like those of Gingrich and Santorum, but informed by those of the educated, affluent class with which he has been associated and from whom he has drawn financial and logistic support.

Oprah, an enthusiastic supporter of Obama's initial campaign, also later supported Kathy Black as she had, I believe, Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan. The affluent elite among the African Americans have aligned with the affluent liberal whites on issues that they see in a positive light but we who have closer acquaintance with the reality do not. In a recent article in the NY Times on the alleged budgetary crises in many municipalities in NY State, with many now borrowing from pension funds
to meet current expenses (boding very badly for folks like us), I was shocked at the tenor of the comments, which basically were mostly in the vein,

"Just don't pay the pensions. Why should public workers have pensions when the private sector does not? It's the unions ripping of the taxpayers. It's time to stop this."

You and I may have arguments against this faulty logic -- but this appears to be the general view, not among readers of the NY Post, by the way, but among those of the NY Times.

George Schmidt responding on the relative role of community fightback in relation to the role the CTU has played.
Don't underestimate the role of the CTU in building these links. Without the election victory we won in 2010 and the program the union leadership is committed to, most of these individual school struggles, no matter how heroic, would be unlinked. The difference between this year and years past in the school Hit List fight, despite the fact that the Board of Education again approved the Hit List at its February 22 meeting, is the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union. That cannot be downplayed, and there may be a tendency to overemphasize the "community" and de-emphasize the union. That would be historically inaccurate and a significant political mistake.

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