Monday, January 20, 2014

Duking it Out in NYSUT - At the Top

On Saturday evening PJSTA (Port Jefferson Station) President Beth Dimino delivered the following message to the members of the PJSTA… For the record, the PJSTA will NOT endorse a slate of NYSUT Officers, led by Andy Pallotta, that endorse and use our vote cope money to pad Cuomo’s war chest! The PJSTA is leading the charge against this heinous act and will support individuals that oppose Pallotta and Cuomo!.. Beth Dimino, President PJSTA, More on Andy Pallotta
Someone asked me what is the relevance of the battle at the top in NYSUT we have been reporting about for the rank and file teachers in NYC and the state and for MORE as a caucus? Basically not much because this struggle does not involve the rank and file.

Bogs addressing the NYSUT issue:
Perdido: More on The UFT/Mulgrew Machinations In The NYSUT

 NYC Educator
On Reviving NYSUT
My posts:

The internal NYSUT election takes place every 3 years at the NYSUT convention which revolves every year to a different location but the UFT leadership makes sure is at the local NY Hilton in election years (2014) so they can make sure all 800 Unity slugs get a free room and meal money at our expense and even a day or 2 off from school. Only delegates elected in their locals throughout the state get to vote and that vote will take place on Saturday, April 5. In the UFT winner-take-all version of democracy MORE gets NO delegates - and Unity even shuts out their buddies in New Action from that gravy train.

The statewide Unity Caucus will meet Friday evening, April 4, to endorse the Unity slate and that outcome is pretty clear -- it will be for the Andy Pallotta slate and not include the Iannuzzi crew which will be left to run on an ad hoc slate of sorts. Call it Un-Unity.

Remember-- this is all about who controls the COPE money going to politicians and Dick put a freeze on how much Andy can spend - mostly on the other Andy. And of course it also seems to be about the Cuomo endorsement -- Mikey and Randi want that little stool at the table -- and all they will get is the kind of stool a dog leaves on the street.

Let's do some analysis for a bit starting with exactly what kinds of local unions are we talking about. Most locals are very small with a few hundred teachers -- think of each town un Long Island and upstate as a separate local.

Then there is the big enchilada - the UFT with at least a third of the NYSUT membership and through that alone it pretty much decides things. Even if there was a coalition forming to fight it there would be enough fear -- think of the Christie story -- to keep even unhappy locals from venturing too far -- except for some very brave small union leaders -- apparently like Beth Dimino of PJSTA. There are others like her I imagine but I'm waiting to hear where they are coming from. Even if they all banded together they would still not have enough delegates to put up their own challenge.

Then come the smaller big cities --- Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers, which if in revolt with the more active smaller locals could create a bit of a stir. I think for instance it Phil Rumore of Buffalo put himself out there as a third choice there might be some shaking of the tree even if the result will be the same. But from what I hear there are no signs yet from the other bigger cities of any action.

And then there is also PSC - Professional Staff Congress -- a nice chunk of more left-leaning people at the city university - CUNY. No idea where they are coming from yet.

Here's the problem. While Iannuzzi has made some movements lately -- probably in response to the attack on him -- many in the state had him lumped with Mulgrew and Andy Pallotta until this all broke. Left with a poor set of choices what do people do? They begin to look at Iannuzzi as the lesser of two evils.

Oh, and then where is Randi on all this? I believe Iannuzzi does not become president of NYSUT without her OK. But we hear she is siding with the Mulgrew camp on this -- just a rumor.

Where all this intrigue has a possible impact is at the AFT Convention in LA this July where we will see more anti-Randi and anti UFT dominance emerge. NYSUT was always a solid block for them in the past but this time we may see some of this fracture play out on the national stage where Chicago will be sending a strong contingent pushing for some pretty heavy hitting resolutions. The battles between Unity and CORE will play out in committee rooms not in the national elections since I can't see Karen Lewis running against Randi. So what we will probably see is a leftish fringe group that will garner almost no support from even others on the left.

Unless... a real anti-Randi broad-based national coalition begins to form that can challenge the national version of Unity, the Progressive Caucus - which anyone can join for 25 bucks -- and I do every time just to be in the same room and laugh at the Unity slugs playing their usual roles.

Given that a batch of us met in Chicago this past summer with well over a hundred people from various social-justice oriented caucuses around the nation, there is a nascent movement forming and Randi is trying to get as far out ahead of it as she can -- thus her recent VAMping.

While MORE has a hell of a lot on its plate just trying to organize here in NYC and a long way to go - and I as a senior adviser keep stressing that -- not to stray too far into every single issue that comes up locally, nationally and internationally, we do think it important that we put some resources into helping build the national movement and if there is a state movement building, help support that too, but never losing site of the prime directive --- build strong school and district level MORE offshoots to challenge Unity at its core while also building the chapter leader and delegate MORE support network to begin to play a bigger role at the DA.

It seems that one of the major MORE strategies will be lots of local happy hours. Urp!

I still have to write about my tough last 2 weeks of time spent dealing with the health care system after I took a bad fall on my back and also have been helping a friend out who has cancer.

But I do want to say that shlepping to a vibrant MORE meeting Saturday with well over 60 people - and so many of them young - and new - certainly perked me up. So much so that today I shlepped out again to go to a joint MORE/Change the Stakes phone banking and button making party at Rosie's place for our big Feb. 1 event which I will tell you about soon. Again, a mixture of people in their 20s, 30s, and me.

Oh, and I also have to tell you that I was asked by the Rockaway Theatre Company to be part of the ensemble (chorus) in How to Succeed in Business.... where I actually sort of dance and pretend to sing and where one of my jobs is to ogle the young and very pretty fellow chorus gals playing the secretaries, who range in age from 15 to 29. Nice work for an almost 69 year old fossil. Bad back, hell. I'd crawl to do some serious ogling.


  1. I have to disagree about this effecting NYC teachers. If Upstate organizes against Unity, that is going to be HUGE!!! And if all upstate decide to take action as a unit, you are going to see a lot of teachers mobilizing. That's when I hope MORE will join them as well. To downplay this IMHO is wrong.

  2. The big IF - If Upstate and Long Island organizes against Unity that will be HUGE. But are they? Will they? We need to see some signs of people standing up other than the few. And those big cities also need to give us some idea of where they stand.
    The problem I have is that Iannuzzi is damaged goods -- made by Randi/Mulgrew and pushing their program for so long. The problem is that the underhanded attack on him is based on some truths and we are left with people who oppose the power play of Mulgrew holding their noses and voting Dick. I think that is not enough given the way power works. People will not stand up and oppose the ruling power until they see some sense it will be worth taking a stand. I feel what needs to happen is for some of the locals to get together and declare an alt caucus to Unity and then decide whether to endorse Iannuzzi or run their own slate. or use the threat thereof to shape the platform to make a stronger stand -- like would Dick ever call for a change in the state law he supported? Withdrawal from RTTT? If not then why all the sturm and drang?

  3. I know I spent time trying to decipher what is going on and there is more work to do but i also agree it doesn't mean a thing for rank and file here in NYC. On the night of April 4 800 Unity Caucus NYC slugs - all staying at the NY Hilton at our expense- will vote unanimously to endorse the Pallota slate and many fearful locals will to along with them. As of yet there is no "formal" opposition in NYSUT in the sense of MORE in the UFT that runs against the statewide Unity slate which is NYC Unity plus others in the state -- the elected delegates and union leaders from the smaller towns and bigger cities. Thus people will be left with a choice of Iannuzzi who was "made" by Randi - who we hear is sticking with Mulgrew - or Palotta. Not a great choice either way. What is important in the long run is for a 3rd option to emerge that offers a true alternative and that this alternative go to the AFT convention in some force in LA (July 11-15) and break the united front NYSUT has presented in favor of Randi. Given NYSUT is about one third of the entire AFT this would be important if the dissident NYSUT people team up with anti-Randi forces from around the nation. She will still win (don't expect Karen Lewis to challenge her - she has too much on her plate) but not with 95% of the delegates. The LA convention is a chance for opposition people to come together -- even if you are not a delegate - to force changes in AFT policy if not yet in the actual leadership. MORE hopes to send a contingent - we are paying our own way - to work with these people. We understand our main work is here but we also have to support the national and state resistance too.


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