Wednesday, July 20, 2016

#AFT100, #AFT16 Day 3 Post 2: Palace Intrigues - Does the Rise of Ricker Mean the Fall of Mulgrew? Not Yet

Mulgrew wears cloaking device... until now

It's 4:30 and Mulgrew gets his big moment - he was just introduced to speak about organizing. Organizing?
Mulgrew calls for us to sing Happy Birthday to Karen Lewis and then finds she is not in the house -- embarrassing. That was his speech on organizing.

Now they are introducing Marla Kilfoyle and Jaime of The BATS and Randi is taking a photo op -- Marla is one of our great allies so Randi even tries to subsume them. BATS weren't happy about that Unity leaflet.

We've been having a lot of fun using that June DA Unity Caucus leaflet attacking MORE and Jia Lee for supporting opt-out and a bogus charge we were irresponsible for causing schools to lose money.

Our MORE leaflet has resonated with some people who don't know how Unity operates in New York - some ask how that relates to the Progressive Caucus at the AFT - the only viable caucus - there is really no opposition caucus at this level.

Randi has subsumed any potential opposition.

[Sidelight - just noticed AFT Vice Presidents whose main job seems to be to call the question to kill debate on as many issues as they can - do they get a bounty per question killed? Is the ability to call the question a prereq for being an AFT VP?]

No sign of Stronger Together from NY or of UCORE in terms of a formal presence and definitely no hint of opposition. BATS have a table but they are fighting different battles. When I was asked why no national caucus challenging Progressive I responded there will not be a true national caucus - Randi is too nimble. And unless LATU and CTU jump into the fray - which they won't for numerous reasons -- no opposition can get footing.

As long as Unity controls NYC and through them the state, there will be no national opposition of a serious nature (though BAMN is running once again and will get about 5% of the vote.)

If Randi leaves, what then?
The obvious assumption is that Mulgrew would follow Randi to the AFT presidency since that has been the usual progression - Shanker (74-97), Feldman (97-2004), Randi (2010-). (2004-10 - Ed McElroy filled interegnum as a Randi placeholder).

A year ago there was an assumption that if Hillary won, Randi might AFExit to work in her administration - I'm not so sure about that - and that Mulgrew - an ambitious fellow - would see it as a dis if he didn't get the AFT presidency. Would he take a lesser AFT position more suitable to his skill set? Which is? Well, apparently is is organizing.

Some people think Mulgrew might have to face competition from....

Mary Cathryn Ricker who was president of the St. Paul union - see an article by her to get a gist: Teacher-Community Unionism: A Lesson from St. Paul. Note the title - social justice unionism all the way. She rose to Exec AFT VP in 2014, clearly in the line of succession.

She spoke this morning after being introduced by her dad who was a teacher, as is her husband. She has a natural charm that wears better than Randi's does. She is so at ease in front of a crowd, she makes Randi in comparison look like a klutz.

In comparison to Mulgrew - her major  problem is does she come off as too nice and not tough enough.

Funny - someone from another local said yesterday she would be only marginally better than Mulgrew - die quickly or from a boring slow drip.

Where's WaldGrew: Mulgrew wears a cloaking device
A year ago Mulgrew played a prominent role here -- always at the mic, leading the way on some issues. Until his appearance just now we were wondering where he was.

Mulgew was given the job to motivate the nomination of Hillary yesterday - and some report he was bombastic.

Common core "Punch in face" flack?
Some of us are wondering whether Mulgrew's "punch in the face" and general goonism from last time hurt him. Here are some links:
Don't get me wrong -- given the Unity machine if he wants to be AFT president I imagine Unity can deliver this to him through the 750  -- close to 30% of total delegates plus supporters.

Has Mulgrew slipped internally and in the esteem of other AFTers around the nation? Some thoughts on these issues:
  • losing high schools because he let New Action walk
  • the recent attack on opt-out in the Unity Caucus leaflet and the parent reaction
  • internal strife in Unity
Mulgrew ignoring New Action undermined years of Randi's work

Did Mulgrew lose New Action - intentionally or through oversight? Randi had spent serious time dividing the opposition and catering to New Action - she made sure the opposition could not get a foothold by doing what it took to keep New Action on board. Mulgrew, in contrast, seemed to have disdain for NA or ignored them altogether. Now some think it was Mulgrew who dumped New Action - and one must ask why? Did they become a pain in the ass at the Exec Bd? They had 10 Ex Bd seats out of 100. They can't win a vote so why dump them? [in the interests of accuracy NA claims they would have left Unity anyway.]

Was Mulgrew so confident of winning the high schools 3 years after Unity received only 1585 votes plus the 440 from New Action out of 19,500 ballots sent out? Simple math would show that assuming no changes in the voting patterns from last time, just swapping the 440 votes nnfrom Unity to MORE would end with a victory for the latter. Remember that Randi put some serious time and effort into keeping NA on board and Mulgrew seems to have frittered that effort away. I can't help feel Randi must be pissed.

Unity leaflet attacking MORE on opt out
Leroy Barr, as Unity Caucus head, bears ultimate responsibility for that leaflet which caused an important state parent group to attack the shit out of Mulgrew. I knew that under Randi nothing went out without her viewing it - even Unity Caucus leaflets - except maybe when Unity was lead by Jeff Zahler who she had supreme confidence in.

MORE and allies spread the leaflet around but Mulgrew doesn't really give a shit what MORE thinks. The parent response was a major hit: Ed Notes Online: Parent Opt-Out Group Slams Mulgrew Over Unity ...

Many of these people have been cultivated by Randi for years. I bet she was pissed at this too.

Internal strife
For the first time in this election, Unity people told me they split their ballot and voted for Jia. "Mulgrew's an ass," or something similar has been the comment. Even here in Minneapolis some Unity people have been telling me Mulgrew has been spoken about with derision in some quarters. Are the recent personnel movements a sign of strife? Ed Notes traffic shot up since my Debbie Poulos post: Mulgrew Removes Brooklyn Borough Rep Debbie Poulos - Was She too aggressive on certain abusive principals?

Jumped over 4000 and then yesterday over 7500 and is tracking over 5500 so far today. Some Unity people are giving me interesting looks - not sure whether they want to slip a shiv in my back or shake my hand.

There is some speculation that Debbie was becoming too popular for Mulgrew. Others say it was a Randi hit for some reason not clear but one of  her legacy people was supposedly involved in the hit on Debbie. Some Unity person in the Brooklyn office told someone in MORE that it was a good move to remove Debbie. Another Unity person told another MORE person that people were devastated. No matter what is true, there is some turmoil going on. And then there are other changes not all of which we have confirmed other than that Howie Schoor is not running the Bronx and Mary Atkinson is.

Well, they are wrapping up now so we will be going out into the heat which will follow us to New York by Friday - I say we go home the other way by flying west and around the world until the heat wave passes.


Labor Notes threw a nice UCORE event in a bar last night. Jia Lee is clearly a national celebrity in the category of internal resistance. She spoke as did LATU President Alex Caputo-Pearl. MORE is viewed very favorably in so many places around the nation. At dinner with CTU people before we went to the bar there were many questions for us but I also had a lot of questions for the Chicago folks - I got to meet a whole new batch of people. More later or tomorrow

See George Schmidt video speaking today:

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