Did Randi surround and subsume potential future opposition in the AFT that might have come from social justice groups like BATS, UCORE or a basically absent NYSUT Caucus, Stronger Together (how interesting that Hillary has used that exact term in her campaign)?
Or did the social justice groups force Randi to be inclusive of their agenda?
One thing was clear: social justice was front and center at the AFT, led by Randi and other Unity people like Leroy Barr. On the surface she outflanked the social justice caucuses tied to UCORE. And coming home on a plane full of Unity, most of them black, got me to start thinking more deeply about MORE's claims to be THE Social Justice Caucus of the UFT. Well we do believe the essence of a SJ caucus is a democratic, bottom up union which Unity certainly isn't. And based on some conversations with rank and filers from Chicago there were igns that the CTU may be drifting away from bottom up.
Has Randi NACed UCORE, Stronger Together and the BATS?
James Eterno and I have a joke - we call it being NACed or NAC-a-Sized - what Randi did with and to New Action beginning after the 2001 elections by offering them a seat at the table in exchange for their not running against her for UFT president. This was Randi at her most cynical -- buy off the leading opposition party with guaranteed Ex Bd positions and jobs.
Randi broke new ground when she took over the UFT
The old Shanker/Feldman leadership viewed the opposition as left wing enemies and openly mocked or ignored them. Randi takes the opposite approach - she invites potential critics into the tent. And it works.
I know personally -- when I began Ed Notes in 1997 I was invited into the tent -- and even though I didn't take the offer I also was careful not to be too critical of Randi because she led me to believe I had her ear and possible support on some of my ideas, thus muting my voice on certain levels for 4 years. Randi was so good at this I saw it happen to so many others -- a phone call or an email and even money from Randi gave them hope there could be change and it took years of bearing her duplicity before the light came on.
Recently I was at a dinner where a parent leader who had been associated with Randi over the years publicly stated, "Norm always told me not to trust Randi. He was right."
Mulgrew has no skill or seeming interest in doing the same as Randi, which I sort of like him for - he's not as phony, but is a major chink in Randi's modus operendi and why I believe he will never be AFT president (Mary Cathryn Ricker is a Randi clone). If Randi were still running the UFT (which she is in many ways) she would have done whatever it took to keep New Action from leaving the cover of Unity and running with MORE and MORE would still be shut out of the high schools. Mulgrew didn't even try. (The plan we originally laid out was to try to win the high schools even without New Action - a 2500-3000 HS vote or bust campaign which if MORE had executed a deeper penetration of the high schools would have worked.)
We saw at the AFT convention signs of Randi's NAC-a-size strategy in operation as she wooed Chicago and LA leadership and gave BATS support - even Mulgrew joined in in wooing Chicago leadership by leading the convention in signing happy birthday to Karen Lewis - while using duplicity on Stronger Together on an opt-out reso.
Why didn't Chicago and LA push for a strong opt-out reso or bring anything to the floor or committee meetings?
In Part 2 I'll get into details on Randi's NAC-a-sizing moves in Philly, Chicago, LA and in NYSUT - and I also believe she would try to do the same to MORE if she could - and maybe behind the scenes we will begin to see that happen -- and I also believe there is a core in MORE that might be susceptible.
In the meantime, one person who will not be subsumed into Randi's orbit or become NAC-a-sized is Jia Lee.
Jia, at MORE blog, points to Randi's manipulation during the convention on a number of issues:
At this year’s AFT convention, at the convening of the Educational Issues Committee, something disturbing occurred. Almost everyone knows that NYSUT (our state union) passed Stronger Together’s (ST caucus) proposed resolution on opt out called I-Refuse at last year’s state-wide convention. A version of this was prepared by a committee within NYSUT for the AFT convention. It was printed in the resolutions packet on the first day of the AFT.
Just moments before raising the resolution, Karen Magee, our NYSUT president pulled out a substitute resolution that was entirely different from the original. Even the title was changed from “Support the I-Refuse Movement to Oppose High Stakes Testing” to “End the Misuse of Testing and Support Teacher and Parent Rights.” In effect, all of the strong and actionable resolves of the former resolution were removed and in its place was a much diluted version that upheld standardized tests as useful when not misused and supported the rights of parents to opt their children out of the tests and for teachers to explain these rights without fear of penalty. It did not support teachers as agents of change as the I-Refuse resolution did. Jilted, fellow NYSUT members of the ST caucus objected to the substitution which was overruled. The Unity stronghold had prepared for this, keeping the ST members in the dark. The substitute resolution passed.