Thursday, June 8, 2017

Exploring UFT Strategy - Janus, ATRs: Happy to See Dissenters Depart?

It looks like the UFT's strategy if there is an adverse Supreme Court ruling might not be to mobilize members to ensure that everyone wants to stay in the union, but rather it could be to kiss the governor's ring while going to the State Legislature to pass some kind of state law that works around the Supreme Court.... James Eterno, ICE blog
So, we joined our blogger crew in reporting on Monday night's (June 5) UFT Executive Board meeting (UFT: Union UnProud, as Ex Bd says NYET to Votes on ATRs), which was so revealing. There were times I laughed out loud at some of the stuff I was hearing. Arthur had a similar reaction: could so many people get up in public and say so many stupid things?
I sat for much of the evening shaking my head, literally, as I furiously tried to record the statements of the Unity faithful. One in particular shocked me, claiming that he spoke to two ATR teachers who were really excited about the buyout prospect. As someone who regularly speaks to ATR teachers face to face, on social media, via unsolicited email, on the phone and elsewhere, I found that impossible to swallow. It's inherently frustrating to be an ATR, being a teacher yet not a teacher, and I saw little or no understanding of that from Unity.
Who was that one who shocked Arthur? Why none other than Stuart Kaplan, who I used to get mad at but now am happy he gives us some laughable material.

Many of us have tied the ATR story with the upcoming Janus case, which we assume will turn us into a right to work state where people do not have to pay dues to the union.*

I don't have to go into detail on the drama behind the ATR agreement negotiated by the leadership and the DOE. Chaz lays it out at Chaz's School Daze:

James Eterno at the ICE (the caucus) blog asks the question of the day in this blog post:  UFT DOES NOT SEEM OVERLY CONCERNED ABOUT LOSING MANDATORY DUES CHECKOFF
Why is the UFT so shamelessly arrogant in the face of possibly losing mandatory dues for members or non members when the Supreme Court will more than likely rule mandatory union dues in the public sector for non-union members are unconstitutional (Janus v AFSCME)? One would think the union leaders would be on their best behavior as thousands of members could vote with their feet to leave the UFT after the Supreme Court makes their decision. That would cost the UFT millions of dollars.
While I believe the UFT leadership will do what James said they will, I also never had any doubt the UFT leadership would refuse to modify its behavior by catering to the members and is in fact perfectly happy to let what they consider "the losers, dissidents, gripers, etc" leave the union, as their being gone would solidify their control even further.

I can see some of the Unity slime slither, seething at even our little sliver of holding 7 Ex Bd seats (out of 100) where a portion of the membership (the high schools), by a slim margin, for the first time since 2004, rejected their leadership and voted opposition -- and this year we saw the impact even a small group can make. You know, if we weren't there, they could start the meeting at 6PM and end it at 6:15 and go home.

If the expected 20-30% leave the union, assume they might have been anti-Unity. They would rather run a smaller union than risk any chance of diluting their power.

Some of my own colleagues in the opposition, despite their level of political sophistication, actually seemed to believe there might be a change in leadership behavior. They argue we have to approach things with the idea of the union we would like to see but that can leave the Unity leadership off the hook.

James made his comment after reading about Mulgrew's revealing statement at the EB meeting as revealed by NYC Educator's reporting (Excecutive Board Takeaway--Being Unity Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry)
Mulgrew said something very interesting Monday night.. He seemed to suggest that there was some workaround to the Janus decision that would come around next year being negotiated statewide. That might explain why there's all the cozying up to Cuomo and a potential endorsement. But then he said both the country and state would be right to work next year, so it was kind of a mixed message.
The anti-union Mike Antonucci (what would he do if he and crew accomplish their goals and teacher unions disappear?), at Intercepts (not the left version) talked about the coming post-Janus war:
Is Janus the End of the Battle or the Start of a Guerrilla War?

What is the most fun for me is to watch Unity Caucus apparatchiks in operation try to justify every act of the leadership. Sometimes I have to laugh out loud. I'll let Arthur, who has learned a lot in his year on the EB, summarize the reactions when MORE puts up a reso:
LeRoy Barr gets up to speak against it, and everyone in Unity understands they are to vote against it. Schoor knew we would debate it because that's what they planned. They somehow put out the bat signal, texting or emailing a bunch of people to get up and oppose our motion.

What continually shocked me was the sheer volume of people who had nothing to say but got up and said it anyway. Though they got up one after the other and defended the agreement, we hadn't even criticized it. All we asked was that rank and file, or at least Exec. Board and DA, get a vote on this. We pointed out that ATRs had no say in this. Oddly, almost every Unity speaker ignored our argument altogether. They got up in rapid succession and claimed this argument was made in good faith. Yet no one had claimed otherwise. They said this gave ATR teachers an option. Yet no one had said it didn't. When you argue against something your opponent did not actually say, that's known as a strawman. It's a logical fallacy. 

A mind focused on defending the status quo at any cost is less than productive, and I have met many such people who are employed full time by the UF of T. Instead of looking forward for members, they focus on glorifying leadership. I'm surprised there aren't ten-foot statues of Michael Mulgrew in front of Queens UFT. 
* Who Ya Gonna Call?
On paying dues, remember that retirees do not have to remain in the union but most choose to do so. But many feel they are getting some service -- free courses, etc -- and the UFT does cater to retirees - of course.

Also -- a lot less people will leave than some people who hate Unity assume. While the UFT may not offer some people the service they think they should be getting, some will view it as a form of insurance - just in case. In theory, the UFT is supposed to supply the same service but if you are not paying for a special rep, well, you might just not get that call back.

1 comment:

  1. I spoke with an ATR last Friday that was interested in the buyout. Did you ever consider that given your position you may be susceptible to confirmation bias. Not every member in the ATR has the same story. For some a buyout option may be appealing.


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