Monday, October 16, 2017

Luis Reyes on UFT: I believe in social change, redemption and renewal

UFT/Unity Caucus leadership lauded as a social justice org.

I posted the NY Times article on the American role in undermining democracy in Chile in the early 70s on various listserves (US Role in Chile Horror: And They Worry About Russian Meddling?)
and mentioned the role our union leaders played there. Luis Reyes, long-time social justice activist here in the city and beyond made the following comment. I am posting this as a message to people and caucuses like MORE that think they can outflank the union leadership on SJ issues. A group of us in MORE have been contending that if we want to challenge the UFT leadership, it has to be on issues where they have not supported the members, not on how social justicey they are.

Norm and all:

I believe in social change, redemption and renewal. On Saturday, I was honored by the UFT at their ELLevating Conference with the Luis O. Reyes ELL Advocacy Award in the UFT auditorium filled with more than 1,000 teachers and teacher leaders. The honor goes to many who made this moment possible.

In the 1970s, Albert Shanker (R.I.P.), wrote in his NY Times column  that bilingual education was "...unamerican and separatist."

 In 1984, I reached out to  Sandra Feldman (R.I.P.), to start a dialogue with the UFT leadership. Latino and other bilingual leaders met with leaders of the UFT; and, together we started a movement that resulted in the UFT changing its position on bilingual education and supporting state LEP Aid. Today Evelyn DeJesus, a Puerto Rican bilingual educator from the Lower East Side is the Vice President for Education and Carmen Alvarez continues to be the V.P. for Special Education. 

Today, Michael Mulgrew, the President of the UFT, and Randi Weingarten, the President of the AFT, have been leaders in the the AFL-CIO union coalition sending relief union volunteers, emergency supplies, and donations to the Hurricane Maria Relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The UFT sent 30 school nurses and others there this past week. We are rebuilding Puerto Rico, reconstructing professional relationships, and preparing to receive children, families, and, yes, teachers from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean to New York City and New York State. 

Yes, I am eternally grateful and appreciative of social change, redemption and renewal.


Luis O. Reyes

1 comment:

  1. Unions by definition are institutions that enable social justice, by focusing on democracy in the workplace and fair treatment for all workers, which is to say, most people in society.

    It's a shame that what remains of the Left in the US fails to realize this, and it's a major reason it is so easily ignored. As long as it refuses to focus on issues that affect working people, it will continue to be ignored, and will deserve it.


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