I also call on both groups to work together to achieve a common goal: Because Black Lives Do Matter to all of us. Now is not the time for blame or is it the time to scream how things *should* be. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get stuff done.... Mike SchirtzerI asked Mike if this was his official application to join Unity Caucus. I don't agree with some of it but do agree that the black members of Unity are not racist - duh! or mere sellouts. More of my commentary after Mike's piece.
A Plea for More Unity in Our Union
By Mike Schirtzer
UFT Delegate Goldstein HS-Brooklyn
UFT Executive Board member
“We want a union that believes Black Lives Matter”. That is the statement that was published by the MORE caucus of UFT, which I am a member, to be circulated online.
It is also a false statement, one that is unnecessarily inflammatory and unfair.
On January 27 of this year, the Delegate Assembly of the UFT, which is predominantly Unity caucus and is comprised of many women and people of color, voted against a resolution entitled “Resolution for Black Lives Matter Week of Action on February 5th through 9th”
The first resolved clause of that resolution said that the “UFT will join with participating grassroots organizations and cultural institutions, for a Black Lives Matter Week of Action, beginning February 5, 2018”
This is what the Delegate Assembly of the UFT voted against.
They did not say, nor ever insinuate, that Black Lives do not matter, as has been stated in social media, on NY1 and, recently, in an editorial in the New York Daily News.
An editorial in the NY Daily News asked the union to "“to join us in doing the hard and courageous work to eradicate racism in the educational system.” It was written by parents who have been supportive of the UFT and of teachers. It is problematic because the explicit claim that UFT is not doing enough to fight racism is simply not true.
I am not in the business of supporting the Unity Caucus. They too, have acted immature, recently distributing a flier with its own false accusations and encouraging its members to repeat those accusations on their Facebook page. The leaders of Unity have a history of calling those in the opposition “anti-union” and "extreme". That is a great insult and one that is not easily forgiven.
To be clear, Unity members have promised to work together several times and have failed to follow-up. They have often voted against resolutions at Executive Board and Delegate Assemblies that we all know would push our union forward, because it came from a member of the “loyal opposition.” We in MORE are chapter leaders, delegates and activists who fight everyday in order to advance the rights of educators, people in our city and beyond. These false accusations must end as well.
But we must be honest, even when that honesty requires strength: The UFT leadership has been active in the fight against racism. They have worked closely with the NAACP. They proudly marched with Eric Garner’s family. They work to support immigrants. They develop culturally relevant curriculum. They worked with DOE to integrate our schools and continue to advocate for a more diverse teacher force. The assessment that UFT does not stand against racism dismisses our close relationship with the NAACP and the inclusion of African-Americans in high positions of the decision making wing of the UFT leadership. This has existed for nearly a decade without notice and without credit from the press and or from the opposition.
As for the January Delegate Assembly, my comrades from MORE have called out the lack of democracy, pointing to the lack of debate and the fact that Unity votes as a bloc. Yet, in the New Jersey teacher union, "there was 6 hours of debate” before their resolution was passed. Such debate has been routinely discouraged at MORE meetings and through emails. We have organizations within MORE which operate exactly as Unity does. How can we be bold enough to cast stones? When we call on Unity to hold debates and be transparent we ought to hold ourselves to that same standard.
There is only one reason there is any transparency at all at UFT public forums, such as Executive Board meetings or Delegate Assemblies. It is because of the relentless work of Arthur Goldstein. His meticulous, accurate notes is what allowed us to offer this analysis on the BLM week of action resolution. It should be pointed out that the same people of MORE who have used his notes to expose Unity are the same people who have sought to restrict him and his work on the Executive Board. The same leaders of MORE who challenged Arthur's priorities for raising a resolution on fighting the proliferation of class-size violations, rely on the work that Arthur devotes dozens of hours of his own personal time to produce.
Rather than issue statements on websites and social media posts, I would like to see the leaders of MORE that believe these accusations directly address the union leadership and say with their own mouths that “Black Lives don't matter to our union" because of you. If that is not the case, then still show up and clarify how our position and that of Unity is different.
I also call on both groups to work together to achieve a common goal: Because Black Lives Do Matter to all of us. Now is not the time for blame or is it the time to scream how things *should* be. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get stuff done. Now is the time we all pull together as one union and advance this necessary cause. Because Black Lives Do Matter.. Because nothing short of actual improvement is worth our time.
Mike has some beefs with MORE - Me too but I am still there. And so is he --
I thought Leroy Barr did not do a good job but he was in a pickle (and did know this was coming for a month.) I feel for Leroy, the son of a teacher and a cop whose parents had "that conversation" with him as a kid about black boys being safe on the street when confronted by police. I ended up on the NY1 story being critical of Leroy's position on Vietnam (accidentally because I ran into the reporter but did not feel a white guy should be talking about BLM and suggested they try to reach some black spokespeople but one I suggested did not want to be on camera.) My friend on
I do think the way BLM has been perceived has led to divisions and that the makers of the motion are in denial if they think it is folly for he leadership to say there are divisions -- but also the UFT leaders should have joined with MORE in countering the misconceptions of BLM week and the divisions it can cause.
Some believe the major reason for the UFT position is due to the police union objections. I know my radical friends go all into a tizzy when people say anything good about cops, but as one who lives on a block with a bunch of current and retired cops I am not in that place. I can get where the UFT is coming from but also think they have to do more to break down those walls instead of hiding behind them.