Bronx ATR said...BronxATR is one of the few who mention democracy and my conclusion is that democracy is basically a non-factor for the overwhelming majority of UFT members. Democracy in the UFT only seems to be a factor to the tiny fringe opposition.
This decision is not the end of unions. It doesn't even weaken strong unions. The strength of unions is not their bank accounts. but their willingness to fight and stand up for its members. The UFT's lack of democracy and its intentional creation of an apathetic rank and file has it rightfully concerned.
We recently watched MORE shunt internal democratic functions onto a side rail by overthrowing a steering committee a faction didn't like and violating so many by-laws we lost count. (See Why We Choose to Leave MORE)
So, even the supposed opponents to Unity (and I no longer consider MORE a serious opponent to Unity) don't seem very interested in pushing back on the issue of democracy in the UFT.
Yet, unless the ruling Unity Caucus party considers offering dissidents a role in reforming the union, Janus will make them bleed deeply unless there are some fundamental reforms. But I don't have much hope this will happen as the Unity DNA means maintain ironclad control even in a shrinking union.
THE WAVE: June 29, 2018
School Scope: The UFT and Janus – Would a More Democratic Union Keep People from Leaving?By Norm ScottDemocratic norms seem to be slipping away all over the world. But there are alternate views as to exactly what constitutes democracy. We would have to define these norms first – which would require too much of my limited brain power. So I’ll leave it to you readers to define democracy on your own terms. Suffice it to say, I don’t take a traditional view of democracy.Some UFT members may think the UFT is a full-fledged democratic union. So I imagine the state of democracy in the UFT won’t affect their decision on whether to keep their union membership or not when the Supreme Court most likely rules in the Janus case that no one can be forced to pay dues even though they may continue to accrue the same benefits as those who remain union members.Without getting into the weeds let’s talk specifically about democracy in the UFT, which I have been a member of since 1967. In UFT elections the almost 60 year ruling party, Unity Caucus (a caucus is similar to a political party), always wins almost every one of the positions up for election with roughly 75% of those who vote. But almost three quarters of UFT members do not even vote and almost half of those who do are retirees, of which 85% vote for Unity. Thus, to a large majority of classroom teachers, a vote in a UFT election is basically irrelevant. Technically, this is still democracy – majority rule, even if only a relatively small minority of the total number of UFT members. Now, it may be that with a sure Unity victory, there is not much at stake, but that is the way our country seems to view democracy – a majority of a minority is still a majority - though given the way things have been working out there are more and more calls for serious reforms.The Unity party controls the 200,00 member UFT with a minority. Using this power base it also controls the NY State union with 600,000 members which in turn controls the national AFT union with 1.5 million members.In the last election in 2016, a coalition of opposition groups won 7 out of the 100 Executive Board seats, none of the 12 officer positions and none of the 750 delegate positions to the New York State and national teacher conventions. That’s a worse winning percentage than even the METS. Those 7 seats were all from the high schools. In fact, various opposition parties have won the majority of high school votes in most UFT elections since the mid-1980s. Admittedly, the vote totals are low. In 2016 the opposition won the high schools with about 2350 votes while Unity received about 2150. There are almost 20,000 high school classroom teachers in the UFT. Even though our side won, we did so with less than 15% of the high school teachers voting for us. But that was the majority of those who did vote. Our side often claims that high school teachers as a whole do not get enough representation in the UFT, since a majority of those who do vote have relatively little say over UFT policy. The 7 non-Unity reps are only 7% of the Executive Board and they get voted down all the time. The argument that this disenfranchises 20,000 high school teachers, even if it makes the case for our side, is also an iffy one.Let’s just say that the issue of a democratic UFT is a marginal one and when people chose to stay or leave the UFT post-Janus, the question of democracy will play little or no part.Having thoroughly confused myself (and you) on the nature of democracy in the UFT, I will go back to blogging at ednotesonline.com where I may just blog about food.