Friday, July 13, 2018

School Scope: The UFT and Janus – Should I stay or should I go? - Reprised

I reworked my blog (Why Stay?) on "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" for this week's WAVE column, which has a different audience -- or no audience. My word limit for published work forces me to be more concise - less wordy is better - I guess. To be published - today - I hope.

School Scope: The UFT and Janus – Should I stay or should I go?
By Norm Scott

Darling, you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I'll be here till the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

... The Clash, “Should I stay of should I go” from the 1982 album Combat Rock,

These lyrics are resonating with UFT members after the Supreme Court Janus decision that makes paying dues to public unions voluntary, though on the surface remaining in the union would seem to be a no brainer. But some members have questioned just how much and how often the union made them feel they counted over the decades.

It's always tease, tease, tease
You're happy when I'm on my knees
One day it's fine and next it's black
So if you want me off your back
Well, come on and let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

This verse is so apt. The union leadership loves them when it needs them. This past school year we saw a number of schools being closed. The two Rockaway schools (PS 42 and MS 53) received a reprieve by the skin of their teeth and some in those schools are giving the UFT some credit for standing up for them and possibly influencing a crucial tie-breaking vote on the Panel for Educational Policy. We might see many of the teachers in these schools responding by staying in the union. But what happens in the other schools that did close or be consolidated, with teachers being tossed into the purgatory of the ATR pool where their entire career turns into being a high-salaried sub, possibly for life? They may be asking,

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know

Yes, if thousands leave the union there will be trouble, but it will be double if those who decide to remain but are agitated at what they see as a weak UFT end up being a thorn in the side if they organize internal resistance under the threat of leaving the union.

Right wing groups are organizing an active campaign to leave the union. The Rupert Murdoch owned anti-union NY Post headlined a piece called “Group wants to teach workers how to stop paying union dues.” I predict these campaigns will backfire and lead to exposing their overall assault on public workers and give some clarity to the motives to destroy the teaching profession.

Why pay union dues? I would pay just on the basis of showing solidarity with my co-workers who do pay, for the sake of school unity. Your biggest enemy is not the UFT leadership but certain supervisors and their enablers at the DOE. It is so hard to fight back even with the union. There will be some angry internal voices in schools where some people do not join the union and are barred from going to union meetings and don’t get help when they need it from the union rep. Imagine a divided school where the principal uses members vs. non-members against each other. Public schools may become like charters where administrators openly discourage unions.

There is some hope that the UFT will show its members some love.
So you gotta let me know
Should I cool it or should I blow?

Norm as a retiree isn’t affected by Janus and is cooling it so he can continue to make trouble double at

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