Friday, January 18, 2019

Splainin' the Goldstein/Schirtzer Caucus Decision to Run With Unity

While I (Norm) would not have made the same choice Mike and Arthur did and I won't vote for them, in the context of what has happened to the opposition I fully understand their decision -- I feel better having two allies on the EB who I hope will raise issues of mine and others concerns that would never be put forth if they weren't there......
Arthur and Mike -- the Goldstein/Schirtzer caucus -- have no interest in doing what the rest of the opposition is doing --- wasting 4 months running on the UFT election treadmill to nowhere. ... The reality is that their position on the EB in terms of pushing the union is weaker than it was when they won as part of the opposition defeating Unity in head to head voting..... Norm again
.... the new caucus of Three Unity Water Carriers (try to look independent but kiss Unity's butt all the way).... The Unity water carriers even get the convention trips. They can suck up even more.... Anonymous comment, UFT Election Petition Day at Delegate Assembly


My response: 
In effect, anonymous people who bitch about Unity but don't jump into the waters in fighting them are the real water carriers. Arthur fought them in the open for 13 years and Mike for 6 years. So let them carry some water for Unity while you sit back and do nothing. And don't tell me how afraid you are. They at least have a record of standing up (publicly). 
In his latest post Arthur Goldstein justifies running with Unity Caucus - - Moving Forward.

I want to congratulate Mike Schirtzer and Arthur Goldstein on their election to the high school Ex Bd in the upcoming UFT election ending April 17, 2019. And yes, they will also be going to the NYSUT/AFT conventions where I expect them to be free to take any positions they want instead of carrying the Unity water -- and if I'm there I will be monitoring them.

If there is any sure bet, this one is it, so if you have extra pension money to bet, pony up. The difference in the election in 2016 that won MORE/NA were the votes from Arthur's 300 UFT members who supported him on whatever slate he ran on. While their vote totals will be low, as Unity's has always been in the HS and if we add together the total high school votes of the opposition they might be close, the fact that 3 caucuses are all running alone assures Arthur and Mike of victory.

Some MOREs in 2016 clearly resented Arthur for his independence and tried to paint the victory then as a win for social justice unionism as opposed to the organizing work by Arthur and James Eterno in the Queens high schools, which had the highest voting totals of all the boroughs by far. Even Unity's Howie Schoor agreed with this assessment. (This internal dispute in MORE in May 2016 was the opening shot in the wars to come after the election.)

Over the past year or so, or since the Janus ruling, Arthur has bent over backwards trying not to provide the enemies of unions ammunition that can be used to get people to leave the union. His decision is based mostly on the Janus situation but also slams MORE for helping to push him and Mike into the decision they made.

I can see the point. Once you see no hope for the future of an opposition that can have real influence instead of functioning as a club trying to lobby the UFT leaders, but want to maintain some level of influence, what exactly do you do?

But let's be clear. Arthur and Mike only got on the Ex Bd because a group of us in MORE set up a democratic process for choosing candidates - MORE had 4 out of 7 HS EB and then when New Action could only come up with 2 candidates, we had a 5th - who ended up coming to only 2 meetings before quitting - that's another story altogether.

They would never have had the influence and impact they did if there wasn't a caucus like MORE to put them in a position to win the election. So if I see them acting as if they won the high school seats in 2016 as individuals instead of part of the work of a caucus I smack them down. We might trash the current version of MORE but not the 2016 version. (And I will tell the full story of how we went from there to here after the election.) And I will point out that without Unity Caucus they still wouldn't be on the board. The reality is that their position on the EB in terms of pushing the union is weaker than it was when they won as part of the opposition defeating Unity in head to head voting.

With that option of running to win being closed off and even if they ran with New Action or Solidarity they would still not end up on the Ex Bd, they chose to be on the Ex Bd and still have a voice, even if it is somewhat muted -- no matter what they say.

Some compare their decision to the one New Action made in 2003 to run with Unity endorsement in the 2004, 07, 10 and 13 elections before coming back to the opposition in 2016.

Absolutely no comparison. In 2003, New Action was still the leading opposition and if they had run alone they still would have won the high schools. By 2007, they had lost so much credibility, they could never win alone without joining with the other groups - remember - ICE came into being partly as a response to the NA decision and TJC went from being a fringe groups into an electoral caucus - seeing an opening due to the NA defection.

Now we are in a situation where there is no chance for any of the 3 caucuses running to win anything. MORE in fact is not even going to run for the high school ex bd positions.

Arthur and Mike -- the Goldstein/Schirtzer caucus -- have no interest in doing what the rest of the opposition is doing --- wasting 4 months running on the UFT election treadmill to nowhere. And they look at this election as a holding pattern. If the opposition ever makes sense they will be back there.


And don't forget, Arthur is the chapter leader of a large high school with 300 members. His priority is not to some ideal of opposing Unity but to address the needs of his chapter. So for those of you who want to snipe at him from an often anonymous position, stand up and be counted if you are so opposed to Unity.

Remember - Arthur's blog came into being around 2005 and that contract pushed him into opposition mode and he soon joined us in ICEUFT - he even ran with us once but also made it clear -- he doesn't run to lose and if there is no chance he won't bother running to make a point. That was why I didn't even ask him to run for MORE in 2013 - with New Action on the Unity line I felt we had no chance. The Unity totals came in so low in the high schools that without the 450 New Action totals, we would have had a chance.

Thus, in 2016, James, Arthur, Mike and I hatched a plan to go after winning the high schools even if NA remained with Unity -- a plan that would have failed. But the other part of our plan was to woo New Action into an alliance -- we had seen lots of signs their deal with Unity was fraying. And our plan, despite some internal opposition from some MOREs -- the very same people who have taken control -- we executed the plan.

Mike, who will be issuing his own statement soon which we will publish, is a newer recruit to the opposition -- since the beginning of MORE - he wasn't part of the planning group but was on board from the beginning. His politics didn't quite mesh with the rest of MORE's often didactic and rigid reactions to organizing and ideologicalizing. (Word is my creation.) They were clearly nervous about putting Mike - and Arthur - on the Ex Bd since they knew they couldn't control them. But the democratic process in MORE won out. This time MORE came up with a better way -- just have a small group choose the candidates without democracy.

The campaign in Mike's school, Leon Goldstein, whose chapter leader Kit Wainer, has been a 30 year oppositionist as a member of TJC and now MORE, will certainly be interesting. The school has been a long time bastion of the opposition - at least the TJC wing --- a sure bet if there is one to vote anti-Unity. And I bet it still is. But Mike, who Kit brought into the movement, will be campaigning in opposition to Kit and MORE this time and things may get sticky. Kit is one of the leaders of the recent moves MORE has made in a new direction, aligning the group along the lines of the old TJC positions. Mike pushed back against this move even before he left MORE.

While I would not have made the same choice Mike and Arthur did and I won't vote for them, in the context of what has happened I fully understand their decision -- I feel better having two allies on the EB who I hope will raise issues of mine and others concerns that would never be put forth if they weren't there.

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