Monday, January 7, 2019

UFT Caucus Roundup: Rallies Galore - Ed Notes, Dec. 2000

I'm running a series from the Ed Notes archives on UFT Elections Past, where the ghost of ed notes makes an appearance to haunt the modern Scrooges in the UFT and use the past to show the opposition parties in the UFT the future - unless they change their ways.

That very same ghost of Ed Notes past also haunts me as I see how my views have changed over the years.
Ed Notes published in hard copy from 1998-2005. Revisiting this history might be of some use for activists in the UFT. Or maybe not.

I offered Ed Notes as a vehicle for all the opposition groups in the UFT to get the word out. I some ways I regret having abandoned that model for getting involved in caucus politics with the founding of ICE.

Reprinted from Ed Notes, Dec. 2000, we can see a much higher level of activity on the part of the opposition in the UFT and by the Unity Caucus leadership itself. Wha' Happened?

Caucus Roundup: Rallies Galore
Caucus activity focused on a series of demonstrations: Progressive Action Caucus (PAC) and New Action Caucus (NAC) held a rally at the Board of Education on Oct. 19. Teachers for a Just Contract rallied at UFT headquarters on Nov. 9 and the Unity led UFT leadership held it’s big rally outside City Hall on Nov. 16 (see p.1). Ed. Notes was not present at the Oct. 19 rally as it was raining and we don’t like to get wet, but did cover the Nov. 9 event as there was some food available at a meeting on the 2nd floor of the UFT. Here are reports from the field. 

Oct. 20: The demonstration on Wednesday at the Board of Education was a tremendous suc- cess. I would like to thank everyone who came out in the rain. Your efforts were much appre- ciated.
We called for 11%,11%, 11% increases in sal- ary and demanded that the Union and the Board of Education not agree to a longer school day, year or merit pay. We also de- manded reductions in class size and a revision of the unfair licensing and certification pro- cess. In addition we called for major reforms of the schools for the benefit of the students. To our suprise as we called for Chancellor Levy to come down and talk to us, he actually came down and talked to us for about 15 minutes. In all it was a tremedous success. New Ac- tion/UFT and P.A.C. were united and both groups had an excellent showing. We look for- ward to more actions together.
On November 16th we will support our union by coming out and marching together in the U.F.T. demonstration, but we will do it as a united alternative to the Unity Caucus' pos- sible sellout.
Mark Pessin, Chairperson of PAC 

Nov. 16: It's November 2000! Do you know where your con- tract is? The UFT leaders wanted a contract by last June, but could not get the City to the table. This fall, they waited im- potently over a month for the City even to make an answer to our bargaining position. Moral sua- sion won't do it. Television ads won't do it. The teaching short- age won't do it: the Board will merely water down the require- ments again. We have no clout in collective bargaining, because our leadership has neglected the source of all union power: an organized, mobilized rank and file. 


Teachers for a Just Contract 

Randi Weingarten doesn’t agree with Mark Pessin. At Exec. Bd. & DA meetings, she criticized the Oct. 19 demo, claiming that a low turnout made the UFT look bad and requested that if people have demos, they do not do so under the UFT banner. 

A number of people in the opposition accused her of demagoguery, saying they could certainly could demonstrate as UFT’ers as they are dues paying UFT members. But no one challenged Weingarten’s statement at either meeting. 

Weingarten had no comment on the Nov. 16 demo. Though not opposed to demos at UFT headquarters (the very first demo I attended, May 1, 1971, was at the UFT protesting support for the Vietnam War) I raised questions with the demonstra- tors about the timing of the demo (a week before the big rally) and some of the slogans being used. 

Since then, TJC and Ed. Notes have been engaged in a spirited email debate on a number of issues, which I hope to summarize in the future. I counted about 60 people and was told there had been 100 there, pretty much all from HS. (The majority of HS teachers have voted NO to Unity for years.)

Despite reservations, the opposition groups did support each other’s demonstrations and have continued to promise unity against Unity in the upcoming UFT elections in the spring. 

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