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.
Reprinted from Ed Notes, Feb. 2001, Volume 4, No. 3
NOTE: New Action (NAC) was the dominant opposition group after the merger of two caucuses (TAC and New Directions) in 1995.
The marginal Progressive Action Caucus (PAC) was formed in 1997/8 by a former leader of New Directions, Marc Pessin, to focus mostly in defense of teachers under attack over their licenses. Their vote totals were around 2-3%.
Teachers for a Just Contract (TJC) was not an election caucus until 2004 the same year ICEUFT formed as an outcome of the organizing efforts of Ed Notes.
There’s an old joke about some political groups: Put 2 of them in a room and they’ll split into 3 groups. That seems to have happened to the opposition parties in the upcoming elections.
New Action/UFT (NAC) and Progressive Action Caucus (PAC) are both running against Unity Caucus. It is not clear what role Teachers for a Just Contract will play.
An email from Marc Pessin explains PAC’s position:
“We will be running our own slate in order to project a radical education program. However we will run NAC candidates on our slate so as not to divide the opposition in areas like the JHS and HS where we have a chance of winning if NAC agrees. We will back their candidates. Others in our group also might want to run on the NAC slate as well.”
This is a significant change from the ‘99 election where PAC ran a slate that almost prevented NAC from winning the HS Exec. Bd. seats. PAC now takes a rational approach to the UFT elections: run to make people aware of your point of view and don’t compromise your point of view to pander to the voters. Unity has so stacked the deck that it is impossible to win other than in certain select areas (See accompanying article “How Unity Stacks the Deck”).
NAC has taken a different tack, attempting to find a broader base of support. But NAC often seems to appeal to the least common denominator, at times seeming to base its positions on the common bond of merely being anti-Unity. NAC has had a fairly low profile so far, considering the importance with which they view elections. (ie. No literature at the Jan. DA and a lack of coherance at Exec. Bd. meetings.)
Ed. Notes will have an article in a future issue titled “The NAC Election Campaign: The Sounds of Silence” which poses the age-old philisophical question: If an opposition party runs in a union election and no one notices, did it really run? It will deal with the promises and failures of NAC.