Thursday, July 11, 2019

Analysis: UFT VP Evelyn DeJesus Becomes Randi Second in Command at AFT

The appointment by Randi - er, "election" of UFT VP Evelyn DeJesus as Executive VP of the AFT puts Evelyn in position to succeed Randi Weingarten should Randi decide to pursue and win becoming head of the AFL-CIO if she challenges Richard Trumpka. I addressed the successor issue on Ed Notes:  

May 16, 2019 - Is Randi After Trumpka's Job? Would that make Mulgrew AFT President? No Way I say.

And "No way for Mulgrew" it will be.

Evelyn, who I've always found amenable and likeable, has clearly been a rising star inside the UFT, zooming from district rep in a relatively short time. She showed her worth by playing a big role in converting former critics of the leadership who had left MORE into allies which also helped undermine the opposition.

Watching power structure changes inside the Randi empire is like trying to penetrate the Kremlin, though I have often said that Putin aspires to be as successful as the Unity Caucus machine. Remember Michelle Bodden who was supposedly Randi's successor but was kicked over to running the UFT charter school? It was never a good idea to be more popular than Randi.

The power structure in the American Federation of Teachers has been clearly defined since Al Shanker took control of the AFT in 1974 when he used the dominance of the UFT within the AFT as a path to power. Shanker held onto the UFT presidency though 1985 (along with the Executive VP of NYSUT). We used to speculate about his successor for a decade with one after another (remember Herb Magidson) rising and falling until he settled on the obvious choice of Sandy Feldman. Around the time she took over the UFT in the mid-80s, it was clear that Shanker and Feldman were beginning to think of a succession plan and began to groom a lawyer instead of a teacher with the appearance of Randi Weingarten in the late 80s who within a short time was being set up to take over for Sandy, especially once Shanker came down with cancer. (My Unity CL was telling me in 1990 about Sandy's successor. So when you hear about "elections" you know the real deal.

Sandy's tenure was also cut short by cancer and that accelerated successor plans. When she died, Randi wasn't yet ready to leave since she had not yet groomed a clear successor in the UFT. So a placeholder head of the AFT was found for 4 years while Randi groomed Mulgrew.

But Randi is clearly not following the plan of a 45 year path of power directly from UFT to AFT presidency with the DeJesus appointment by skipping over Mulgrew, who even Unity insiders do not think would be up to that job -- clues were how little of a role Mulgrew played at AFT conventions.

A few years ago Randi seemed to tap a successor in a dynamic
progressive  union leader from St. Paul, Mary Catherine Ricker for the AFT Ex. VP position. But Ricker took the job of Minnesota education commissioner, apparently fed up with waiting for Randi to leave - or else she got the message that she herself was a placeholder for someone from the UFT/Unity machine -- apparently they don't trust an outsider to be handed the reigns of power. They found that out in NYSUT when the leadership went rogue a few years ago and the machine had to install Andy Pallota, a Unity Caucus apparatchik, as president. The NYC Unity machine is not enough to guarantee holding onto the AFT without the power of the NY State Unity machine in tow -- NY makes up around 40% of the AFT.

Still, would I bet on Evelyn being Randi's successor at the AFT or is she yet another placeholder for someone else? Who knows?

Would Randi et al trust a non-UFT/Unity person in that position?

Are there others in the Unity machine being groomed? Watch the people rising on the UFT Ex Bd (There's a lot of talk about Mike Sill) and see who are being given prominent roles at the AFT 2020 convention in Houston, which I just may attend with my former MORE buddies Mike, Arthur and Mindy who were elected with Unity, (wouldn't one want to question what states our union wants to give its business to?)

As for Mulgrew leaving the UFT, I don't see that happening, (Leroy Barr is considered an heir apparent by some though with a union 70% women, I would think a woman would be in line -- but who? I have some ideas but am not sharing).  I don't think Mulgrew would even want the AFT presidency. He seems to enjoy being UFT president with no overriding ambition beyond that but that is on the surface. I don't know him at all.

Here's the report from the AFT:

UFT Vice President Evelyn DeJesus Elected Executive Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers
First Latina to serve in the Union’s Top Leadership

WASHINGTON—Evelyn DeJesus, the vice president for education of the AFT’s largest local, the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, was elected unanimously today by the national union’s executive council as executive vice president; she will serve alongside President Randi Weingarten and Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson. She will finish out the remainder of Mary Cathryn Ricker’s term; earlier this year, Ricker was appointed to serve as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education.

DeJesus was elected to the post as the union kicks off its biennial TEACH (Together Educating America's Children) professional learning conference in Washington, D.C., where more than 1,200 educators from across the country will gather over the next three days to highlight the union’s major initiatives, including investment in public education, taking on student debt, respecting the freedom to teach, creating safe and welcoming work environments with an eye toward building power, and safeguarding a democratic future through voting and advocacy.

In her new role, DeJesus will work with the union’s top leadership to advocate for the rights of educators, healthcare professionals and public employees across the country in their fight for a better life, a voice at work and a voice in their democracy.

“I am honored to represent the members of this union—their hopes, their aspirations and the incredible work they do every day to make people’s lives better in their communities,” DeJesus said. “I am energized and ready.”

DeJesus began her career when one of her daughters became ill during a school construction project, and she courageously exposed the toxic environment to the public. Since then, she has risen through the ranks of the UFT, first as an early childhood teacher and reading specialist, then as a school chapter leader and the UFT’s District 2 representative, to finally being elected a vice president.
DeJesus has served as an AFT vice president since July 2014. She sits on the AFT executive council, AFT Teachers program and policy council, the AFT Human, Women’s and Civil Rights Committee, and the AFT English Language Learners Cadre; she also chairs the AFT Latino Task Force, offering program and policy recommendations at the federal level. DeJesus was elected as the AFT’s national vice president for Latino advancement in 2014; in 2016, she was appointed to the advisory council of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. She is a chairperson and leading voice directing the UFT Charter Elementary School and is a member of the UFT executive board. Most recently, she was elected to serve on the National Association of Bilingual Education’s executive regional board.
“I’ve known Evelyn since she was a chapter leader, and I remember people telling me, ‘You need to watch this woman,’ ” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Evelyn is a fighter. She is more passionate than any summer day is long. Be ready for her to call you out when you’re wrong, and be ready for her to have your back at all times. She puts her whole heart into her work—whether it’s helping ELL students or families in Puerto Rico,” Weingarten said. “Evelyn inspires me every single day. I can’t think of a leader more equipped to take on this national role. She knows in her soul what it means to fight for a better future for all of our members. Evelyn is a collaborator and a warrior, and I look forward to having her insight, her courage, her curiosity and her passion working on behalf of our 1.7 million members.”



  1. You assume things for which there is no evidence.

    1. Ed Mc was just a placeholder at AFT while Randi's successor was chosen.
    2. Mary Cath Ricker took MI ed job because she was tired of waiting for Randi to leave.
    3. Leroy Barr is the heir apparent.
    4. Evelyn's appointment is related to Randisuccession at all.

    Ive seen thesse palace intrigue articles before, Norm, and you are usually mistaken. Thats ok since nobody knows the future. The problem is that you believe there is a plan out there anywhere. I onvce heard Randi in private say that her job was just handling chaos. The Unity "machine` is just organized chaos too. Nobody has an overarching plan, at least not more than 6 months in advance

  2. You're looking for evidence? Ridiculous concept. No palace intrigues in Unity? Give me a break. No succession plan? Then you guys are incompetent.
    I was at the last Feldman convention and tell me there is anyone who didn't believe Randi was going to be AFT president but she wasn't ready. You are so naive.
    And as to Randy becoming UFT pres -- I was told by Unity caucus people around 1990 - everyone knew she was going to be UFT pres and they placed her in Clara Barton under Leo Casey's care. I spoke to the people who prepped Randi to get some kind of teaching license. When I became CL in 1994 all my dealings with Randi were based on the understanding she would be UFT pres - it only happened sooner than expected when Shanker died in 1997 and Sandy inherited the AFT pres while staying UFT pres for 6 months. Randi ran the DA when Sandy was not there.
    As for Ricker -- it was pretty clear she was being groomed as a possible AFT pres. With no real prospect of moving up she took the other job, a big jump for a competent union leader. Do I have evidence? Well I use some logic of how people behave.
    Does Randi want Trumpka job? I predicted many years ago when people were saying she wanted to be Labor or Comm of Ed in cabinet that for a power hungry person like Randi who loves the spotlight, there would actually be less oppty for her and that the only position that would entice her would be AFL-CIO - something Shanker wanted but never attained. But even that had no real constituency -- no union base like the Unity machine. So in essence Randi being the head of the AFT gives her the most power -- due to Unity. Ed Mc nor Dave Selden had that power base - so the Unity machine drives the engine and keeping that machine well oiled is major. And if Janus ever had a big impact that would actually threaten the oiling of the machine way more than any opposition group.

  3. Oh- and the big enchilada for Randi would be a national merger of AFT and NEA which would give her power over 4 million teachers.


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