Wednesday, September 11, 2019

I Went to the Labor Day Parade, UFT First Ex Bd Meeting with New Board - UPDATED

It was nice to see labor unions making a show. For organizing purposes a lot more could be done. Every union was isolated and the march just dissipated. A mass rally might have more impact. It was funny but when we passed Trump Tower there was little reaction.
Despite trying to disengage from the UFT scene since I gave up on MORE and caucus building I can't seem to manage getting it out of my blood.

I attended two UFT official events over the past few days plus

I had not been going to Labor Day marches until last year when post-Janus I felt there had to be some showing of support for unions. And I went back this past Saturday. Last year and this year the UFT was having a post-march barbecue and I never miss a food event. I had a good time and it was a good feeling to see so many unionists from so many different unions gather together, all wearing their tee shirts identifying their union - except the UFT which gave out umbrellas. It is more powerful to have every union with their tees. The CSA all had on their tees and marched in front of  us.

I saw many familiar faces at the parade, mostly those I see at regular UFT events. Many Unity Caucus foot soldiers who are probably expected to show up.

It is funny how over the years the activists in the union an all sides have something in common that separates them from the overwhelming majority of UFT members -- a common bond. I see that when I go to AFT conventions -- the same people. We get along fairly well on the whole. I see no reason to engage in attacks on people I may disagree with. It is what unites the Unity Caucus and their critics - about a 1000-1500 in a union of 200 thousand members. Add the chapter leaders who mostly do the work in their own schools but don't take part in union events and it could be over 2000 people serious about union work. But most likely less.

I call it the 1% of the union. And if the day comes when that interest level rises to even 10% we will have a very different union.

I did hang out with some of my compadres - former MOREs - which is pretty funny- there were more former MOREs by far than current MORES - I saw only two handing out Bernie leaflets. I walked with Mike Shulman from New Action, Arthur Goldstein, Patrick Walsh, Bruce Markens, Ellen Fox, Lisa North, Gloria Brandman and a few others - people who  rubbed shoulders with in MORE.

Unity people I knew were very warm and friendly, particularly toward Arthur. I think they see his and Mike and Mindy's (she was still recovering from back surgery) running with Unity as a big victory for them -- an affirmation to them of sorts that they have been on the right track and their critics wrong. Given the vacuum out there and the uselessness of trying to build an opposition, I can see how easy it is to fall into the pull of their gravity. There are union activities and for those who want to do union work where else is there to go? Spend your life trying to build a caucus instead of finding more fruitful things to do?

I saw Jamal Bowman who is primarying Eliot Engel for Congress in the Bronx and his crew who are young and active. He is supported by the AOC backers. I told Jamal not to expect UFT support as they would back Atila the Hun if he was an incumbent but did suggest they come to Delegate Assemblies to distribute lit and maybe finds some volunteers. They have until next June. I am thinking of working in a primary campaign for Lauren Ashcraft who is running against Caroline McCarthy in Manhattan/Queens. I met her and her campaign manager at a Bernie debate watch party and she is seeking Justice Democrat support. I should have told them to come to the parade.

There were few spectators, right winger Curtis Sliwa among them - he gave me his card. I heard him on the radio on Monday talk about the thousands of marchers but how few spectators. Why would you watch this parade and not march if you are a supporter of unions? I think only tourists might be interested. However, given the number of union members our turnout was only a smidgen. It definitely seemed like less than last year. Good, more barbecue for me.

On the way to the barbecue I did notice how the CSA crowd all gathered in a restaurant to drink to their happiness at being considered a union despite how they screw other unionists while the UFT treats them with kid gloves. 

On Monday afternoon I was sitting in my garden smoking my pipe and reading and trying to decide whether to shlep into the city for the first UFT Ex Bd of the year. The fact that I did so has more to do with enjoying the social relationships I've developed than with union policy. I like seeing people and chatting. And of course they feed any UFT member who attends.

It was sort of sad as the New Action crew is no longer there. We all used to meet at 5 to talk about stuff. With no one on the board they don't see it worth going. I don't either and probably will go much less often than in the past. 

With the retirement of Howie Schoor, this was the first meeting Leroy Barr was running. On Saturday I asked Howie how we could live without him and he wondered if Leroy would be funnier than him. I told Howie I was going to compare Leroy's food with his. Leroy hit a big one with steak, chicken and salmon plus eggplant. Not bad. No macadamia cookies however.

Leroy tried to be funny too. Actually, he seemed a bit nervous since this was a brand new ex bd -- younger, more diverse. I like Leroy personally even though we've had some spats over the years. He is clearly one of the people in line to succeed Mulgrew one day though given that 75% of UFT members are women there might be some push back. Insiders say that there are some internal differences over policy inside the top leadership - nothing serious enough to make a difference. I don't have enough info to go into more detail.

Leroy ran the meeting efficiently - will he have the same patience Howie seemed to have to give people some room? I hope he will be as flexible as Howie.

He had to wait a bit for Mulgrew to show and give his report. Mulgrew also seemed a bit nervous -- he tried to pull some enthusiasm from the audience and they weren't giving much. These are his core people. I think hard liquor at these meetings would get him a better response.

As for what was discussed at the meeting, I was too busy eating, though I took some notes between bites. The UFT may not always be there for everyone who needs help with their school issues but it does try to put on a show about its humanitarian work.

I took some notes and I'd tell you more but I'd have to go look for them and I'm lazy, so why not just leave it to Arthur to tell you what happened at the EB? [Next meeting Monday Sept. 23 at 6PM. Looking forward to some pina coladasand filet mignon.]

UFT Executive Board September 9, 2019--UFT Supports Dorian Victims, Census, Trump Victims and More -

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