Friday, May 29, 2020

Why is this union (UFT) different from similar big city unions (UTLA, CTU): Commentary Update

In previous posts on the coming crisis - Parts 1 Part 2 and Part 3 I was speculating about the possible impact of massive cuts and changes in the schools next year and beyond and whether that would spark a level of reaction from the members that echo 1975. And if that happened how would the union leadership respond. I'm guessing it would follow the Shanker 1975 playbook -- give a little space if there was genuine outrage from the rank and file - as opposed from small groups like MORE and other usual suspects in the opposition - and allow steam to escape - and yes if necessary go on a pre-arranged with the city few days strike - and "win" back a few things while making the case for the city- and even do what Shanker did -- lend the city money from the pension fund. The result would be less calls for the union itself to be punished while allowing the members to take the two for one hit.

I also want to point out that the AFT national and NYS NYSUT are under the control of the same political forces as the UFT. There is a still low level political divide inside the national unions with UCORE sort of repping the left - and I will be reporting on a new entity in the national scene after I chat with one of their leaders.

One thing I forgot to point out about the differences between the UFT and the UTLA/CTU - is the latter two unions' ability to organize charter schools while the UFT has pretty much failed. I leave that for mulling over for a future post.

My last post was a corollary of sorts:

UFT Update: Which Came First - the leadership or the membership? Are teachers in LA and Chicago different than NYC?

And led to some comments on Leonie's listserve. Below her and John's comments I respond. Is the illegal strike the reason alone or even if we had the right to strike would this particular UFT leadership be willing or even capable of leading a strike similar to those in LA and Chi -- where they had a level of community support.

First from Leonie:
Norm: I’m not qualified to say if conditions are better for teachers here – I’ve seen Mulgrew argue yes.

NYC class sizes may be a bit better though not great, and there’s no publicly available reliable class size data in either LA or Chicago on this.

On the other hand, the UFT class size caps that exist are more than 50 years old, negotiated by Al Shanker and I’ve seen no real push by leadership to lower them through contract negotiations since that time.

I believe teacher salaries are higher in NYC than those other two cities, but would have to check.

But there is also a law against public employees including teachers striking in NY which doesn’t exist in Chicago or LA.

Teacher strikes are legal in 12 states and not covered in statutes or case law in three.

California is among the minority of states that do permit teachers’ strikes even though most states allow collective bargaining and wage negotiations for public school teachers.
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, as of January 2014, 35 states and the District of Columbia outlaw striking. Teacher strikes are legal in 12 states and not covered in statutes or case law in three.

Here are the states where it is illegal for teachers to strike according to this link:
From john fager
Leonie, and Hi Norm

Look at the health care benefits and the pensions. And the almost absolute job security. I don't think the Taylor Law, that forbids public employees from striking, has every resulted in teachers losing salary money. And the elections are not democratic. It is an autocracy.
My response:

John and Leonie,

The two for one penalties are very effective as a weapon that can be used not only by the city but also by the leadership to keep the members in line. The other penalties of the Taylor Law are severe attacks on the union itself - so it is a very effective double whammy,

And as Leonie points out the last time class size limits were put in was 50 years ago when the Taylor Law was enacted -- there is a connection with the fundamental loss of the right to strike with the attitude from the city that they don't have to reduce class size and would do so only at the point of a gun. This year's LA strike and to some extent the Chicago strike had a strong class size reduction component and even now don't match ours from 50 years ago --- by the way - the 67 strike was a key in the class size issue if I remember correctly.

But making strikes illegal does not stop strikes -- the first NYC strikes were illegal too as were the red state strikes.

There are fundamental differences in ideology between the leaderships of some of the other teacher movements and the UFT - as evidenced by which candidates they supported in the pres election. One of my points answers John's question - the lack of democracy (and by the way I would also question the level of true democracy in LA and Chicago if you do a deep dive) in the UFT - that in the areas where there is democracy of sorts - the elections for Chapter leaders and delegates and in the three divisions - elm, ms, hs - where retirees and non-classroom people vote -- only the high schools - with a very low vote total overall - has been 50-50 anti unity with the opposition still winning most of the time over 30 years.

My thesis in my next posting - part 4 - is that the 68 strike created an anti-teacher union mantra in liberal circles and that made any moves forward impossible in terms of taking strike action - and thus the 75 strike was a show - a lesson from the leadership to the membership that strikes are now going to be futile.

Lots to mull over.

1 comment:

  1. The fascist left revealed themselves last night. The anarchy had nothing to do with civil rights and justice.


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