Saturday, March 19, 2022

I was wrong - UFT/Unity HAS NOT YET Endorsed Jackson/Vasquez Contest, UFT Staff Director Memo on Senate Race

....while no one is expected to make any financial contribution to Angel's campaign, we recognize that there are those of you who will choose to show him your support.  If you voluntarily elect to contribute to Angel’s campaign you must make the contribution by check, mailed from your home (or other non-UFT mailbox) directly to Angel’s campaign headquarters. You may not hand Angel a check on UFT premises or during UFT work hours. --- Leroy Barr, Anthony Harmon, Staff memo, March 10, 2022

Isn't the very presence of Angel Vasquez deep in the halls of UFT power an ad for his campaign? When trolling for funding, the very fact he is so close to Mulgrew increases his fundraising and dampens Jackson's.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Reading the above, oh the horrors. I don't love most politicians but with Robert Jackson, what's there not to love? Three years ago I went up to Albany with Leonie Haimson and a crew for some hearing and after we had some time to kill waiting for the train and Jackson graciously invited us to his office to hang out. You can't find a more pro-teacher/education anti-ed deformer than Jackson. Which may explain the actions of the UFT/Unity leadership. As James Eterno says - Jackson is too pro-teacher. I'll get into how the leadership of the largest teacher union is fundamentally anti-teacher another time.

But I jumped the gun. I was wrong in assuming the UFT has endorsed Angel Vasquez instead of Robert Jackson. But if you read the memo below which should have expressed horror at UFT employees supporting Jackson's opponent you can guess why I had that assumption. But I still feel like the UFT/Unity leadership is playing the role of Norman Bates toward Robert Jackson.

Robert Jackson

I got a call from someone in the UFT media department

saying they have not yet made an endorsement. So I'm redoing the post to add context to why I made that assumption. I should have said there are strong indications and rumors for a non-endorsement of Jackson - including the prospect of remaining neutral. I hope the UFC delegates put up a fight for Jackson if it comes to that. When people ask how the UFC would govern the UFT differently, a guy with Vasquez' history would not be working at the top level of the UFT helping make policy. He was staff director for the awful pro-charter canidate Jackson defeated.

As upsetting as a possible non-endorsement of Jackson is the Vasquez history of ties to the disgusting IDC traitors.

I received a copy of an internal UFT memo from Staff Directors Anthony Harmon and Leroy Barr regarding the Vasquez candidacy against major teacher ally State Senator Robert Jackson. (See full memo below).

Angel Vasquez


The UFT has endorsed Jackson’s opponent every time he’s run for the Senate: Marisol Alcantara, even though she was IDC and pro-charter. The first time she won and the second time she lost. Angel Vasquez was her chief of staff. His LinkedIn profile shows that his only teaching experience was at a CO charter school.  Meanwhile, Robert Jackson has always been resolutely anti-charter – as well as the #1 proponent of class size reduction in the Legislature, and the sponsor of S.6296A  which would phase in class sizes caps at much lower levels starting next year.

This would be a tough one for the UFT to not endorse Jackson as a long-time observer and retiree wrote:

A UFT endorsement of Jackson's opponent would be especially striking in that the UFT leadership's usual MO is endorsement of incumbents. What's comforting is that same leadership's long track record of its endorsed candidates losing in primaries, especially when they were not incumbents (usually when the incumbent was not running because term limited or some other reason)....

The UFT IDC endorsements mostly got slaughtered -- another difference between Unity and UFC --- in no way would an IDC type person every be endorsed.

Angel Vasquez is still on the UFT payroll. He works on the 14th floor at the UFT, where he advises Mulgrew on political policy along with Cassie Prugh (former Cuomo policy staffer and energy industry lobbyist) and others.... Unity Caucus insider

Obviously not a Vasquez fan. I'd bet there may be some internal pushback on this endorsement and I can see a convoluted explanation on why they remain neutral. Some asked me why the UFT has always seemed so tepid about Jackson. I replted:

James Eterno said it. Too pro teacher. Won’t be controlled by them. They don’t want class size and charters raised unless they control the message and the messenger.

A UFT retiree who is a Jackson constituent commented:

Last election cycle, the UFT backed Marisol Alcantara the IDC candidate, presumably because she was the incumbent.  She got whopped pretty good in the district, and the UFT had to lump it, as they say.  I'm a constituent of Jackson's. He's been great at his job, keeping everyone well posted on what's going on in the district; whereas Marisol the IDC candidate literally NEVER did ANYTHING except show her face at Dominican social events and laugh a lot.  I think the UFT is now backing her "associate" in the hope of winning back a lost endorsed seat.  I don't expect Jackson will suffer much from the UFT's endorsement.  In any case, I hope not.... UFT Retiree

Another retiree constituent writes:

Vasquez is the former chief of staff to Marisol Alcantara of the IDC (independent Democratic Conference), the odious group who called themselves Democrats but in fact aligned themselves and caucused with the Republicans in the legislature. They worked hard to block any and all progressive legislation from succeeding in the legislature for years until they were finally mostly voted out. 

It is pretty interesting that Vasquez has such a position in the UFT hierarchy given the history of his work for an IDC member. Remember IDC Dems worked against our interests for years as a Cuomo creation to stop progressive policies and ally with Republicans in the state senate. The UFT endorsed many of them, including Jackson's opponent

Here's the Barr/Harmon memo, which I find pretty disgusting given the positive role Jackson has played. Let's see now, who are we going to support: A long-time supported of our members or someone connected to the pro-charter slugs at IDC?

FROM:             Anthony Harmo, Director of Staff         

                        LeRoy Barr, Director of Staff

DATE:             March 10, 2022 

Re:                   Angel Vasquez Campaign

 

As many of you are likely aware, Angel Vasquez is running for State Senate. 

While employees may choose to support his campaign, it is critical that everyone be aware of specific campaign guidelines applicable to any employee running for elected office so as to avoid any potential unlawful contribution. 

If you choose to support Angel by volunteering your time any such work performed for the campaign must be done after work hours and off work premises.  Staff are expressly prohibited from:

·       Using any UFT phone (desk or cell) for campaign matters;

·       Using any UFT laptop or desktop computer for campaign matters;

·       Using UFT email, whether from work or home, for campaign matters;

·       Accessing any UFT voter, mailing or membership lists for campaign purposes;

·       Using any UFT resources (e.g., paper, copy machines, scanners) for campaign matters;

·       Engaging in campaign activities (e.g., fundraising, GOTV, correspondence with campaign staff) on UFT work hours or union leave hours (including, but not limited to, evening functions) or during time that could reasonably be considered working hours; and

·       Engaging in campaign activities on UFT premises.

Please note, this list is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather illustrative of the types of “in-kind” contributions that could lead to campaign finance law violations. In short, no UFT resources, time or personnel on working or union-leave time may be utilized for campaign purposes.

Similarly, while no one is expected to make any financial contribution to Angel's campaign, we recognize that there are those of you who will choose to show him your support.  If you voluntarily elect to contribute to Angel’s campaign you must make the contribution by check, mailed from your home (or other non-UFT mailbox) directly to Angel’s campaign headquarters. You may not hand Angel a check on UFT premises or during UFT work hours. Please note that the UFT will not reimburse any employee for any contributions made.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding campaign activity or campaign contributions please contact Beth Norton, General Counsel (bnorton@uft.org).

There is a tone in this memo that I find disturbing. Sure don't use UFT resources. Isn't the very presence of Angel Vasquez deep in the halls of power an ad for his campaign? When trolling for funding, the very fact he is so close to Mulgrew increases his fundraising and dampens Jackson's.

The DNA of the UFT/Unity is so anti-progressive and has always been despite their recent campaign claiming they are the caucus of social justice. They are also fundamentally anti-union in some perverted sense -- hovering around the corporate Dem/Republican position. After all, the UFT is a subsidiary of the center/right corp Dems and they have been part and parcel of union suppression for decades.

Remember the mantra -- watch what they do, not what they say. Moving us away from the public option is as anti=progressive as you can get. Opposing Robert Jackson - whom they didn't back the last time either - but now he's an incumbent while supporting someone connected to the Cuomo crew is anti-progressive.

You can't change DNA and the UFT will be toxic to progress until we change the leadership.

I keep looking for patterns. There is a pattern. The UFT leadership supports the least progressive ideas, candidates etc. Their job seems to be to obstruct and regress. Like Republicans. (Throw in their opposition to ideas to increase voter turnout in the UFT election -- Mitch Mulgrew.) They are a hybrid of Republicans and a function of agents of the corporate wing of the Dem Party. I'd bet they will do something similar with Jamaal Bowman. Stay neutral or support his opponent.  After all beyond everything he supports opt out and limited testing. The Squad to the corporate Dems and their clients like Unity Caucus are bigger threats than Republicans. Think of every issue many of us have dealt with over the past 25 years. 
 
Mayoral control, Impact of high stakes Testing, closing public schools, ending seniority transfer rules which opened the door to closing schools (Camille on a zoom yesterday raised the issue of seniority transfers), ATRS, charters - another privatization scheme the UFT supported. In fact in the late 90s I also naively supported the concept of teacher run charters and it was Marian who pointed out to me the flaws in my thinking about charters - along ironically with UFT honcho Tom Pappas who soon after found himself forced to back Randi's white elephant - the UFT charter. I will say that the old pre-Randi crew did have some verbal allegiance to traditional union ideas that Randi broke. 
 
Let me continue - healthcare and their support for profit making private insurance fits right into their ideology. People who have studied the origins of the UFT and the takeover in the early years by the center right neocon Albert Shanker see the current policies embedded in the DNA of the UFT.  Despite 3 changes in UFT leadership since Shanker gave up the presidency in 1985, their policies have been remarkably persistent.
 
I'll close with this comment from P, a retiree and former delegate and Ed Notes distributor at his school:

Sandra Feldman, Randi Weingarten and Mike Mulgrew are the descendants of Shanker who have created a ruling caste of collaborators, parasites and opportunists that feeds off we, the membership.

We have no friends in government and thus need to create our own power bases at the level of each school: rank and file groups to challenge Unity stooge Delegates and Chapter Chairs. Unity controls the game,  it's their ball park, their rules. It's ok to have a few elected friends in some elected positions but I truly believe that we, the members, need to do some kind of end run around their structure.
Of course I urge as many people as possible to vote UFC but we shouldn't just rely on winning positions in Unity's ball park/rigged game. Leafleting education workers as they enter and leave their respective schools is a
" boots- on- the- ground " possible strategy.
Thank for indulging my rant.

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