Monday, May 04, 2015

The Unity Lovefest

There is a lot of self-congratulation from Unity members, both state and city, on Twitter. Leroy Barr was able to come to an agreement with Beth Dimino and pass the "I Refuse" resolution that Unity shot down at the NYC Delegate Assembly. The general theme is Stronger Together and Unity are united against a common enemy, and the general hope appears to be that Stronger Together will become like NYC's New Action, an opposition that works hand in hand with the machine.

That would be unfortunate.

I cannot count the times UFT Unity has let us down. There was one time, in particular, when they were hanging tough on the APPR system. I thought they were doing a great job. I went so far as to invite the COPE guy to my school. He showed up late and did not have time to do his spiel. Instead I was left to improvise and when he showed he only answered questions. First question from my staff, having gone years without a contract, was when were we gonna get one. He said Michael Mulgrew was very smart, and that Mayor Bloomberg could not enact APPR without a contract. One of our delegates and I made a point of increasing our COPE contributions on that basis.

Of course, that delegate and I traveled to Manhattan to vote against APPR, a vote we were sure to lose by a wide margin, and we didn't even get to do that. Instead, with no vote whatsoever, John King was deemed an impartial arbiter by UFT leadership and rank and file got no say whatsoever. In fact we did get APPR without a contract. And when we finally got a contract, that delegate and I were again in Manhattan where we finally got to vote on something.

Now I read that NYC is gonna pay $10 million for charter school rent. I can't remember UFT Unity leadership lifting a finger to fight Cuomo when he shoved that down Bill de Blasio's throat. I can't remember them or Revive NYSUT, which explicitly promised to oppose Cuomo, lifting a finger against him in either two primaries or the general election. I certainly recall Unity's AFT President Randi Weingarten making robocalls for Hochul when the NY Times endorsed Tim Wu for Lieutenant Governor.

Here's the thing--despite Unity campaign literature, people in opposition do not reflexively oppose leadership for no reason. Personally, there's nothing I'd like better than to join the party and support leadership. But when leadership supports things that hurt working teachers and the kids we serve--mayoral control, junk science, two-tier due process, insane and hurtful testing, we can't do the whole, "Thank you sir, may I have another," thing.

And we won't. We aren't for sale. If we were, we'd have joined long ago.

So Unity can pay lip service to Stronger Together. But ST Caucus knows why Unity really ousted Dick Iannuzzi and company, and will not forget, for example, their abject failure to oppose Cuomo and Common Core when it may have meant something.

This is a thing. NYS Unity opened Pandora's Box in their gratuitous grab for absolute power, and all the lip service in the world ain't gonna change that.
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