UFT Mayoral Endorsement: Make Sure the Voice of the Rank and File is Heard!

July 8, 2013 — 4 Comments

Read the Results of MORE’s Mayoral Race Survey!
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 The fight to protect and strengthen public education and our unions did not begin with Mayor Bloomberg and it will not end with him. The upcoming Mayoral election in New York City may provide an opportunity to create a shift in local education policy, polices that for the last ten years have devastated our schools and our profession.  The UFT has endorsed a candidate for the New York City Democratic Party’s nomination for mayor, Bill Thompson.

The real strength of our union lies in its ability to use collective action to advance the goals of our members. Working with politicians can be part of a union’s strategy, but cannot substitute for genuine grassroots organizing. Union members need to understand how the current political system works and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities it might present for working people and unions to advance their goals. Elections can be one of those opportunities. However, there is a well-established pattern of campaign promises that evaporate in office. Furthermore, despite their rhetoric, both of the main political parties are deeply implicated in the privatization of our public schools and the attacks on teacher unions. For these reasons, stakeholders who deeply care about public education need to be informed and have a voice concerning New York City’s upcoming mayoral election.

We cannot protect public education without an educated and organized rank and file whose voice and feedback is not only valued by our union, but drives our union.  If we do not find a way to seek and hear our members’ input and involve them in the in the major decisions facing our union, then our union’s advocacy will always be seen as “the UFT”, as opposed to an extension of our collective power.

Because of this, we must have a process to decide if we should endorse and which candidate we endorse that is inclusive and provides an opportunity to collect input from all of our members. This kind of democracy and transparency is essential in order to build a member-driven union.  The UFT leadership has not provided a mechanism to gather authentic and broad-based feedback.  Our union leaders should not make executive decisions about important issues such as a mayoral endorsement or a teacher evaluation system, without a more inclusive process.  Our members deserve a voice and a vote.  The mayoral endorsement, while brought to the delegate assembly, was a decision pre-packaged and ready-made: signs were pre-printed and Mr. Thompson was waiting backstage.  This illusion of democratic process undermines the strength of our union and disconnects our members from fully engaging in the important work of our union, effectively weakening the potential of our collective power and action.

MORE wants to know what UFT members actually think about the upcoming Mayoral race.  Please take the time to fill our survey below and stay tuned for follow up reporting and action in the fall.

Together we can build a better union!

Take MORE’s Mayoral Race Survey: http://tinyurl.com/MayorSurvey

Here is a quick overview of where some of the Mayoral Candidates stand on important education issues:

de Blasio Lhota Liu Quinn Thompson Weiner
Believes in ending Mayoral Control and has put forth a vision for democratic governance of our schools. No No No*has agreed to give up some appointed PEP seats No No No
Believes there must be a change to current policing policies in our schools that moves authority over school safety officers from the NYPD and to school communities. No No Yes No Yes No
Has publicly committed to reducing class size. Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Believes charter schools should not be given space in public school buildings and/or believes in a moratorium on charter school co-locations and/or has called for current co-located charters to pay rent. Yes No Yes No No No
Believes in a moratorium on school closings and/or has stated that school closings as a policy is flawed. Yes No Yes No Yes Unclear
Believes teacher evaluation should be tied to student test scores and/or supports merit-based pay for teachers. No public statement Yes Not as currently implemented No Doesn’t want to “take anything off the table” No public statement
Has publicly stated he/she will provide a new contract with retroactive pay for municipal union members who have worked without a contract. No No Yes No No No

 

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4 responses to UFT Mayoral Endorsement: Make Sure the Voice of the Rank and File is Heard!

  1. 
    Adjlevin@aol.com July 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    so only Liu seems ” pro – teacher ” by most popular measures; but he has littyle chance of being in the run- off, maybe not even Thompson, though he and Weiner will probably have more than Quinn. One might think that many more women will go for Quinn vs Weiner.

  2. 

    Is there an unwritten rule that says a UFT caucus may not make its *own* endorsement in a primary? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Everyone I know thinks the UFT endorses the candidates that it ( the leadership) thinks will be best for the leadership… as opposed to ” best for the union as a whole”. In a perfect storm, perhaps, that mayoral endorsement could be one and the same.

    Instinct tells me that’s not the case this year. A better idea than an unscientific internet poll of people who happen by the MORE website would be to invite the announced candidates to
    a MORE-sponsored public forum. A chance to hear them out in detail them re. ed issues and ( much more importantly, imo) a chance to educate them about whatever they need to be educated about.

    For such an ambitious insurgency we are being remarkably unimaginative and letting an important moment slip by. So it seems to me, anyway.

  3. 
    Lynda Costagliola July 9, 2013 at 6:43 am

    And yet the UFT has endorsed Thompson. I will be working for and voting for John Liu for NYC Mayor!

  4. 

    Liu seems best overall on the issues, except on teacher evals/merit pay. Maybe he can be educated to change his mind on teacher evals, maybe not. Hmmm…

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