UFT Chapter Leader
PS 58 – Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
What is a union for? Why do we belong to one? In these times of looming national “Right to Work” laws that are likely to impede or cripple the ability of labor unions to sustain themselves financially, it seems like a relevant question to ask ourselves. Is a union for Meet the President dinners? Patronage jobs in exchange for political loyalty? Social media campaigns? What are we getting in exchange for the hard-earned dues we pay to the UFT?
Protecting members from abuse by management is a core function, if not THE core function, of a labor union. If a chapter leader or delegate speaking out and organizing against an abusive administrator is subject to retaliation with impunity, what chance is there for a rank-and-file member to actually exercise their contractual rights? The abuse of staff, students, and parents that has been going on, unchecked, at Central Park East 1, an elementary school in East Harlem, is indicative of a union local decayed to the point of paralysis, and so out of touch with its membership and their concerns that it is approaching complete irrelevance. During the 4/19/17 UFT Delegate Assembly, a second attempt to introduce a resolution on behalf of the staff, parents, and students of the CPE1 was quashed by the UNITY caucus leadership of the UFT, who instructed their loyalty oath bound delegates to vote against even putting the pleas that the school’s elected delegate (himself the victim of multiple and scurrilous investigations in retaliation for his activism) were making on behalf of the embattled stakeholders on the agenda for the next meeting. Having briefly consulted with UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Bronx District Rep Howie Schorr listed a number of steps that the UFT had taken to address the issue, and said it was up to the Department of Education to fix the problem.