The UFT elections are a fundamentally undemocratic process.Continue Reading...
Archives For Union Democracy
by James Eterno, Chapter Leader, Jamaica High School
[The following is a compilation of two different reports, originally posted at the ICE blog, about Wednesday’s DA]
Read the Results of MORE’s Mayoral Race Survey!
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:
|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|