New Action opposed the UFT Constitutional Amendments

January 2012
(Click for PDF version: Leaflet 2012 January)

 VOTE NO

DELAY CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES
GUARANTEE REPRESENTATION FOR ALL

On Monday, December 19 2011, New Action Executive Board members and co-chairs Jon Halabi and Michael Shulman spoke against the proposed changes to the UFT Constitution. Both were clear that New Action joined all other delegates in welcoming the addition of home care providers into our union. We applauded the organizing of home care workers and were one of the first groups to call for their representation in all aspects of UFT life – including the electoral process.

SOME BACKGROUND

This is the first constitutional change in over 20 years. The past changes were directed against the main opposition party—New Action. They were to maintain the control of the UFT by the Unity caucus.

 After Michael Shulman was elected UFT Vice President for Academic High Schools in 1985, Unity pushed changes to the constitution to assure that this would not happen again. The first amendment allowed divisional functional members (ie. paraprofessionals, secretaries, guidance counselors, etc.)  to vote for the divisional vice presidents. Next, voting was changed to allow ALL members from All divisions to vote for the VPs of the elementary, middle, vocational, and high school divisions. This further assured the dominance of Unity caucus.

WEINGARTEN AGREED TO A BROAD RANGE OF INTERNAL DEMOCRACY ISSUES TO BE DISCUSSED

When the UFT began organizing home care providers, New Action called for a discussion of constitutional changes to reflect this development. We also called for a broader range of democratic reforms to be included: the return of the election of District Representatives (DRs) by chapter leaders, making proportional representation a part of our elections, restoring the divisional VP position to be voted on by members of their division. The president at the time, Randi Weingarten, agreed that before the home care providers were brought in, the union would open these discussions. THE PROMISED DISCUSSIONS NEVER TOOK PLACE!

THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROPOSAL BEFORE US

At the Executive Board on December 19th, Jon Halabi and Michael Shulman raised the following concerns:

  • In-service teachers are now a minority of the UFT membership. As we successfully bring in 1000s of new members, in-service teachers will likely make up less than 40% of this union. We need to guarantee representation
  • We are concerned about changing the weighted vote of retirees. While we uncategorically support retirees (many of us are already there) and we recognize the growing important role they play in the life of the union, their vote must be weighed in light of the overall membership;
  • None of the proposed new seats are actually dedicated to home care workers.
  • If we want to recognize the significance of our functional members—giving them a few additional seats at the Executive Board is tokenism. There should be a real increase in voice. WHY NO SEAT at the Leadership table?
  • There has been no discussion in any UFT body – the UFT Election Committee has not met since before the last citywide election –  about how home care workers will vote and participate in our union. For example, how can any caucus contact home care providers as required by federal labor law? In schools we are allowed to put our literature in staff mailboxes. What provisions will be made to reach home care providers?
  • There is a real need for discussion of the type of democratic reforms as promised by President Weingarten, including allowing members of each division to vote for their own vice presidents.
  • There is an undue rush to vote on these changes. Why not allow a 90-day period so that a committee can consider these changes?

NEW ACTION RECOMMENDS
A NO VOTE
ON QUESTIONABLE UFT CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES!

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