From the Archives – June 2003 – Appointment of District Reps

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the January 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: January 2014 Leaflet

FROM THE ARCHIVES – June 2003

The Department of Education is likely returning to a geographically-based organizational structure. The UFT will be making that as a recommendation. Regions, Networks, LSOs, PSOs, Clusters – all should be a thing of the past.

When Bloomberg and Klein abolished geographic districts, over ten years ago, Unity Caucus responded by taking the right of selecting District Reps away from Chapter Leaders. Here’s what New Action wrote then:

 

The Appointment of District Reps. No Time to Retreat from Democracy!

Last Tuesday, June 4, 2003, the UFT Executive Board over the strong objections of New Action/UFT, changed the District Representative position, an elected position for 34 years, to an appointed position. It is a sad day any time an elected job, where accountability is to the people who elect you, is changed to an appointed position.

The resolution was morally offensive to New Action; we vehemently oppose any attack on the democratic process. Two years ago when Rudy Guiliani tried to use the September 11 attack on NYC as an excuse to lengthen his term as Mayor by three or four months, President Weingarten was outraged about the Mayor’s affront to democracy. At last week’s Executive Board meeting, NAC’s James Eterno (chapter leader Jamaica HS) pointed this out to President Weingarten and the Unity Caucus majority when he spoke against the resolution. Eterno also told the Executive Board that last year Mayor Bloomberg wanted to change the line of succession so that he could appoint a successor if he were not able to finish his term as Mayor. President Weingarten was aghast that the Mayor would try to replace himself with a non-elected person. NAC’s Bob Dehler (chapter leader Seward Park HS) also spoke in opposition, citing the aspect of the resolution assigning people for next year. The resolution doesn’t say the UFT is extending the terms of elected district reps. It says the union is appointing them in place. Even an election for a limited one year term, until we figure out the new DOE structure, would be fairer than appointing people in place.

Is Appointing DR’s the Best Choice?

In her e-mail to chapter leaders and delegates President Weingarten stated, “So we have tried to ensure that the service relationship between the chapter leader, the members, and the DR is maintained. This way the continuity, the contract and other services we provide members as well as the dissemination of accurate information can be maintained despite any changes the Department may make.”

If we’re keeping the present system why can’t we continue with the election process? Whether elected or appointed in place, the DR will be dealing with new people at the region. How does an election, in any way, disrupt or interfere with “continuity, the contract and other services” that are provided? We maintain that an election ensures that those services continue as smoothly as possible because the chapter leaders, where there is a contested election, will select the best candidate.

Whatever the structure the UFT finally adopts, we can certainly maintain the present one until we see how the Board’s new regions function. We are sure the DR’s involved and the borough reps will be able to work within the regions. There may have to be changes next year, but that individual who works most closely with the chapter leader must continue to be elected.

Times are tough today with the schools changing structure. It’s in difficult times when democracy must be enhanced, not diminished. The U.S. didn’t try to limit democracy during the Civil War or World War II. All of the elections were held during those two periods of crisis in American history. The restructuring of the schools is no reason to limit democracy in any form.

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