Archive for May 17th, 2015

Winner-Take-All is Undemocratic

The United Federation of Teachers sends hundreds of delegates to the New York State United Teachers Representative Assembly and to the American Federation of Teachers Convention. And of those hundreds of delegates, all, every one, vote exactly the same way on every issue.

The UFT has Vice Presidents for Elementary Schools, Middle Schools, Academic High Schools, Vocational High Schools, non-DoE, Ed Issues, and Special Ed. All belong to the same caucus.

The UFT has 32 District Reps. All are appointed by the president, and belong to the same caucus.

We have a diversity of voices in the UFT, but they are stifled by electoral gimmicks and chicanery.

Each division used to elect its own vice president, but after New Action’s Michael Shulman was elected UFT Vice President for Academic High Schools in 1985, Unity changed the UFT Constitution to assure that it would not happen again. Ultimately they made the vice presidents “at large” to prevent a division from choosing its own VP.

The Chapter Leaders in each district used to elect their own District Reps, but Unity eliminated this 40-year tradition, and made the DRs presidential appointees. Who represents the voices of the chapter leaders? On April 7, 2014 the New Action representatives on the UFT Executive Board submitted a resolution calling for UFT District Reps to once again be elected by chapter leaders in the districts. Unity tabled the motion, arguing that appointment is more democratic than elections.

Our union’s strength is our membership. We rely on membership involvement. But by shutting down member voices, Unity has discouraged thousands of members from participating in the life of our union. This weakens us. New Action supports proportional representation for election of NYSUT, AFT and NEA delegates, we support a return to direct election of divisional Vice Presidents, and we support a return to election of DRs by Chapter Leaders.

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