UFT Leadership’s Contract Teach-in Legacy is to Sue Members for Organizing

I was cautiously optimistic about the contract teach ins. So were a lot of people in the UFT’s progressive opposition. We had questions, to be sure — doubts. As I put it in January, “We need to make sure that the ‘teach in’s in our schools are not just infrastructure for an undeserved ‘yes’ vote, but a true means for chapters to think about what the contract means to them – and what sorts of contracts are worth that ‘yes’ vote.”

Unfortunately, the materials UFT gave us did resemble propaganda for a yes vote. They overstated the power of our current contract, slid over give-backs that have weakened it over the years, and made the negotiating process for a new contract seem much too fool proof.

Then, on the eve of the Teach Ins, I published this: “Luckily, at this point, we have some new materials. The good folks over at MORE published a much better version of the UFT’s official powerpoint. It looks to resemble the original powerpoint well enough that it could be switched out without any new planning.’ I used this powerpoint at my own chapter’s teach in. It allowed me to tailor that event in an honest way that provoked real discussion amongst rank-and-file members.

Then, a few weeks ago, MORE got a cease-and-desist letter from a law firm to which the UFT pays millions of dollars in our dues money. They were threatened not to use the UFT logo in their materials, which I now understand were written by individual MORE members and not even authorized by MORE itself. Opposition was stunned. Norm and James already published good think pieces on this, so I just have one extra point today.

This is the work going on at 52 Broadway. UFT leadership did nothing to stop DC37 leadership from committing us to a sub-inflation pattern. No matter how much we organize at this point, we’re going to be stuck with sub-inflation wage increases below the non-unionized U.S. average. I’ve written a lot about this (here, here, and here), but the main point is this: when well-paid DC37 leaders, who Mulgrew has described himself as talking to ‘all the time,’ put us in financial jeopardy by championing a bad pattern, UFT leadership does nothing. However, when opposition unionists try to organize members to help UFT get a critical mass of rank-and-file members ready for a contract fight, they get challenged to be sued, using our dues money. See the difference?

This is the legacy of our teach ins: actual organizers were given cease-and-desist letters by the UFT’s law firm, while our union leadership sat on their hands and let our real wages plummet.


16 Responses to “UFT Leadership’s Contract Teach-in Legacy is to Sue Members for Organizing”

  1. 1 Mike D. March 3, 2023 at 7:54 am

    I knew all along that the “Teach In”, was a smoke and mirrors show. Mulgoon and City are making deals in backrooms away from the prying eyes of you and me. I also want to restate that I believe that the 500 Member Contract Committee is a total sham. Sure, they can talk, and talk, and talk among themselves, but the real nuts and bolts of our contract negotiations are being done by top UFT leadership away from the Committee. As you mentioned, DC37 is settling for a shitty 3% raise which means all the other municipal unions are going to be stuck with it. Add in the fact that the MLC is about to gut retiree, (and soon inservice) members health benefits and you have a shit storm of giant proportions. Will the city throw us bone regarding workplace conditions? I have no idea but why would the city do that if the UFT is agreeing to all this other crap in the first place. I’ve been a UFT member since the mid 1990’s and have never been so furious at my union’s leadership. Well, I was VERY angry at the BS 2005 sellout contract too!

    • 2 baconuft March 3, 2023 at 1:21 pm

      Yep. I’m very pessimistic. The time to organize was before the pattern was set. Our leadership failed. Anything at this point is just yes vote infrastructure.

  2. 3 Eric Severson March 3, 2023 at 8:35 am

    That is a new low even for Unity. They stopped being actual labor organizers so long ago that most active teachers can’t remember it.

    • 4 baconuft March 3, 2023 at 1:22 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. Most of our members weren’t even born yet the last time we had a strike for instance. Now our members are being threatened with lawsuits in retaliation for organizing.

  3. 5 Mike D. March 3, 2023 at 9:51 pm

    Mulgrew now has blood on his hands. DC37 retirees have already publicly stated that their “new” heath benefits will not be covered in states outside of the tristate area. Mulgrew has no soul and needs to be removed via a no confidence vote. Is there any outage happening from the 500 Member Negotiation Committee? Probably not because most of them are hand picked Unity members who are suckling the teat of Mulgrew to get a cushy, double pension job at 52 Broadway. This shit must stop NOW!

    • 6 baconuft March 4, 2023 at 5:54 am

      There is union-wide outrage about the raises, but Mulgrew is a good politician. He has a way of convincing people who are too tired to pay attention that he’s their biggest advocate.

      • 7 Mike D. March 4, 2023 at 8:07 am

        Are there folks on the 500 Member Contract Committee who are not believing Mulgrew’s BS? How many members are angry vs. those who simply toe the Unity line?

      • 8 baconuft March 4, 2023 at 9:42 am

        Well, you know I can’t speak to that directly. But there are opposition people on the committee, and there are also some independents and Unity-in-name-only members (UNOs?) who at least privately disagree with Mulgrew. You can probably infer where all of these people stand, though my guess is that the people represented by those factions constitute a minority of the committee.

      • 9 Mike D. March 4, 2023 at 10:44 am

        Which is exactly why the committee is a total sham. It’s packed with mostly Unity flunkies who bow to the almighty word of Mulgrew so that one day they can get a cushy, double pension job at 52 Broadway. I’ve been called a conspiracy dude for mentioning that fact but it is the total truth. Those Unity lackeys have absolutely no soul and are willing to sell us all out just to land a union job. Disgusting beyond words.

      • 10 baconuft March 4, 2023 at 11:11 am

        I agree. There’s a certain analogy to some Unity people who want to become full-time UFT staffers and teachers who want to get out of the classroom as quickly as possible to become APs or ‘educational consultants.’

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  2. 2 Why ‘the UFT’ can threaten to sue its elected opposition representatives without a vote – and other notes from the 3/20/2023 UFT Executive Board Meeting | New Action - UFT Trackback on March 20, 2023 at 8:44 pm
  3. 3 Why is Mulgrew Exaggerating the cost of going to CityMD? | New Action - UFT Trackback on March 22, 2023 at 9:42 pm
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March 2023

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