Archive for May 21st, 2023

UFT: Let’s Fight for the Contract We Deserve

On Wednesday, May 24th, our union will hold what is likely to be the UFT’s final organizing action for the 2023 contract. Members will assemble at five sites (one in each borough) to rally for a fair agreement. I am hopeful that attendance will be good – not just by staffers, but by regular rank-and-file teachers, paras, and related professionals. And yes, I plan to attend, and have encouraged members of my chapter to attend. I encourage you to attend too.

Sure, I have some reservations about whether the specifics of this event are good enough to get us the contract we deserve. I think it’s a mistake that our union’s leadership is so committed to keeping working teachers from having the right to strike. I think that their over-reliance on bureaucratic ‘Taylor Law’ tactics undermines the potency of our organizing. And, I worry that if UFT leadership is relying on the threat of PERB rather than the culmination of good organizing (i.e. the viable ‘strike’ threat), the City has little reason to react to the limited organizing it does see.

But strike threat or not, the more of us that show up to contract actions, the more of a reason the City has to listen to us. So, I’m showing up. I’m showing up, because, like it or not, this is the official organizing we have. It’s what we’ve put our entire union’s dues, staff efforts, and volunteer work into producing.

To that end, while Unity’s own communications (like this misrepresentative beaut of an Instagram post) may suggest otherwise, the May 24th contract action is not a Unity event. It is a UFT event. Yes, the contract actions fall short of LA’s and Chicago’s because of Unity’s failure to lead more than ‘soft’ union organizing in their dues-funded positions of power and influence. It falls short of what UFC would have done had we won more than just the high school executive board. But any non-voluntary labor that went into creating the contract actions was paid for not by Unity dues, but by UFT dues – by all of us. And, to the extent that the actions planned will work, it will be because of the strength of our entire union’s membership—which means all of us have to show up, not just Unity, and especially not just Unity-members who are paid staffers.

That’s why communications that suggest UFT-wide events are Unity Caucus property are a mistake. To the extent that our contract actions have any value at all, it is that they bring rank-and-file members out regardless of caucus affiliation. Unity propaganda that tries to reframe union-wide events as Unity events alienates non-Unity members. It reduces the numbers who show up. It reduces our union’s efficacy. And it exploits union resources for caucus gain.

So let’s not let Unity torpedo the union’s last 2023 contract organizing event by turning it into a caucus rally. Let’s go to our event. We owe it to ourselves and our families to participate in these last contract actions fully, in hopes that they might nudge the City—even a little bit—to get us closer to an agreement  worth voting yes on.

See you all on Wednesday.


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May 2023