April DA, 2022 – The Bizarro DA

It’s late, and I’ve got campaigning and packing left to do before a much needed Spring Break, so I’ll keep this short. James Eterno has already posted comprehensive minutes for those who want to see more detail. So, just some comments from me.

We got what appeared to be a UFC-informed DA today, but when Mulgrew is at the helm, appearances can be deceptive.

  • Mulgrew spoke for less time during his presidential report than he has in months, if not the entire year, probably a response to United for Change having put out detailed statistics about the March DA, which showed that Mulgrew’s filibuster is what keeps delegates from not doing business, not parliamentary procedures from UFC delegates. In fact, UFC delegates haven’t been called on to motivate a resolution since November. But this time, Mulgrew spoke for 45 minutes, leaving 60 minutes for questions, new resolutions, and resolutions. To be sure, nothing particularly new was in the president’s report that hadn’t already been said in previous DAs or in this week’s executive board meeting, but it was so short compared to what we’ve gotten used to, that one might forgive the repetition. Most delegates called on in the question period were Unity or at least independent, but Ryan Bruckenthal did pitch a good question on our role in helping the new Amazon and Starbucks unions.
  • In the new motions period, not surprisingly, we were not called on. Peter Lamphere asked to suspend the rules so that the period could be extended by 10 minutes so that we could try to get one of our three motions read, and interestingly a non-UFC delegate called a point of order or information to suggest Peter was wrong to do this. But, Michael Mulgrew sided not with the non-UFC candidate, but with Peter (Bizzaro!). We did not get the necessary 2/3 vote, but got almost half on the phone (potentially a good omen for the election). Interestingly, this was the only parliamentary procedure used by UFC that night, but there must have been five done by Unity Caucus members and independents. By the way, this took no time at all. There were no fits thrown, no attacks made on their character, just answers–even when the non-UFC delegates were ruled out of order. Hypocritical? Perhaps. Again, Bizarro DA.
  • Of the resolutions read, nothing required debate. Everything was unanimous. Nothing bizarro there, except the fact that there were resolutions in the first place. This led to some interesting moments of solidarity, including a particularly touching moment when a former first-responder spoke about his experience serving during 9/11. I can tell you that UFC candidates who were there, myself included, joined with everyone else to stand and applaud him. (It was a little less heart warming when, hearing that a handful of people voted against the resolution, someone in my section screamed something to the effect of ‘we’re teaching with terrorists!’) The next resolution, which resolved “that the UFT take a moment to recognize our outstanding school related professionals and to pay tribute to them for their important contributions to the New York City school system and to the United Federation of Teachers,” received an ‘against’ comment over the phone from Dermot Myrie (MORE), because (a) he couldn’t make a motion to amend over the phone; and (b) we should be making a motion to actually PAY school related professionals more, not just emptily recognize them. I think he had a point.
  • And, this time we went beyond 6:00 PM’s automatic adjournment. Mulgrew had refused to go beyond 6:00 every single DA this year since UFC’s big November wins. Last month, seemingly out of spite, he didn’t even let a resolution finish, because we had the audacity to try and make a motion to extend. He claimed then that they needed the room for a meeting at 6:00, after which I pointed out that the meeting he was talking about was at 6:30. Then he said they needed to get the room ready, and that was why they had to end mid-motion at 6:00, so I stuck around and saw that not a single chair was moved in that 30 minutes (we could have easily finished the resolution, and had another 10 minutes to work on other resos). Anyways, this time around a Unity person makes a motion to extend, and Mulgrew says there’s no point in even debating it, because he’s going to let us go past 6:00 either way. Hypocritical? Yes, definitely hypocritical. Again, Bizarro DA.

In the end, despite the Bizarro context of this DA: a shorter presidential address, a question period that let one completely non-inflammatory UFC question go through, and almost all parliamentary inquiries/motions coming from Unity or otherwise non-UFC candidates, there was still no substantive change. Where it counted, we weren’t called on to read important resolutions. And there was just enough time to get through three resolutions that were inherently non-controversial (and offered no potential for UFC to make any inroads during the debate period). Therefore, bizarro as this DA was, there was nothing pro-UFC about it. Opposition was just as shut out as in December or March.

I’ll end by discussing the resolutions that UFC meant to pitch, but once again never got a chance to motivate. One would have committed the UFT to push for detailed plans to investigate and potentially end mayoral control. That resolution is long and complicated, but well worth a read (click the link above to see it). Another resolution focused on Tier 6, but unlike Unity’s otherwise similar resolution, had a radical resolve that would have bound the UFT to the following: “as part of this campaign, any politician who blocks or intends to block our efforts to fix Tier 6 must at a minimum be barred from receiving COPE dollars, our endorsement, or any other form of UFT support.” Finally, another responded to Unity’s abhorrent actions at the last Executive Board meeting and over the last few weeks to investigate and potentially out UFT members for things that could lead the DOE to discipline them. That resolution is short, so I’ll end by posting that resolution in its entirety.

Resolution Calling for UFT not to Initiate DOE Disciplinary Proceedings against a Member

Whereas DOE disciplinary proceedings, such as 3020-As, can lead to severe consequences for our educators, ranging from hefty financial penalties to termination of employment and/or discontinuation of our licenses.

Whereas, one of the primary purposes of our union is to protect educators from being disciplined and to mitigate the consequences thereof. 

Whereas, in recent weeks, UFT staff members and officers have publicly accused UFT members of misconduct, and therefore potentially alerted the DOE that there is misconduct done by UFT members worth investigating.

Whereas, in recent weeks, UFT officers have mimicked the tactics of DOE investigators, initiating witchhunts of UFT members for which they would only be able to effectuate consequences if they turned over their data to the DOE. 

Be it resolved that, whether secretly or publicly, UFT staffers and officers will neither extract nor communicate information to the DOE that could lead to initiation or exacerbation of disciplinary proceedings for our members.

If you’d like a UFT leadership that defends members rather than targets opposition candidates in a way that could harm their careers, vote United for Change. We’ll push for a union that defends everyone, not one that puts member livelihoods at risk out of sheer negligence if not for political gain. And yes, we’ll democratize the DAs so that they are perpetually and authentically democratic, not just occasionally and only superficially democratic.

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