You would think this describes management or the actions of corporate actors or advocates of charters and vouchers. Today we have only have to look at our own union leadership in the UFT.

We need only to look as far as what Michael Mulgrew and Unity have perpetrated on the OT/PT chapter to understand just how horrible and undemocratic our union has become. Or maybe this has always been the policy of Unity when their power is threatened.

After the functional chapter rejected the contract proposal in June, instead of sitting down with the chapter (which includes audiologists, nurses and a supervisory unit) to discuss plans to correct the inequities the overwhelming members objected to, Mulgrew and company decided to demand the unthinkable—To Call for a Revote! This has no precedent in the history of the UFT. And Unity members are okay with going along with this!

Melissa Williams , the then Chapter Leader of this unit (subsequently she and others on her executive board have resigned) was faced with an unacceptable choice. It was impossible for her to accept this undemocratic proposal. Mulgrew and the leadership of Unity Caucus probably orchestrated dozens of OT and PT’s to call for this revote. In other words, if the union leadership does not like the outcome of a vote- just do it again until you get it right. Does the UFT Constitution or by-laws spell this out? Of course not.

But this follows a pattern that opposition members have witnessed with greater frequency of late. With the call by Mulgrew to privatize the healthcare of retirees-not just in the UFT but the 250,000 public employee retirees throughout the city – and move them to Medicare Advantage he showed the real essence of his leadership. Will the union next call for the privatization of the entire school system because that too will ‘improve’ the delivery of education? Mulgrew, who plays the largest role in the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), along with DC 37 rejects allowing retirees to vote on whether they should have voice in this decision. Only the court ruling of Judge Lyle Frank and the demonstrations and rallies by retiree members have stayed the hand of the privateers within the labor movement.

But the trend within the UFT towards undemocratic policies is a ominous sign. This includes for the first time limiting the time Executive Board members can ask questions at Exec. Bd. meetings. There has been a trend at DA’s and UFT Executive Board meetings of shouting down opposition leaders. Acts of intimidation and bullying have occurred at meetings. But these are minor in relation to the move to negate a legitimate vote of a UFT functional chapter.

On the part of New Action, a partner in the United for Change coalition which won seven seats to the UFT Executive Board from the High School division, we will continue to press our union to take action to reform the Tier 6 pension system, oppose abusive administrators, fight for probationary educators, improve working conditions, and guarantee the professional dignity of those who work in the teaching profession.

– Submitted by Michael Shulman


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    I couldn’t agree more that this behavior from Mulgrew and Unity is undemocratic, worrisome, and frankly, unacceptable. I can’t believe that a union in a blue city like New York has been so helpful to management. I had one great-grandfather who mined coal in PA and my own grandfather worked for US Steel, both were union members, and both would have been disgusted with the actions of our so-called leadership. The union movement has momentum all over America again and many unions are demanding more than ever from their contracts, but unfortunately we have Mulgrew. I read this article today in The NY Times and it made me imagine what we could have if UFT had more courageous leadership.

    • BaconUFT

      Exactly, the time is now – all over the country, unions are revitalizing, including many teachers unions. Real collective tactics are back, up to and including strikes. But here in NY, the only organizing we see by UFT leadership is organizing against membership – be it the healthcare debacle or the OTPT revote. Despite all the pomp and circumstance, our latest rushed contract, with it’s subinflation wage increases, givebacks, and potential givebacks, is case in point when we compare to what we’re seeing with nurses, teamsters, and teachers unions elsewhere.

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