Who is political? A Further Note on the 3-27-23 Executive Board Meeting (and its aftermath)

At the 3-27-23 executive board meeting, we heard from two working UFT mothers – Ibeth Mejia and Luli Rodriguez, who sought to put some teeth into a mostly symbolic resolution written by members of Unity Caucus. That resolution was about recognizing disproportionate maternal mortality rates. Ibeth and Luli’s amendment would have asked the UFT to do something to actually help reduce maternal mortality for women in our own union by fighting for living wages and keeping healthcare viable/affordable, among other things.

Immediately, Luli and Ibeth were attacked for (a) being political; (b) not being collaborative; and (c) raising an amendment that had nothing to do with the resolution at hand. So just a few thoughts.

  •  Political. The word that is always thrown at opposition. I wrote a detailed piece on this a few months back. And in this instance, I want to seriously ask – what political gain could Ibeth and Luli possibly have had by raising a resolution at executive board? This isn’t like the DA, where independents potentially hear from people with different viewpoints. At executive board, Unity cut off access for regular rank-and-file members to view our proceedings months ago, so it’s not like there was an audience. Other than the 7 members and a handful of colleagues who came to support us, there was no one there who wasn’t already tied to the Unity machine. Unlike Unity Caucus members, there’s no financial political gain that Luli and Ibeth could have from raising the resolution either. No one from opposition is ever going to be hired for a job with the UFT. When I left Unity, for instance, I was actually reducing my political standing in that sense of the word – ensuring that I’d never get a cushy union job. Luli and Ibeth, similarly, were de-politicizing themselves in order to fight for the general good of members. This irony shouldn’t be lost here, because most of the people I see attacking opposition for being political do have union jobs that they got in part from being loyal to the Unity machine.
  • Attacking opposition for not being collaborative is disingenuous. For one thing, we reached out to Unity with two resolutions for this executive board meeting. Both passed. For another, Unity never returns the favor. Unity never reached out to us about the amended resolution. They never sought our input. We only knew about it because it was in the adcom minutes. Yet, when Ibeth and Luli raised an amendment to a resolution that Unity wrote without collaborating with us, they were vilified, along with the rest of opposition, for not working with Unity. Unity can write their own resos, but it is a cardinal crime for anyone from opposition to do anything on their own.
  • The final complaint is that Luli and Ibeth’s amendment about healthcare/wages for working mothers had nothing to do with maternal mortality. But that’s patently absurd. For that, I can simply go to Michael Mulgrew. For the last few weeks, he’s been using the idea of a ‘committee with real teeth—arbitration/penalty power’ to help keep Aetna honest (as he pushes retirees off of traditional Medicare, where that sort of ‘teeth’ wouldn’t be needed).  Unity here put forward a symbolic resolution without teeth. Yes, maternal mortality is terrible, so what are we gonna do about it?  Luli and Ibeth found a way that we can do something about that as a teachers union – by fighting to make sure that mothers in our union have medical benefits and living wages. Yes, that’s not the whole story. But, that’s at least something our union can do to help working mothers. The argument from Unity that maternal mortality doesn’t have anything to do with mothers having good healthcare/wages is completely ridiculous. I suspect even they know that. And of course, they voted it down, and have been blowing up their social media with political attacks against two working mothers who tried to fight for more than symbolic help for our members.

Let’s call Unity’s highly public reaction to Luli and Ibeth what it is – a deflection from their losing battle on healthcare.

1 Comment

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    Edna Hoover

    And what about equal representation for the majority female teaching staff? “Women made up 74.6% of the City’s teacher workforce in 2003-2004, growing to 76.6% in 2015-2016. Over the same time, the proportion of men in the teaching workforce fell from 25.4% to 23.4%.”

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