Send It Back: MORE, UNITY, and the UFT Contract

May 13, 2014 — 9 Comments

Dan Lupkin
Special Education Teacher/UFT Delegate
PS 58, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Lest we forget, the UFT leadership works for the membership- NOT the other way around.

Our dues pay for their salaries, their perks, and the UFT skyscraper at 52 Broadway. Our COPE money buys the “seat at the table” with the politicians, billionaires, and power brokers they say will save our profession. They push a TINA (There Is No Alternative) mentality on the membership, and when it comes to the 2014 contract, operatives (belonging to the UNITY caucus that has monopolized power within the UFT since its founding in 1960) have been sent out among the membership. Their message is that this proposal is the best we can do, so even if you have lots of problems with it, it’s better than no contract at all, so you might as well vote “yes”.

Most working teachers in NYC have been kept in the dark about how their union works, and how that relates to this contract, so perhaps it’s helpful to reframe the question in terms of dining in a restaurant:

Let’s say you sat down at a table, ordered, and were served a dish that looked, smelled, and tasted awful. Would you choke it down because that’s what you had been brought? Since you are paying the restaurant for the sole purpose of preparing you a tasty meal, most people would send it back and expect the restaurant to replace it with something better.

What if everyone’s meal was unacceptable, and the manager sent around the maitre d’ to explain to each table that the restaurant’s suppliers sold substandard meat and produce, so there was no way they could produce a tastier meal, but that surely, eating what they had brought you was better than no meal at all?

What if you kept coming back to this restaurant year after year because it was the only place in town, and you kept having the same experience?

Wouldn’t you want a change in management?

Whether or not this contract is ratified by the rank and file, remember this moment when UFT Elections come around again in 2016.  You don’t have to want the only restaurant in town to close to want a change in management; to want someone that hasn’t gotten used to serving unacceptable food to their customers and getting away with it because they strong-arm the competition out of town.

When you receive that ballot with the check boxes for UNITY and for MORE in 2016, remember what you’re being served right now; your choice will suddenly become very easy. But for the moment, there is a steaming plate of unacceptable food in front of all UFT members, and I, for one, say SEND IT BACK!

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9 responses to Send It Back: MORE, UNITY, and the UFT Contract


    Nice analogy. And I do agree our union and other unions need to be more democratic and engage members more. But Unity has been mostly very good for its members up to now. I agree they need a push from time to time.

    Teach them Revolution! May 13, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    As an itinerant related services teacher, I travel to several schools over the course of a month. Not one of the many special ed. or general ed. teachers I work with have any trust or faith in UFT’s Unity, beyond taking their dues on a regular basis.

    They’ve got to go!

    real time educator May 14, 2014 at 5:49 am

    everyone has their opinion, but we have so much today thanks to the hard work of the Unity leadership. Every hurricane that’s won and arbitration is thanks to them. also when push comes to shove, its MORE that looks for UNITY’s help. Btw, where are All the people that cry and complain at protests and rallies? Unity is there always! As for dues, an Agency fee is required for all city workers whether its UFT or not. But if you choose not to give it to UFT then you will not get your m membership benefits like prescription and dental! that’s what your dues pays for smart people!


    Confusing folks using scare tactics is a short lived strategy. All have been assured that they will get everything earned, so why frighten people unless power is so coveted, that anything remains on the table. Unionism in 2014 is a tenous topic filled with doubt and uncertainty, for there are forces out there who want it abolished. Clearly, we ought not do that from within. Stay strong and never mislead because power respects wisdom and strength, not proponents of fear. Thank you, Dr. John Marvul.


    You have the right to your opinion but bashing the UFT leadership the way you did reminds me of that little child that curses out their mother because she can’t afford to buy him a candy.
    When you bash the UFT leadership remember that when Hurricane Sandy hit it was the UFT leadership that led our members with support, what did you do? Victories in arbitrations that have resulted in paying members back for their Sesis work, ongoing support through every bad policy of the Bloomberg administration. Don’t forget, that Union leadership you are bashing made sure no members ever got laid off. The UFT leadership you bash stopped schools from closing. Our UFT leadership that you bash fights through arbitrations to protect the entire membership. It seems to me that the resemblance of this blog is not a restaurantear that is in unsatisfied with their filet minon but a child crying for attention. In 2016 members will choose the people they have relied on while you are screaming “no one puts baby in the corner”


      Remember how Randi Weingarten allowed Bloomberg to destroy our schools, then destroy our profession with the 2005 sellout contract. Do you like extended days? Loss of seniority rights? The paperwork? Loss of grievance rights? Mulgrew does, in all fairness, seem to be a fighter.

    Dorothy Evans May 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

    The UFT is the best. Michael Mulgrew is the best. Unity is the best. We have a contract because these three components worked the best way the knew how for it.


    I think some comments are too pro-or-anti leadership without discussing why. The author is very clear that the UFT is not open about the process.

    I see the gung-ho spirit but can the UFT defenders explain why the process is so “backroom”? I’d like to speak out for the MANY under-informed or new rank and file teachers who only hear about these provisions after the fact.

    Why did we wake up one morning to find our evaluations tied to Math and ELA test scores which are subjects we don’t teach. Why were we not as vocal as Chicago in resisting this idiotic waste of tax dollars?

    These provisions should have robust debates long before we are presented with them in a huge package needing an up or down vote.

    Why do I only hear from MORE about the need for RTTT backlash. Are we not aware of the pressure being put on the governor and commissioner and the dozens of states protesting and opting out and fighting back? Is not NYC supposed to be a leader, a huge test case and the model for the nation?

    If so, then I want to know how this contract fights back against teacher evaluations, corporate privatization and overtesting.

    I ask whether this contract challenges the legitimacy of VAT and asserts our 10th Amendment rights of freedom from federal mandates in education. If no, it’s not going far enough to protect students or teachers.


    I am a UFT/Unity member. I have been a teacher for 27 years. I have looked at the contract and ,frankly, I am thrilled about it. After all we went through with Bloomberg, the contract is way better than I expected. Any really good change comes slowly. History has shown that repeatedly. This new contract shows that the mayor and the union truly want what kids need. After all, isn’t that why we became teachers in the first place? As for Michael Mulgrew and the UFT leadership, I will vote for them as long as I am eligible to vote!

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