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!