Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, January 31, 2014

What "Vibrant" Democracy In The AFT/NYSUT/UFT Looks Like

Randi Weingarten said somewhere on the Twitter last night that the inter-union fight in the NYSUT is just an example of "vibrant democracy" in action and anybody who sees anything else in the battle between the Mulgrew/Weingarten-backed "grassroots" challengers and the Iannuzzi slate is plain wrong.

Brian from Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association has an interesting perspective on the "vibrant democracy" that is the AFT/NYSUT/UFT and left this comment on a post I wrote about Phil Rumore, the Buffalo teachers head, telling Capital NY that he was thinking about supporting the Mulgrew/Weingarten-backed "challengers" because the current NYSUT leadership hasn't been "aggressive" in pushing back against the SED/Regents reforms:

Rumore is now just doing what you are going to see a lot of NYSUT locals due- back Pallotta's slate because they are going to win. It's pretty simple, with 800 NYSUT delegates, the UFT has 40% of the voters in the election. With all of those delegates being "invite only" Unity Caucus members, Mikey Mulgrew won't allow any dissent, so all 800 will vote for their endorsed Pallotta slate. That essentially seals the election. Pallotta fills out the rest of the slate with a few others from around the state who are intoxicated by the lure of power, going from small locals to statewide "leaders", to make it seem as though it is a "grassroots movement from across the state" yet it really consists of a few more hacks beholden to Mikey Mulgrew and Unity Caucus. So who ever is backed by Mulgrew automatically wins. Therefore locals fall in line behind him so as not to get on the bad side of the "new" administration. But of course in the UFT/NYSUT/AFT world "new" and "change" mean business as usual. Ironically once Iannuzzi no longer felt beholden to Mulgrew, due to the challenge from Pallotta's slate, he got aggressive, as Rumore's BFT wished he had been earlier. Rumore's BFT responds by backing the same powers who ruled the passive Iannuzzi. But we live in a world where many "leaders" would rather be in the good graces of those in power than to truly stand up for their members.

Nothing will change until there is no longer a one party system at the state level. The unorganized 60% of the state needs to become organized. They need to bond together to oppose the Mulgrew run Unity Caucus. The good thing about this year's election is that some of the smarter people from around the state are beginning to become aware of the rigged nature of these elections. Hopefully the awareness leads to necessary changes.

There is nothing "vibrant" or "democratic" about the way the AFT/NYSUT/UFT currently works. 

The bosses make the decisions, the party hacks vote the way the bosses want, the smaller unions join suit so as to be on the right side - and the patronage is handed out and punishment doled out for any who do not comply.

Some might call that kind of operation a "vibrant democracy".

But it that doesn't sound like a "vibrant democracy" to me.

It sounds like "rigged" democracy.

And, in point of fact, that's what it is.

I'm not an Iannuzzi guy, like Rumore I think he failed to be as aggressive as he should have been against the SED/Regents/Cuomo reforms.

That said, the "grassroots challengers" come from the even-less aggressive UFT-wing, the group that continues to support Andrew Cuomo, likes the APPR teacher evaluation system, was happy SED Commissioner King got to impose it on NYC and blames every problem in the system on Bloomberg even though many of the problems the rank-and-file are most concerned with have been brought to us not by Bloomberg but by Cuomo, Tisch and King.

Even as other unions like CSEA and PEF get more aggressive against Governor Cuomo, Michael Mulgrew and the UFT "remain on good terms" with Cuomo, as State of the Politics put it today.

Does anybody really expect them to get more "aggressive" against the reforms when they're taking out Iannuzzi for getting more aggressive against Cuomo, Tisch and King, raising money for Cuomo as we speak and thinking about endorsing Sheriff Andy for re-election?

As Brian writes, it will be "business as usual" when the "change" slate takes over.


  1. What would Weingarten know about democracy? She rules AFT with an iron fist.

    1. Yes, democracy and iron fist - not really that compatible.

  2. The PJSTA eagerly awaits it's non-compliancy punishments.