Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, January 16, 2012

TWU President Tells Cuomo To "Shove It"

The unions - from CSEA to PEF to the UFT and the NYSUT - have fallen all over themselves to stay on the good side of Governor 1% (or "Chicken Cuomo" as he's known to his patron, Rupert Murdoch.)

This weekend one union leader finally told the union-busting, union-hating Cuomo what he can do with himself:

As the MTA’s contract with the Transport Workers Union Local 100 was set to expire at midnight last night, hundreds of workers gathered in the bitter cold outside the negotiations at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown for a raucous rally where they were joined by several local politicians.

“I’ve been bargaining for the better part of the last 48 hours,” TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said. “I’m going to go back into that hotel and I’m going to tell the chairman of the MTA, I’m going to tell the governor to take their petty demands and shove it.”

As the state faces a looming deficit, Mr. Samuelsen said Governor Cuomo and the MTA are attempting to balance the budget “on the backs of Local 100 members” by taking five vacation days, creating part-time bus operators, limiting overtime and not granting a pay raise, among other sticking points.

Politicians who support working people, politicians who see that American society cannot be the 1% getting it all and the 99% getting the shiv, came out to support working people over the governor and the MTA:

Prior to Mr. Samuelsen’s appearance at the rally, which also included a tribute in honor of Martin Luther King Day, the crowd heard statements of support from City Council members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez and Tish James.

“We are here to support the leadership of TWU and to support all of you, because this is the best way to continue Martin Luther King’s dream,” Councilman Rodriguez said.

Both Councilwoman Mark-Viverito and Councilwoman James invoked the Occupy Wall Street protests in their speech to the TWU crowd.

“You keep this city running and we want to make sure that we support each and every one of you,” Councilwoman Mark-Viverito said. “The 99% is kicking, the 99% is saying, ‘We’re not going to take it anymore, we’re not going to give back anymore.’”

“We have to give homage to Occupation Wall Street who talked about the growing disparity in the city of New York and throughout this nation,” Councilwoman James said. “Those discussions are out front and it’s because of all of you working families, working individuals in the city of New York who deserve a fair contract, who deserve a living wage to sustain your families. That is why we are out here this evening in the cold and I’m glad its cold out here because it reminds us of our struggle.”

As a member of the UFT, I have watched my union leadership fall all over themselves to stay on Cuomo's good side.

As a member of the AFT, I have watched my union leadership fall all over themselves to keep their "seat at the table" in the Obama administration's discussions of education policy.

While they have been doing all of this groveling, both Cuomo and Obama have been pushing anti-teacher and anti-union measures meant to bust our unions, scapegoat teachers for all the problems in the public education system, give local districts the power to fire any teacher at any time for any reason and promote testing, testing, testing over true education.

My union leadership - Mike Mulgrew at the UFT and Randi Weingarten at the AFT and Richard Ianuzzi at the NYSUT - ought to be telling Cuomo and Obama they can "shove it" when they come around with these measures and policies.

They ought to be telling the American people and the people of the State of New York that the test score-based evaluation system pushed by Obama is NOT getting rid of the odious provisions of No Child Left Behind, as Obama and his Secretary of Education Privatization, Arne Duncan, like to say.

Rather this Obama policy is doubling down on the very measures that Americans hate about the Bush law - the narrowing of the curriculum, the erasure of any measure of skill or proficiency in the system except for test scores, and the destruction that the emphasis on scores has done to children, teachers and schools.

The UFT and the NYSUT and the AFT and the NEA ought to be telling Obama to shove his Gates Foundation-funded education policies, shove his 2012 re-election, and shove that idea he has that working teachers who are being scapegoated by this administration are going to vote for Obama again.

They ought to be saying "Remember Central Falls!"

Instead they offer endorsements of the president a year and a half before the election, as the NEA did.

And when the teacher-hating Andrew Cuomo declares New York State is suffering a "crisis in accountability" because teachers refuse to agree to a test score-based evaluation system with wide swings in stability and a margin of error larger than Andrew Cuomo's ego, the UFT and the NYSUT ought to be attacking Cuomo back and arguing that if there is a "crisis in accountability" in this state, it resides at the Regents and the NYSED where state officials are promoting corporate-friendly education "reform" policies while taking money, jobs and trips from corporate education reform companies like Pearson Education and News Corporation.

They ought to be arguing that the "crisis in accountability" in this state resides at Tweed Courthouse and City Hall in New York where the mayor and his Gates Foundation-funded education reform cadre push reforms like merit pay, school closures and test score-based evaluation systems for teachers that will make the education system WORSE while their own policies over the last ten years have resulted in a stagnation in test scores, phonied up graduation rates and chaos and destruction in the system like we have never seen before.

They ought to be arguing that if there is a "crisis in accountability" in this state, it resides with Governor Cuomo himself, who allowed the crooks on Wall Street (many of whom promote this corporate education reform stuff in their spare time when they're not raping investors and ravaging pension funds) to steal billions when he was attorney general, declining to criminally prosecute any of the architects of the 2008 financial collapse.

They ought to be telling Cuomo to shove his "I'm a lobbyist for students" jive by pointing out his kids go to private schools where teachers are NOT evaluated by test scores, where FEAR is NOT the rule of the day, where schools are NOT constantly under threat of closure if they don't show improvements in their quarterly test score results, where endless test prep and endless testing do NOT replace real learning.

They ought to point out that the self-appointed lobbyist for children is hurting students by promoting nothing but testing upon testing in the education system around the state.

Instead, the UFT urges us to call 311 and complain to the operator about Bloomberg.

And so, on this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, when Obama will point to himself as the culmination of King's dream and when Cuomo will claim he is the guy on the right side of the civil rights/education issue, I say both Obama and Cuomo - Goldman Sachs-funded and corporately-co-opted politicians - can shove their corporate education reform policies, their union-busting, their teacher-bashing and their water-carrying for the 1%.

The dream I have today is that my union leadership at the UFT, the AFT, the NYSUT and the NEA wake up from their slumbers and join me in telling these corporate-owned politicians to shove it too.

King might have used difference language in this struggle against the union-busting, corporate-reform movement, but you can be sure he would stand with us today in this fight.


  1. Good dream(s) for the UFT, AFT, NEA but dream on. They are on a path of least resistance and can never turn that big boat around -- how long before they come aground like that cruise ship? Come to the State of the Union conference on Feb. 4 where basic issues affecting the union will be explored - something the Unity Caucus leadership refuses to allow.

  2. Outstanding piece. You said everything I and thousands of other NYC teachers are thinking.

  3. nice job...keep it up

  4. You're 100% correct! I wonder what it will take for the UFT, and AFT, members to wake up?

  5. We have to wake them up. Or better yet, we have to take back our union. For far too long uft leadership has been silent, thrown up minimal defenses too little too late, and has even collaborated with the DOE in the assault on our profession, our students and their families. Here’s something we can do about it. Join rank and file union members and their parent and community allies at The State of the UNION Conference
    Come meet other UFT members who want a new kind of union, while learning about the history and functioning of the UFT in workshops facilitated by rank and file members, union delegates and education activists.
    For more info, find us on Facebook: State of the Union
    Register at