Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

AFT Leaders Say, You Don't Like The Hillary Clinton Endorsement, Too Bad (UPDATED)

UPDATED - 8:50 AM: Megan Moskop, the teacher with whom Leo was engaging, writes to say that Leo was talking about the caucus structure within the union, not the union itself. 

If so, he wasn't doing a very good job of it because it reads as if he was talking about the union as a whole, not the caucuses within.

No matter what Leo was talking about (and given Leo's convolutions, it's often hard to know), the dismissive attitude, the scorn for member concerns and the refusal to hear anybody else's critiques remains, as does the looming issue of what happens if the Supreme Court rules against unions in Friedrichs next year.

If the AFT/UFT/NYSUT leadership does not make a course correction in how it deals with members concerns and criticism, they will find fewer and fewer members as time goes in.

That would be an awful thing to have happen, but it doesn't seem the AFT leadership is too worried because they continue to treat the rank and file like serfs to be ruled from above.

Original Post:

AFT Leaders Say, You Don't Like The Hillary Endorsement, You're Free To Leave The Union 

A functionary of the American Federation of Teachers explains how AFT members have no right to public dissent of  AFT leadership decisions and if they don't like what the AFT leadership did by endorsing Hillary Clinton for president 16 months out, they're free to leave the union:

That's Leo Casey, Randi Weingarten's long-time propaganda guy, telling AFT member Megan Moskop why she has no right to complain about the "democratic decision" reached by the autocratic leadership of the American Federation of Teachers, with its "executive board" controlled by AFT President Randi Weingarten voting "democratically" for the endorsement of Hillary Clinton after the union used Hillary Clinton's pollsters to poll a little over a thousand AFT members and use this as justification for the endorsement 16 months out from the election.

It's interesting that Leo Casey would suggest AFT members who don't like the AFT leadership's decision on the Clinton endorsement leave the union, because that's exactly the thing that might happen next year if the Supreme Court rules in the Friedrichs case that teachers cannot be compelled to pay union dues and have those dues used for lobbying or other business they do not agree with.

If you go back through Perdido Street School blog here, you'll see various commenters talk about wanting to leave the union, decertify the union, start their own union and/or otherwise hope for RICO charges for the current union leadership because they feel disenfranchised by the AFT/UFT/NYSUT leadership.

The big complaint for many AFT/UFT/NYSUT members is that union leaders do not listen to concerns of the rank and file, that they make top-down decisions and attack anybody who disagrees with them.

The Hillary Clinton endorsement is just the latest "Hey, you don't like what we do? Too @#$%ing bad!" response from the AFT leadership, with the cranky Leo Casey dishing out the smack down.

You would think given the enormity of the Friedrichs case, the union leadership would be more amenable to member concerns, that they would be thinking, "Hey, we could lose the right to compel members dues, so maybe, you know, we should start to work with members instead of work on them...maybe we should be more member-responsive instead of member-dismissive when the rank and file raise concerns."

You would think they might react that way, given Friedrichs, but you'd be wrong - instead it's just the usual defensive response, part condescension/part insult, that if you don't like what the AFT does, leave it, if you don't abide by the top-down imposed "democratic" decision from the AFT leadership, you're an anarchist.

The next insult - usually the last one the AFT leadership and/or their functionaries level in fights with members - is that you're anti-union if you don't support the leadership's decisions, and you can bet that's coming next from Leo and Company (I know because I've had that leveled at me on Twitter when I've criticized AFT/UFT/NYSUT strategy or decisions in the past.)

Casey may just get his wish next year after the Supreme Court ruling on Friedrichs if teachers are given the choice to pay union dues or not, and while I think it would be a mistake for teachers to stop paying dues to the AFT because the union leaders run the union for themselves only and are completely unresponsive to members' concerns or criticisms, you can see why some might do it.

Who wants to pay the salary, perks and second pensions of autocrats like Weingarten and Casey as they make top-down decisions that members consider harmful to their interests, then dismiss member concerns with insults and "Hey, you don't like it, leave!" retorts?

I was hoping that the AFT leadership would start to become more responsive to members with the Freidrichs case looming next year, that they would feel the need to engage with members over concerns and criticism rather than just do the usual insult/dismissal game, but it seems, given the Casey pushback to the Clinton endorsement decision, this will not be the case.

Instead we are being told if AFT members don't like the decision, they can leave the union and go elsewhere.

It will be interesting to see how many take Leo up on his invitation if the Supreme Court rules against unions in the Freidrichs case.

I'm betting many will.

And then AFT leaders will call these people names, claim they are anti-union or whatever, instead of thinking, "You know, maybe we can't run the union the way we always have anymore, maybe we actually, you know, have to listen to members instead of just dismiss them and do what we want..."

It is a real shame that the AFT leadership does not seem to see the disaster that is coming down the pike if they continue to run the union for their own benefit, ambition and aggrandizement.

As I wrote earlier, I won't stop paying dues nor take Leo up on his invitation to leave the AFT but given the disenfrachisement many rank and filers feel toward the union, I would bet many others do.

The AFT leadership believes itself untouchable, what with the rigged election processes wherein loyalty oaths and dished out perks and privileges are used to keep the union functionaries in lie and continue to support the leadership.

But see how well that works if and when the rank and file are given a choice to pay dues or not.


  1. Perhaps all part of the plan to destroy the union? Keep pissing off members until they can't take it any longer knowing this court decision would finish the plan off

    I really believe Randi was made a deal she couldn't refuse to take the union down from the inside

  2. All NYSUT members are also members of a true democracy: NEA. At the NEA RA this month, delegates elected by secret ballot in all state organizations (except in NYSUT), were acting in a democratic structure they control. Beware attempts by Randi/Michael/AFT/UFT to take over NEA. Maybe the answer to Leo's challenge is to create a new state affiliate.

  3. I do not support Hillary Clinton. Nobody at the AFT asked me or anyone I know. Nobody at the AFT cares one iota what the rank and file think. The AFT is advising members to leave the union. I am not leaving the union. The union is leaving me.

    Abigail Shure

  4. It sounds a lot like "Let them eat cake".

  5. Weingarten surely has an action plan already in place in the event union dues are ruled arbitrary. We know her, she is fifty steps ahead, always looking for ways to get the most and best deal for herself. Of that we can be absolutely certain. She has her bases covered.

  6. Randi knows if she goes along with the scheme to destroy union and privatize public education, she gets to live the 1% life.

  7. Excuse me? I should leave the Union because I don't endorse Hillary like you do? Why don't YOU leave the Union Ms. Weingarten. It is WE the people whose opinions matter, not yours. You have it backwards. What a sociopathic coincidence.

  8. Take the Leo Casey Challenge! Join ST Caucus!

  9. How can a UFT member join the ST Caucus?

  10. Go to the Stronger Together website or Facebook page.

  11. Never realized Leo Casey is a complete asshole. Thanks for the post and the reality.

  12. "You're free to leave the Union." That's a brilliant statement when one considers what the Supreme Court is about to hear. Might (oh hell- it will) come back to bite them hard.

  13. I think they do want dissidents to leave the union - they would rather have a smaller union that they control absolutely than a bigger democratic union they might lose control of.

  14. Some interesting points- that perhaps Randi is part of some corporatist scheme to bring unions down from the inside? After all, she was never exactly a teacher, but is a lawyer.

    Weingarten must be aware of the Friedrichs case, and as Norm said, might want a smaller union so that she can keep control over the members that do stay.

    Looking at the remarks that Leo Casey has made to union members, it's quite possible that there is a plan underneath all of the hijinks we've experienced under Weingarten and her Unity crowd.