Sunday, October 11, 2009

Man in the Mirror

Who does Michael Mulgrew see when he looks in the mirror? Does he see the newly minted president of a once powerful labor organization, or does he see....Randi Weingarten?

The question isn't a frivolous one. Whenever anyone takes over the helm of a huge operation--from Barack Obama on down--they must ask themselves whether they intend to steer the ship in their own direction or passively allow it to float along the same course. In Mulgrew's case, doing the latter would place the UFT on the same metaphorical path as the Titanic. Because Randi stood on the bow and said, "Iceberg? What iceberg?", we need Mulgrew to say, "Let's right this ship."

In my view, Randi went off course when she decided that she could please everyone and be conciliatory. The press and politicians heaped praise on her and she ate it up, gobbling up as much power and influence as she could along the way. She always had her sights on bigger goals, such as the AFT presidency she now holds. She even came close to being a senator and the Ed Secretary, all because she saw compromise as the path to her own personal triumph.

To get back on course, Mulgrew must--starting with this contract--redefine the role of UFT president. He must realize and act upon the idea that he is working for teachers--not the city, and not the children of New York. His one and only resposibilty is to strengthen the union by making sure teachers have respect, decent pay, security, and a reasonable work environment. If we really want to benefit children, the best way to do so is to make sure that we have a dedicated pool of qualified teachers who are happy to come in and do their jobs each and every day.

Now is the time, Mr. Mulgrew. To wait is to go further off course and make the turn around much more difficult. Remember who you work for, Mr. Mulgrew, and remember who it is you want to see in the mirror every morning.


Chaz said...

I can't agree more with you. However, don't count on Michael Mulgrew doing that.

NY_I said...

Why doesn't he look for Albert Shanker in the mirror? If the rights of teachers were under attack Shanker would mobilize the union to stand strong together, in solidarity.
Would Shanker stand for the selling out of the ATRs? Mulgrew ought to consider that, considering his longevity, he could be an ATR, if he did not have the saving grace of being a UFT high official.
Let's hope that he ponder the legacy and the strong spine of Shanker when he meets the DoE side in the coming contract negotiations. Aside from the contract talks, let' hope that he acts as a true advocate and he asks for an audit-like inquiry into the true hiring patterns of principals since August, as I have proposed in my last blog post.