Sunday, February 27, 2011

Methinks Thou Doth Protest Too Little

As disgusting as it is that Obama has yet to find his comfortable shoes and join the protests in Wisconsin to save the precious collective bargaining rights of unions, it is even more unsettling that Michael Mulgrew and the UFT have been virtually invisible on this issue as well.

Let's face it--with teachers off this week in NYC, it would have been a perfect opportunity for Mulgrew to stage a massive demonstration on the steps of City Hall. We could have rallied in defense of Wisconsin public employees and shown the city how Bloomberg and Gov. Walker are cut from the same cloth.

I was waiting this week, my comfortable shoes at the ready, for an email from the UFT or my chapter leader announcing the time and place that we'd show our solidarity with our union brothers and sisters, and at the same time show NY legislators the fight they'd be in for should they try that shit here. I'd have been there in a heartbeat, as I'm sure thousands of my fellow teachers would have been.

But I got no email. Yes, there was a protest. You can read about it on the UFT website. The problem was that as far as I can tell, the leadership forgot the rather basic step of informing the membership that there was a rally. I didn't find out about it until the day after it happened, which sharply reduced my chance of getting there on time. A whopping 200 people showed up--about the same number you can get to watch a Three Card Monte game on a Manhattan street corner. It was pathetic.

So what's the deal? Why is the UFT so afraid to organize its own members to protest what's going on in Wisconsin, Rhode Island, and NYC? If this isn't a pivotal moment in union history, what is?

I'm starting to believe the UFT wants us to feel powerless, disorganized, and helpless. That's what helps them maintain an iron grip on their own power. An organized, informed, and motivated membership might not only question the ed deform movement, but the actions of the union itself. That could lead to--gasp--democracy!

Instead, the membership is encouraged to sit on our collective behinds while 2000 Providence teachers are terminated, while 70,000 Wisconsinites fight for their rights, and while Randi Weingarten once again sells us down the river by proposing an evaluation system that would terminate teachers even faster.

The Republicans and deformers are in their endgame, and we have not yet begun to fight. What the hell are we waiting for? Mr. Obama and Mr. Mulgrew--thousands of teachers and I are waiting, Dr. Scholl's insoles at the ready, for the call to action.

Where are you?



Michael Fiorillo said...

If you're waiting for Obama to actively support working people, you'll be waiting a very long time, as one of his primary purposes is to divert resistance into apathy or harmless efforts such as internet petitions and so forth.

I hope i am wrong, but it is almost inconceivable for me to picture Obama actually doing something that would offend the Chamber of Commerce and the financial interests that put him in office.

Sorry, but Labor is on its own here, and must force the Democrats to support it because they fear a mobilized populace more than threats of hedge funders cutting off campaign checks.

Pogue said...

There was a pretty big pro-union/Support Wisconsin rally at City Hall yesterday. Charles Rangel, Bill DeBlasio and others spoke. Several thousand were from many unions across the state and NJ. Thus...

A. You're right. An email from the UFT might have made this event bigger.

B. Not a mention at all of it in the Daily News.

C. Our union leadership is quietly waiting to get their marching orders from Bloomberg/Cuomo.

D. There is no fight in them as long as they're making great money and receiving fantastic perks.

E. Check, please, waiter.

Pissedoffteacher said...

I felt the same way when I read about the rally. I just returned home from a day in Manhattan and would gladly have made that rally my first stop of the day.

Ms. Tsouris said...

Whenever the UFT has a "rally", it ends up either being co opted or not publicized. The UFT DOES NOT WANT TO TAKE ACTION OF ANY KIND against the enemies of teachers and middle class workers. Union officers are busy collecting 2 salaries, 2 pensions, lots of "favors" as a result of their unholy collaboration, and our $100 per month rip off union dues. Our union does not even have a strike fund, with all its millions of dollars. Not one press release or full page ad, with all those millions of dollars the UFT collects in dues.

Anonymous said...

Once the membership moves, the union leaders will follow. Isn't that what happened when groupwork and rearrangement of desks in our classrooms was pushed down on us.
We must stop waiting for our UFT leadership to lead. They will not!
We must act on our own! We don't need them to organize. We have other means at our disposal. (The internet, our chapters etc.)

Anonymous said...

Obama is afraid. He won Wisconsin last election. He doesn't want to rock the boat. BIG mistake on his part. And Mulgrew is weak too. He'll probably support Randi's plan by next week to get us fired faster. aaggghhh.

Ms. Tsouris said...

We need to form a Labor Party that will once again truly represent the interests of working people, not turn them against one another.

Don said...

I was at the rally and there were thousands of us there. But no UFT big wigs. I too was shocked that I did not hear anything about it from the Union. What is going on?

Jewish School said...

Thank you for posting and for bringing attention to this issue. It is saddening to think of so many people losing their jobs and the families/children that are impacted. Best of luck to all involved in this struggle. Keep standing up for what is right.

Michael Dunn said...

Michael Fiorillo is right. Obama and our union bosses want this to all blow over quickly, hopefully with collective bargaining and union bureacracies intact.

Union support across the country has been weak and cynical. The support demos have mostly been small, with tedious ramblings by union hacks about "solidarity," but no true solidarity (e.g., sympathy strikes).

The unions main concern is maintaining their ability to collect our dues to fund Democratic party hacks. The last thing they or their politician buddies want is a general strike that cripples business or a militant work force that demands that the rich pay for the federal and state fiscal crises.