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?