Friday, November 26, 2010
How To Beat Unity And The UFT
This past March we had UFT elections. Somehow, someway, Unity received 91% of the vote. How could that have been with over two thousand ATR's, almost a thousand Rubber Room inmates, conditions worse than they ever were, and a leadership that seems dumb, deaf and blind to the rank and file?
This past Tuesday night I interviewed Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union on my radio show. Karen and her group CORE managed to beat the entrenched leadership of the CTU. Unfortunately, I was not able to specifically get into how CORE won, but one point Karen made was that change starts at the bottom, at the school level. I agree with her, and that is what needs to be done. But, we can affect the change at the top which will trickled down to the school level and I have given this a lot of thought over some months on how it can be done.
1. ICE/TJC needs to select a candidate for president now.
Why should we wait until late 2012 or early 2013? We need to choose the best candidate for the job now. This person needs to be a shadow to Mulgrew. Whenever Mulgrew makes a proclamation, our candidate come out with a retort. Get the name and face out there, and NOW!
2. Once a candidate is chosen, start the fund raising immediately.
Bake sales, car washes, happy hour mixers, whatever it takes raise the money. It can be done, but that is why we need to start this several years ahead of time.
3. Direct mail
Yes, the old Karl Rove ploy. But it works. Radio ads are nice, so is free publicity. But teachers as a whole are lazy, especially the younger ones. At the very least we can get the mailing least of the UFT paper. Once we have all the names, addresses, etc... direct mail can be targeted to young teachers, minorities, teachers nearing retirement, teachers that are reassigned, etc.... Put Unity on the defensive.
4. Newbie teachers
This is a difficult group. The younglings of today have not been brought up in a world in which there have not been strong unions. We need to explain how even if at this point in their careers they feel they are fine with things, that one day they can become a target and will want that union there for them.
5. District leaders
Identify one person in each district that can organize other teachers. These "district leaders" can then get one person in each school in the district to get information out to the teachers in each school. Meet once a month to discuss what is and isn't working. Constantly adapt to what to what needs to be done.
We need someone down there to speak to the retired chapter frequently, to explain our positions, to listen to their concerns.
7. See #5
If this is done early enough each school organizer can be a de facto candidate for chapter leader in 2012. If we start early each "school leader" can shadow the CL, can be a person the staff comes to as well. Start showing that they can get things done as well.
8. Reach out to other unions in the City.
The TWU seems pretty radical. Might they be of assistance? It doesn't hurt to try. The other municipal unions need to realize that once the City is done with us, they will go after the other unions.
I know this might simplistic, or easier said than done. But I truly believe that Unity is ripe to be plucked. The pushback needs to start now, and not just in a small way. We need to announce our presence with authority.