SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: The Time is Now for Transparency at the UFT Delegate Assembly

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Time is Now for Transparency at the UFT Delegate Assembly

I have been a UFT delegate for about a year now. In fact my first meeting was the
"emergency meeting" that was held when the new contract was agreed upon. I think I went to that a little headstrong and spoke when I should've listened, but everything is a learning curve.

But one thing I would like to see is the Delegate Assembly meetings become much, much, more transparent to the rank and file. The DA is for all intents and purposes is like Congress, right? Wait, bad example. Is like the New England Town meeting? Help.

Yes, any rank and file member off the street can come to a DA meeting and observe. But one can only observe in an inhospitable room on the 19th floor with through closed circuit TV, with a grainy analog picture. In this day and age should there not be at least a clear digital picture?

Why isn't the Delegate Assembly streamed live? The UFT website and app, Facebook, Periscope, and Twitter (Am I leaving anything out?), can all be used to show the UFT in action but more importantly get more teachers involved in the process as well as giving the rank and file more ownership. Where would we be as citizens without C-Span if Congress was allowed to operate without cameras? Yeah, poor example.

The voting process can use tweaking. When a resolution is voted on delegates hold aloft their voting cards. Nothing is counted. That's hard. What's easy is to say something passes by proclamation by just seeing a lot of cards being held up.

The UFT has an app. Can there not be a delegates only section on the app? And in this delegates only section delegates would be able to vote yay or nay on any resolution? This can be done. Heck, I have seen it done with lesser technology. This way, each vote would be secret as well as have an accurate count.

Lastly, why do I as a delegate get an advanced copy of the topics of each Delegate Assembly? Why must the rank and file be in the dark? Again, the outlets for the UFT to share the DA agenda with the rank and file are limitless. It's time this agenda was shared ahead of time (Click to enlarge if need be).

Yeah, it's nice to support the Hurricane Dorian victims and to raise the awareness of the 2020 census. I get it. I have no problem with the resolution supporting the UAW in their strike. But again, the point is being missed.

Where are the bread and butter issues and issues that effect the communities? What's going on with hiring ATRs permanently? What about abusive administrators? Useless chapter leaders? Lack of school nurses? Bus issues? Gifted and Talented? Specialized high schools? Retaining UFT members (I know I am leaving plenty off)? If there were a clothing drive for Dorian victims I would do what I could. If someone was needed to go door to door to raise awareness of the census, I would. But first things must be first. And that is simply our teachers, our communities, and our union and other unions.

The UFT has been taking baby steps. First with the app, and of course, with the concierge service. Let's have full transparency. It's time.


Jeff Kaufman said...

Incredibly naive. It is hard to believe it took you a year to seek transparency. While transparency is wonderful goal our Union has lacked any sense of democracy for many years. Decisions are top down and, even if by some chance you get an opportunity to raise a motion or comment you will never get anywhere. The UFT needs teacher delegates, not sycophants. It's sad but little will change with a couple of woke members pleading to speak to the oracle.

Pete Zucker said...

Jeff, I'm far from naive. And just because I wrote about it now doesn't mean I only now realize it. I noticed all this at my first DA meeting. So don't call me naive.

Thank you. Have a nice day. Oh, I agree with everything else you wrote!

James Eterno said...

I don't think you are naive Peter. When Portelos, Al Zucker and I put in a Department of Labor complaint about ATRs having no representation at the DA in 2014, we lost. The DOL acknowledged that the DA was a policy making body according to the UFT Constitution so they asked me to send in several months worth of DA minutes.

After reviewing those minutes, the Department of Labor concluded that the DA makes no policy so it does not fall under federal law. Therefore, rules of union democracy don't apply to the DA. Looking at the agenda you sent for October, nothing has changed. The DA still does not make UFT policy even though it is empowered by the UFT Constitution to do so.

The only way any of this will be any different is if it is more than just you Peter, Jeff Kaufman, a few others and me demanding it. It must be a large group of delegates. Organizing is key.