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Amy Arundell Is the Best Unity Has to Offer
So of course they've reassigned her.
It’s very hard to be a chapter leader. It’s particularly hard when you represent a huge school with hundreds of members. One of the most humbling experiences in my life was my first day as chapter leader. I walked around and people bombarded me with questions, very few of which I could answer.
In fact, the only time I found relief back then was when I entered the classroom. Holy crap, I thought, I really know what I’m doing right now. It gave me a new appreciation for teaching. But I still had to figure out this chapter leader stuff.
Being in opposition, I had a few friends who had much more experience than I did. They were helpful. One day, though, I got a call from UFT’s Amy Arundell. She’s very brave, I thought. I had been writing the most awful things about her caucus, but she called anyway.
She demanded I help get an ATR teacher a job. For reasons I will not share here, this particular ATR teacher was having trouble finding one. However, Amy said, this is a super teacher. I managed to get the teacher into my school, and my supervisor agreed absolutely. For what it’s worth, I’ve observed this teacher and I too agree. We had a few bumps along the way, but now this teacher is appointed at Francis Lewis High School.
In 12 years as chapter leader, that was one of best things I’d ever done. I’ve done other things, and I’m certain some members appreciate them more. But Amy Arundell, with every reason to expect I would bite her head off, called me, and made a direct demand of me. She, I, and my supervisor, potential adversaries on multiple levels, worked together to accomplish something worthwhile.
This Amy Arundell owes me, I thought. So when a member had an issue, I called her. She helped. Another member had an issue. I called, she helped. My District Rep. didn’t return my call. I called her. She helped. She came to our school and spoke, many times. This could be a long, long paragraph, but Amy Arundell became my absolute go to for all things UFT. And believe me, when you represent 400 people, those things are beyond frequent.
Amy Arundell does not shrink from a fight. I know well, because I’ve disagreed with her long and loud. I’ve had her screaming in my face, though for the life of me I cannot recall why at the moment. When I told her about it, she said, “Well, if I was screaming at you, there must’ve been a very good reason!”
When others on opposition blogs wrote about this or that issue in the union, I would call Amy. She would fix them if she could. Of course, not every issue has a successful resolution. With Amy, though, it would never be for lack of trying. She sometimes describes herself as a “worker bee.” I can’t argue with that. I don’t know when or if she sleeps. I do know she’s one of the smartest, and one of the most resourceful people working for the union.
Sadly, there’s another side of this coin. I was on the UFT Executive Board for six years. I’ve watched people lie outright, with no regard as to how outlandish their tales were, in order to kiss Michael Mulgrew’s ass ever so softly. I’ve seen more than one of those people get promoted to full-time union jobs. Those people vocally support everything the Unity Caucus says to, no matter what.
Oppose Jamal Bowman for the Democratic nomination? Fine. Support Serphin Maltese, who broke two Catholic school unions? Great. Support virulently homophobic Fernando Cabrera? Where do I get my bumper sticker?
Good luck getting one of those people to answer a question about a problem you have on the job. Want to know why it’s so hard to get a phone answered at UFT these days? Think of all those people sitting around with no answers, too busy writing love letters to Mulgrew to bother picking up.
Amy worked her ass off for me, for you, and for just about anyone who bothered to ask her. She was never too busy to help anyone. Before she showed up as Queens Borough Representative, you’d file a grievance and it would end up in a black hole somewhere. You’d wait months. You’d wait years. Sometimes they’d come back and the point was moot. Amy came in and made the DRs ask you what happened with this or that grievance.
Smart. Efficient. Tireless.
Unity doesn’t know anything about union. Unity says they “do the work,” but WE do the work. When we finally locate someone who will help us, no matter what, they remove that person.
We need new leadership. We need to hire MORE people like Amy Arundell. And we need to promote them, not remove them.