Shuffleboard on the Titanic
Unity hinders elected candidates, and doesn't give a damn how members are served.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew moves people here and there with no regard whatsoever for democracy. Whether members are served or not plays no part whatsoever in his calculations. The only important thing for him, and his jaded, cynical Unity Caucus, is retaining power.
Given Mulgrew’s idiotic string of decisions selling out health care, his pissing away over half the stabilization fund for nothing, his costly givebacks to the mayor, not to mention his attempts to hobble the care of first retirees, and then in service members, it’s debatable whether or not his actions are fueled by paranoia, justifiable fear, or both. But the results are the same.
Mulgrew’s moved a few of the pieces on his board, and he feels no compunction to share why with lowly duespayers. The most outrageous was the reassignment of Amy Arundell. Whatever offense she may have committed in the recesses of the Mulgrew Mind, she was extraordinarily energetic and ready to help members. This is a quality valued not at all by the Unity patronage mill. Plus, her effectiveness made a whole lot of the trough-slurping loyalists look bad. After all, the practiced ability to kiss Mulgrew’s ass with sufficient devotion rarely translates to effectiveness at one’s ostensible job.
There are a few other pieces on the Mulgrew checker board that have been relocated. I’m hearing that David Kazansky, another person guilty of actually assisting members, has been relocated to AFT, where it won’t matter whether or not he showed support for Arundell. Hector Ruiz, a para rep who’s gone out of his way to help members, was also reassigned somewhere, and not put up again for his elected position.
And alas, as for Hector, the person Unity picked to replace him went and lost the election to Migda Rodriguez. That means not only is she not going to kiss Mulgrew’s ass the way he likes, but she isn’t even obliged to. This notwithstanding, in a show of actual democracy, the members selected her, elected her.
But unlike the Unity people who were placed there by Mulgrew, all of whom are working at 52 Broadway, Rodriguez is working as a full-time paraprofessional. There is simply no way she can serve the members who elected her as she works a full-time job. Paraprofessionals work pretty much all day, with only a lunch break, following students. To make ends meet, I know a lot of them who must work second jobs.
That’s not the case, of course, if Michael Mulgrew decides you need to be over at 52 Broadway. Paraprofessionals can make twice as much money doing Whatever It Is they do over there. Serving the members? I guess that’s fine as long as you don’t make too big a thing over it. The important thing for UFT Unity is loyalty to Dear Leader Mulgrew. That’s why they make you sign an oath swearing you’ll do the following:
To express criticism of caucus policies within the Caucus;
To support the decisions of Caucus / Union leadership in public or Union forums;
To support in Union elections only those individuals who are endorsed by the Caucus, and to actively campaign for his / her election;
To run for Union office only with the support of the caucus;
To serve, if elected to Union office, in a manner consistent with Union / Caucus policies and to give full and faithful service in that office;
You know what I don't see there? I don’t see “assist members.” I don’t see “do the right thing for members.” I don’t see “improve working conditions.” I don’t see “fight for wages that meet or beat inflation.” And I most certainly do not see, “maintain or improve health care,” as Michael Mulgrew battles to throw all of us to the dogs, concurrently demanding we trust him.
So Migda Rodriguez is precluded from doing her job. That’s par for the course for UFT Unity. Rodriguez may labor under the misconception that her job is to help her brother and sister paraprofessionals. Actually, the job of every UFT employee is to maintain and promote the hegemony of the Unity Caucus. So what if you’re on hold for an hour and a half? So what if the person who eventually spoke to you gave you crap advice?
UFT employees are not required to help you. They are required to help Michael Mulgrew maintain his position and salary. That is the prime directive. And if Unity members fail to do that job as well as expected, they’re relegated to the UFT basement to count paper clips, or make paper airplanes, or watch Netflix on their iPhones.
Rodriguez is not the first to be sidelined for the offense of being elected without Mulgrew’s permission. Melissa Willams was elected to lead the OT/PT chapter, specifically because she supported the membership goal to achieve parity with teachers. She was hindered in every way possible. She was not even allowed to freely communicate with members, having her messages censored by a Unity VP.
When OT/PT once again voted down a contract, Mulgrew said the mayor didn’t feel like renegotiating, did nothing to change that, and presented them with the same old thing. Disheartened, they gave in. This is a remarkably ineffective way to encourage faith in union, let alone participation. Williams stepped down in disgust from the job she was never allowed to do.
Meanwhile, who’s representing you? Who’s serving you?
No one, that’s who. Because if anyone is elected on an agenda like that, Michael Mulgrew will personally do everything within his power to make their job impossible.
Keep that in mind during chapter elections this spring.