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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Is Spending $599,200 to Feed and House 800 Rubber Stamps in Buffalo Really a Good Use of Our Union's Money?

Did you know our U.F.T. will now award $749 to each of our 800 loyalty-oath swearing delegates to pay their expenses related to travel, lodging, food and "incidentals" as they attend the NYSUT Conference in Buffalo, NY, April 30th-May 2nd of this year?  Shame to spend so much money when we already know how the 800 will vote.  They will do exactly as instructed by UFT-Unity leadership.  They will use their combined weight to stifle the voice of teachers across the State.  Sometimes they will be in line with the majority and other times they decidedly will not.  Voting as a bloc, they will control NYSUT and they will control the AFT.  Strange days, indeed, for democracy!  And, I would guess it is all done with the blessing, if not the specific orchestration, of AFT President Randi Weingarten.  Most peculiar, Mama!

Leo Casey of U.F.T.-Unity once justified this system as follows:

"To honor their democratic decisionmaking [sic] processes, some parties and caucuses adopt an understanding that is known as cabinet rule in the British parliamentary system: Once a democratic decision has been made within the party or caucus, its members are obliged to not oppose it in Parliament.[2] If the matter in question is one of fundamental principle, one can always leave the party or caucus and oppose it. In my view, this understanding is essential for a caucus to function as a democratic body."

Strange understanding of democracy, especially when fearful people fall into line or duty spells silent acceptance combined with a failure to question leadership.  There is an illustrative pattern here. It happens regularly at the Delegate Assembly where "parliamentary rules" are purposefully manipulated to squash democracy.  Someone proposes an idea (realize that many delegates fail to be called upon; some are shut down by the Speaker, occasionally a mic is turned off); let's say Mike Schirtzer manages to obtain the mic with an I-Refuse resolution.    

Next, a big hitter from Unity steps up to deliver the party line.  Chances are this bigwig does not actively teach in a classroom.  Chances are much of the junk coming down the line to teachers will never touch this bigwig.  Unity members, then fall into line.  Some fear losing handsome perks and, perhaps, a double-pensioned job in union offices.  Others take great pride in following orders and prefer to be referred to as part-time parliamentarians.  They vote as a herd.  Democracy is a charade.  Mistakes start at the top.  (Sometimes they involve being too cosy with the very "big-bucked" people who would destroy you, if possible.)  Mistakes then rain down upon the rest of us.  No rainbows follow.
Sometimes embarrassment reigns supreme and our Union admits a faux pas, albeit late in the game.  The AFT once received generous donations from the Gates Foundation Innovation Fund.  I'm sure it helps one see the rosy side of the Core.   Upon being exposed at the NPE Conference last year in Dallas, those financial ties were severed.  

In order to win the hearts of the Common-Core enthusiasts leading our Union and, perhaps, save us a small fortune, I have created a word problem to illustrate the financial predicament posed by the funding of 800 rubber stamps.  It is meant for third graders.  Notice I show all my work.  (No need to show votes--when they are all the same.)  
Part I:
If 800 U.F.T.-Unity delegates are each given $749 for attending the NYSUT conference in Buffalo, New York, how much union money will be spent to finance this trip? 

800 X $749 =                  800 X $700 +                 $560,000
                                        800 X   $40 +                    $32,000
                                        800 X     $9                         $7,200

                                                           Answer =   $599,200

(Note:  I used the partial-product method my daughter regularly uses for her homework.)

Part II:
How much money could be saved if only one U.F.T.-Unity member attended the conference and delivered the 800 identical votes to which our representatives are bound--given their loyalty oaths?


-      $749


Now, stop to consider that U.F.T.-Unity has such faith in its peculiar form of democracy to increase the voting power of its retirees (who do not vote in most labor unions) prior to the last elections.  Whereas retiree votes had once been capped at 18,000, the number was raised in 2012 to 21,813.  This measure helped solidify Mulgrew's victory.  38% of retirees voted; only 17% of active members voted.  More than half of Mulgrew's votes came from retirees.  

In recognition that Mulgrew is a very busy man and most retirees have a little more time on their hands,  I propose we allow a retiree to deliver our 800 votes in his or her free time.  I imagine many members would be pleased to do so gratis.  Imagine what a bigwig one would be walking through the door with eight-hundred signed and sealed ballots in hand that all say the same thing.  What an amazing parliamentarian!  And, just imagine what a hero that one parliamentarian would be, saving membership almost $600,000!  

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