Monday, March 12, 2007

Election Week in NYC!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the democratic process is alive an' well in NYC's teacher union, the United Federation of Teachers, also known as the UFT. This 60,000 plus strong teaching force has had a number of different caucuses, or teachers united around different platforms for many years. This week is election week, and the ballots have been mailed out; soo they will be mailed back in. Who will win?

The major players?

Unity. Current President Randi Weingarten's caucus. They've been in existence since 1962 and in power for quite some time, and she's running for reelection. A frequent criticism of Unity is that they are a monolithic organization that uses patronage to cultivate allegiances and loyalty at the expense of the rank and file.

New Action. Existing since the 60's, it is the second-longest current caucus in the UFT. It has endorsed Weingarten's incumbency and relection bid, refusing to run its own Presidential candidate. A frequent criticism of New Action is that they are a puppet organization beholden to the interests of Unity, without any real individual identity.

ICE. The Independent Community of Educators caucus has only been around since 2003, but it is running Kit Wainer for President. They've also linked with TJC to create a slate of candidates to counter Unity and New Action. A repeated criticism of ICE is their derogatory nickname on New Action and Unity sites, "I Complain Everytime".

TJC. Teachers for a Just Contract bills itself as the opposition and an alternative, and has existed in one form or another for over ten years making it the heir to New Action's opposition status. A criticism of TJC is that their name stands for "Teachers Just Complain", highlighting what opponents say is an ability to criticize but not to mobilize.

Disclaimer: This post isn't partisan. I'm not in NYC, nor do I belong to or support any particular caucus. I just wanted to show some differences between the major caucuses. I love all y'all New Yorkers. Keep on truckin'.


Anonymous said...

By reading blogs you might only pick up criticism of New Action. If you were a member, you would more likely have run into New Action as members of the Organizing Committee, coming into schools where the union chapter is weak or non-existant, and helping teach teachers to stand up for their rights.

New Action's focus on strengthening the union, rather than on yelling at the leaders, upsets ICE/TJC.

You'd think from the blogs by ICE and its supporters that New Action was some behemoth. Were it so! We will win a handful of exec board seats, no more.

But we have been getting our message out. Unity has listened, some. The membership has listened, a lot. And even ICE has listened a little.

It is important that we leave this election committed to building the most basic UFT institutions: our chapters. It is more important than any details about the voting results.

(I am running for office on the New Action slate. It is not an office I have any chance of winning).

Anonymous said...


some of the rhetoric gets ugly.

You wrote: "A repeated criticism of ICE is their derogatory nickname on New Action and Unity sites, "I Complain Everytime"."

New Action opposes ICE, but unlike ICE and Unity, we do not resort to mischaracterizing opponents positions. We certainly do not name call. A piece of Unity literature does use the derogatory label you mention above.

For New Action's critique of ICE, you can read ICE Melts Away.

Despite the cutesy title, there is no derogatory name calling, just a hard look at an unimpressive record.


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