January 23, 2010

Which side are they on?

People keep talking about the big protest the UFT is mounting this Tuesday at Klein's PEP meeting at Brooklyn Tech, and no doubt lots of people are making it their business to be there.

But I've been trying to figure out what's up with the demonstration the UFT has been planning for the day before — up in the Bronx at the Courthouse. You know which one I mean?

I'm not surprised if you don't.

The Bronx reps have been trying to get all the members to come out for it, and I did what I could to drum up support. I put their flyer up in the right sidebar last week and told everyone to show up: Your school could be next, senior teachers will kiss their careers goodbye, local communities are getting hammered, parent and teacher voices silenced — all that stuff.

I'm thinking it's time to remind everyone to be there at the Courthouse in droves on Monday afternoon, but what more can I tell people about it?

The short answer is not much, and that's because UFT management doesn't seem to be all that committed to this thing. I checked.
I looked on the UFT website. Nothing on the front page, nothing when I searched a whole slew of key words.

I looked on the District 11 website under "District News." The most recent event there was something back in May 08.

I wrote one of the DRs asking for more details. Their very brief response was a rationale for the choice of location (it's central and Diaz's office is there), it's on school closings, it's a community effort, but no details. No mention of which politicians will be solicited or involved, no mention of the speakers.
Even the alert we got this morning from Mulgrew is silent on the Monday rally, you can see for yourself:

Are these people kidding?

Proof of Life's comment on a GEM post is actually perfect:
There will be buses at the Bronx Boro office to take people to the PEP Rally. However, if you're not Unity you may have to hide your signs!
Because I'm just about ready to recycle some of my biggest and best anti-Unity signs. There's no excuse for their inability to send me info on what I need to be telling people.

The times they are a-changing, and UFT managers will eventually have to decide "Which Side Are They On."
(Click on the picture at the top and hear a great version of that song.)

Mr. Seeger, this time it's a whole different set of bosses we have to worry about.

If you haven't already, check out these links to see how grassroots ed activists in five boroughs are putting on protests without a dime in the piggybank. Then tell me if we're getting our money's worth paying the UFT to fight for our profession and for public education.

Ednotes: video clip on the protest at Bloomberg's residence

In the video at 2:42: Civil rights lawyer Norm Siegel went to court to get this rally a permit to march in front of the mayor's house. Beaten down on appeal, the rally took place on the south side, but Siegel's not going to drop the pressure. Bloomberg's residence is a private house, and citizens have First Amendment rights that this billionaire mayor seems to think don't apply.

At 6:30: Seung Ok (delegate at Maxwell, one of the schools they're closing, and running with ICE in the March election):
"We are here to prove to the mayor that he is not the civil rights leader in education that he claims to be. We are proving to him that we are the people. Parents, teachers, students and neighborhoods, and we have to decide how our children get their education. We need a mayor, not a billionaire!"

At 8:00: James Eterno (chapter leader of Jamaica HS, also being closed, and ICE candidate for president):
"It is an outrage that our schools are being threatened. We're here to say Public Education: YES, Privatization: NO, and Charterization: NO. We're taking it to Brooklyn, and then beyond that!"

At 9:20: Angel Gonzalez (one of the founders of GEM):
"Klein's PEP is a puppet organization for Bloomberg."

More pictures on the GEM blog of all the protests that group has mounted or participated in since last spring. The video of the 79th St. protest here.

Gonzalez's analysis on the UFT's "empty rhetoric" — a must-read at this link. He says:
But there is no evidence of one single UFT educational and analytical flier at any of the recent local school "closings" protests or hearings!
and concludes that:
[The] UFT continues to utilize strategies that historically have failed education and instead have benefited the corporate powers' neoliberal agendas and the officialdom's pockets. Strategies that have focused primarily on either:
— legal-judicial wrangling
— endorsing & financing politicians
— legislative reforms
— being at the table or in bed with management or corporate heads
have brought us to the sorry state we are in. Millions of member dollars wasted to bring us to this sorry state we are in. It took about a decade to get a CFE ruling that produced more dollars for the DOE privatization drive. The recently announced "Small Class Size Lawsuit" will again fail and drag on for years without a member-based strategy.

It's not a small thing that this same rally was covered by two national sites, the Huffington Post (with a nice picture of the GEM banner) and ArtAnd Struggle.com (with a great video).

Make no bones about it: The grassroots activists are leading this fight.
The UFT managers might be just going along with us for a very short ride.


  1. NY1.com is broadcasting the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) vote on Tuesday, Jan. 27. (I'm wondering: by scheduling the vote for Tuesday, not Monday, are they inherently indicating that they are feeling some pressure from the community?)
    Unfortunately, no word on exact time, --day or evening?
    See their site at: http://www.ny1.com/1-all-boroughs-news-content/news_beats/education/112494/without-paul-robeson--many-students-will-have-their-needs-unmet/

  2. I want to say I really appreciated this quote so much that I decided to link to your blog on mine:
    "The times they are a-changing, and UFT managers will eventually have to decide 'Which Side Are They On.' [. . .] Mr. Seeger, this time it's a whole different set of bosses we have to worry about."