Thursday, April 19, 2018

The UFT Deal With Cuomo: Good For Teachers

If you're not paying attention to the Cynthia Nixon campaign challenging Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic Party nomination for Governor later this year, you should. The comings and goings of that political melodrama have implications that could greatly affect teachers in New York City and beyond.

What's at stake? Progressives in New York, which include real progressives, as well as extreme New York leftists, are supporting a challenger to Cuomo. She's famous, competent, quite brilliant and, from what I have read, her campaign is scaring the Cuomo camp half to death.

The recent developments are what teachers should be paying attention to.

The legitimate political tent for the progressive agenda in New York is a political party called Working Families Party (WFP). This is a party that has its own line on the ballot but usually supports whichever Democratic candidate has been nominated.  The NYC Mayor has great influence in this party.  Four years ago, with de Blasio support, the WFP party supported Andrew Cuomo for reelection. This year, as the feud between the mayor and the governor have boiled over into an outright inter-party conflict, the mayor -and  the WFP- have supported Cynthia Nixon.

The governor's response was to use his influence to cut the legs out from underneath the Working Families Party by going after their funding. This is the part teachers should be paying attention to.

In order to do this, the governor used his influence with the city and state's larger labor unions. They held a meeting with other labor unions and essentially threatened those unions to stop funding the organizations that help the WFP. 

Not only was the UFT one of the unions to side with the governor, they hosted the meeting. In fact, our president threw a veiled threat out to the other unions who may have wanted to side with progressives:

“My only concern is some reckless behavior that will have an unintended consequence of us ending up with a Republican governor,” Mr. Mulgrew said. “When these elections are over, we will judge any decision we have to make off your behavior if you caused bad things to happen — even though it was not your intent you are responsible for them.”


I'll be voting for Nixon in the primary because that's just where my politics are. I'm no extreme-radical-left-guy but I'm progressive and I like to vote for progressives whenever I can (I also like my coffee with half and half but I don't think that matters much here either).

TONS more important than who I should be voting for is how this "UFT HAS SIDED WITH CUOMO" meme will effect us as teachers. This is all about policy. So how does this affect policy?

The Daily News, calling the Nixon challenge and WFP endorsement a "left crack up", has noted that this agreement now means that the governor and the unions (unions like ours) will now be lockstep in policy.

"Meantime, Cuomo, in consolidating power, has racked up fresh debts with unions that already make big demands on state spending.... 
...Politically, Cuomo and the unions are now arm in arm. For the sake of sound public policy, they must not walk in lockstep. "

 Oh, I disagree!

While there is no telling what deal the governor made with the unions, the fact remains that the governor of New York had to turn to our union for help. It is a fair assumption to say that this will benefit it (and the other unions who side with him) in some way.

Did you want Danielson to go away? Did you want the TDA percentage to be returned to the 8.5% interest level it was before the Great Recession? Did you want another shot at a new 25-55? Perhaps you wanted a cash raise or a the state to provide a stable solution to healthcare. These are now all possibilities because the governor, as the political adage goes, owes us one.

I like progressive politicians, just fine. But I like a relaxed, stable job with less pressures and fewer risks too.  I also like the idea of having a retirement and good healthcare. I like to be a happy guy around my family and progressive politicians being elected won't do that nearly as much as a better work environment will.  This latest UFT move may or may not be turning its back on the left. But having a Governor as a partner may well lead to a better outcome for teachers like me.

We will know whether this actually happens later this summer. That's when the Legislature meets for the last time of the season and it is typically when things that benefit special interest groups, like union members (like teachers), are passed into law. We shall see.


  1. You’re making the assumption that Mulgrew will negotiate with Cuomo for those valued items. It is a false assumption - he is the world’s 2nd worst negotiator after the American Indian that sold Manhattan to the Dutch.

    1. was "the best deal they could get" under the circumstances! 🤣😂

  2. The governor already gave unions what they wanted, to keep our dues.