Monday, January 14, 2019
UFT Elections Part 3: Something Old. Something New (Action)
In this, my third installment of the 2019 UFT elections -and the groups that make them- I'll be focussing on the New Action Caucus (NAC). I had intended to do a lot of research before writing this up but then realized the date and wanted to get it all done quick. Aside from the ruling Unity Caucus, NAC is the longest running group within the UFT. In fact, they are the second longest continually existing caucus in the history of the UFT.
The caucus was founded by a group of progressive minded teachers in the mid 1980s and, according to their own website, is rooted in the activist spirit of the 1970s NYCBOE. Some call them small but small implies ineffective and, election after election, New Action has proven themselves to be very effective. I have always thought of them as a lean, clear headed, progressively minded definitively pro teacher caucus.
They are always very adroit at making good, solid political decisions that allow them to put their voice across. In the mid 90s, NAC was part of the only "Vote No" campaign that actually won. Many (including themselves) credit NAC with leading the charge. By late 90s/early ought UFT elections, New Action was earning over 11,000 presidential votes (with a full slate). In the following years, they ran joint slates with the Unity Caucus. That decision, and the rather blistering attacks they received from other opposition groups because of it, resulted in a leaned out caucus.
But a caucus that managed to make a difference. Have you ever read "The Organizer?". The UFT Organizing Committee was formed around a NAC/Unity joint endeavor. During their time on the inside, NAC members and Unity members would visit schools and NAC members would counsel teachers on how to fight back (as professionals) against difficult administrators.
And, like Solidarity, New Action has managed to survive. In 2007, they were predicted to "fade into obscurity". Here we are, eleven years later and the members of that caucus have never been more respected than they are today. NAC members aren't they type to run for the cameras whenever the press is in the room. They don't go to extremes to make their point and they don't stop the business of teaching and learning in order to advocate for their world views. They have managed to find a balance through all of that and to use that balance to bring some positive affect to the UFT.
They're saying for that this 2019 election, the opposition within the UFT has never been in worse shape. I would certainly agree that emotions are high. There are many voiced suspicions among the people who comprise some of the caucuses and tensions are running very high (I, myself, can't swing a dead cat without hitting someone who is upset with me over something, I have wrote over the past few days. Everyone, in every caucus, wants to be right. And every caucus thinks they have "the" solution. For folks within the opposition, if someone works with you on something they're "great. awesome." If they work for an opponent, then they're a "sellout" or "running around pretending". If they stay away from the frey, well then they "just don't know" or "simply don't get it". This is the suspicious nature of the opposition groups and, especially in 2019, it's fairly ugly -probably the ugliest thing about being involved with the UFT. It is, however, worth mentioning, and will bare repeating, that I have never once heard this type of suspicious ugliness advertised by the people who run the New Action Caucus. These are smart, serious union people who, at this point in their career are friendly and, under the 2019 circumstances, even sanguine. They will be running, probably a limited slate, this year and it will be worth researching some of the names on the slate and consider giving them a vote.
Posted by NYCDOEnuts at 9:32 PM