Monday, May 11, 2020

Schirtzer: Our North Is Democracy

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Every week, I keep up on the UFT through Arthur's blog. He posts his Executive Board notes. on Mondays. This week, something caught my eye. Teacher unionists and friend of the ol' doenuts blog, Mike Schirtzer, who has been working fairly closely with the people in the union lately, rose to urge the UFT to stay democratic.

Schirtzer--Understand reasons for motion, but we're in uncharted waters. We need to set compass north, proceed with caution. Our north is democracy. Thankful for UFT,. Let's not sacrifice what we do. Points of order can be messy and time-consuming, but we will get to the other side stronger. Best to do is start a process with emails and a clearing house. Even with the struggles facing us, we have to keep democracy in place.

This caught me as kind of odd. So I called Mike. He didn't pick up but I called around some other friends and, as it turns out, the union had put some changes into the processes of how they meet, speak, debate and vote on some of their public resos. The crisis has been tough on getting those type of things done.

The changes are detailed and, frankly, boring, but are related to changing from Robert's Rules of Order to something that may work better with the tech that is at people's disposal. Apparently, the tech can't support things like adding amendments or speakers for or against so the UFT had to make some changes.

This didn't rub fans of democracy very well (I actually can't blame them either) Challenging times are challenging exactly because doing things the right way s exceedingly difficult --during challenging times. Schirtzer's suggestion of finding other ways to set up a process of handling amendments and the like reflected a commitment to Democracy that he must have felt needed to be pointed out.

From what I heard, Schirtzer (who, I hear, was granted the floor by the Staff VP! pretty impressive stuff right there) basically said "Democracy is who we are. I'm here  on EB because of who we are and we need to find ways to remain ourselves". That took guts! And Schirtzer has plenty of those.

"We're in uncharted waters. Let's keep our compasses facing true north. Our North is Democracy". That needs to be said a lot more. It's comforting to know that one of the only places I have seen it said is over at the UFT.

Way to go, Schirtzer.

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