This has been a 'best of time, worst of times' campaign. On the one hand, the disparate yet passionate groups who form opposition have, finally, united under one flag/slate. That has the potential to be an incredibly powerful force within the UFT for years to come. Truly tranistory. Don't forget, this is America. And we want to know that there is a check and a balance everywhere. This is the case for all of the people who get paid represent us in any way. I shop around for doctors, don't you? I have shopped around for lawyers, haven't you? I have even changed vets once or twice. These folks get paid to represent our interests and the doctors and lawyers and vets all know we do this. As a result, they build their practices as strong as they can be so that when they represent us. they do it well. Labor relations professionals are, in my opinion, almost no different. The folks who run my union need a little competition just like everybody else. Competition is as American as Apple Pie and everyone performs better having had it. I am just so thrilled about the formation of the new opposition. I cannot say enough about it.
On the other hand, this campaign has taken a toxic turn. You can probably see that social media in this small world is just filled with slavos launched from both sides toward the other. Both sides have acted, in my opinion, in disappointing ways. And neither side has committed themselves to saying, in language rank and file members can easily understand, exactly what they will do for for the next three years if elected.
Because of this, I'm not sold on either caucus this season. And, as I have said in the past, I don't think you should be either.
Too much ugly.
Too much toxic.
Too much combativeness.
And both sides want it.
So I'll be voting for individual candidates this year. And the first person I'm be voting for is Camille Eterno.
I'm not going waste your time listing Camille's CV. If you have made it here, then you have probably already seen it and, I'm sure, you are either considering voting for her or have already made an informed choice about who you ,may or will be voting for.
Instead, I'll just say that Camille would be do for the UFT what Karen Lewis did for the CTU. Karen Lewis turned that local into a powerhouse and, through their collective strength, helped her members take back the dignity of being a teacher in an urban environment (and they have held onto that dignity ever since). Karen Lewis didn't do that by sitting down at a table. She did it by flexing all of the muscles that local 1 could muster. That's what Camille will do for the UFT. That's what she will do for me. That's what she will do for us.
Look, there is great dignity in our work. And that dignity is always kicked around or marginalized or unappreciated in one form or another by folks who don't support or by leaders who don't lead. Like our colleagues in Chicago, we need to get that dignity back. There is only one road to that happening and it's not a road with many conference tables.
Yes. She will call us to many rallies. Yes. She will ask us to participate more often than many of us have become accustomed to. Yes. We may responsible for a phone tree/text thread or have to go attend, in our middle ages, a sign making part or two. But that participation, under her leadership, will lead to a complete rebirth of our day to day work experience. That is a complete rebirth of the largest, most powerful, union in the United States. That will yield untold benefits to the outcomes and supports of our students. And something like that may just plant the seeds for a much needed renaissance in American Unionism. I know Camille. I know her leadership. Her election could lead to precisely that. Please vote for her.
And I like Mike Mulgrew! Since the '09-'13 war against teachers, he and his team have slowly clawed back a more reasonable level of professional expectations of us. I don't have to take meeting minutes any longer. I have more time during the day to do things like contact parents or do grading. These (and others) are real achievements over the years. But Mike ain't gonna do anything that will lead to a renaissance in unionism. He won't have 200 teachers rallying outside an abusive principals' office. He won't be able to get out in front of the cameras and extole teachers the way Karen Lewis could -the way Camille can- while fighting to lower class sizes or to end this disastrous experiment of mayoral control.
Look, I like that he has a seat at the table and I like that he and his team are at it. I just want a new person there; one who can and will stand up and walk away from it -because she knows those f*****rs will come right back to us. I want a new approach. I want Camille's approach.
And so, I proudly endorse Camille Eterno for President of the UFT this year.
(But for secretary, I'm going for LeRoy Barr!! And I'll drop more thoughts about that in my next post ...)