End the Misogyny at the UFT HQ. Restore Amy Arundell as Queens Rep. Remove Michael Mulgrew as President
UPDATE: Michael Mulgrew will have the audacity to show his face at the Queens UFT office tomorrow at 4 PM to exaplin this latest example of the pure contempt he has for professional women who rise through the ranks. He will be flanked by three other men. If he reads this, he will probably bring a token woman along with him.
Folks who know the UFT have long known that a culture of suspicion and fear permeates the organization. Its headquarters at 52 Broadway is a hotbed of fear and loathing. It has been described by many as a toxic place to work and has made many victims of great teachers and unionists. This culture is not entirely built upon the misogyny I am about to describe but the contempt, mistrust and suspicion of women -specifically women who dare to reveal themselves as equals to the men who actually run the union- has had a significant presence on that culture for many years. This is the reality of the UFT office staff under president Michael Mulgrew and has been since Randi left for the AFT. This, among folks who know the union, is known and never mentioned.
It's ok to be a woman if you work at UFT HQ, by the way. Just don't ask to be seen as equal to the small handful of men who make all of the decisions. It's ok if you're not a man, mind you. It's probably better if you dress nice or make the important men feel nice. Just don't you dare present yourself as equal to those men. If you do, bad things will happen. It is the most disguised and disgusting form of misogyny that we have in New York City. The women are there. They're capable. They go to every meeting, attend every event and support every initiative that is requested of them. But they are nowhere to be found in the highest levels of officership in the union and they won't be any time soon.
When Amy Arundell took over the Queens office, there was no UFT presence in those schools at all. Teachers were harassed and abused in the workplace in schools all across the borough as a matter of routine. It became common. Nearly all of the hardcore unionists, including the bloggers arose from Queens precisely because this fact. As Queens Rep, Amy Arundell began organizing chapters, supporting chapter leaders and supporting individual teachers. She held "organize your chapter' events and took to social media posts to answer teacher questions and concerns. She became widely known as the only UFT official who really cared about teachers' rights and teachers' work experience and teachers from all over the city came to knowAmy Arundell's tough, direct approach. "Amy Arundell is the Best Unity Has to Offer" is how well-known teacher Arthur Goldstein described her. By the end of the last contract negotiation, Amy was organizing teachers all across the city for professionally themed days of action and was personally responsible for the UFT's newest tool; the Contract Actions Teams (CATs). Those teams helped organize chapters of schools all across the city. She is also the only UFT official who has refused to say "don't strike" when prompted to on a zoom training that she (as opposed to anyone else) organized and offered to all teachers.
No one was paying much attention last Friday, October 13, when this dynamo uniost (the same one who organized the entire borough of Queens by supporting teachers) was quietly removed from her position as Queens Borough Rep. No one was paying attention when a white man replaced her either. That's how misogyny breeds: It grows when no one is paying attention. And no one pays attention on a Friday afternoon. That's when workplace abusers do their best work.
But the fact is that on that on a rainy Friday in October, when he knew the DA would not meet for another month and he knew the Executive Board would not meet for another 2 weeks, Michael Mulgrew had another man, Anthony Harmon, send an ALL STAFF email out to every UFT employee in Queens informing them that the person who rebuild that borough office had been reassigned. The email gave no explanation (after all, who are they to have to explain themselves?) but said that Mulgrew was coming down on Monday -with three other men- to speak about it to staff.
When no one is looking. When no one is paying attention. That's how this contempt for women leaders grows and sustains itself.
Teachers found out anyway. Many took to DOE Teacher Chat -a Facebook group with almost 32,000 NYC UFT members- to share the news and to express their outrage at the decision. Amy is the *only* union official who routinely helps teachers, you see, and much of her work has been done in that group. So it stands to reason that some of the posts and comments told a tale of anger and betrayal. You see, none of those UFT people give a sh*t about teachers and we know it. Amy does and we know that, too. So the anger was there on Teacher Chat all weekend.
"Why did Mulgrew remove a person who has been sop helpful to us?", wrote one teacher.
"Shame on whoever removed Amy Arundell as the Queens Borough rep. I am absolutely disgusted and embarrassed for our union hearing about this" wrote another. "I urge every Queens chapter leader in this group to mobilize their staff and pusg back against this nonsense"
One Chapter Leader from Queens started a petition in support of Amy which, after 18 hours (over a weekend; when on teachers pay attention) neared 500 signatures. (You can sign the petition here).
And the union trolls -those despicable union officials who normally patrol the DOE Teacher Chat by shaming teachers into silence there- were noticeably silent throughout the entire weekend. Hiding, I'm sure under the nearest rock they could find.
They are almost all men, by the way The trolls are mainly DRs and member reps from the Brooklyn and Manhattan offices and many of them help Michael Mulgrew sustain the culture of fear and suspicion that he has established over at the UFT. They are almost all men.
(Some of them were, no doubt, behind this misogyny (as in I have no doubt) and, as a consequence, they hid in silence -like slugs who hide from the daylight; the hid away while teachers expressed how abandoned they felt to have the one unionist they felt was ont heir side removed. The trolls posted nothing under the real names all weekend. But when things turned bad on Teacher Chat, they did try to post -anonymously- to throw shade on the woman who they had targeted. Otherwise, they shelter in the swamp they have helped nurture.)
Now misogynists will always make an excuse for their abusive acts of misogyny. This is a fact of life for successful woman. Behind those excuses, though, is a simple contempt for women who can do the job better than the cigar smoking man ever could (Amy Arundell does the job better than them). Misogyny takes the form of a silent accusation before the woman is usually swept away. This case is no different. No sooner did word about her removal begin to spread, did we all started reading sudden anonymous posters on facebook who claimed that Arundell had yelled and screamed and defended Palestinian civilians last Wednesday (Arundell is not a yeller or a screamer and many witnesses have publicly said this never happened). One of the accusers -a man- had accused her of trying to amend a resolution. That wasn't true. Another -again, a man- said that she didn't defend Israel or some such. Witnesses again say no.
Since contempt for women is on the menu, it didn't much matter than two Zionists immediately went public in their defense of her. One actually wrote that that, "Her views on the government of Israel are totally in line with many of my Jewish friends and family". None of that matters at UFT HQ. The culture of fear and suspicion had all the ammunition they needed to attack another woman and they used it.
The Misogynists had their excuse to get the woman who made them feel threatened. That's Misogyny. It's just that simple. Last Friday, misogynists took false advantage of an historically horrible moment and attacked the woman who made them feel threatened. That's how the game works at the UFT.
But Michael Mulgrew will have the audacity to show his face at the Queens UFT office tomorrow anyway. He will be there at 4 PM to mansplain his latest example of the sheer contempt he has for professional women who stand on the same level and who do the job better than he. He will be flanked by three other men. If he reads this post, he will probably bring a token woman or two along with him.
Michael Mulgrew and the two other men who run the UFT are hiding behind a terrible moment in history specifically to remove a woman who they see as a threat to them and to their power. Mulgrew needs to be removed as president. This union is suffering under his poor leadership and is hurting under his overcompensating act of punishing a woman -or anyone- who can do the job better than he can.