United We Stand!

Sep 15, 2020 by

In his letter to the New York civil service newspaper The Chief last week, David Irons admonishes the United Federation of Teachers not to support coming “the grand deal”.  He is referring to what he imagines might be a trap and sell-out consisting of  additional borrowing authority for the city and “a retirement incentive and some form of savings or support from the union” that he fears the union might fall for out of naivete or craftiness.
I don’t mean to put words in his mouth or ascribe motives that may not be driving him, but his tone suggests to me a suspicion of possible conspiracy and betrayal:  “Do not sacrifice union members or our rights…Allow the layoffs to come and NYC to sacrifice in that form”.

Mr. Irons sounds like a true believer in the right to be laid off.  The notion that surrender to layoffs is a demonstration of union solidarity and strength is an inglorious non-sequitur.

UFT members are highly gratified that their union hangs tough and fights smart to protect all its members wherever possible, while working openly and behind the scenes with people in positions of power to develop practical solutions that will minimize or spare upheaval all together.

Mr. Irons warns that the mysterious “grand deal” will precipitate a cascade of “huge givebacks” resulting from a re-opened contract. He provides neither evidence nor source. Throwing a group of members under the bus would be an abrogation of a fundamental tenet of union philosophy and responsibility.  Pitting members against other members is divisive and morally enervating.

Mr. Irons urges the UFT to “stand firm”. That phrase should speak for itself but in this case seems to mean different things to at least one different person. To him, it apparently signifies kicking some members to the wayside. To me and obviously to the union, it means sheltering all its members from the cruel tempests of these soul-trying times. 

As a member who once came close to the chopping block himself, I’m damn sure glad that the UFT doesn’t regard or treat any of its members as less equal than others.

Ron Isaac

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