Those of you who monitor your statewide union via Twitter will have noticed a flurry of activity this week that is sure to continue until the elections at the NYSUT RA in April. It began Tuesday evening with the creation of the @ReviveNYSUT Twitter account. Originally and anonymously dubbing themselves a “grassroots” group seeking change within out parent union, they were later revealed to be led by current Executive Vice-President Andy Pallotta (who has been largely ineffective in regards to his role as director of legislative action… see Tax Cap, Tier V, Tier VI, etc.). Pallotta, frustrated with NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi’s resistance to allowing Pallotta to have unlimited access to Vote Cope funds, apparently cobbled together a slate to run against the current NYSUT leadership. To add gasoline to the fire it has been revealed that Pallotta used $10,000 in Vote Cope funds to purchase a table at King Andy Cuomo’s birthday bash. In addition to the expected Pallotta and Ianuzzi, members of the slate Pallotta is running against Iannuzzi also attended. They include Karen Magee (President of the Harrison Teachers) who is running against Iannuzzi for NYSUT President. The $10,000 paid for the table went to “Cuomo 2014”. There has been some discussion that Pallotta’s slate would seek a Cuomo endorsement, or at the very least contribute further Vote Cope funds to Cuomo 2014 should they win.
This situation reminded me of Pallotta’s trip to the PJSTA’s Union Conference Day a couple of years back (2012 I believe?). When a PJSTA member questioned whether he could be assured that NYSUT would not endorse Cuomo for re-election in 2014 Pallotta was non-committal. That exchange may very well prove to be prophetic.
In a separate, but possibly related story, at the UFT Delegate Assembly on Wednesday evening, the UFT’s Unity Caucus voted down a motion “that the UFT not endorse Cuomo’s reelection nor provide him with any COPE money.” (Thanks to James Eterno for making the motion and blogging about it on the ICEUFT Blog. Reality-Based Educator chimes in with “Why The UFT Will Probably Back Cuomo“) Where this connects to Pallotta is that he is a former UFT member who was, in essence, tapped by UFT leadership to take the NYSUT Executive Vice-President position (traditionally this has always been held by a UFT member, dating back to Albert Shanker). Additionally in the profile of their @ReviveNYSUT Twitter account, they are now admitting who they are and that they are “Unity Caucus members.”
It is a twisted and tangled story that is only getting started. Norm Scott of Ed Notes Online does a much better job than I do of explaining it so be sure to head on over to his blog to read about it. Mike Antonucci wonders about Revive NYSUT’s viability here.