I would like to begin by sending kudos out to NYSUT Vice-President Paul Pecorale. Pecorale, originally from the Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers, was exactly where he should have been on April 28th- at the #NoMoCuomo Rally in Holbrook. On May 17th Pecorale was once again where he should have been- at the Taking Back Our Schools Rally in Manhattan. On May 21st Pecorale was one more time where he should have been, at the second #NoMoCuomo Rally in Melville. Once again, kudos to Pecorale for being exactly where he should have been.
Unfortunately, and unfathomably, that is essentially where NYSUT’s support for these events ended. None of the other officers managed to attend any of these three rallies and little, if anything, was done to promote membership participation in them. This is particularly astounding given the bold claims that the Revive NYSUT slate made as they rode Michael Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus to victory in April’s NYSUT election. I would link to those claims however they pulled down their site immediately after the election, linking it instead to NYSUT’s homepage. Fortunately for us James Eterno managed to save the claims that they made. Eterno wisely knew that their claims might not match their actions once they took office. Especially interesting are the claims that they were against Cuomo given their lack of support for the rallies against the governor.
Karen Magee must have been too busy writing “We’re a member-driven union on the march” to actually march herself down here and join with the rank and file as they demonstrated in support of public education and against Governor Cuomo. Of course maybe the demonstrations against Cuomo were why she didn’t make it down here. As we now know, NYSUT is refusing to publish anything that goes against Cuomo. Even at the Picket in the Pines Rally, none of Magee or Randi Weingarten’s remarks were directed at Cuomo. Weingarten has been selling out teachers for years now, so it doesn’t surprise me that she tiptoed around Cuomo. But Magee and her Revive NYSUT friends came riding in to save NYSUT, telling us all about how tough they were. How they’d demand that the governor hears our voice. They scoffed at the rumors that they were in the pocket of Mike Mulgrew and Andy Cuomo. But now Magee has twice been a no show at an anti-Cuomo rally in addition to her failure to appear at a public education rally in Manhattan. At this point you have to start to judge Magee on her actions (or lack thereof) and not on her empty rhetoric.
That brings us to Executive-Vice President Andy Pallotta. Pallotta, after presiding over the tax cap and Tiers V and VI, thought he was the only NYSUT officer who didn’t deserve to be replaced. Of course when you have Mike Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus at your back you don’t have to concern yourself with things like fighting for your dues paying members. You will also remember Pallotta as the guy who gave “Cuomo 2014” $10,000. Or the guy who ducked the question of whether or not NYSUT would issue an endorsement for Cuomo in November. Maybe I am starting to see why Pallotta shied away from the anti-Cuomo rallies. There is probably a better chance we would find Pallotta palling around with ed deform cronies than rallying against them. I bet if Arthur Goldstein, who opposed Pallotta in the election, had won he would have been at the rallies. Oh wait, he was at all three.
Perhaps secretary-treasurer Martin Messner could have stopped by one of the rallies? His major contribution to the election campaign was his insistence that Revive NYSUT was not a UFT take over. Outside of congratulating the UFT on their new contract that successfully erodes tenure rights for portions of the UFT membership and introduces merit pay to New York, we haven’t heard much from him…
— Martin Messner (@Schoharieta) May 1, 2014
The current officers, who came in promising “grassroots, bottom up, member driven unionism” have delivered anything but. What we have seen instead is a statewide union that is desperately failing it’s membership (all while raising dues that help to support their more than comfortable compensation packages) at what is quite possibly the most critical time in most of our careers. Last June NYSUT got nearly 20,000 people to Albany for the One Voice United Rally. Clearly they have the resources to mobilize membership when necessary. That they couldn’t bother to help get more than a few hundred to a rally in Manhattan on a beautiful, sunny day in May is a failure of epic proportions.
Over the next little while NYSUT members from around the state should be watching this leadership carefully and with skepticism. Ask questions and demand that they serve your needs and not theirs. Demand that they earn their very hefty compensation. In her opening letter sent to members Magee wrote, “We will be traveling to every corner of the state to meet with you, our members, and every NYSUT constituency so that our collective wisdom and experience can shape the future of NYSUT. Above all, we are committed to serving every member, leader and local.” I know that the PJSTA membership eagerly awaits Magee traveling to our corner of the state to meet with our membership. She has a lot to answer to. Although something tells me this is just one more empty Karen Magee promise.