A Teachable Moment

Former local teacher union pesident Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.

New York Meeting the Challenge

I’m quick to criticize our union movement. I’m quick too to congratulate when something is right and going well. Three years ago when the Friedrichs Case threatened our unions’ right to the collection of agency fees, I suggested to the leadership of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), my state organization, that we not wait for what would surely be an adverse Supreme Court decision and instead immediately begin a yearly process of re-signing up our members. To do that before the court’s decision would have most, if not all of our members in place while identifying those who might seek to be freeloaders. The room-full of local leaders and the NYSUT officer running the meeting responded to my suggestion as though I had put forth a proposal so absurd as to preclude any serious discussion. Silence was the initial response, and then a polite, “I’ll take that suggestion back to Albany.”

Since then, I’m happy to say, NYSUT has clearly run with my idea. Much of their PR work has been focused in recent times on educating members to the political realities behind the threat to agency fee, now from the Janus Case, and a multi-pronged campaign promoting the yearly signing of union membership applications. From what I’m able to gather, the campaign is going well, with local leaders beginning to see the possibilities of not only surviving what is sure to be an adverse decision in Janus but emerging from confronting the threat with much stronger local organizations. To be sure, we will lose some members, but if we take the next step and isolate the freeloaders so that there is a social cost to what they see as their financial gain, in the end we will be rewarded for the struggle to preserve our unions. A new generation of union leaders will have learned of the benefits of a focus on organizing as opposed to running service oriented locals.

posted by Morty in Uncategorized and have No Comments

No comments

You must be logged in to post a comment.