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The Internationalist  
  October 2012

UFT Censors Opposition to Obama Endorsement

On October 17, the Delegate Assembly of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City was scheduled to vote on election endorsements. The leadership had a motion calling to vote for Democrat Barack Obama for president. Randi Weingarten, national president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) came in for the occasion and spoke at length to explain why teachers should vote for a candidate who has been at the forefront of the attacks on teachers unions, mainly arguing that Republican Mitt Romney would be worse.

Marjorie Stamberg, a delegate from District 79 and a supporter of Class Struggle Education Workers (CSEW), distributed a resolution (see below) calling to repudiate the national AFT endorsement of Obama and for “no vote for Democrats, Republicans or any party or politician representing the interests of capital against the working class, poor and oppressed.” It was important that this resolution come before the union, which regularly provides the troops for phone-banking and canvassing for the Democrats.

However, when Stamberg sought to present the resolution for a vote under the point “Motions directed to the agenda,” the chair refused to let her read the motion or even to summarize it, claiming this censorship was according to Robert’s Rules of Order. When she responded, “I understand from this that there will be no criticism of Obama allowed at this meeting,” UFT vice president Michael Mendel became irate and the bureaucracy’s Unity Caucus voted to prevent the motion from coming to the floor.

Then when the leadership's pro-Obama motion was presented, Stamberg attempted to speak against it. Again she was refused the right to speak, leading to further exchanges over the rules, with the UFT leadership arguing that it was not necessary to hear speakers for and against a motion. A Unity hack called the question, debate was cut off without hearing any opposition, and the motion was voted up.

Not only did the union leadership ram through an endorsement of a president who has aggressively pushed the agenda of corporate education “reform” and privatization of schools, none of the union reform groups in the UFT even attempted to oppose this capitalist politician, indicating that on basic issues their policies do not fundamentally differ from those of the leadership. The labor bureaucracy chains workers politically to the bosses’ parties, and union reformers go along, underlining the need for a class-struggle opposition.

The CSEW motion is reproduced here:

And Einstein’s Definition of Insanity*

WHEREAS, it is self-destructive to continually endorse Democratic Party politicians (and Republicans) who are attacking teachers and seeking to gut our unions; and

WHEREAS, Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared war on the Chicago Teacher Union even before taking office; and

WHEREAS, the Democratic mayor has sought to  institute “merit pay,” teacher evaluation based on student test scores, the closure of over a hundred schools and their replacement by privately run non-union charter schools, which Chicago teachers valiantly resisted in their recent strike; and

WHEREAS, these policies would lead to the layoff of hundreds if not thousands of teachers and deprive our students, particularly those from poor, African American, Latino and Asian families of a quality public education; and

WHEREAS, in his vendetta against teachers unions, Mayor Emanuel was carrying out the policies of Democratic president Barack Obama and his education “czar” Arne Duncan; and

WHEREAS, the Democratic Obama administration’s program of “Race to the Top” is the continuation of the destructive “No Child Left Behind” policies of the Republican Bush administration; and

WHEREAS, in 2010 President Obama praised the firing of the entire teaching staff of Central Falls, Rhode Island by a vindictive and corrupt school board, as well as the firing of hundreds of teachers in Kansas City, Missouri; and

WHEREAS, Democrat Obama had and has no significant differences on education policy with Republican teacher-basher McCain in 2008 or with Republican labor-hater Romney in 2012, backing the corporate “reform” agenda to regiment education in the interests of big business; and

WHEREAS, Democrats and Republicans have joined in wars for global imperial domination against Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, while waging class war on working people here, deporting 400,000 immigrants a year, presiding over racist police violence, racial profiling of African-American and Latino youth (“stop and frisk”) and wholesale dismantling of civil liberties; and

WHEREAS, the Working Families Party is nothing but a shill for the Democrats; and

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association have  called for the reelection of President Obama, the man who bailed out Wall Street and seeks to privatize public education;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that in defense of union rights, public education and the political independence of labor the United Federation of Teachers hereby repudiates the national AFT endorsement of Obama and calls for no vote for Democrats, Republicans or any party or politician representing the interests of capital against the working class, poor and oppressed.

*Not E=MC2  but “Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”.

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