History of UFT Solidarity
If you had your druthers, what would the quintessential union of teachers look like?
What is missing in the UFT, if anything at all?
How can Solidarity Caucus help you fill that void?
UFT Solidarity was founded on November 11, 2014, by a collective of UFT members led by Francesco Portelos who wanted their Union leadership to be more responsive to their daily struggles as educators in the NYC public school system. All UFT Solidarity members are members of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).
Who is Francesco Portelos and what does he have to do with UFT Solidarity?
Francesco Portelos is an engineer-turned-teacher advocate who was sent to the rubber room after exposing corruption, financial malfeasance, and workplace bullying at his middle school on Staten Island. In Francesco’s own words:
Starting on January 30, 2012, 30+ allegations were made against me, and 3 disciplinary letters were placed in my file in just 10 days, I received my first unsatisfactory classroom observation and I was ultimately removed from school on April 26, 2012. I was sent to a basement storage room with two small gated windows (Rubber Room). It was 20 miles, 6 districts and two boroughs away from my school and home. I was there for over a year before I was moved again. Waiting…waiting for what? In the meantime, the students lose out the most.Francesco Portelos, Educator Fights Back
Through his advocacy, Francesco Portelos made contact with educators across NYC, the State of NY, and across the country. He quickly realized that public education was in trouble because public school teachers were under attack for advocating for a fair and equity education for their students and decent workplace conditions for their colleagues. In Fall 2013, Don’t Tread on Educators was launched as a advocacy group designed to educate UFT members on how to defend their careers. Eventually, UFT Solidarity emerged from the roots laid by Portelos and the Don’t Tread on Educators Community.
What is UFT Solidarity?
If you believe that our Union can do more, be stronger and better represent the 200,000 members, then the information below may be of interest to you. If you believe that the UFT is already working at 110% efficiency, then perhaps Solidarity Caucus is not for you.
What is a caucus?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a caucus as: “a group of people who meet to discuss a particular issue or to work together for a shared goal.“
What are the caucuses of the UFT?
Most UFT members are not aware that the United Federation of Teachers union is actually not as united as we should be. The UFT is composed of subgroups within it.
They are (in alphabetical order): Movement of Rank and file Educators (MORE) – morecaucusnyc.org; New Action – newaction.org; Retiree Advocate; Solidarity – solidaritycaucus.org; and Unity – unitycaucus.org
Most, if not all, of the UFT Borough Representatives, District Reps, Special Reps, and all the UFT Leadership belong to the Unity Caucus. Because of this, many members lay blame on the Unity Caucus specifically for the many issues members face. See this video of what the UFT should be doing, but has ceased to do…organize and mobilize its members to defend our profession. This was 2009 and a lot has changed since then.
So Why Join a Caucus?
If we go back to the definition above, we see the words “discuss particular issues,” “work together (in Solidarity),” and a “shared goal.“
What Solidarity Caucus aims to do is first gather teacher activists from across the spectrum (new, veteran, retirees, etc.) to discuss particular issues and work together to resolve them through policy change. Resolution of those systemic issues is shared goal.
Not everyone wants, or has the time and resources to be an activist. Many give some, some give all. Solidarity Caucus will have Citywide and borough meetings. Even if you are not an activist, you can still join and help share the awareness and resources Solidarity Caucus will be providing to support all UFT members.
We do not know of any member who entered the profession for the income, but we know countless who did for the outcome. Unfortunately, too many obstacles have been thrown in the way and we need to work together to remedy that.
Solidarity Caucus will be building a stronger Union, brick by brick.