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Democracy and Politics in the UFT

The Coalition of New York City School Workers was active throughout the 1970s in the teachers union and local communities. The group emerged from the maelstrom of the late 60s, in particular the 1968 strike. The 1975 massive financial crisis carved an enormous hole in the school system that took 20 years to recover from. The union accepted the cuts, thus undermining the impact of the ‘75 strike over the cuts. How could a union function in this manner? In the wake of that crisis, the Coalition published a pamphlet in 1976 articulating its views of how the UFT was controlled by
one party, Unity Caucus, and how that absolute control impacted on teachers and their schools.

Looking back from the vantage point of almost 40 years later, we thought it would be worthwhile to make an unedited version of Democracy and Politics in the UFT available to the current generation of teachers as a way to study what has changed and what has remained the same and offer it as a learning tool – as a sort of UFT 101 since so much about how the UFT functions has not changed. The pamphlet also reveals the way one group of activists attempted to articulate the issues revealing elements of astute analysis along with some naïve assumptions.

Many of the original CSW members were involved in the education debates over the past 2 decades through the formation of Education Notes (1997-present), Independent Community of Educators (2003), Grassroots Education Movement – GEM – 2009-2012) and Movement of Rank and File Educators (2013).

Democracy and Politics in the UFT is being reprinted in its original with no changes (other than graphics) in order to provide a snapshot of the state of the UFT and education c. 1976 and how one opposition group approached these issues. An updated version of this pamphlet by MORE is planned. Thanks to Vera Pavone for retyping and formatting.

In memoriam to the late Paul Baizerman, Loretta Prisco, Gene Prisco, all of whom helped co-author this work.

Ira Goldfine, Vera Pavone, Norm Scott – July 2014

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