Weingarten’s AFL-CIO Power
As I was researching and writing my post, The Gates Grant Addiction, a post in which I use the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) as an illustration of an addiction to Gates money garnered via installments, two pieces of information stood out to me like the final clicking of tumblers in unlocking a revelation.
The first involves information that I have read before but that struck me in a new way for its import as we approach the 2016 presidential election. It is the name of the AFT as it appears on its IRS 990s:
American Federation of Teachers AFL-CIO Parent Organization
It is the “AFL-CIO” piece that strikes me. Democratic presidential nominees must secure the AFL-CIO endorsement if they hope to move forward in the presidential run. AFL-CIO currently consists of 56 unions representing 12.5 million workers.
AFL-CIO unions are proportionally represented by delegates. AFT has 1.5 million members.
Given its membership numbers, AFT has a lot of pull in the AFL-CIO– which means that Randi Weingarten has a lot of pull.
The second bit of information that provided a “final clicking of the tumblers” concerns Weingarten’s continuing to serve as the New-York-based United Federation of Teachers (UFT) president for a full year after having been elected AFT president.
What an illustration of ueber-control– and a demonstration of the hold Weingarten has on the UFT.
These two bits of information– Weingarten’s AFL-CIO pull coupled with her hold on UFT– were the final components leading me to a major conclusion. But first, allow me to offer the pieces of this puzzle already in place in my own mind.
Let us consider New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo has called for the “death penalty” for New York schools labeled “failing.” Moreover, he will not properly fund New York’s public schools. He promoted a tax cap of no more than two percent unless overridden my 60% of a locale’s voters– except for NYC.
Cuomo’s tax break is business-friendly and will lower corporate taxes to 1968 rates.
Cuomo also takes the now-popular education privatizing view that the Common Core (CCSS) is good— just its implementation is bad– and he has the stacked panel to prove it. Plus, Cuomo is fine with grading teachers using student test scores.
Despite Cuomo’s ill treatment of New York public education, in December 2013, New York State Union of Teachers (NYSUT) Vice President Andy Pallotta purchased a $10,000 table at Cuomo’s birthday party fundraiser– against the direction of the rest of NYSUT. NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi called Pallotta out for his renegade decision.
Iannuzzi had no plans to purchase a table– which Iannuzzi knew would send an attendant message of support for Cuomo– given “the sentiments of our members statewide.”
Here’s what one must know about renegade Pallotta: He is a member of the UFT (actually coming to NYSUT from UFT) and is part of a “pro-Cuomo” drive– a drive that has prompted a NYSUT “reseating” in the state union’s fast-approaching April election– to yield a more Cuomo-friendly NYSUT following.
This is where one must remember AFT’s influence in the AFL-CIO endorsement of a Democratic presidential candidate. First, consider this excerpt concerning the NYSUT-UFT battle and Cuomo’s re-election:
…what this [attempt to unseat NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi] is really all about is an effort by the UFT to wrest control of its parent union once and for all. This theory is primarily being pushed by the pro-Iannuzzi faction, which thinks Mulgrew, who has a close relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is particularly miffed that Iannuzzi is apparently unwilling to even entertain the possibility of endorsing the governor for re-election this fall. [Emphasis added.]
UFT could support Cuomo for re-election.
UFT wants NYSUT to support Cuomo, as well.
Cuomo is terrible for public education in New York.
UFT is trying to take over NYSUT.
Another piece: Weingarten still exercises control in New York union issues– and Weingarten supports the privatizers. In the recent NYC mayoral election, Weingarten supported Bill Thompson— who was not only financially supported by NY State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch– pro-CCSS and pro-high-stakes-testing Merryl Tisch– but who had Tisch as his campaign chair.
Question: Why is a national teachers union president aligning herself with the likes of Merryl Tisch?
Consider also Weingarten’s cool words on Cuomo’s talk of downsizing NY state agencies– and especially her “conciliatory tone”:
There are two roads you can take,” said Randi Weingarten, who was previously head of the New York City teachers union.
One path, she said, is the “cut-cut-cut-cut of trickle-down economics. … Or you can take the road that even the pope has said, which is that we invest, we rebuild.”
Striking a conciliatory note, Weingarten added that she’s known Cuomo for a long time. “He and I grew up in politics together in New York state,” she said. “I always believe in redemption.” [Emphasis added.]
To those who can read between lines, Weingarten just gave a nod to Cuomo.
How big of a nod, exactly?
Time to bring it home.
Here is my major revelation:
AFT has a lot of sway regarding the AFL-CIO endorsement of the next Democratic presidential candidate. However, Weingarten cannot have this dissent among AFT ranks in the form of NYSUT delegates voting against the AFT “solidarity” (that word is actually a line item on AFT’s tax forms). So, using her influence through UFT, Weingarten plans to unseat NYSUT officers unfriendly to her “unity” cause and replace with UFT “solidarity” folk. If she can accomplish this, then she might sway that AFL-CIO Democratic presidential candidate endorsement– quite the power position to be in– and Weingarten is all about power and control.
And guess who she wants to give that Democratic presidential endorsement to?
Someone she “grew up in politics” with.
Why would she do this?
That part is simple: To climb her own career ladder. If she can get Cuomo into the White House, he will owe her.
(A great example of Weingarten’s career drive is her vying for Hillary Clinton’s vacated Senate seat in 2008. As she was pursuing the Senate appointment, Weingarten had recently been elected AFT president and was continuing to hold the position of UFT president.)
I think Weingarten is positioning AFT to be the key in the AFL-CIO endorsement of Cuomo for Democratic candidate for president. Sure, he’s playing coy with the press for now by ot openly declaring his candidacy, but stay tuned. I think it’s coming To A Theater Near You.
That said, if better coattails come along for Weingarten– like, say, Hillary Clinton’s– then Cuomo might be “Dear Johned” by Weingarten and her power-grabbing machinations.
Why, Mercedes, this entire post amounts to nothing more than a patchwork of speculation. You’re just a teacher. What do you know?
Fine. Just ask Weingarten to publicly deny the scenario I propose. When she does so with the same passion she devotes to supporting CCSS, I will consider the matter closed.
However, I wouldn’t dismiss the contents of this post too quickly, especially if you are in New York.
New York, pay close attention to your teachers unions.