Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Unity Hack Of The Week (It Ain't Hack Wilson)

From Norm at"
Unity Hack of the Week: Armando Blasse
The actions of UFT District 13 (Brooklyn) Rep Armando Blasse have reinforced the reason why we need to restore elections of District Reps. At the Jan. 26 District chapter leader meeting, Blasse used his official UFT position to attack ICE.
When ICE elementary school VP candidate and PS 3 chapter leader Lisa North asked Blasse since it was UFT election time to remind chapter leaders to inform their principals that people from different caucuses would be coming into their schools to put election literature in members' mailboxes and that it is part of the democratic process for members to hear about other candidates. (She said this because District 13 Unity Chapter Leaders have pulled ICE literature out of mailboxes and thrown it away.) Blasse did an ad for Unity by telling the chapter leaders that an election was taking place and Randi would win of course, but that was not enough. She must win by a very large amount because it would send a message to Bloomberg that the union was united behind her [in her willingness to sell off the contract?] and that a vote of "only" 60% would show weakness. [Sure, like if Bloomberg and Klein could vote in the UFT elections, would they vote for Giveback Randi or for Kit Wainer who stands for fighting to take back the givebacks.] Blasse then went off on Lisa, claiming that an ICE rep had gone into a District 13 elementary school, was rude, and had gotten the new chapter leader in trouble with the principal. Lisa tried to tell him that it was extremely unlikely that an ICE person had gone to that school because if anyone would go it would have been her. Blasse ignored her and kept reiterating that it was definitely ICE. Of course, he was wrong and it would have been very easy for him to check the sign-in book to find out who it was. (There are indications that a New Action rep had gone in there, but OF COURSE Blasse wouldn't dare criticize his maximum leader's chief allies.)
The meeting then ended and Lisa went to talk to the chapter leader from the school. During that conversation another chapter leader nearby started to say very loudly that it was disrespectful to school chapter leaders NOT to talk to them first before putting literature into "their" schools mailboxes. Lisa tried to tell her that it was an election and we have the right to put the information directly in the mailboxes. She kept saying that it was disrespectful. Lisa then said loudly to Blasse that he should let chapter leaders know that when people come to put literature in the boxes they DO NOT have to get the chapter leader's permission. He refused. Lisa asked again and he refused to acknowledge her. Blasse has a history of misusing his official union position to promote Unity Caucus on union time. He once passed out Unity Caucus literature on an official UFT bus coming back from Albany. Since Lisa North is associated with ICE, he seems to have targeted her school for special attention. On a day he knew she would be out of the building during the 2006 contract ratification process, he appeared at her school with the UFT flyer promoting he contract with Unity Caucus literature stapled to it and placed them in the teacher mail boxes without any consultation with Lisa."

I responded to this (and other horror stories of UFT members being sold down the river-at Lafayette HS and at Bayard Rustin) with this:
"Reading this and the previous two posts about the sickening harassments at Bayard Rustin and Lafayette makes me remember a time when Unions resorted to hiring thugs. These thugs protected their own and intimidated ruthless bosses, who had their own goon squad. Evidently Blasse lines up with the latter.
I looked up Blasse. He got A David Wittes award. Who was Wittes? From George Altomare:
"If your idea of an accountant is a conservative,number-crunching nerd, you should have known Dave Wittes. "He was a fire brand and an old radical," recalls George Altomare. "When Al Shanker and I first saw him in action at Guild meetings we were in awe. Dave had this deep, booming voice and an animated style of delivery. On top of that, he was a theoretical heavy weight, having spent years in communist sects of one stripe or another."A communist accountant? Now, there's a concept! Wittes was very much a product of the times. With little call for an accounting degree during the Depression,he'd turned to teaching for a living. Wittes found not only a paycheck but a cause. "He was at the center of all the political and ideological wars within the Teachers Union," says Altomare. Though Wittes would sour on communism,he remained a socialist -- albeit a hard-nosed pragmatic one. Nevertheless,it was in the world of money that Wittes left his most lasting contribution.He was the architect of the present pension system that reduced eligibility to 20 years of service and lowered the retirement age to 55. "Every retiring teacher should make a pilgrimage to his grave," says Altomare.
It's an insult that Blasse got a Wittes' award. (Just in the same way my ex UFT rep at PS20M got a Trachtenberg award-he "mistakenly didn't know" that you are supposed to notify the membership that a C-30 was taking place in the school ). Blasse should get a Louis Lepke award instead. And speaking of Lepke, we could use a few like him these days to place horse heads in the bedrooms of the likes of Rohloff and the Rustin principal. I'm speaking metaphorically of course.

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