Every so often I'll watch Dr. Phil. Now Dr. Phil isn't a real doctor, he's just an average, albeit charismatic guy with common sense. Lots of parents go on there and they all have the same problem. They are financially supporting a family member who shouldn't be supported. For instance, their twenty something year old isn't working, has a drug habit, keeps getting arrested, sneaks others in to have sex with and as a reward he/she gets a place to live, the car, money, and all their bills paid -including the phone. These parents don't know what to do and things are getting worse - the other siblings are horrified and losing respect for their parents; the parents are anxiety ridden and it's affecting their jobs and relationships with each other. Now it's common sense to know what to do - the problem is you have a life long relationship and deep loyality to this person, even though you're being used and manipulated. Actually doing the right thing isn't just right for you, but for the self destructing loved one. Unless you stop giving him/her what's wanted there is no reason for them to stop their behavior - but this isn't enough, the person will more than likely have to be thrown out. This creates enormous guilt, but is nessesary for yourself, your beloved son/daughter and your family. It seems like every family in the country is going through this.
Now this scenario seemed very familiar to me and it dawned on me that as a UFT member I was having a similar problem. I felt guilt in finally making the hard decision not to pay dues to an organization that has continually disrespected me over the past decade. They didn't even send me a ballot for the latest joke of an election. They lost my UFT retiree membership enrollment. Great news. Why did I even want to continue to give my money to this corrupt organization? Deep seated loyality and remembering the past when things were good. What motivation does the UFT have to change? None. What's going to happen if we continue to support the UFT? At best it will stay the same, but most likely the top down undemocratic actions of the UFT will get worse and not because of the Koch brothers or Gates - they have been on our backs for a long time (Gates' money incentivized Bloomy to close every large high school in the Bronx, with a completely impotent UFT watching on the sidelines). Don't rationalize the wrong decision to keep supporting Mulgrew and his cronies - they are using us and our money for their own self interests. They will cry Janus! from the rooftops. The real threat to the UFT is not from Janus - it's from the corrupt and deeply undemocratic Unity machine that strangles all legitimate dissent via rigged elections and completely silencing and/or assimilating their vocal critics. I could start a long egregious list of abysmal acts against the rank and file - ranging from A (for ATRs) to Z (for not backing Zephyr Teachout over Cuomo for governor), but if you're breathing you already know it all to well. They have absolutely no reason to change unless they are made to see what a truly f--ked up organization they are. I'll put my measly eight bucks in a jar and if the UFT ends the ATR pool, stops retirees from voting in elections, actively fights Fair Student Funding, actively speaks out against the Open Market, stop their loyality oaths, voting in blocks OR open their doors to any kind of inclusivity to those of us that are excluded, I'll rejoin and give them whatever is in the jar. You working stiffs will have to wait until June to opt out. I would have opted out last June, but James Eterno persuaded me to remain. Things haven’t become more democratic - it’s gotten worse - the few that were able to initiate positive change inside the snake pit are now newly elected Unity members. Maybe Mulgrew will see the writing on the wall before then and start representing those that need it most - veteran teachers, untenured teachers, ATRs and those teachers that have been targeted for exercising their well paid for rights. I see no other way.