A month after, finally and suddenly – the Mulgrew “punch you in the face” story has made the national news.
Because Mulgrew’s bellicose threats to the rank-and-file fit right into their anti-union narratives of union bosses and union thugs.
In fact, the performance by the New York UFT President, laughingly egged on by AFT President Randi Weingarten, was a gift to the anti-union forces. Wrapped in pretty paper with a big bow on top.
Make no mistake about whether this was actually thuggish behavior by Mulgrew.
Or whether he made this speech because he suddenly lost all control.
Based on my experience of the way leadership does things, this was premeditated thuggery.
Mulgrew showed nothing but disdain for union members who oppose corporate reform.
He clenched his fist. He screamed and mocked those who argue that Common Core is the product of Broad and Gates and “martians.”
His anger – real or contrived – was reserved not for those who refused to bargain a contract for six long years, or create bogus teacher evaluation schemes or close schools.
It was reserved it for rank-and-file members.
He might as well have said, “How dare you come into my house and challenge what we in the leadership say or do.”
There were two resolutions. One from the AFT leadership supporting the Obama administration and Common Core, while criticizing its implementation.
Another resolution opposed the Common Core. It was brought by delegates from the Chicago Teachers Union, whose House of Delegates had adopted it a few months earlier.
When Mulgrew took to the microphone to speak in support of the leadership’s position, the debate turned ugly.
Where opponents of the leadership resolution spoke of educational practice and data and the negative impact of Common Core on students, Mulgrew threatened to “punch anyone in the face” who tried to take “my Common Core” away.
There were two things going on in Los Angeles that weekend.
There was a debate about curriculum and what is best for teachers and students.
And there was also a demonstration of union democracy. Or the lack of it.
Because there are such people who are union thugs and union bosses.
And there is a movement to replace them.
This debate over Common Core was about what counts as good classroom practice.
The convention was also about power and who gets to make decisions in our unions.
But you won’t read about that in the Daily News or the New York Post.