United Federation of Teachers (UFT)
The delegates also heatedly debated a resolution calling for
an end to the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq. The resolution, which was adopted by a
wide margin, was an endorsement of this summer’s AFL-CIO Executive Council
resolution 53 and urged “our country’s leaders to bring our troops home rapidly
and [put] a stop to the unending military presence that will waste lives and
resources, undermine our nation’s security and weaken our military.”
Those opposed to the resolution called it “appeasement.” Retired teacher and former UFT Vice President Abe Levine said that withdrawal of American troops would mean victory that those who oppose democracy. He called the insurgents in Iraq “fascists.”
Levine also said the resolution was a “divisive issue,” which would “tear this union apart” at a time when UFT members should be focusing on more immediate concerns.
Delegates in favor of the resolution said the war in Iraq was too important an issue for the UFT to ignore, especially since it drained resources from domestic concerns like education and health care. Tom Dromgoole, Manhattan high school representative, said, “Progressive voices like the UFT need to speak out and make our voice heard.”
Beach Channel HS Chapter Leader Dave Pecoraro said the war, which has already cost the lives of some 2,400 Americans and many thousands of Iraqis, had to stop.
And Martin Plotkin, District 6 representative, said some of those lost lives were people in his district and that he had enough of going to their funerals.
Lisa North, delegate from PS 3 in Brooklyn, offered three brief amendments that called for immediate, rather than “rapid” withdrawal of American troops and added language that called for the UFT to spend resources on anti-war activities and to join with other labor groups against the war. The amendments failed.