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Vol. 25, No. 4 October 06, 2005
The Patriot Returns aims to be fair-minded. We've criticized the PSC's Dear Leader, "Battlin' Barb" Bowen, when her actions have deserved condemnation. But now we want to praise her honesty in her recent "Message to the University Community."
The Dear Leader decided to be blunt with CUNY faculty: in her mind, "the battle for this contract is about power." Of course, we here at The Patriot Returns long have suspected that boosting her power, not getting a good economic package for CUNY professors, was Battlin' Barb's #1 priority. But it's nice to see that she's now willing to admit this herself.
Some of our correspondents have suggested that the Dear Leader wants that "Trophy" of being the first woman to lead a strike of the largest union in higher education. This would be a badge of honor for her among labor leaders, who might even forgive her for being the only union head affiliated with the AFT to vote against the resolution supporting our troops in the war against the Taliban. Others have speculated to us that she wants to go to jail to get into the "honor" roll of union leaders who engaged in civil disobedience. Of course, causes like promoting civil rights or protesting the war in Vietnam wouldn't seem to most people to be on the same level as increasing Battlin' Barb's power. But we're sure that the Clarion --- better known as "Pravda on 43 Street" --- will hail the Dear Leader's courage in the face of adversity.
Since it's all "about power," let's reminisce about what the Dear Leader has done with the power she already has. She hired as the union's chief counsel a convicted felon. She sent off union dues to convicted terrorists. She's authorized destruction of the dental plan and free life insurance. She's authorized gutting the Welfare Fund. With that kind of record, imagine what the Dear Leader would do with even more power? But, again, we praise the Dear Leader for her honesty: it's all about power, and Battlin' Barb wants more, even if she has to cajole CUNY faculty into breaking the law for her to get it.
DON'T GET TOO USED TO HONESTY
Now that we've praised the Dear Leader for her honesty, the spirit of fair-mindedness compels us to note that her same "Message to the University Community" went back to her old ways of deception and double-speak. The September 29 mass meeting, we were told, was "to launch the next phase of the union's all-out campaign this fall for a good contract. Members would have an opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session with the PSC negotiating committee." But a previous mass E-mail from PSC headquarters announced that, "Hundreds of union members are rallying on September 29 to signal our refusal to accept management's austerity contract." Was that E-mail a little more "honest"? A tip to the Dear Leader: honesty is the best policy only when you're always honest. Selective honesty can be contradictory---like when you describe what was really a rally to build support for a strike as a "question-and-answer session."
"DEMOCRACY" AND "POWER":
In her " Message to the University Community," the Dear Leader assured us that a strike referendum "will be conducted among the entire membership, in the most democratic way, and by secret ballot." But, since a strike is all about increasing her power, Battlin' Barb can't schedule a referendum and lose.
Accessing our contacts from around the University, The Patriot Returns has discovered how the Dear Leader and her minions are "helping" the democratic process along.
Our sources at Bronx Community College inform us that union reps have been going from department to department pressuring faculty to back the strike and keeping files on those who won't promise to man the picket lines. Keeping written files on opponents? This sounds like Pyongyang-style democracy! Is the PSC's Dear Leader taking a page from the real Dear Leader?
The Patriot Returns also enjoyed reading Battlin' Barb's recent letter to all CUNY department chairs. After pleading with them to come to the strike rally (oops, we meant "question and answer session"), the Dear Leader continued, "Your support for the meeting . . . sends a powerful signal to the other members of your department. I am asking you to make every effort to be there and help to make participation in the meeting a priority for your departmental colleagues."
Imagine those department chairpersons who followed the Dear Leader's guidance. What untenured professor could resist pressure from his or her chair to attend the union's meeting---given that this same chair will have the biggest say on the junior faculty's tenure bid? Even for tenured professors, a department chair has the power to make your work life miserable. Better to go along and put in an appearance at the strike rally, rather than risk a bad spring term schedule.
Was the Dear Leader actually urging chairs to abuse their power so she could increase her own? Maybe this is what she means when she promises that the strike referendum will be handled "in the most democratic way."
"FOGGY" LONDON RUNS AGROUND