July 12, 2008

My AFT convention

Being a Florida delegate at the AFT convention is much easier than being a delegate at the NEA convention: NEA delegates must be at the Florida Education Association daily caucus at 7 am (which is still easier than the FEA leadership, who have a 6 am meeting before the state's 7 am caucus). Here in Chicago, I can luxuriate until the caucus breakfast starts at 7:30 am. Too bad for me the breakfast is designed for meat-eaters who have no family history of cholesterol problems. But it's one of the few times in the year when I can talk with people from other locals, and there are plenty of folks from other parts of Florida whom I very much appreciate as people, fellow educators, and fellow activists.

I also won the hotel-room lottery, having arrived at the hotel late Thursday night. When the desk clerk asked me if I preferred two double beds or a queen, I said, "Any bed that I can sleep on is fine with me." She looked at her computer and said, "Well... I have a king bed in a very nice room," and passed over a room key. I went up to the room, let myself in, and had the relatively unusual experience of feeling my jaw drop to the floor. I left my stuff, returned to the front desk, and asked (another) clerk if I had the right room. (I didn't want to pay for this room's rack rate or have my local on the hook, either.) She explained that sometimes when people with low contracted rates arrive late, the desk clerks only have the... er ... very nice rooms left, so the patrons get them at a much lower rate. I'm not complaining, though I suspect I'm just not the type of person who's going to enjoy this room as much as some others. At least I can finish a complete shoulder roll on the floor and shake my head at the state of the world.

In terms of AFT business, I think I learned the essential ropes in terms of resolutions committees and the AFT's internal politics (organized through the decades-old Progressive Caucus, something very different from NEA caucuses). My one concern on the higher-ed resolutions have been addressed, my state affiliate's president will probably still be on the AFT executive council, and I'll be happy to tell members back in Florida what passed at the AFT in terms of higher ed. Others I know are still actively politicking on various matters, but I've done what I set out to do, and the rest is participation for me in the official affairs of AFT, as a voting delegate.

Oh, yes, and I've met or seen several people from other states, some national staff I've come to know over several years, and walked around the neighborhood here in Chicago. I hope to catch up with at least one friend in Chicago, but I wasn't sure of the convention schedule (in terms of non-general session stuff), so I decided to underschedule. So now you know what I do on a Saturday night during a union convention: get away from the crowds, have dinner on my own (Elephant & Castle, where I haven't eaten in more than 20 years), and hide away in an internet cafe to blog. How sad, eh?

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Posted in The academic life on July 12, 2008 9:50 PM |