87 Monthly Lab. Rev. 1138 (1964)
The 1964 Convention of the Teachers Union

handle is hein.journals/month87 and id is 1164 raw text is: The 1964
Convention of
the Teachers Union
IN AN ATMOSPHERE more akin to that of a political
convention than of a trade union conclave, the
48th Annual Convention of the American Federa-
tion of Teachers (AFL-CIO), meeting in Chicago,
August 17 to 21, 1964, elected a new president,
reviewed organizing and collective bargaining
gains and prospects, and attended to a variety of
internal and public affairs, including political
matters. Much of its oratory and a good many of
its reports and resolutions were directed against
the  AFT's rival, the    National  Education
The Election
Early in 1964, Carl J. Megel, president of the
AFT for 12 years, had announced his decision not
to run again for elective office but to accept
appointment as Washington, D.C., legislative
representative. Megel's supporters had   then
advanced the candidacy of Charles 0. Smith, Jr.,
president of the Gary, Ind., Teachers Union,
whose hopes to succeed Megel foundered in a
closely contested election. The winner-by 1,023
votes to 993-was Charles Cogen, the 60-year-old
former president of New York City's United
Federation of Teachers.
The election of the federation's president and
16 vice presidents,.who make up the AFT Execu-
tive Council, is accomplished through an extra-
constitutional caucus system. Of the two existing
caucuses, the Progressive Caucus is financed by
,dues from its supporters, and the National Caucus
by voluntary contributions. Both are permanent
organizations that function between anunal con-
ventions and biennial elections, and both com-

municate with interested AFT members by a
Cogen was the candidate of the Progressive
Caucus, and Smith of the National Caucus, which
had repeatedly elected retiring President Megel
since 1952. Thus, it appeared that Cogen came
to the convention a minority candidate. He had
to-meet allegations of New York domination, and
charges that if elected he would move head-
quarters to New York City, small locals would be
dominated by large locals, the spoils system he
would impose would force out all present central
headquarters staff down to file clerks, and that he
was too militant, thereby endangering the AFT's
On the other hand, a number of factors worked
in Cogen's favor and prevailed sufficiently to
bring him his narrow, uphill victory. His name,
for one, was better known because of his connec-
tion with major breakthroughs in New York.
Thus he appeared more militant than Smith,
although Smith had recently won a strike in Gary,
Ind. Furthermore, Cogen's caucus was disci-
plined and unified, in contrast to the dissension
within it in 1962. At that convention, the Pro-
gressive group could not decide upon a presidential
nominee until the eleventh hour, and then failed
to throw its entire Support behind the nominee.
Its decision to nominate a slate of only 14 candi-
dates for 16 vice presidencies-thus giving caucus
supporters an opportunity to vote for 2 additional
nominees, without taking votes away from caucus
candidates-was crucial in electing 12 of the
Progressive group's nominees by close votes to
the Executive Council. Cogen presented a more
detailed platform than Smith, mapping the kinds
of changes in policy and structure that he envi-
sioned should he be elected. There were marked
similarities between  the two    platforms, but
Cogen's was more effective in swaying the voters.
Once the voting was over and the convention
settled down to acting on resolutions, it became
apparent that few policy differences separated the
two caucuses. Although some resolutions caused
prolonged discussion, unanimity was the general
rule. The present AFT caucus system, it seems,
serves only to rally support behind a particular
slate of candidates.
.of the DiviLon of Indutrmai and Labor Relations, Bleau of Labor

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