Monday, October 23, 2017

MTA BROOKLYN BUS DRIVERS AT SPRING CREEK DEPOT DUMPING THEIR UNION

For people looking for precedent for public employees in NYS decertifying their union and starting a new one, look no further than Brooklyn where the MTA bus drivers at the Spring Creek Depot have signed pledge cards to drop the Amalgamated Transit Union and start their own independent union.

These workers have been without a contract since 2012.

From the Chief Leader (Most of the article is behind a pay wall.):


Spring Creek Drivers Look to Bolt ATU To Create Own Union

By BOB HENNELLY
Bus drivers who work out of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Spring Creek Depot in Brooklyn are one step closer to breaking away from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 and forming their own union after winning the right to vote to do so when the Public Employment Relations Board last month ordered a decertification election that is expected to be held in November. Read more
Since our October 5 post came out on what it would take to fix the UFT internally or for the high school division to oust the UFT and start a new union, we have received some inquiries and several commitments to help with fragmenting the high schools into a separate bargaining unit but not enough to make anyone at the UFT sweat.
Due to the fact that the UFT is a huge union, we would need a monumental effort with at least a hundred high school activists (or middle school or elementary school activists for their divisions) obtaining scores of signatures to get a showing of interest petition to the Public Employees Relations Board. 30% of the approximately 20,000 high school teachers would need to sign the petition to get it to PERB.

Our main point in writing the October 5 post was to say that bolting from the UFT and starting over or fixing it from within would both require massive undertakings. If teachers in much larger numbers than are currently involved, are willing to become active, we can make a difference. If, however, folks have given up on the prospect of a real union, then conditions in the schools will continue to deteriorate. It's too late to just blame Michael Mulgrew for that.

Union power comes from a rank and file willing to do whatever it takes to improve working conditions, not from a leader. Leaders can only help move the center of gravity in the right direction. Our colleagues need to be persuaded that it is in their interest to become involved in a militant, activist union.

As my colleague now retired Chapter Leader from Bryant High School Sam Lazarus repeatedly says:

"The two problems with the UFT are the leadership and the membership." 

We can't solve the leadership problem without first activating the membership. It is up to all of you and make no mistake about it, nothing will be easy.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER EMILY JAMES MAKES THE CASE FOR PAID MATERNITY LEAVE

Emily James is the Brooklyn high school teacher who started a petition at Change.org for the UFT to negotiate family leave rights for parents. Her petition has over 80,000 signatures. It has also ignited an intense debate here between those who favor her position and others who don't think the rest of us should have to pay for it as the city is insisting.

Here is the op-ed Emily wrote in the Daily News this weekend. Her introduction is powerful:

"Miss, why are you here? You need to go home.” These are words my students have said to me many times, on days when I sit at my desk, suffering from strep throat or an infected wisdom tooth, incapacitated, but out of sick days and unable to afford to lose a day’s pay.

Am I chronically ill? No. I am a teacher and a working mother in a New York City public school.


Under the current state of weakness of our union, there is virtually no chance of us getting a paid family leave benefit, or any other, without either a lower raise in the next round of collective bargaining or some kind of giveback.

Employees at large paying for paid family leave is a pattern set by the new state law which grants paid family leave in the private sector.

This is how New York state law is charging all employees for eight weeks of paid leave at a maximum of half of New York's average weekly wage which is $1,305.92 a week.

From the state:
Does Paid Family Leave cost me anything?
New York’s Paid Family Leave is entirely employee-funded. That is, the benefit is paid for by employees.


Employers may collect the cost of Paid Family Leave through payroll deductions. The maximum employee contribution in 2018 shall be 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage up to the annualized New York State Average Weekly Wage.

Emily James, in addition to the Daily News piece, spoke last month at the UFT Executive Board. Over at Ed Notes, Norm  posted the case Emily made at the Executive Board on Monday followed by something one her co-worker sent in:

Thank you for having me. I’m here to shed light on an issue that has long been important to the parents and children of the DOE. In 2012, I got pregnant with my first daughter. I was so excited, like most first time mothers are. But I didn’t realize then what I know now: that pregnancy marked the beginning of new life for me, not just because I would become a mother, but because I would embark on a long financial struggle that would continue with me for years. My decision with my husband to create a beautiful family of four has left me with my life savings depleted, and in a constant state of panic over not being able to get out of my negative balance.


My story is not unique. Back in May, I started a petition to ask our union to help fight for paid parental leave. Since then, it has exploded: receiving almost 80,000 signatures, and still growing. When I began this petition, I had no idea how many thousands of other women and men were affected by this poor policy. They wrote story after story of how much they have struggled and are still struggling. Women wrote that they are scared to begin a family at all because of this policy, and keep putting it off out of financial fear.  Some wrote about missing rent payments and fearing eviction because they had medical complications before birth and just did not have a cushion to lean on.  Some wrote about leaving the profession all together because they could not fit motherhood into their lives with this lack of support; It was easier for them to turn somewhere else. I received email after email of story after story about people who were so horribly affected.  I wanted to print out the petition comments so you could read all of the stories yourself. But the document was 684 pages long.


This should not be a thing! It should not be a choice for women to be excellent teachers to the students of NYC or to be mothers for their own children. As you know, when we become mothers to our babies, we have to use our sick days in order to be paid for up to 6 weeks, 8 weeks if a C section.  Most of us do not have enough days to cover that time, and if we already had a child, then forget it. Having a baby is not a sickness. Borrowed time is not maternity leave time. It is a loan that many women are never able to pay back. I have been buying back one day a month for a whole year and am still in a negative balance. I need that money to help with my two daughters, my mortgage, my life. This also becomes an issue of gender equality. Men are able to retire with many more days that they can cash in. When we retire, if we have decided to have and raise children, or stay with them until they are 6, 8 or 12 WEEKS old, we will have so many fewer days than most men.


Have you seen what a 6 week old baby looks like? Have you held one? Most of us have to drop that tiny child off to strangers and return to work, and we have had to pay out of pocket just to stay home with them for that short time. They do not sleep through the night. They are still breastfeeding. And then we return, in the negative balance, we are further penalized when we get sick, or when they get sick. Sending a mother of a six week old back to work to teach America’s youth, financially strapped, ridden with anxiety, exhaustion, isn't just bad for that mother. It's bad for everyone.


I'm sure I don't have to point out the irony here. But I will. We dedicate our lives to taking care of other people's children, we become second mothers to them, sometimes first. The system expects that from us, and we deliver. But when it comes time for us to do the bare minimum for our own children, the system forgets us, makes it impossible for us, tells us we are on our own.


This petition is not for me: I am done having children, but this needs to be changed for all of the mothers and fathers of our future.


There are close to 80,000 signatures for this petition. It has gained media attention, national attention, international attention. People are watching us, they are expecting more from us. Studies have shown time and time again that babies benefit immensely from being home with their mothers for the first year of life.  The teachers of the DOE need more.. They deserve more time, they deserve to be paid for it. Why aren’t we fighting for them? Let's not let them, or their children...who become our children...let's not let any of them down.


We pay you our dues dutifully month after month, year after year. You are the only voice we have. We are here in numbers, 80,000 strong, demanding in the most polite way we know how,  that you stop ignoring us, that you help us begin this fight, and don’t stop fighting for us until we make the situation right.
Emily's colleague who could not be here asked Emily to pass this on - I'm leaving her name off since she shares some private medical info.
I gave birth July 10, 2017 - 3 days before my due date. Teachers have said I was “lucky” to be due over the summer. It wasn’t luck. I have been trying to conceive for a couple years, but only had a small window - the month of October of each year. That would give me a late June - early July due date. My due date wasn’t “lucky” - it was meticulously planned. I used apps to track my cycle and ovulation and in October 2016 I bought an ovulation kit. I conceived that month. Had I not gotten pregnant, I would’ve waited another year to try again. I wanted to be due early/mid July. I NEEDED to be due early/mid July. You see, I did not have enough sick days to cover a 6 week maternity leave. I wouldn’t be able to afford taking any unpaid time off.
I only took 4 days off during the entire school year, 3 of them due to my severe morning sickness. I lost 21 pounds the first 6 months and at the time I gave birth, I was still under my pre-pregnancy weight. My pregnancy was considered high risk because of a previous health condition. Despite numerous days of debilitating morning sickness, even in my third trimester, I went to work. There were mornings I vomited in the trash can outside of the school as I waited for security to open the doors for the day. Despite almost passing out on the train station platform during my morning commute, on more than one occasion, I went to work. On the really bad days, I hunched over the platform edge and hurled onto the tracks, then continued to go to work. I could not afford to use any more sick days. I need them just in case I would have to be put on bed rest the last few weeks of my pregnancy. But I survived the school year.
I went into labor and was admitted into the hospital the morning of Monday July 10th. During labor, I ran a fever and had an infection. My daughter was born at 6:49p weighing 5lbs 13oz. My full term baby was the size of a premature baby. She would be in the NICU for the next three days because of my infection.

When I went for my six week postpartum check up on Aug 20th, my doctor recognized I had some postpartum complications and advised I not return to work. Despite being advised to take a significant amount of time off, I quickly referred to the school calendar to figure out that I only had enough sick days to take September off (17 working days). I could not afford to take any unpaid days off.
As of today, September 25, 2017, I am preparing to return to work in a week. My health and well being will just have to take a back seat. My daughter, who is only 11 weeks old as of today, will have to take a back seat.

We are trying to be fair here at ICE. Here is a comment I made in response to people opposing paid family leave or saying the city should pay for it. This is from our September 26 posting.  I agree the city should pay and not give us a lower raise as a result but...

James Eterno said



Let's be serious here. Read the posting. The DOE is not even giving people on unpaid leaves their interest free loan repayment on time. The DOE is making these people wait a year for their money.These officials who have zero heart are suddenly going to grant parental leave without givebacks? I don't think so. The only way we get this without givebacks is if we were able to use our collective power to fight for it. That is not happening just based on the lack of solidarity here. Expect a smaller raise or some other giveback in exchange for parental leave. The UFT is only arguing that the giveback should be much less than what the city managers had to give.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 4:34:00 AM

Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
James, that is the entire point. We ARE expecting givebacks and that is why the majority of people posting here are angry. We are pissed at the mere thought of givebacks. We would rather see not paid maternity paid leave if there are givebacks. We are not women haters here. We are rational men and women who understand the deep responsibilities and ramifications involved in planning and raising a child. We understand that having a child is a planned choice and is different from getting ill where insurance is needed. We do not think that it is fair that we will end up losing sick bank days or a possible larger raise to fund paid maternity leave especially if we already had kids or choose to never have kids of our own. Paid maternity leave punishes those of us who are responsible enough to pay for kids on our own or who choose to never have kids. If the city wants paid maternity leave based on givebacks, the only people who should be effected by this are those who are planning on having kids. Maybe set up a system where teachers who want kids can opt in to a paid maternity leave plan where they get less sick days per year or a reduction in pay. I was talking about the possibility of teachers loosing sick days to pay for maternity leave with a group of female teachers yesterday and they all agree that it is not fair to those of us who choose to never have kids.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 5:02:00 AM

A follow up:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 6:47:00 PM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Chances are if a future parent doesn't have three or more children then they will actually lose money from any "deal" that is made. Nobody is going to be smart enough to run the numbers. Most people having kids will be younger and making less money. Even giving up a half percent will bite them in the rear over the long run. Forget about the rest of us who had kids already or will never have any. 


This important discussion is taking place here at ICE. I am good with that. Just try to stay on topic and be professional.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

DC REPUBLICANS GOING AFTER MIDDLE CLASS RETIREMENT SAVINGS

Reality Based Educator sent me this piece from the NY Times this morning on the Republican plan to slash 401(k) contribution limits to as low as $2,400 a year as part of their scheme to lower taxes for the wealthy. It is safe to assume our 403(b) accounts (TDA's) are being considered for contribution limits too.

Here is RBE's email:

James,

Red alert. GOP plans to limit 401(K) contributions to $2400 a year in order to force people to put money into ROTH accounts that make you pay taxes up front. The additional tax money will then be used to give rich people and corporations tax cuts. The Republicans are planning this in secret, will roll the plan out quickly and force a quick vote before opposition can mount. Coupled with the elimination of the state tax deduction, this will cost teachers thousands a year + a decent retirement nest egg.

I have been calling ALL Republican members of the House this morning in NY State and letting them know we KNOW what they are planning and we will hold them accountable politically if they do this.  I urge you to post this on the blog, along with contact info for the House, to get readers to start making calls and make sure these Republicans know they're not going to get away with this without a fight.

Here's a link for all House members in NY:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/NY#representatives
www.govtrack.us
Find your U.S. Congress senators and representative in New York using a map.




Friday, October 20, 2017

MULGREW TO DELEGATE ASSEMBLY: THESE ARE BEST OF TIMES FOR NYC PUBLIC SCHOOLS

I sat at the Delegate Assembly Wednesday thinking I work in a totally different school system than UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Mulgrew listed a long list of UFT and NYC school system triumphs. I thought I was at a high school pep rally at times although the applause was rather tepid.

He told Delegates NYC high school graduation rates are the highest ever, test scores are up (we have an ad running that says all of this), only 214 teachers were rated ineffective last year under the new evaluation system compared to over 3000 under the old satisfactory or unsatisfactory system, and the lump sum payments are in our bank accounts for the most part. He added the school year was off to a great start before the tragic stabbing in the Bronx; we only have to use our consultation committees for principal and superintendent issues to be resolved; consultation can even lower class sizes; SESIS has improved and everyone's been paid for work they did; and more. The overall tone was very upbeat. As the UFT commercial says, "We're making history."

ICE blog wants to know is this the best of times for NYC schools and for teachers?

Mulgrew did concede there are challenges: the Constitutional Convention, the whacky federal government and Janus. We are with a coalition of 600 organizations including the Conservative Party to get the no vote out on November 7; next year we will win the midterm Congressional election to fix DC; and the UFT will go door to door to convince over 100,000 members to stay in the Union when the Supreme Court makes us a right to work country. Face-to-face contact with our members will save the UFT.


  • Are you feeling the love at school?



  • Since so few teachers are rated ineffective, are you feeling secure in your job?



  • Is the graduation rate real?



  • Do you feel protected if you turn to the Union?

  • Do your friends who are UFT members feel like Mulgrew that the NYC public schools are a beacon of light giving hope to public school supporters everywhere?

I can talk about how the Department of Education is ignoring effective ratings and discontinuing untenured teachers anyway or how tenured teachers with no ineffective annual ratings are being charged in dismissal hearings, how the minimum 4 observations for teachers are brutal, how there is no student discipline in many schools, how there are plenty of administrators who ignore the UFT contract, how there are useless CTLE hours teachers have to endure and more but what do I know?


  • While Mulgrew conceded conditions in the schools could improve, is he right that the NYC schools are a major success story?

  • Are we just a small group of disgruntled complainers?


Please answer. We need the anecdotals. Tell us the level, borough and district where you work.

Thanks.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

LIVE BLOGGING FROM OCTOBER DA (unedited)

First UFT Delegate Assembly of the 2017-18 school year is today. Sorry in advance for any errors from the smartphone.

President's Report
Michael Mulgrew started by having a moment of silence for Mark Schaefer, long time CL, who passed away.

City
UFT proud of what we do. Showed UFT commercial. Teachers who made commercial introduced themselves.

National
Janus, other craziness. State and city budgets start July 1. No common sense about federal government. President proposes getting rid of children's health program. State will pick it up but state looking at $4 billion hole. City doing OK but if federal cut goes through, state will have $8 billion hole. State and city cannot do budgets because of federal situation. Education cut to bone in many states around the country. Instability in DC will impact states and cities soon.

Disasters: UFT there in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican union distributing aid through their building. We will help in California too.

State
Word has gotten out about ConCon. Email Paul Egan if you want a lawn sign. 600 organizations involved, not just unions. Conservative party head in odd coalition with us.

Are we talking to colleagues to vote no on constitutional convention? Magnets to vote no. Nov 7 election day also anniversary of first UFT strike in 1960. Mayor's race also. Happy enemies are reluctantly conceding point that school system is doing better.

SUNY changed regulations for charter schools so it is easy to certify teachers. Turnover rate 40% a year in charters and 50%in Eva's schools. We sued them. Teaching is a profession. Board of Regents looking to have new accountability for charter schools. First charter school high school started with over 70 kids and now has 18. There will be 100% graduation of the 18 that are left. Happy Board of Regents will hold charters accountable. Public schools have 76% high school gradutation rate even with kids sometimes moving to different schools within the system.

City
Year off to good start until student was murdered in class in the Bronx. Young staff. Signs were there and DOE did nothing. Angry at DOE. Why do they give surveys if they ignore that there were bullying problems?
Thanks people at school.

Schools
Emphasize consultations. Superintendents on our radar now that we have information from hundreds of chapter leaders. If superintendents won't deal with issues, we will deal with it at central level. DOE has sent out instructions to resolve class size grievances. Bring it up in consultation.

Paperwork
Good results from paperwork complaints from last year. Chapters have power to stop five page unit plans and curriculum maps.

OPW
Certain things should be exceptions.

Professional Conciliation
Procedures set up to ask for conciliation on line.

SESIS
Money from grievance went out. SESIS inquiry on UFT website.

Lump Sum Payment
By next week everyone should get it. Since it is wages, it is taxable and union dues come out.

Evaluations
Based on matrix. Pick multiple measures. We went from 3000 U ratings to 214 ineffectives. Principals and Superintendents think we are usurping their authority. Does anyone want to go back to principal's having total control over ratings?

Making Strides
We raised over $1 million this weekend. Thanks borough coordinators.
Raffle to raise more money.

CTLE
Trying to get DOE to partner with us. Must be certified CTLE course that state certifies with attendance and proper insructor. DOE has finally agreed to partner with us. PD in contract. Some schools have PD that counts.

ELL conference 1200 showed up last Saturday. Chancellor there. Might have had a breakthrough with DOE on CTLE because of this.

Artie Pepper wins Cogen award at Teacher Union Day. UFT did 1.4 million prescriptions last year.Among 1% who have no premiums for healthcare.

UFT welcome center open.

5600 teachers hired this fall.

Janus: We will probably take a brutal loss according to lawyers in case and become a right to work country. Goal is to weaken unions. We stand in right wing's way. UFT largest local in country. We will be targeted. Goal of right wing is to take away our ability to stand up to them. UFT trying to visit every member at home. Some visits will be tough. Need a group of people to be trained and go door to door. Need face to face contact. Need delegates to do this work. Will give a stipend for this work.

Staff Director's Report
Leroy Barr asked about people to sign up for campaign to go door to door to talk to members. Want to talk to over 100,000 members.

Phone banks open for Nov 7 election. Turn ballot over to back to vote no on con con. Need people to get involved.

Other dates announced. New teacher meet and greet, etc...Next DA November 8

Mulgrew back
Negotiating with city on paid family leave. City coming in right direction but they still want us to pay for it. Don't want march of the onesies.

Question Period
Question: Do we have to upload daily lesson plans on Google docs?
Answer: It is ritualized collection of lesson plans even if it is electronic.

Q March on Albany on new charter certification requirements. Are colleges impacted by dumbing down certification requirements?
A: Governor did not do this. Governor has pivoted. He wants to win back Congress. We have lots of enemies. Have to work with people we might not like on certain issues.

Q: Pension money used for affordable housing?
A: Yes it happens. Trustees vote on investments and they get returns. Pension funds growing.

Q: Advisory ratings issued. How to ensure they aren't used against us?
A: It is in state law that they must be issued.

Q: Is it insubordination not to follow principal's strong suggestions?
A:No

Q: We have to report on kids what about teachers who are harrassed?
A:No, call Office of Equal Opportunity.

Q:Teachers writing annual goals?
A: Post consultation notes and contact Debbie Poulos.

Q:Why don't we get Vets Day off?
A: DOE policy. It is not in contract.

Motion Period
No motions

Special Orders of Business
One resolution was on preserving DACA, one on aiding hurricane and wild fire victims and one on supporting NYC March for climate justice.

Nothing controversial. All passed. The DACA resolution was amended to not let Nicole Malliotakis sue to get NYC ID info out.

HOW SHOULD DISSIDENTS IN THE UFT RESPOND TO IMPENDING UNION LOSS IN SUPREME COURT?

The Nation has a great piece on how the right wing Supreme Court is about to take aim at worker rights in its current term. Union dues in the public sector will almost certainly become optional in 2018. The public sector will become a right to work environment soon with the case of Janus vs. AFSCME

The Nation explains Janus:

At issue are “agency fees,” which unions sometimes charge non-members. By law, unions must negotiate on behalf of all workers in a bargaining unit. Thus, all workers in a unionized shop enjoy the higher wages and better benefits that often come with unionization—according to one study, unionization raises wages by about 12 percent on average. To prevent non-members from free-riding off the union, union contracts often require every worker to pay their fair share of the bargaining costs, regardless of whether they join up. Without such an arrangement, the union risks becoming so starved of funds that it can no longer operate.

Janus, however, asks the Supreme Court to declare these agency fees unconstitutional, at least in the context of public-sector unions—and it relies on an exceptionally aggressive reading of the First Amendment to do so. 

Later, The Nation predicts that it is all but certain the unions will lose.

How do all of us who have been opposed to Michael Mulgrew's dominant Unity Caucus in the UFT prepare for the impending Janus storm?


  • We can stand behind the Union and encourage everyone to do the same. The UFT is in need of electoral reform where there is real accountability but the Unity majority is virtually guaranteed to resist any changes that would threaten their total control of the Union. Still, we have a job that pays six figures annually for those of us who can last and the benefits are pretty good. The UFT has to get some credit for that. 

  • We can organize a new union based on voluntary contributions so Janus won't matter. We wrote about this for high school teachers on Thursday, October 5. It would require a level of member activism up to now unheard of in the UFT (as would fixing the UFT). A new union probably wouldn't get bigger raises because of pattern bargaining (a weak union like the UFT settles on a wage increase and other city unions are stuck with the same settlement) but on working conditions, restoring teacher dignity and enforcing a contract some of us believe we could do better in our sleep upholding teacher rights compared to the UFT.

  • We can encourage people to keep their dues and not bother with a union. That is truly cutting off our noses to spite Mulgrew's face. Can anyone cite any examples of workers who are better off because they no longer have a union? I can't think of one.
My guess is sadly some people who read this blog will choose the last option. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

IN POST JANUS WORLD WILL UNIONS HAVE TO SUPPORT NON-MEMBERS?

There is a very interesting piece in Slate Magazine on the future of public sector unions after we more than likely lose the Janus vs AFSCME case.

Does a post Janus union have to represent someone who refuses to join the union? Slate's answer is no and I would concur.

This is a major part of the Slate piece:

The National Labor Relations Board describes non–union members’ “right to fair representation” from unions as follows:
Your union has the duty to represent all employees—whether members of the union or not—fairly, in good faith, and without discrimination. This duty applies to virtually every action that a union may take in dealing with an employer as your representative, including collective bargaining, handling grievances, and operating exclusive hiring halls. For example, a union which represents you cannot refuse to process a grievance because you have criticized union officials or because you are not a member of the union.


As professors Catherine Fisk and Margaux Poueymirou have persuasively argued, though, if the Supreme Court holds that compulsory fair share fees are unconstitutional because they require non–union members to spend money on political causes with which they disagree, then compelling unions to expend their own scarce resources advocating for the benefit of nonmembers would similarly be unconstitutional “on the court’s own analysis.”

But the violation of unions’ First Amendment rights is more severe than merely compelling them to spend money. In addition to depleting unions’ resources, compelling unions to advocate on behalf of nonmembers who frequently oppose their very existence represents a severe violation of unions’ First Amendment rights to determine their membership and the terms of their association.

The Supreme Court has held over and over again that governmental interference with a private group’s membership requirements “may impair the ability of the original members to express only those views that brought them together.” Given this reality, the court has long recognized that “[f]reedom of association therefore plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate.” The Supreme Court expounded on this principle in a landmark 2000 ruling, which held that the Boy Scouts of America had the right to expel a gay member, lest the organization lose its “ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.”

In other contexts, allowing the government to force organizations to advocate on behalf of people who oppose them would lead to results that most would properly regard as absurd. For instance, what would be left of the right to associate if the government could compel Republicans to allow Democrats to vote in their nominating conventions? Or force the Jewish Anti-Defamation League to promote the views of Nazis? Can civil rights advocates be compelled to permit the KKK to march with their members at parades, or vice versa? Simply put: Individuals are either free to define the terms of their association, or they are not.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

AFT ASKS FOR DONATIONS FOR CALIFORNIA FIRE VICTIMS

What an insane period for the Union's disaster relief fund. The AFT is now appealing for donations for California wildfire victims. Here is the latest email from AFT President Randi Weingarten.

James,

I’m writing from Puerto Rico, where I’m spending the weekend working with our leaders and activists from the AsociaciĆ³n de Maestros de Puerto Rico and our volunteers from our healthcare and nurse locals helping deliver food and water and opening makeshift health clinics for people in San Juan and other regions of the island hard hit by Hurricane Maria.

It has been three weeks since the hurricane hit, yet on the ground it feels like it hit three days ago. Our union—understanding the importance of schooling—is working in communities to repair and reopen schools, despite a majority of the island still being without power and having little access to food, water and medical supplies. Many of our nurse and health professional members from the mainland have volunteered, and 25 traveled to the island on Oct. 4 for a two-week stint to provide much-needed medical care. They have literally been the difference between life and death for some. Everywhere we’ve gone, we hear that we are the first help to reach people. And the stories of so many who have lost so much are heartbreaking.

But their union is there for them, and the AFT Disaster Relief Fund donations you have so generously given are being used here, just like in Texas, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to help people survive and rebuild.
Now I must come to you again—a fourth time in just seven weeks—on behalf of our members who are facing another kind of natural disaster. Wildfires are raging through Northern California, destroying thousands of homes, schools and buildings. Already, at least 38 people are confirmed dead, with hundreds more missing.

The AFT and the California Federation of Teachers are doing everything to reach our members via phone, email and text to make sure they are safe and to see what they need. We’ve heard from members whose homes have been destroyed, members who lost everything as they fled from these terrible fires.

Please donate to assist our brothers and sisters in California who need our help.
It is times like this that we come together as a union and as a family to help our fellow members. As we did in Texas after Hurricane Harvey, in Florida after Hurricane Irma, and in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Now, we are asking for immediate help for our members through the Disaster Relief Fund, and we will be there for the long haul to help the rebuilding and recovery process.

I know we have asked a lot in the wake of these recent disasters, but please help our members affected by the fires by making a donation to the AFT Disaster Relief Fund.

In unity,

Randi Weingarten, AFT President
Joshua Pechthalt, California Federation of Teachers President


P.S. We’re still fundraising for our members in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well. Please click here to donate to that specific fund.