Thursday, April 17, 2014


TWU Local 100 (city transit workers) has reached a deal with the MTA.

According to Capital New York, the settlement includes "five years of annual wage increases, including 1 percent in the first two years, and 2 percent in each of the final three years, paid maternity and paternity leave, improved optical and dental benefits, and, noted union president John Samuelson, pointedly, 'no zeros.'"

It is difficult to understand why TWU would settle for this package for city transit workers when a federal commission recommended that Long Island Railroad unions get almost twice as much (17%) over a six year period and LIRR unions are threatening a strike for July.

Update at 9:55 pm
I just read a Newsday piece on the TWU settlement and this quote helps me to understand it a little better: "A TWU source noted that, while the total raises may be smaller, the LIRR unions could argue that the TWU deal is comparable with what they are seeking because the railroad unions have gone longer without a contract. LIRR unions haven't had a contract since 2010. In 2010 and 2011, TWU workers got raises totaling 7 percent."

How this settlement will impact on city workers, including UFT members, is an open question as the MTA is a state agency, not a part of city government. For city unions the news of this agreement looks to be somewhat positive as the precedent of three years of no raises set by state civil service unions, that the city wanted us to swallow, has now been broken albeit with rather small increases.

That should help city workers a little in our bargaining and UFT members in particular.  Remember, we are behind a round compared to most other city unions. The pattern for the previous round is 4%+4% increases. There is no city pattern for the current round.


Someone sent out this Policeman's Benevolent Association ad from the Daily News.  Without knowing anything else about contract negotiations, I think we can safely assume that 0% +0% + 0% probably followed by 2% + 2% raises is still the offer on the table from the city for all city workers for the current round of collective bargaining.

That is the state pattern set by Governor Cuomo and the CSEA that the city is attempting to follow for city unions in spite of a huge city surplus. If the city is not moving for the PBA, it is hard to see them going higher for another union to set a pattern they will have to replicate with other employees.

Remember, the UFT and a few other unions are a contract behind so we are still owed 4% + 4% from the last round of bargaining that most other city unions already received. 

Thanks to Reality Based Educator's comment, we have been directed to the Times article which says the MTA, a state agency, could be moving off of the three years of zero raises in negotiations with TWU Local 100.  However, 8% over five years that the Times is reporting as the offer for city transit workers looks like much less than the 17% over six years that a presidential panel recommended for Long Island Railroad workers recently.  More to come as soon as we have it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


It's not a surprise to me but when you click for Revive NYSUT, you will be sent to the official NYSUT site.  Revive was a convenient campaign site for the NYSUT election that has now disappeared.

While in Chicago last summer, one of the pieces of advice given from members of CORE (CTU President Karen Lewis's caucus) was to strongly urge groups to keep their dissident caucuses together even after winning union elections.  Revive was started as a change group and won the NYSUT election with four new officers including President Karen Magee and one incumbent: Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta.  They have quickly morphed into the established leaders. 

We don't want people to forget the Revive NYSUT promises so here they are straight from a leaflet they handed out at the NYSUT Representative Assembly.

Revive NYSUT is...
  • Against Common Core
  • Against APPR
  • Against High Stakes Testing
  • For Opt Out Parental Rights
  • For a New SED Commissioner and Regents
  • For an End to RTTT and an End to Gates $
  • Against Cuomo
  • Against the Tax Cap and the GEA
  • For NYSUT Transparency
  • Against Fort Orange Club Memberships
What Revive NYSUT is not...
  • We are not puppets of the UFT.  We represent members from the Bronx to Buffalo.
  • We are not Pro-Cuomo.  We have called him the Scott Walker of NY.

This is a comprehensive agenda.  Let's see how they do now that they are in office.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


As we pointed out here a few days ago, Lee Cutler won a landslide victory outside of NYC in the NYSUT election for Secretary Treasurer but he lost the election to Martin Messner because of the bloc of votes from NYC Unity bound by Michael Mulgrew to vote for Revive NYSUT. Cutler issued the following statement on Facebook at Stronger NYSUT.  It is reprinted here in its entirety. 

Message from Lee Cutler:

To All of Our Supporters,

The long campaign is over and Revive won this election. Many of you knew how the odds were against us in this race, but considering those odds, every Stronger Together candidate did extremely well and won support from an impressive number of delegates throughout New York State. I thank you for staying with us despite those odds. We all had confidence we could win and stayed in the fight until the bitter end.

While many of you are disappointed about the results, many good things came out of this campaign. Most important were the friendships and union relationships formed. Leaders and members who never knew each other before are now friends with other NYSUT members throughout the state.

These are friendships that will not end and these bonds will ensure that all voices will be heard in the years ahead and in that sense, NYSUT did grow stronger due to the work we did together.

Even before the campaign, I spent a good part of my time as Secretary-Treasurer traveling to all parts of the state getting to know you, your students, and your communities. For me, the campaign just gave me more opportunity to meet more of you and see more of your world. I consider myself lucky to have experienced every region of the state as I immersed myself in your cultures and your communities. I saw firsthand the local struggles you face and will never forget these struggles as I move forward in my career and do what I can to work for solutions.

The work we began together in human rights and social justice will not stop. I am sure NYSUT will always be a voice in that fight. And I personally plan to be a leader in the human rights movement and continue the work of engaging our students in this critical work. So thank you; thank you for your support. I don't say this lightly. I know we had to earn your support. I know you expected that we speak truth in order to receive that support and through your votes, I know that the viewpoints of all the Stronger Together Officers and At-Large Directors will be represented as NYSUT moves forward.

I wish the new leadership team the best of everything and offer them my support. The challenges public institutions face are huge and, New York State is still led by a governor who thus far has done everything in his power to weaken K-12 schools and our higher education institutions. Along the way, he has attacked unions and our pensions and has turned his back on health care institutions. It is my hope that the new leadership team will hold this governor accountable for the policies already in place that are harming all of us and the institutions that we value most.

As an officer you welcomed me into your homes and communities and an election does not mean that those friendships have to end. For that reason, it would be an honor to stay in touch with you. My new email is I'm sure our paths will cross again and that like me, I am certain that you will be unionists who really believe we are stronger together.

All the best and in solidarity,


Thursday, April 10, 2014


Instead of my usual complaints about how one sided debate was at a UFT Delegate Assembly, I have to admit right from the start that UFT President Michael Mulgrew made a real attempt on Wednesday to play by the rules by focusing on having both sides heard during debate.  It didn't hurt his majority Unity Caucus, who have the votes to pass just about anything at the DA, but it feels good not to have to report about how he spent the entire meeting only calling on one side.  It wasn't perfect but it was much better than usual.

President's Report
19 people were stabbed by a student at a school in Western Pennsylvania.  We are watching this terrible situation closely.
Los Angeles: There is a lawsuit fighting teacher tenure by saying it is an infringement upon student civil rights.  We are helping to fight this.  It is the same right wing groups: Student's First, American Legislative Exchange Council and Democrats for Education Reform (our enemies) that are behind so many of the attacks on teacher unions and public schools.  Make no mistake about it, they want to privatize public education.
Philadelphia: There is a "reform" commission that has gone to court.  They are trying to have teacher seniority and due process rights taken away.  90 out of 290 schools in Philly are now charter schools.  Basically they are trying to end the union contract.  Same groups are behind this case as the LA case.
Chicago: Our same enemies are behind legislation that would lower future pensions of in service people by around 30% and force public employees to pay 2.5% more in pension contributions.
Former Mayor Bloomberg worked with the same people to run well financed campaigns against us here in NYC but we have survived.  It's all about politics.
We are in a state election cycle and our enemies just spent $ 5 million on a campaign for charter schools in NYC.  New mayor wants to work with teachers and parents. Former news reporter Campbell Brown is starting another astro-turf group to lobby locally against our contract.
New campaign by our enemies against the new promotion policy that deemphasizes standardized testing.  They will also try to change the evaluation system to make it more about standardized test scores.
Under Bloomberg's promotion policies, where only the test results mattered for students in grades 3-8, fewer children were held back.  Bloomberg replaced social promotion with social graduation which is why so many students need remedial classes in college.
Politicians think about the next election.  We think about the long term. Our enemies have been emboldened by their success with the new charter school law.
A good lobbying effort produced a mostly successful budget agreement. 
-There was a 5.2% increase in school aid from the state to NYC.  This is up from what we originally were looking at.
-There is $300 million in additional funding in the budget for pre-kindergarten.
-There is a moratorium for high stakes Common Core testing for students; we don't yet know about the tests being used for teacher evaluation as the Legislature is still in session.
-In Bloom (the data collection company) is gone.  Commissioner John King could not guarantee privacy of student information.  We are glad to see Rupert Murdoch will not get student information.
-There will be no standardized testing for grades pre-K -2.
-There will be audits of charter schools in NYS including in NYC for the first time.
-On the down side, the charter school lobby took advantage of a political opportunity to guarantee  colocations and force the city to pay their rents.  We think this provision will end up in court for years.
NYSUT: Karen Magee was elected NYSUT president.  There are three other new officers who have been elected.  Our own Andy Pallotta will continue as Executive Vice President.
the President repeated his remarks about social promotion and reiterated that more students will probably be held back now that teachers have a say in who will be promoted. 
There has not been much immediate relief for our members yet under the new regime but Chancellor Carmen Farina at her meetings with teachers has heard from us about bully principals and excess paperwork.
Artifacts in New Evaluation System
1-Teachers decide on whether or not they want to hand in artifacts and the teacher has the option on which artifacts to hand in.
2-Teachers can turn in artifacts up until Friday, April 11 if we want to but we can also bring artifacts in at the summative conference if we want to because so much of John King's ruling is contradictory.  
3-Artifacts were a good idea that John King and the DOE turned into a bad idea.
4-Artifacts only make up a small percentage of our final rating (3 points) so teachers should ask the principal what he/she is going to give on the artifacts score.
5-People need to chill out on artifacts.
During the question period this came up again, so we will put the answer here.
Question: If principal doesn't rate us on certain domains, is it an automatic ineffective?
Mulgrew Answer: No, the teacher would get a NA in that area. Some schools will have an artifact party on Friday and submit so many artifacts and demand that they be rated.
OT's and PT's-We won the arbitration.  They will be getting paid in May.
Staff Director's Report
Leroy Barr announced the dates for some events including the April 26 Spring Conference at the NY Hilton.
Question Period
Question: The first question concerned Absent Teacher Reserves being evaluated.
Mulgrew Answer: ATR evaluation is still under the satisfactory or unsatisfactory system.  We're not sure how it will work for someone who was placed in a school in the middle of the year.  We can't talk about contract negotiations but hopefully this will be our only year under the current system.
Question: As many ATR's are reading specialists, how can we see that they are placed in schools?
Mulgrew Answer: We know that there is an untapped talent pool that could be utilized better.  We can't talk about this right now because it is in contract negotiations.
Question: Shouldn't we be insisting on certified teachers for the new pre-K programs?
Mulgrew Answer: The state will be reimbursing at a rate of $10,000 if certified teachers are used but only $7,000 if a Community Based Organization uses uncertified teachers.  Those teachers will have a maximum of three years to become certified.  UFT will help them get certified and that should help in organizing.
Question: Some UFT members are going into disciplinary conferences without UFT representation.  What are the ramifications?
Mulgrew Answer: They can be dire and no one should go in without UFT representation.
Question: Principals asking for lesson plans and doctor's notes unlike in the past.  What can we do?
Mulgrew Answer: The administration could always ask to see a lesson plan but they cannot dictate format or collect them ritualistically. We are not publicizing what we are doing behind the scenes but we are working on reigning in onerous administration.  We are also waiting for a decision on the lesson plan arbitration.
New Motion Period
UFT Secretary Emil Pietromanaco introduced a resolution to support the UPS drivers who were fired for supporting a co-worker who was dismissed.  The resolution was added to the agenda and later passed unanimously.  (The drivers were reinstated  yesterday.)
Special Orders of Business
A motion to fix problems of the New York State Alternate Assessments carried unanimously.
A resolution on the May Day rally produced the most controversy. The rally is to support labor rights, immigrant rights and jobs for all. Unity's Paul Egan put in an amendment to make it a little stronger and MORE's Megan Moskop introduced an amendment to make it a more massive rally with specific slogans including a $15 an hour minimum wage,  full retroactive pay for city workers and more.  Mulgrew called on people on both sides of this issue and there was a decent debate.  The MORE amendment failed; the Egan amendment passed as did the resolution.
The final resolution was to support President Barack Obama's call to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.  Mulgrew asked if somebody wanted to speak against this resolution and Joan Heymont responded by noting how she is against both $10.10 and $15 as poverty wages and that we should stop blindly supporting Dems and Obama. She added that if a system can't provide for its workers then it needs to go.  After this, there was a vote and the resolution carried.
That's all for this month. Enjoy Spring Break and may all your artifacts be rated highly effective if you choose to hand them in!

Monday, April 07, 2014


No huge surprises in the New York State United Teachers election on Saturday at the Representative Assembly.  According to the figures I received that are weighted (big locals like the UFT have many more votes than smaller unions within NYSUT), Revive NYSUT's presidential candidate Karen Magee received 61% of the weighted votes while Stronger Together incumbent Dick Iannuzzi garnered 39% of the 328,014 weighted votes.  (328,014 people didn't vote; this is how it is counted with the weighing.)  The results were closer for the other officer candidates. 

We congratulate Ms. Magee and the entire Revive NYSUT slate for their victory.  They have pledged to be against Common Core, the teacher evaluation system, the tax cap, Race to the Top, Gates funding, Governor Cuomo and more.  We wish them well.

A detailed look at the numbers for the election, which we have said was run on as tilted a playing field as a UFT election, shows it was much closer than most people expected.  Outside of New York City, Revive candidates either lost or only won by a small margin.  The difference in this election was the New York City UFT Unity Caucus bloc of votes. 

These Delegates are bound by their caucus obligations to support the decisions of their caucus in public and union forums (the so called Unity loyalty oath) so we knew 34% of the vote (the percentage the UFT has in this election according to what we looked at) was going to Revive from the beginning. That is a healthy head start.

For Secretary-Treasurer, Revive's Martin Messner won with 53.7% of the weighted vote while Stronger Together incumbent Lee Cutler came in with 46.3%. We got to know Lee Cutler a little during the last month and found him to be a decent guy who did a pretty good job as an officer. We are not surprised that he won a huge percentage of the vote outside of New York City. Let's look at some of the details.

There were 328,014 weighted votes that were cast in the election for president.  It was less for other offices which is not unusual in any election. Since 34% of the votes were from the UFT and this was a non secret ballot, we can safely assume that all of the UFT votes were for Revive's Martin Messner.

Outside of NYC we can conclude there were 216,489 weighted votes by simply subtracting 111,525 (34% of the total weighted votes cast) from 328,014 (number of weighted votes cast for president).  Now subtract from Messner's totals the same NYC 111,525 weighted votes from his 175,790 total and he is left with 64,275 votes while Cutler keeps all of his non NYC weighted votes which add up to 151,526.  Outside of NYC, where the election is not a top down mandate from Michael Mulgrew, Cutler won easily with 70% of the vote to Messner's 30%.

The same holds true if we take out the NYC votes from the other officers. Stronger Together's Maria Neira, Kathleen Donahue, and of course Dick Iannuzzi won easily outside of NYC. It was also very competitive outside of the city for Arthur Goldstein against Andrew Pallotta for Executive Vice President.

How does this formula play out with MORE (the Movement of Rank and File Educators)?  Michael Mulgrew and Julie Cavanagh replayed the 2013 UFT Election here at NYSUT for an at large Board of Directors seat.  Let's do exactly what we did with Cutler v. Messner for Cavanagh v. Mulgrew. 

Mulgrew garnered 197,081 weighted votes while Cavanagh received 93,830.  Now take out the 111,525 NYC Unity votes (I think we can safely assume that no NYC Unity voter would vote against Mulgrew in an open ballot) and Mulgrew is left with 85,556. Cavanagh keeps her 93,830 . The percentages work out to 52.3% for Cavanagh and 47.7% for Mulgrew.

Outside of NYC, Julie Cavanagh defeated Michael Mulgrew!

I don't think too many people in the suburbs or upstate knew who MORE was before this election. MORE candidates received a mere six minutes of speaking time at 7:30 am on Saturday morning to make our case to the Delegates.  We pooled that time for two speakers.

One of MORE's speakers, Lauren Cohen, was booed by the New York City Unity group that was sitting in the audience. Lauren persevered and she was great!  Mike Schirtzer followed and made another powerful statement for MORE. The people outside of NYC who heard them responded very positively. Delegates took pictures of the back of the MORE shirt I was wearing that says, "Our working conditions are our students learning conditions."

It is clear that when people know us, they will like us. MORE was not directly endorsed by Stronger Together so we basically ran alone and accomplished our goal on Saturday.

Sunday, April 06, 2014


The MORE crew with our friends Rob Pearl and Beth Dimino from the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association at the NYSUT Representative Assembly Saturday
I spent a long afternoon and evening on Friday and an unending day on Saturday at the NYSUT Representative Assembly. The election results are in but we have agreed not to disseminate them until they are told officially to the Delegates on Sunday.  Needless to say, we will have some analysis later on.