Tuesday, October 11, 2005

40% of the Delegates to the DA Vote Against Contract Proposal Despite Leadership Attempt at Vote Manipulation

In a shameful display of filibuster tactic Randi Weingarten demonstrated she can try to stop the rejection of her sell-out contract offer but a large part of our Union won’t bite.

The Delegate Assembly opened up with a promise by the president that she would not “motivate” the resolution to send the contract proposal to the schools. She called for a motion to suspend Roberts’ Rules (which can only legally be done by Constitutional Amendment) so that we could have a “fair” debate.

Fifteen minutes into a non-stop advertisement for the resolution we sought a point of order to limit her diatribe. Since she illegally ruled, all ready, that Roberts’ Rules did not apply, no point of order was ever in order. She continued…and continued….and continued…. for an hour!

When debate began it became clear that Union officials who have not worked in a school in a generation cajoled the delegates to save their jobs vote in favor of sending the proposal to the members. Delegates who taught in our schools argued how the proposal was anti-union and questioned why the leadership would have the temerity to recommend that the document go to the membership.

In perhaps one of the shortest Delegate Assemblies in recent memory and right on cue the question was called (somehow Roberts’ Rules resurrected itself) and the matter was put before the body with over 20 minutes left to the scheduled time for the meeting.

Randi somehow “forgot” about our agreement to instruct the retirees not to vote, so they voted. The body voted 70% in favor and 30% against. When the vote was redone due to our objection the vote was much closer, 60% in favor and 40% against.

This is an incredible showing given the nature of the Delegate Assembly and the attempt to manipulate the vote.

Our fight goes into the schools where, if we get the message out, we will defeat this proposal and get our negotiating committee back to the bargaining table. Tell your colleagues, friends and fellow Union members. We are the ones who will be working under the new rules. Don’t let our Union get destroyed. Vote No.


fedupspeechteacher said...

I was at the meeting tonight and Jeff is telling you just as it was. Blatant lies and scare tactics seem to be the way that Randi and her group are trying to make a go of this union busting contract. We must educate our colleagues not to be clouded by percentages. We are setting a scary precedent if we vote a second consecutive contract with more time for money, and throwing away rights that were fought hard for. Vote in this contract and it a certainty that this union no longer exists when the next one rolls around!

Anonymous said...

In my view, there were about 300 votes against the resolution on the tentative agreement. That was before and after Randi asked the retirees not to vote. (By the way, one retiree voted against the resolution even after he was told not to vote.)There were 1,500 to 2,000 delegates present. If we assume the lower number, there was only a 20 per cent vote in opposition to the resolution. That's from where I was standing.

Anonymous said...

I was also present at the DA today. I saw Mr. Zahler and Ms. Languilli (a/k/a Unity goons)attempt to rush Jeff Kaufman when he called out that Randi had "forgotten" the agreement she'd made at the Executive Board meeting- she would ask unaffected retirees not to vote. After the vote she suddenly remembered her promise. In my view, the votes (both of them)were very close- 60/40.
By the way, I saw a retiree vote FOR the proposal.

Anonymous said...


Randi herself may be coming to my school on Friday. Unfortunately I work with a group who gets easily frightened.

Can ICE send someone to rebuttal if that is allowed?

Jeff Kaufman said...

I doubt Randi would speak if one of us showed up to debate her. You can suggest it and I'd be more than happy to come. Email me at JeffKaufman@earthlink.net

NYC Educator said...

Pardon me, but what the hell kind of vote is it when votes are not actually counted?

reality-based educator said...

Ahh, UFT democracy...

Everybody gets to vote (as long as you support Randi's side, of course!)

And everybody gets to talk (as long as you support Randi's side, of course!)

Utterly shameless.

jameseterno said...

It should be pointed out that we called for a count of the votes but Randi adjourned the meeting. What was she afraid of? The anonymous blogger who said it was five to one for Randi must have been sitting with the Unity faithful or a different meeting.

When the retirees didn't vote the second time around after Jeff Kaufman and I complained bitterly that Randi violated an agreement she made at the executive board last week that retirees wouldn't vote, most of the section in the middle didn't raise their cards. It was much closer the second time around.

Take away the retirees, the Unity people who control the secretary chapter, the guidance chapter, the para chapter and other functionals (non teaching, some who don't even work in the schools), the paid Unity hacks that include most of the executive board, plus the Unity teacher chapter leaders who are obliged to follow caucus policy, and you finally get the sentiment of people who work in the schools. The no votes then would have the advantage.

Lillian M. Varrassi said...

James said it best....The secrtaries chapter does NOT speak for secretaries at large. They vote the way they are told to vote, just as they initiate new members to their board....unless you are pro unity all the way - you do not have a shot.

This apathy among secretaries must end! We pay their salaries with our union dues. They work for us, not the other way around. It is time for all secretaries to shout from the rooftops that this regime will not mandate their agenda above our concerns.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Kaufman; you can say what you want about the wisdom of the proposed contract, but don’t exaggerate the support the “no” position had at the DA. I was there and the “no’s” were lost in a sea of “yes” votes. You and James do your position no good by puffing up the results. To me,(and I was standing on a chair to be sure) it looked like an 80-20 split,(or 4 to 1) and the second vote–-with retirees cautioned by Randi W. not to weigh in–not that much different. In a situation where unionists disagree on strategies, can we at least agree on the facts, and not contribute to any more urban legendry about “sell outs” and “stolen votes.” Nothing was sold out, stolen or undercounted. People of good faith disagree on the contract and on how best to beat back Bloomberg and co. Can you stick to the issues, and with a degree of veracity? Some of your posts--not all, but some-- read like Fox News.

NYC Educator said...

I wasn't there, but it's preposterous that you guys need to bicker over percentages. There should be a vote count and a secret ballot.

Anonymous said...

Well, I suppose these pictures of the yes vote were all doctored up, right?


Let's see just how paranoid we can get here.

northbrooklyn said...

I sat in the uft rubber room last night during the DA meeting and found the proceedings to be profoundly odd. Why does Randi talk for soooo long? [no wonder the contract negs took over two years] And the vote was more than passing strange. Raise your yellow card? That's fine if you have a couple hundred in the room but not with a couple of thou. Common sense would dictate that there be at least a voice vote-"the best little school in brooklyn p.s. 00 votes yea or nay"-
if it's any comfort my delegate voted yes and my chapter voted no, so our teachers could have the chance to speak...[we seem to be moving in a 'no' direction] sensible really since it was apparent we don't get to speak or are heard any other time.

jameseterno said...

Anonymous if you are right about the percentages being so high for Randi, then why didn't she agree to count the votes? We all would have known then, wouldn't we?

Anonymous said...

how about turning discussion to strategizing how to organize the no vote ?
rank and file rejected contract in 1995--how was it done ? where would effort be most productive--hs, jhs, etc;
how do we get the word out, counter official line, educate people ? ( i heard that at one staten island hs, people were told by union rep that if contract was voted down, there would be no further negotiations)--

Anonymous said...

Does anyone actually think Bloomberg will negotiate after the election?

JHiggens said...

James asked: why didn't (Randi) agree to count the votes? We all would have known then, wouldn't we?

James, we know now. You lost. Big, too! Arguing the honesty of the estimated count is just grist for your mill. Go convince the members
that the contract is not in our interests. But spare us the parlor tricks. Running the headline "40% of the Delegates to the DA Vote Against Contract Proposal Despite Leadership Attempt at Vote Manipulation" is tabloid stuff. Amateur tabloid stuff.

jameseterno said...

I agree that we should concentrate a great deal of energy on the vote in the schools which is why I wrote a bunch of questions to ask when the Unity faithful come into the schools at our expense to push the "Givebacks 'R' Us" contract. We won't get any time in the day to go to schools and oppose it. We have to work in our schools all day.

I concede defeat at the DA by a substantial margin on Tuesday. However, without the 300 retirees voting, it was closer the second time around. This is important as it helps to figure out the real mood of the people who will have to live with this awful contract, the members in the schools.

Anyone who thinks that the playing field is level at the DA is kidding themselves. Read the Unity Caucus statement of purpose where one of the membership obligations is to "Support the decisions of the caucus and the Union leadership elected from the caucus in public or Union forums." Unity Caucus members are obliged to support caucus positions, not the sentiments of their chapters.

I very much doubt that all of those Unity people were representing the will of their schools at the DA. Their loyalty is to the caucus. Many don't even work in the schools. I'm sure there were some people who actually believe the Unity spin and voted yes on the merits but if there were a fair fight, equal time to discuss the pros and cons, we could have persuaded more to oppose.

A fifty minute filibuster in favor of the contract by Randi (please don't tell me she gave both sides) and then the debate is unfair. At Jamaica HS where I am chapter leader, I vacated the chair at the start of the meeting on the contract as I was obviously publicly opposed to it. I spoke from the floor and let someone else preside as chairs are supposed to do when they want to speak in favor or against a motion. I was one speaker of many and I didn't attempt to dominate the debate.

In 1995 when the contract was voted down by 56% of the teachers, the DA overwhelmingly supported it. The DA didn't represent the sentiment in the schools back then. By the way UFT President Sandy Feldman had no problem with counting the votes at the DA in 1995. The percentages are important to know when you work out how many people are obliged in advance to vote one way because of caucus obligations. It's not Fox news spin to report that the DA is a stacked deck. It's reality.

Finally, I admire any Unity member who broke with the caucus and had the courage to vote no at the DA if that is what the members in the school he/she represents wanted. I realize they were risking their union perks to do so.

Richard Skibins said...

I was also at the DA on Tuesday. To vote was 60/40. Now, how do we know when those pictures that you posted on Edwize were actually taken? Were they taken earlier when we voted on whether to accept Randi's suspension of Roberts Rules? Were they even taken at the October 11 DA? As someone who was once in the news journalism field, I can come up with hundreds of ways to edit or manipulate photos. If a picture of you is taken as you are sitting next to a buxom blonde on the subway, it can be manipulated to show that you appear to be with her, and could be mailed to your wife. I can take a picture of an assault taking place, and can claim that it is a UNITY goon beating up an ICE member. You "catch my drift," don't you.

NYC Educator said...

"I realize they were risking their union perks to do so."

That's precisely why there needs to be a secret ballot. I'm reminded of the votes in Iraq where Sadaam got 100%.

Can somebody tell me this--when was the voting for HS Academic VP changed? Didn't we use to be able to choose our own rep, without the elementary vote, and isn't tht how Mike Schulman won?

Was that changed? If so, how and when did it happen?


jameseterno said...

To NYC Educator-

It was changed back in 1994 by constitutional amendment so Unity could make sure the opposition never won an officer position again. Since that time, the opposition has won the high schools in every UFT election. To be fair, Unity didn't run for high school executive board seats last year or they would have won. They made a deal with New Action and New Action lost to ICE-TJC. I left NAC over the deal and that is why I was reelected to the Executive Board.

jameseterno said...

To John Doe-

PS The constitutional amendment made voting for vice presidents at large instead of by division. The old way only the high school members voted for high school vp. Now everyone including the retirees votes for the high school vp. You have to hand it to Unity, they know how to keep power.

NYC Educator said...


Are you saying that someone from ICE is actually the HS Academic VP?

Also, I heard that Mike Schulman was on the commitee that negotiated this contract. Do you know if that's true?

What the heck happened to these New Action guys anyway? They used to be adamently opposed to Unity.

jameseterno said...

To NYC Educator-

ICE has six seats on the UFT Executive Board compared to Unity's 83. It's like being in a lion's den. The HS VP is voted for at large. What this means is that all UFT memberrs (retirees, elementary schools, middle schools, non teachers as well as high school teachers) vote for the HS VP. Unity wins all at large positions including the HS VP.

However, part of the Executive Board is elected by division. The High School teachers elect the HS Executive Board, the Middle School teachers elect the Middle School Executive Board, etc... Since only high school teachers vote for the High School Executive Board, opposition candidates can win and have won for the last ten years, I've been elected four times since 1997.

As for Michael Shulman, he was Unity's toughest critic for years but in 2003 he made a deal not to run a candidate against Randi in the 2004 UFT Election and Randi agreed that Unity would not run candidates for HS Executive Board against New Action.

Little did they know that ICE would form and combine with Teachers for a Just Contract to defeat New Action in the election and win the HS Executive Board seats. I left New Action over the deal not to run against Randi and ran with ICE and was reelected.

Michael Shulman is now on the UFT negotiating committee. I think he supports the contract but most New Action people oppose it.

NYC Educator said...

That's really an incredible approach to democracy. For folks like Katherine Harris, it must be positively inspirational.

Anonymous said...

Why don't the high school teachers form their own union?