Saturday, November 05, 2005

Ratification Vote Shows Leadership Disconnect


While the vote is in and most of the spin has been spun there are some important observations that must be pointed out.

Never in the history of the UFT has so much effort gone into the ratification process. No stone was unturned, union dues spent, or pressure exerted to get this contract passed.

Some examples…

Despite a clear message by the Executive Board last year, reaffirmed by Randi and included in an edition of the New York Teacher opposition literature was barred by UFT leaders from being placed in mailboxes. Yet UFT District Reps and other paid staff members were given unfettered access to stuff teacher mailboxes while ICE members were not even allowed into schools or saw our literature removed from the mailboxes when we did get access.

For God’s sake they even made a pitch in the rubber room (and “forgot” to discuss the new provision dealing with the new right of the DOE to suspend members without pay).!

Randi, herself, along with other high ranking leaders were dispatched to “trouble spots,” schools were information or poll data indicated a strong negative vote.

Union meetings were disguised as information about the contract where they were clearly clever pitches to support the ratification in which most of the negative points were omitted or downplayed.

Despite a resolution calling for the ballots to be mailed to members and that strict rules be followed for the ratification vote (the resolution was ruled “out of order” by our President) the Union insisted on providing numerous opportunities to permit misguided Chapter Leaders to be able to see how members voted by holding the “secret ballot” to the light and not following historical Union practice of requiring Chapter Election Committees to hold the vote.

All this and they only got 63% of the counted votes. With 37% voting no and almost 20% not voting or sending in invalid ballots, there is clearly something rotten at 52 Broadway.

The membership has spoken, to paraphrase Randi, and they want to take back THEIR union!

29 comments:

Nice teachers finish last --Lets kick ass. said...

Lets send Randi to the rubber room. Since she has limited teaching experience, lets start her at the new base pay of $42,000. Right there, we free up $178,000 and that's not even counting expense accounts and other perks.

Anonymous said...

jeff,

we need you as president. when is the Vichy reign of Randi over?

Anonymous said...

Switched at birth????

Randi to the rubber room and Jeff as UFT president.
Great idea.

Anonymous said...

Jeff:

There's a lot of difference between 37 percent of the voting members casting a "no" vote and 51 percent of the membership voting for you for president. If you think your hands are clean after this ratification process you haven't looked. There was more spin on the ICE blog than on a Maytag rinse cycle. Clean up your own act first. Then you can complain about Unity's. Whining to the Post about Randi fingering you--which you knew was not true--was despicable. Calling contract terms you disagreed with a sell-out caused wounds it will take years to heal. Act like a leader and not like a pygmie Karl Rove and maybe you'll have a future in the UFT as something other than a crank with an internet megaphone.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous --

Lay off of Jeff. All your bitterness and envy cannot hurt his good name. Sounds like Carl Rove is your mentor.
The contract was a sell-out. He didn't whine to anyone. It's not about Jeff. It's about a miserable contract. Teachers didn't need Jeff to explain this piece of rubbish to them. They read it for themselves.

You think for a minute that teachers wouldn't vote for it because because of what one person says or because Randi hugged Klein? Are you for real?

Many of us are educated, worldly, well traveled and leaders in our own right. We don't need a leader to tell us how to think. We can think for ourselves.

You are the only one who can't stand that so many people are expressing their anti-contract views. I am sure you are the same person who posted the Post article a dozen times.

Maybe you could get a real life. Go out on a date -- maybe learn to dance. Don't be so obsessed with Jeff. He is not going away. If anything, all your ranting and raving is only making more people rally around him and support him.

Lillian M. Varrassi said...

I would like to comment re the blog posts about Jeff because, in many ways, I understand where the negativity comes from. It comes from those who fear the truth. It comes from those who feel he is reaching far too many people and upsetting the apple cart. It comes from those who see Jeff as a threat to the status quo. I know.
I have been there.

For the last seven years, before ICE came on the scene, I have been fighting for secretaries rights. I have been fighting the unity machine so that secretaries receive the respect they deserve.

While we are only 3500 in number,
our disenfranchisement from this union was made ever more clear in this contract. We were a mere footnote. We, whom the union has claimed are the most important people in the schools, were ignored. As UFT members, we were not given the courtesy of voicing our issues during negotiations; we were led astray by our chapter; and sadly, the majority of secretaries voted yes because they felt this was the best they could hope for. We were lumped in with the teachers, paras, and guidance counselors in this contract and, thus, had virtually no voice at all.

It is a very sad commentary on a mindset which espouses that we are not worth anything more that what the union says we are worth. I have seen, first hand, the lengths to which this union will go to silence anyone who does not agree with their position.

Several labels have been used to identify my unwillingness to blindly follow the union's agenda, as an operative "under the tent."
Yes, that particular phrase was repeatedly used to try and coerce me into following the tenets of this union.

I have always held the position that if the union was truthful with its members, there would be no need for them to go on the attack because there would be nothing to hide. This was clearly evident with the secretaries' chapter. In fact, when I started up the first secretaries website, the panic among this chapter became all too clear. My subsequent editorials posted on the website became the focus of the chapter to such a degree that at one meeting they had me on their agenda for an hour of questioning. Again, if they were doing their job, what was there to be afraid of?

When I ran for chapter chairperson, the same union blitz occurred denouncing my honesty and integrity. The methods used to count the ballots were archaic and fraught with error. I asked for a recount but was told the results were the same. Whether or not they indeed had a recount is suspect.

Over the last seven years, I have put in more time and energy into making this website a home for secretaries to go for advice, instruction and yes, even to voice their opinions - pro and con. At every turn, the chapter said I was misinforming my colleagues. Yet, at every turn, the chapter did absolutely nothing to ensure that the best interests of their secretaries was a priority. Unless you gave your entire allegiance to them, you were an outcast.

This begs the question most of you have asked: "If this union really cares about its members, why have they consistently sold us out to the highest bidder?" We pay their dues; they work for us; yet most members are so afraid to stand up for themselves that they have given this union carte blanche to literally disintegrate everything we have previously fought for and won.

Jeff and James and those of us who have tried to speak the truth have been hampered by a frightened leadership. They see us as a threat to their hidden agenda, and will go to any lengths to keep their members in check. As I have said, if they were truthful and above board, they would not have had to go to the lengths they did to secure this contract. This, in and of itself, speaks volumes as to their desperation in seeking it.
I dare say that if the union had been open to the needs of its members, been truthful at every turn, conducted a discourse on the issues, every member would have voted.

Instead we have the same, if not more, apathetic and fearful membership we had before. Does this mean we cannot still prevail? Perhaps. However, I still believe that at some point in time - sooner rather than later - this membership will have to come to terms with the fact that they have been duped.

It doesn't matter a damn who hugged who, or what the percentages were. What matters is that in the next two years, the consequences of this contract will be felt by every member in this union. Perhaps, then, the name-calling will cease, the divisiveness will diminish, and those who really and truly care about this membership will become the leaders of an organization that epitomizes honesty and integrity.

Anonymous said...

The previous comment was beautiful and eloquent, A poignant statement that enlightened me as to how long this struggle has gone on. I have been a teacher for 13 years and really, I had no idea. I am sorry I did not take an interest earlier. I naturally assumed that a union was always on the side of its membership.

Anonymous said...

Everyone, please come and defend Jeff! He is our new demagogue!

All hail the mighty Jeff!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous --

You are an idiot! You do not even know the meaning of demagogue. Jeff does not pander to popular ideas and prejudices--if he did, he would support the contract.

You are obsessed with him which means you are either very envious of him or very much in love with him or a little of both.

Why not put the whole issue on ice. You can't outdo him. While you were in the fifth grade learning the alphabet he was already doing legal research and reading DeToqueville -- in French, no less!

Anonymous said...

Now that we are burdened with this crummy contract what's the next step?

Anonymous said...

Speaking about Jeff, what exactly was the crime he committed that got him sentenced to the rubber room? Something illegal, wasn't it? Not a very good addition to the resume of someone people think would make a good UFT president. Maybe if the opposition had some normal, decent people at the helm, they would pose a threat to Unity, but until then...pshaw.

Anonymous said...

Lillian V.
Quit the crap about hidden agendas. J and J are the ones who have hidden agendas. I'll make a bet that all they want to do is disrupt the membership and cause chaos so they can then say that they will bring real leadership to the union. Okay, Lillian, what's your hidden agenda?

Nice teachers finish last --Lets kick ass. said...

Anyone would bring better leadership to the membership than what we have now. I agree with the reasonable anonymous -- what is the next step now that we are burdened with this contract we didn't ask for?

How about a citywide sick day to protest?

Pick a day before Christmas break and everyone calls in sick. What do you think?

Then we will plan the next step.

Anonymous said...

Jeff,
You say:
"Despite a resolution calling for the ballots to be mailed to members and that strict rules be followed for the ratification vote (the resolution was ruled “out of order” by our President) the Union insisted on providing numerous opportunities to permit misguided Chapter Leaders to be able to see how members voted by holding the “secret ballot” to the light and not following historical Union practice of requiring Chapter Election Committees to hold the vote."

This is an outright lie and Jeff knows it. The highest policy making body of the union approved in a resolution at the DA to follow past voting practices and policies.

He later presented a resolution that tried to overrule the wishes of the delegates. That's why it was ruled out of order by the exec bd members.

Secondly, if there were any instances of wrong doing in the voting process, they should have been brought to the attention of the UFT so something could have been done about it. But Jeff didn't cite any, did he? That's because he is trying to make something out of nothing.

Even that stupid resolution he presented tonight and then abstained from voting for, was a lie and a feeble attempt to get an ounce of spin out of a bunch of hypotheticals that he himself couldn't defend.

Lillian should have been there to hold that resolution up to the light to see what Jeff's "hidden" agenda really is. Talk about transparency! Ugh! It was comical! Even Jeff and James had to laugh!

You can't search for truth in ICE!

Lillian M. Varrassi said...

Dear Anonymous,
Since I am a lady, I will respond politely to your question. My agenda is not, nor has it ever been, a secret. Go to my website. I am quite straightforward. Whatever problems you have with Jeff and James are between you and them.

Anonymous said...

Lillian,
My problems aren't only with Jeff and James, they also involve you. Lillian, who is the scorpion and who is the frog. The venom on this site proves the point. ICE is the scorpion and will destroy the frog it rides in on. The sooner you see that, the better off we will be. Don't try to hide behind being a lady, let the venom flow!

Lillian M. Varrassi said...

I would be more than happy to have a discussion with you. However, I would need to know your name. I have nothing to hide. Do you?

Anonymous said...

Lillian,
I spend some time reading your website and one thing is evident. You like Chancellor Klein because he pays attention to you!

See from your website:"I have been corresponding with Chancellor Klein on an on-going basis. (Yes, I also sent him this picture!) He has been a great help to secretaries, and I wish to personally and publicly thank him for being there when no one else would take the time. He understands, despite what his critics say, our needs and our problems."

Yeah, he loves you and the rest of the DOE workforce and he bent over backwards to make your workday a happy and productive one. Especially with the new contract.

If it wasn't for the frog that you ride on, you and your chapter would be in the drink without a contract, without tenure, without any due process rights without any of the workrules that are in place because of the efforts of the frog.

Remind me LMV, what was the final count of the secretaries vote on the contract? Oh, and stop wasting all that paper. We need the trees!

Lillian M. Varrassi said...

Anonymous,
Still hiding? Typical of you and your kind who sit at your computer feeling so in control. I don't have the time nor the inclination to debate someone of less intelligence. You are quite good at harassing people, anonymous.
My sincere condolences.

Lillian M. Varrassi said...

Hey Anonymous,
I'd like to leave you with one thought: I know you who are! You took the bait! Once you went into my website, I had ya. Having advanced knowledge in computer technology is a wonderful thing! Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Lillian:

Don't let this low life waste of life harass you. He is hiding behind a computer. He is too chicken to face you or any one else in person to have an honest discussion.

He only want to get you upset. Ignore him or call him at home and tell him to go run back to mama Randi.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lillian,
I want to hear something constructive on this blog! What is its hidden agenda? Let me hold ICEUFTBlog up to the light!

You say about the criticism of Jeff:"It comes from those who fear the truth. It comes from those who feel he is reaching far too many people and upsetting the apple cart. It comes from those who see Jeff as a threat to the status quo."

Here's where I think you're being deceived--and let me be gentle with you.
Jeff is not a merchant of the truth. Does that fact upset you?

Ask him to send you his resolution so you can read it for yourself. It's a fruitless act of a liar because once the language was removed that insinuated there was some wrong doing with the count, he refused to vote for promoting secrecy in the balloting procedures. Wow, that sure is an example of devotion to union democracy, isn't it?

I know you're heart is in the right place, you want to do what's right for school secretaries, but don't be duped by these charlatans. Don't be the frog and let these scorpions ride across the abyss on your back.

Lillian M. Varrassi said...

Dear "Anonymous,"

You said, "I know you're heart is in the right place, you want to do what's right for school secretaries, but don't be duped by these charlatans. Don't be the frog and let these scorpions ride across the abyss on your back."

Yes, it is. As for me being duped, I have been but not by those you mention. I can only speak to that which I have been involved in and/or a part of i.e., the secretaries' chapter.

My cause has never waivered, i.e., the rights of secretaries are acknowledged, and their issues addressed. They have not been. We are the step-children of this union. The only time we are mentioned is during an election year. Our pictures suddenly appear in the NY Teacher, along with lengthy articles as to our importance.

You said you "wanted to hear something constructive." Okay, then....let's start from the beginning with some facts.

Secretaries base pay is $28,256 (Step 1A - as of 2001). We are required to be licensed and, therefore, must obtain 30 college credits. Unlike paras, we pay for it. In addition, secretaries are UFT members (which some of you may not know). We work a 7 hour 20 minute day, and work till June 30th. With the new contract, our hours and days will obviously increase.

Some schools have 1-4 secretaries, depending upon the student ratio (such ratio of 1:420 dates back 20 years). Some schools are still not technologically updated.

The secretaries' chapter, which is supposed to be our staunchest advocate, has done nothing to advance the cause of secretaries. They pick and choose their members based on total union loyalty and participation. They do not follow Robert's Rules of Order. The election into this group is archaic. They count ballots using scratch marks, then add them up using an adding machine. The margin for error is very high. I was there for the counting when I ran for chairperson. I was appalled at what I witnessed. As I said earlier, I asked for a recount. Maybe one was conducted, maybe it wasn't. I have no proof. I do know the entire procedure was tainted.

Constructive idea #1: In an age when everything is computerized, it seems more efficient to cast ballots on line, making it virtually impossible for error.

According to the secretaries' constitution, an annual meeting must be held once a year. We have not had one. Why? Because having all the secretaries in one place at one time puts the burden of proof on the chapter. They would have to answer some very hard questions, and they cannot afford to do so. So they split up the meetings to smaller groups in order to control the situation and the outcome.

Constructive Idea #2: Have a general meeting of all secretaries to have a discourse on every single problem we are facing, and then ask why they are not fulfilling their role as "elected" officials.

When Galaxy (this new accounting system) first came out, I was totally opposed to it. I went to every workshop and brought attention to the fact that it wasn't working properly, i.e., it was not turning over expenditures within the 24 hour time period (it now turns over about once a month) and that ultimately, secretaries would subsequently be the ones responsible. I was told it was the principals' responsibility. Well guess what? Secretaries ARE handling it. I sent out grievance notices to secretaries involved, and handed them over to the chapter. They did NOTHING!

School Aides were and are being utilized in the office. This is against their contract. I brought this to the attention of the chapter with names of schools and the jobs these aides were doing. I asked that a grievance be filed. They did NOTHING!

In addition to payroll, pupil accounting, and supply ordering - we are responsible for: assisting administrators and those staff members who conduct afterschool programs, answer phones, take care of parents, mail, email, online reports (School Safety Plan, CEP, Online Occurrence Reports, Per Session Per Diem, Annual Reports, ATS Reports, and literally hundreds of other reports the regions ask for). Not to mention letters to parents, to staff, year end reports....the list goes on and on.

Because the regions refuse to handle paperwork, we are responsible for keeping everything on file, in house, until such time as maybe, maybe they need a question answered.

Construction Idea #3: Give school secretaries a job description!

To make a point, I piled all of last year's emails on top of a cabinet. At the end of the year it was 16" in height. Emails are meant to be read and acted upon, not printed out. The problem is that the region does not send emails to the appropriate parties, therefore secretaries have to print them out and disburse them accordingly.

Constructive Idea #4: Hire more secretaries!

The workload issue is an immense problem. So the union decided that instead of addressing it by giving us a job description, they would initiate a work-load grievance package. Now whether you know this or not, secretaries are on the front lines every day. They work closely with their administrators. Some are wonderful; some are not. Those secretaries who are so overworked are not about to file a grievance against their principals because the workload does not come from the principals, it comes from the region. So who wins? Not the secretaries. The union does because they don't have to deal with the problems we face.

Constructive Idea #5: The re-organization of the secretaries chapter so that the length of one's office is a maximum of three years. There are so many bright and articulate secretaries who can bring about much needed change to this system.

Constructive Idea #6: Have secretaries vote on, and have input in, any and all negotiations for new contracts. If this is to be a true democratic union, there
should be no reason not to include every member in this process.

I could go on, but I need to rest. I recently had knee surgery, and cannot sit too long.

So, anonymous, my concern has been laid out in as much detail as I am able.

Feel free to email me to continue this discussion.

Anonymous said...

A good sick-out day would be Brooklyn-Queens day.

Anonymous said...

This past Wednesday my district rep came to admonish me for wearing an anti-Weingarten T-shirt on Election Day. Besides Jeff, has anyone else been reprimanded for exercising their freedom of speech, or for speaking out against the contract, in this supposedly democratic union?

Anonymous said...

The Bklyn-Queens Day would be a great sick-out day and long overdue. Of course, all boros could join in. Could also be a great day to educate about labor actions!
The two new staff development days at the end of
August would also be great sick-out days.

We really need a nice party in a nice restaurant with champagne, music, porterhouse steak and lobster. We are tired, disappointed and the holidays are coming! Lets splurge and have a great anti-contract soiree!

Hey Randi, you are not invited.

Anonymous said...

The Bklyn-Queens Day would be a great sick-out day and long overdue. Of course, all boros could join in. Could also be a great day to educate about labor actions!
The two new staff development days at the end of
August would also be great sick-out days.

We really need a nice party in a nice restaurant with champagne, music, porterhouse steak and lobster. We are tired, disappointed and the holidays are coming! Lets splurge and have a great anti-contract soiree!

Hey Randi, you are not invited.

Anonymous said...

Well, I only need to be told once. What a great idea!

northbrooklyn said...

To the post about Jeff being in the rubber room and "he must of done something illegal" to be there...boy, are you naive. I've dealt w/ a number of people who have been placed in the rubber room and in every case there has been no basis in fact for their being there. Anyone who ends up in the rubber room is there because the administrator wants them there.
Don't even get me started on what it costs you as a union member and a taxpayer...you would poo your pants.
As to the argument w/ Lillian. She makes a number of good points. It would be sensible for those who read her comments to consider carefully what she has to say. If it's bad for teachers-it sucks for secretaries.
To Lil...I don't know your website, but if you are spending a lot of time on the computer @ home I would like to recommend that you buy a laptop. You will be able to continue your very important work while resting your leg...I recommend setting yourself up in bed-hey, it worked for Mark Twain! It would work for you...