Monday, January 09, 2006
UFT Leaders Play Take the Money and Run!
Unity Can't Wait so They Violate their Own Rules with Stealth Vote to Give Themselves a Pay Raise
By James Eterno
UFT Executive Board (Jamaica High School)
On December 19, 2005 the UFT leadership decided to have a secret vote so they could decree themselves a pay raise. UFT President Randi Weingarten would not allow any discussion by opponents of the salary increases. Weingarten went so far as to change the way that resolutions are voted on at the Executive Board exclusively for her money grab so that the opposition would not know when it was time to speak in opposition to the salary increases or vote against them. At the next meeting of the Board, Randi tonight had the nerve to state that the pay raise was approved unanimously by the Executive Board. Truth be told the opposition unanimously opposed the pay raise for union leaders and we were never given an opportunity to express our views on the issue.
At the December 19, 2005 Executive Board, there was a resolution to increase the pay of the UFT staff (president, other officers, District Representatives, etc...) "in the same manner as those negotiated by the UFT represented school system employees." What this meant was for the first two years that were covered by our new contract UFT officers, other teachers and others who work at the union full time and part time would have their pay increased by 5.5% in the first two years of the four year and 1/3 year contract and then in the final two years there would be a salary increase only with some undefined productivity changes.
What that productivity will be was left undefined but you can bet that it won't be to patrol the UFT cafeteria or to have 37.5 minute small group sessions at the end of the day tutoring ten people. It should also be noted that the increases are not for the hard working people of the UFT who are covered by other union contracts that are negotiated separately (employees who answer phones full time, handle security, work for the welfare fund, etc.) This motion to increase Randi and company’s pay was passed by the officers (AdCom) on December 19, 2005 and was sent to the Executive Board for a vote with absolutely no advance notice at the meeting that evening.
Instead of allowing a vote on the issue which was scheduled to be debated on the revised agenda as a special order of business on December 19, President Weingarten brought the issue up in a very brief segment during routine items when the Executive Board approves Ad Com (officers' meeting) minutes. The way the Executive Board operates is that the parts of Ad Com minutes that are scheduled for Executive Board consideration are pulled after approval of the minutes and then dealt with later as part of the special orders of business. The salary increase was on the Executive Board agenda as a special order of business. Who needs to follow procedures when Unity people want their raises before the holidays?
Randi talked for a minute about the pay raise during the routine approval of the minutes and then we voted to accept the minutes as we always do, fully expecting that this issue was on the agenda for later in the meeting as it was scheduled to be. However, neither Randi nor Staff Director Michael Mendel who took over when Randi left, ever returned to the issue that night. We all thought since time ran out but the pay raise issue and another matter were not dealt with that it meant they would be brought up at the next meeting. Well, we were wrong.
Apparently, our leaders who already have six figure salaries and double pensions (one from the DOE and one from the UFT that we pay for) couldn't wait for their money. They decided to change the rules, not tell anyone and then take the money. Why let a little thing like a vote get in the way of a pay increase?
We informed Staff Director Mendel of how troubled we were that we never were able to vote on the pay raise issue in an email that we sent to him when we saw that the minutes of the December 19 Executive Board showed right in the midst of a bunch of resolutions that were voted on during the special orders of business that we voted for the pay raise. We raised more objections at the Executive Board Meeting tonight (January 9, 2006) and were given an opportunity to make a motion to reconsider the pay raise. How can we reconsider an issue that we never considered in the first place? The opposition members from the high schools voted unanimously against Staff Director Mendel's ruling that the issue had been voted upon. The overwhelming Unity majority that will gain from the pay raises of course supported Mendel. The opposition voted again to reject the minutes of the December 19, 2005 meeting as obviously flawed.
Unity leaders will use every trick in the book and even invent some new ones to get what they want for themselves. There desperately needs to be some accountability in this union or situations like this "Take the Money and Run" fiasco will continue and contracts for UFT members will continue to be sub-par.