Saturday, January 07, 2006

WILL RANDI LEAD A UFT RETURN TO MILITANCY IN 2007?


WE DOUBT IT.

(Quotes from Randi's Dec 22, 2005 interview on New York 1 [not taken out of context for sure], the night the Transit Strike ended)

 
Davidson Goldman: But going back to Monday night when the transit workers were on the verge of a strike, did you ever say to him, "Hey Roger (Toussaint- TWU leader) don't do this; this is not a good idea; give it a few more days?
 
Randi Weingarten: Look, my conversations, both Brian (McLaughlin- President of the NYC Central Labor Council also on the program) and myself have spent a lot of time at the hotel, spent a lot of time talking to a lot of different people and we tried to play a constructive and also a supportive role.
 
Davidson Goldman: Did you support their (TWU) decision to strike?
 
Randi Weingarten: The issue here is the strike is over; the workers are back.  The workers had legitimate claims.  We have constantly said and I have constantly said that they needed fundamental fairness and that you need to have a process where workers can get to that.
 
(Later in the Interview)
 
Davidson Goldman: You run an 80,000 member union.
 
Randi Weingarten: 140
 
Davidson Goldman: 80,000 teachers and 60,000 non teachers.  140,000 members, plenty of resources, certainly more than the 34,000 member Transit Workers Union.  You've gone as we pointed out two and a half years most recently without a contract. Transit workers' decision to strike clearly could destroy the infrastructure at their union.  Courage or reckless?
 
Randi Weingarten: Look, I'm glad that the strike has been resolved.  I felt what Roger Toussaint did in the last couple of days...
 
Davidson Goldman: Was it courageous or reckless?
 
Randi Weingarten: ...in yesterday's press conference was terrific and I totally and completely understand their frustration.  My members feel the same frustration.
 
Davidson Goldman: But your members didn't go on strike?  Do they not have the guts to do what transit workers did?
 
Randi Weingarten: My members are having the discussion right now about whether we take a no contract-no work philosophy, whether we go back to that.  But the point is this.  Every union is different.  Every way in which we go about bargaining is different... (blah, blah, blah, Randi goes on about how TWU has legitimate complaints concerning 16,000 disciplinary measures against 34,000 members)
 
Davidson Goldman: I should know by now Ms. Weingarten when you don't want to answer a question, I shouldn't necessarily try again.

 
Why wouldn't Randi acknowledge that the TWU was courageous to strike?

Does anyone think she could lead us in a strike or even give us a credible threat of a strike?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

No, Randi can not lead us in a strike. She is not capable of being this kind of leader. This 'extreme' is not part of her character. Her rebelliousness only resides in rhetoric, not action. She does not want to fight Bloomberg; she wants to be a part of Bloomberg's culture, his 'ethos'. She wants to play with real power; she sees herself as a negotiator. Problem is she is a negotiator who gives in and Bloomberg's power is not real; he bought it for 80 million dollars.

She is the wrong person for 'these economic times'.
She will never, ever strike. She cannot walk the talk.

Anonymous said...

Step #1 to success -- Remove Randi from power. Elect someone who cares and who is willling to put the union membership first.

Anonymous said...

Randi cannot figure out which side to represent and because of that I say-out! Let's move on and fill her spot before we all get buried with responsibliities that represent some other profession-certainly not education.

Anonymous said...

Why should we take ICE so seriously when it took almost 2 weeks to publish a new article?

Even if I don't always agree with you positions, you don't go this long without a new publish unless the only topic you have is--we hate Randi. If you cannot focus on issues that the memebership need addressed, then I understand your absence.

I never remember reading about your concerns, and what could be done now, to help the Brooklyn Tech teachers. Or, do you agree with Unity and just play it out in the newspapers and hope things change?

woodlass said...

Anonymous no.4: Give ICE a break, for heaven's sake. It was the Christmas vacation, and one of the contributors, I hear, was on his honeymoon.

Write something yourself!

Anonymous said...

Unlike ICE, I don't have a blog or run a blog by people who would like more input in the UFT via elections. Good public relations doesn't take vacations.

Issues do not go on vacation!

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add...

Honeymoons are good enough reasons not to keep current, but that is only one member of ICE.

I also noticed Edwize took a break too. But I stopped reading them and now go straight to EdzUP--which by the way continued to blog during the vacation.

woodlass said...

Because it was new.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Frizzle and NYC Ed as well as some other ed sites kept posting, and they are not trying to get votes for the next election. (well maybe NYC might run)

With these new-age thingies called computers and laptops, blogs can be written and read from all over the world. The above blogs still got many comments posted so people were looking for information.

It's not savvy to not post for such a long time.

woodlass said...

How frequently an article is put out on an education blog should never be a question of "savviness." Leave that to the wheeler dealers of this world. ICE writers offer substance. If one of them has something to say, it'll be thoughtful and coming from a lot of experience in the classroom, the union, and law. It would certainly be worth waiting for.

A note of caution. Don't overdose on EdzUp. It's mostly a pressure valve.

Anonymous said...

The UTP published an overview on the TWU v.teachers contract.Even Edwize published on the TWU contract and comments were made 2 weeks ago,

This post is old news, that's probably why you are I are the only 2 commenting at the moment.

ICE will never succeed if they don't keep current.

Norm said...

To anon. criticizing ICE for not posting anything on Brooklyn Tech:

I agree and I take responsibility, though I don't know what you mean by ICE succeeding. By that I take it you mean fighting Unity for power. Some of us in ICE do not look at us that way but see us rather as group that raises issues for discussion. We are perfectly glad to see UTP and TJC raise issues and often point people in those directions. If you want to keep more informed on what ICE is doing I sugggest you subscribe to ICE-mail and/or ICE Updates. The Blog is not necessarily a major vehicle at this time.

I have been tracking the Brooklyn Tech situation for over 2 years and am working on an update for Education Notes. Below is what I published in the Spring 2004 edition. The Tech situation is not new. And in fact showing the NY Teacher article before publication to the powers that be in the spring of 2005 exposed all the teachers mentioned to U-ratings.

This is an exposure of Unity Caucus and the UFT leadership in general for not protecting teachers. They act and publicize the Tech situation as if they just discovered it. Notice how they held a token demo on Open School Night with a bunch of union employees and then we hear nothing.

Where's the rat, which should be there every day? But below we see Randi jumping on board the corporate bandwagon saying how we want "qualified" teachers and will cooperate in getting rid of "bad" teachers. What she should have said was that as long as even one highly qualified teacher gets a U-rating and hounded out of schools like Tech the UFT will not provide an ounce of cooperation.

"Have Union, Will Grovel for Contract"
Ed. Notes, Spring 2004

“Yes, this is a union president who is going to talk about removing teachers who should not be teaching. And I do that without hesitation, because this a union that is not about just keeping people. We are about keeping qualified people....I
want you all to know that I fully briefed Joel Klein last night on this speech because I want to do in every way possible what I can to extend my hand in partnership, and my members’ hands in partnership.”
----Randi Weingarten in speech to business leaders.

IS THIS THE KIND OF LEADERSHIP WE WANT RUNNING THE UFT?
Bloomberg and Klein would answer a resounding YES.

From the NY Times:
Chancellor Klein’s response was enthusiastic. “I think she has some very positive, constructive proposals,” he said, adding that he looked forward to working out the details in formal contract talks....
Ms. Weingarten’s public effort to reach out to the Bloomberg administration and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein seemed to signal a thaw after months of icy relations with the city, a state of affairs that had begun to draw criticism from the business and nonprofit communities.

Ah Yes! These are the people Randi Weingarten is catering to, more concerned with how she is perceived by them than in mounting a militant defense of teachers. After all, there’s got to be life after being a union leader and that life certainly doesn’t include teaching in the NY City school system.

Again from the Times:
Weingarten called for expanding a program for “troubled teachers.”

Want to hear about troubled teachers? Read Michael Winerip’s searing Jan. 28, 2004 column in the NY Times about how the principal of Brooklyn Tech harassed 3 “troubled” teachers right out of the school. Only one problem; they were gifted teachers. Teachers the UFT couldn’t, or wouldn’t, defend.

One of these teachers, Alice Alcala, has written a telling letter in which she responds to former colleagues critical of her cooperation with Winerip: “ I agreed to do this article because of the sellout by Randi Weingarten concerning “U” ratings. ...The issue isn’t about Tech anymore. The issue is about all of us, all over the city. lt is open season on teachers especially older ones. ”

Alice, don’t you know the solution to these problems is having a UFT leader who extends her and her members’ hands in partnership with Bloom and Klein? Why not just call them BloomWeinKlein?


Former Brooklyn Tech Teacher Responds

Alice Alcala, one of the leading teachers of Shakespeare in the school system, was one of three teachers profiled (Todd Friedman and Louise Maher-Johnson were the others) in Michael Winerip’s searing column (Jan. 28, 2004) about the Brooklyn Tech principal and his harassment of teachers. Alcala. who saw her program destroyed, received mixed support from her colleagues and was criticized by some for “dragging Tech throught the mud.” Now teaching at Murray Bergtraum HS, here is her response:

Dear Everyone:
As one of the teachers who was written about in the article I’d like to add my own voice to this discussion. I did not leave Tech “embittered.” I left Tech terrified. As for Todd [Friedman] and Louise [Maher-Johnson], I speak to them frequently, and I do not find them embittered. Saddened mainly, perhaps more by the reactions of their colleagues than by the actions of the Administration.

Unfortunately, this situation is happening all over the city. I agreed to do this article because of the sell out by Randi Weingarten concerning “U” ratings.

When the article came our I received a lot of feedback. Many people identified with the harassment. Teachers have told me that the article will be posted on bulletin boards in other schools.

The issue isn’t about Tech anymore. The issue is about all of us, all over the city. lt is open season on teachers especially older ones. The salary of one older teacher can be used to hire two younger teachers. Administrators are being directed to go after older teachers.

Testing is being used as a way of destroying good big schools like the one I’m in now, dismantling the union, and privatizing education. After all, why spend public money on schools when all the jobs can be outsourced to India and China?

Someone asked earlier, “Why is the article focusing on Tech?” The answer is that if it could happen at Tech, it could happen anywhere to anywhere and to anyone. And it is.

The Administration at Tech is hurting Tech. I want to make that perfectly clear. Louise, Todd, and I did not dismantle or fail to initiate programs. Louise, Todd and I did not put letters in peoples’ files, change the curriculum, dispense u ratings, yell at teachers in front of students, trump up false charges, or ask teachers to spy on their colleages. We did not cancel trips or refuse to grant permission for them. We just brought these practices out in the open.

So I suggest that your anger at us may be misplaced.

And I leave you with a question: Is it fair to all the truely wonderful kids at Tech who were my students and all the fine teachers who were my colleagues to have to “adjust” to such pernicious.conditions?

All the best,
Alice

Read Winerip’s column: http:/ www.nytimes.com/2004/01/28/education/28educate.html
Or email: norscot@aol.com

jameseterno said...

December 15, December 21, December 28, December 29 and then January 7. Those are the dates of the latest ICE Blog posts? Where is the two week delay?

Please deal with the substance of what ICE says and not the time between posts. As the TWU contract has not yet been ratified, the strike is still a timely issue that could have big implications on the UFT and the entire labor movement.

To Woodlass and Anon-

Camille and I had a great time on our honeymoon and no I was not transcribing interviews or writing blog pieces during the honeymoon. I think my priorities are in order usually.

Thanks for the support Woodlass.

Anonymous said...

Dear Norm,

Thanks for the update on Brooklyn Tech.

Most people go to blogs because they are linked to other blogs and that's how I discovered you after the announcement of the contract. I was looking for any info since UFT did not put it on their site.

What I would like an update on is on the Post editorial stating that Randi now has an "in" with the City Council's Education Committee.

Given that, what can she do NOW to make changes?

woodlass said...

Norm, a question about what you say about Randi:

" What she should have said was that as long as even one highly qualified teacher gets a U-rating and hounded out of schools like Tech the UFT will not provide an ounce of cooperation."

Do you think Randi is so useless at this because she actually lacks the thinnest filament of militant thinking or strategic positioning and is thus the worst choice to defend us against the ravages of this DOE? Or do you think that, bright as she is, she is just on a different tack than the rest of us and is thus the worst choice to defend us against the ravages of this DOE?

A Proud Member of the Unified Teachers Party said...

Randi Weingarten is an embarrassment to any and all activist union folk. She should not be equivocating about Roger Toussaint, she should be praising him for his courage! She should learn that labor's main power is the strike, and careful strike-planning is the key to success. And, she certainly shouldn't vote herself a pay raise for the terrible work she did on our current contract! Move over, Randi, and let someone with guts preside over the UFT.

Anonymous said...

Why can't ICE update their website? There have been no updates since Novemeber. why didn't you guys say something about the last DA? It was a pretty good "shout-out".

Norm said...

In answer to Woodlass' comment on why Randi wouldn't say what I suggested:

1. One of her consistent strategies is to show the public a conciliatory face - "see, we're not these badass traditional unionists (like Toussaint?) and you have nothing to fear." Notice she made this speech to the business community and like things she says to teachers, much of it is public relations. But in this case I think she believes it and in theory many of us might agree - no one benefits if there's an incompetent teacher.

But events have proven that a major goal of U-ratings is political. I raised this in July at the Klein monthly PEP meeting and came along with a bunch of U-rated teachers who spoke about their persecution. One point I made is that the DOE should also have an interest in making sure cases like those at Tech are examined very carefully is that much more resistance would come from the rank and file against plans to make it easier to remove teachers, which is what Randi seems to be saying.

(Note the reaction of people to the letters in the file issue in the last contract – the r&f was way out ahead of the leaderhip on this issue.) If only our leadership would say that and stand up for it.

2. Philosphically, I truly believe the leadership – and I go back to Sandy and even Shanker – but Randi goes even further and I believe is more skilled than either of them at pulling this off – they really are in the same place with the corporate mentality. Randi was not hand-picked to come in and run this union by dummies. They chose a corporate lawyer who thinks that way and not as a teacher under the gun. Don't forget, she only became a teacher AFTER she was chosen to run the union. Shanker and Feldman looked through the Unity crew they had gathered and saw YES people and sycophants – there was nothing there that could replace them or at least carry out the plan to make a union of professionals. The '68 strike finished Shanker in many ways as a traditional union leader and he was seared by it. The '75 strike was forced on him by the members and he did it for show and then sold it out. Note how he is considered the father of charter schools and other initiatives that dovetail with the corporatization of schools and I include most definitely support for the basic premises of NCLB (by Sandy and Randi) and the general support of the concept of high stakes testing.

Norm said...

Let me respond to anon. question on why ICE didn't update the website or do more posting on the blog.

You may have the impression that ICE is a vast organization. In fact it is a collection of a few volunteers, mostly who work in the schools and have other lives. Managing a web site can be a full-time job and we have one person who does it when he gets a chance. Doing so does take a level of skill so it has been hard for others to assist. I have an Education Notes web site (http://www.education-notes.com/) and haven't even figured our how to upload and one of the guys in ICE does this for me every month when a new issue of Ed Notes is out. (You can get the last issue of Ed Notes there which was - yikes - from November. But I am retired and have a lot of traveling to do.)

The best way at this time for people to keep up with what is happening from our perspective is to join ICE-mail (but you have to tell us who you are and we will keep you anon) or to join my personal email list (I also will keep you anon). I send out ICE Updates reasonably often. Getting them posted on the website involves conversion to html and other tech stuff that we probably should pay more attention to but don't as events overwhlem us.

Here is info for ICE-mail: Contact Joan: joanselin@yahoo.com
For my Ed Notes list: norscot@aol.com

Anonymous said...

So obviously ICE is only Norm. God knows you can't be called Norm Independent Community of Educators.

Anonymous said...

NICE?

jameseterno said...

Saying that ICE is only Norm is insulting to the rest of us who work very hard to promote an alternative point of view within the UFT.

Norm said...

I like it: NICE

So I ask again: if you think ICE is 1 person, why do you bother? Why does Unity spend so much time attacking ICE?

Gee, I seem to remember that ICE ran well over 200 candidates in the 2004 election 2 months after coming into existence.

Want to call Ed Notes a 1 person operation, go ahead. Call it NED or NEN or NICE - NOT ICE
Or better. NUNITY - Not Unity.

Norm said...

Anon:

"What I would like an update on is on the Post editorial stating that Randi now has an "in" with the City Council's Education Committee. Given that, what can she do NOW to make changes?"

You're referring to Robert Jackson, a long-time ally of the UFT. I say it means nothing much in real terms though in PR, which UFT leaders value most, it is major for them. They can direct things their way but because Jackson, who has major ambitions, is viewed as a UFT flunkie, much of it will be disparaged. If he has real guts he will initiate investigations of how the DOE is REALLY spending money. But both the UFT and Jackson don't want to go there.

One of the things that Toussaint seemed getting ready to do was go in these type of directions in defense of the union and I believe that had an impact on the quick settlement and maybe even scared other union leaders like Randi.

Anonymous said...

Goddam Norm,

I want to make love to you!

Anonymous said...

Goshdarn Norm,

I want to make love to you!