Sunday, April 23, 2006

Negotiating Secrecy

I don’t know about you but I take signed pledges seriously. When we agreed to become part of the mammoth negotiating committee we wondered how negotiating strategy was going to be discussed in such a large forum….we wondered how a discussion could take place without “tipping” our hand.

Then, our concerns were answered at our first meeting. Randi stood in front of the throng and told us that this negotiating committee business was serious…so serious, in fact, that we were all required to sign secrecy oaths. On a form prepared, according to Randi by looking at other models of large negotiating committees’ experiences, we were to promise not to reveal any of the “goings on” of the committee to insure that everyone can speak with candor and our strategies would not be revealed. Also we would speak with one voice so as not to give the impression that there was dissension in the ranks.

Several of us wondered how this agreement could be actually work in practice and we got our first taste at the Executive Board meeting held on April 10th. As we jealously guarded our pledge, there in the Executive Board session (open to any UFT member) a long and proud member of the Unity caucus spilled the beans. She went into detail about the meeting in a way that clearly broke her pledge (if in fact she signed it).

We were amused. This demonstrates at least how one person viewed the pledge but we vowed to keep our secrets.

Then comes the New York Teacher. On page 3 of the April 13th edition is not only a description of the negotiating committee meeting but a “blow-by-blow” account with pictures. How did a reporter get into the room of committee members who were sworn to secrecy?

While such hypocrisy is not surprising in our experience with our Union never in our collective memories has it been thrown in our face after taking a pledge.

We will still keep our pledge but we will still wonder.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I always wondered how 325+ negotiators would be productive anyway.

NYC Educator said...

It's absolutely vital to maintain secrecy. Except, of course, when pimping for Unity in the pages of NY Teacher. That's standing up for truth, Unity, and the American way.

If you guys were to do it here, of course, it would be heresy, and Leo Casey would write a highly indignant column in Edwize.

Anonymous said...

Psst....keep this a secret. You're being used.

northbrooklyn said...

How did the executive board decide who would be on the negotiating team?

Anonymous said...

Wait until these people find out they have been spinning their wheels. I can't wait for Deepthroat to tell us what the givebacks will be. Say goodbye to duty-free lunch. Principals are already finding ways to get around that.

Anonymous said...

Principals will only find a way to get around things like duty-free lunch periods if a cowardly staff lets him. The union can't do it all. We must assume some responsibility for ourselves. Too many suck-ups and sheep in our midst.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the suck-ups. However, who wants to be the lone wolf? You did read the NYTeacher article about teachers who after voicing concerns to their principals found themselves either being investigated or found insubordinate. And now letters that cannot be grieved! What's the message here?

I believe that our contract (or what's left of it) should have included sanctions against any principal who violates any part of the agreement. All that needs to be done is have the chapter leader report it to the District Rep,who reports it to the higher ups. Then Randi's office reports it to the DOE. The principal should then receive a letter in their file (which cannot be grieved since what's good for the goose...) stating that they must stop the violation otherwise they will be found insubordinate.

Anonymous said...

Today was great DA! Are you guys going to report on it?

Anonymous said...

What was so great about the DA?
Most people I talked to said it was the usual waste of time.