Wednesday, August 30, 2006

School in August Brought to You By Unity-Weingarten



August 31, 2006


Welcome back to the first ever school year starting in August. The 2006-07 school calendar has a record 190 work days for teachers (more for several UFT job titles). The longer school year was endorsed by UFT President Randi Weingarten and the city during 2005 contract negotiations. Tens of thousands of UFT members voted against extending the school year. Keep this in mind as we slog through this interminable year because in the spring UFT members can decide who will negotiate the next UFT Contract where one of the main priorities should be to get us back a full summer vacation.

The Independent Community of Educators (ICE) is a caucus (political party) within the United Federation of Teachers. Union members join caucuses based upon common ideas. Randi Weingarten’s caucus is called Unity. Unity is an invitation only closed group that has controlled the UFT since it was founded in 1960. Unity has complete control of the Union’s policy making bodies. To join Unity, members must sign a loyalty oath that obliges them to “support the decisions of the caucus and leadership elected from the caucus in union and public forums.” In return, Unity members can receive patronage from Randi that includes union jobs, some of which pay over $100,000 a year with a union as well as a city pension. Opposing Unity does not make us anti-union. President Bush is a Republican. If you are against any of his policies, it does not make you unpatriotic. ICE opposed Weingarten’s policy to start school in August.


In 2004 and 2005 there was a huge debate between the political caucuses of the UFT over whether to extend the year/day for UFT members. Randi/Unity advocated negotiating for additional time in the school day and school year as a way to settle our contract dispute with the city. ICE and Teachers for a Just Contract (TJC) said our day and year were long enough. We argued that adding extra time would not have any educational value and that we should not have to extend the day or year to get a decent salary increase. Instead, we backed educating and mobilizing the membership.

In the spring of 2005, ICE representatives at the UFT’s Delegate Assembly (the union’s highest policy making body) proposed a resolution recommending to the UFT that we reject adding days to the school year in contract negotiations. It was pointed out to the DA that NYC educators already worked a school year that was longer than many of the districts in the surrounding areas. ICE compared calendars in the city with calendars in suburbs and we found that in many Long Island districts the school year had a fixed 183 days for teachers but in the city we were already compelled to toil 185 or more days. We were working a longer school year for significantly lower salaries than educators in the suburbs earn. We saw no justification for lengthening the calendar; we argued that adding days before Labor Day was punitive.

President Weingarten took the rare step of leaving the podium to speak from the DA floor maintaining that she should be free to negotiate a longer school year. Her Unity followers agreed and several months later there was an extension of the school year buried among many givebacks in the new contract. Does anyone want her to negotiate the next contract? Don’t be fooled by the 350 person negotiating committee. It’s Randi and her Unity sycophants that make the decisions. What will they give up next?

It’s time to change UFT leadership. Support the ICE-TJC Coalition that will unite to challenge Randi/Unity in the spring 2007 UFT Election.


Anonymous said...

190 days!!! Yikes!! Thanks Unity!

Anonymous said...

My principal said that we will cave workshops all day on thursday and friday. No time to set up the classroom. The piece of garbage CL we have isn't doing squat. It's time that we dump Weingarten and her puppets!

Anonymous said...

I mean "have," not "cave" workshops.

Anonymous said...

Randi assured us we will have time to set up our rooms. Just file a grievance and by next year you might get a hearing.

Anonymous said...

ICE warned; Randi ignored and now all of us suffer.

Luke said...

I wish Boss Randi would stop being so good to me.

Anonymous said...

Apathy is the ICE enemy. Many educators just shrug as things get worse and worse. How can you wake them up?

Anonymous said...

Let's have an anti-Randi contingent at the Labor Day Parade!

Anonymous said...

We also got screwed on tomorrow's time too.

Anonymous said...

Not only will I hand out this post to my fellow teachers, I will ask those that intended to leave the system and voted "yes" on the contract to make up for their betrayal and vote Randi out as one last favor for those who will stay behind!

Anonymous said...

I knew for sure that being a teacher who returns on August 31 would only fill me with dread, resentment and hostility. Naturally, it felt great to commiserate with my fellow UFTers about the deplorable contract that has saddled us with school in August. Consequently, I was busy imploring my colleagues to vote against Randi and her sell out leadership.

The thought of throwing out Randi is what kept many of going today as we sat through mind numbing staff "development" sessions.

Anonymous said...

Outrageous! Bloomberg is being malicious. Working extra days isn't going to make a difference in the lives of the kids. Why did Randi agree to this. Randi and her group sold us out. She did this for personal gain without consideration for the teachers. If this contract wasn't of benefit to Randi herself, she would not have sanctioned it

Anonymous said...

From the Chaz's School Days blog:

I would like to thank Joel Klein who does not understand the law of diminishing returns and thinks quantity means quality. Joel, more time in the classroom does not mean better grades if you overwork the teacher & students. I would also thank Randi Weingarten who first, agreed to the two days before Labor Day that ruined many a planned vacation and second, lied to us about how the two days were to be used. Finally, I would like to thank my school administrators who time and again fail to practice what they preach and use limited funds for professional development that nobody wanted.

Before I forget, I want to give special thanks to Randi & Joel for the precedent-setting 190 day school year.

Anonymous said...

ICE now has a great opportunity to reach out to the hundreds of excessed teacher who are now being told they are worthless.

Randi has made no comment on this issue or the hiring freeze of excessed teachers, and either has ICE.

This blog needs to be kept current and outreach rather than sophomoric comments needs to be addressed.

Anonymous said...

Jeff..i sat in a perb hearing with you...and you just loved the union and loved the representation and the access to rw and the "special help" you received...i was one of the victims..and thought you were different..guess everyone turns to unity...maybe they do get the job done.

Anonymous said...

It's not Unity who gets the job done, it's the UFT.

If Unity gets the job done, then why are there so many excessed teachers, some with over 10 years experience, no longer allowed to be hired.

Should we thank Unity for that too?

Peter Woodman said...

Where is the ICE outrage at the demonization of 1500 excessed "potentially undesirable [veteran] teachers" (quoth Klein, NYT, 9/2/06)? Yes: Let's get rid of Randi; but we also have a collective voice outside of the UFT. When a union no longer serves its members and its leadership has been in power for over 45 years with- let's be honest- no end in sight, then it's time for drastic action. Sit-down strikes in individual schools and other media-grabbing events. Shine a light on the political spectacle: High stakes test scores are 'accountability measures' in name only. Validity and reliabilty (the technical rationality of psychometrics) is trumped by the symbolic language of arbitrary cut-off scores. Teachers must be researchers, too! Fight power with knowledge! NO FEAR

Anonymous said...

Here I am working BEFORE Labor Day calling the UFT
at 9:00 AM to hear a
voice on the answering machine that they are on
"summer hours" and won't
open until 10:00 AM.

What's wrong with this picture?

jameseterno said...

To Sept 3 and Peter Woodman-

Excessed teachers losing guaranteed placement was one of our points in opposition to the contract. Please read the ICE literature opposing the contract from last October on this blog. We predicted this would happen. Losing much of Article 18 which weakened our rights is a big problem; as is school in August. The excessing issue should be raised at an Executive Board meeting.

A reminder to everyone: there is a ten minute open mike period for any UFT member to speak at the start of every executive board. The meetings at 52 Broadway, usually every other Monday. Book time and speak. Email us at ICE for more information. it would be great if one of the excessed teachers came and spoke. You certainly have our support

Anonymous said...


New readers have no concept of what was written in the past.

Also I have no idea of any ICE literature. What does that even mean? All I know of ICE is this blog. Right now Edwize and NYC Ed are having a lively comment discussion on this topic. Yet, for a group who wants to make inroads in the UFT, this blog really should beat the competition.

(Sept. 3)

Norm said...

This blog is a small component of ICE. We totally support the fabulous work NYC Educator is doing and there is no reason to repeat his work - we are NOT in competition with NYC or even Edwize. We urge our contacts to visit NYC Educator regularly. He has done major work for many people critical of Unity and it shows you how effective one person who takes action can be.

ICE-mail is the main method of communications for people connected to ICE but you'd have to give up your anon to join. We also have meetings every 2 weeks - we have one this Friday at 4:30 if you want to come. Our meetings are open and the kind of discussions taking place on the blogs take place there within the context of a varied group of people who we hope bring those issues back to their schools which is the important place for them to occur. And I bet they are going on as we speak.

Anonymous said...

To Calling the UFT at 9:00 a.m.

That is correct ... they (the UFT leaders) have bankers hours..haha
and when they are there how much do they DO!!!!!????

Anonymous said...

To Sept 5-

You can find the old stuff by clicking on the months in the archive.

Anonymous said...

ICE supports NYC educator.

Anonymous said...

When did I ever say this was a competition????

I am saying that this blog can reach more rank and file than your newsletter--which in the past was a bit "wordy". (sorry)

I check more than this and NYC Ed.
And I found both of you when I had questions about the contract.

If you want to increase your support base, learn how to make this blog a better forum. Then maybe you will have people signing up. (I say this with a background in marketing)

Your comment on NYC Ed would have made a fabulous post here!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

To Anon Above-

If you have a background in marketing, we would love to hear your ideas. Come to an ICE meeting (see web page for details on the next meeting.)

JustdaTruth said...

The membership will not coalesce against a Unity based contract that is only a percentage point or two below inflation. People are tired of constantly fighting for a good contract. I know I am. What members will rally around is the need for a more democratic union. The lack of democracy in the UFT made for a contract like this which is lousy. More democracy in the UFT is a idea that even the people who are in the elementary schools can go for. This is where Unity's base is.

Anonymous said...

How about electing district reps?
That's democratic, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Just DA truth has a good point. Elect DR's and have each division: HS, MS, Elementary elect their own VP. It all makes sense.