Saturday, December 16, 2006

7,637 Reasons to Fight On

There is a real opposition to Unity Caucus in the schools. 7,637 UFT members voted against the two year extension of the worst Contract ever in spite of two years worth of the ruling Unity Caucus' leaders constantly telling us how great it is to: teach an extra small group instruction period four days a week, come back to work in August, patrol halls and lunchrooms, not be able to transfer based on seniority, not be able to grieve file letters and observation reports, have weakened tenure protections, risk being an Absent Teacher Reserve even after dedicating decades of our lives to New York City's students, etc…

The work that the Independent Community of Educators, Teachers for a Just Contract, NYC Educator and others did almost exclusively on the internet made a bit of an impact. It must be taken into account that those of us who oppose the Contract did not have the means to distribute literature urging a no vote to most schools but the ruling Unity Caucus spin machine sent a cadre of employees into virtually all of the schools to sell the Contract. ICE-TJC may not yet be able to reach everyone but we have moved forward.

Consider that back in 2001 before the traditional main UFT opposition group, New Action, decided to form an alliance with Unity (Randi Weingarten's political party), New Action received 11,523 total votes in that year's UFT Election. Traditionally the opposition would get around 2,000 retiree votes in UFT elections. After many years of working, New Action was usually getting around 10,000 active members to vote for them. In 2002 with New Action support, the first extended time Contract received 94% of the vote. Only 4,000+ members opposed that deal. The opposition was in tatters leading New Action to form their alliance with Unity.

In 2003, after New Action made a deal not to run against Randi Weingarten, ICE was formed for the 2004 election. TJC ran in a UFT election for the first time in 2004 also. ICE and TJC presidential candidates combined to receive a total of 5,374 votes in the 2004 election, including retirees. Now in 2006, there are 7,637 active people who voted no on a Contract. This group constitutes a growing working base opposed to the ruling Unity Caucus. Recall that retirees do not vote on Contracts. Therefore, we can conclude that after only a few years of existence as political organizations, ICE-TJC are growing and getting close to reaching the level where New Action was after working for many, many years.

Now is the time for ICE-TJC to diligently pursue other potential supporters. There were approximately 7,000 disgruntled members who voted in the 2005 Contract ratification but didn't bother to vote this time around. Why was the turnout lower this year? Some people have apparently given up in disgust and we need to give them a reason to vote for the opposition in the 2007 UFT election. Also, there were over 32,000 members who voted against the 2005 giveback laden Contract. It is our job now to reach each and every one of them and give them our alternative view on how this union should be run.

We believe this Contract was approved by an overwhelming margin not as a vote of confidence for Randi Weingarten and the Unity machine but as a sign of resignation that we can't do any better under Unity-New Action leadership.

Unity-New Action's main strategy is to wait for DC 37 to settle up with the city and go in and say, "Me too," and get the same deal based on pattern bargaining. Pattern bargaining means that when one city union settles on a contract to start a new round of collective bargaining with the city, then all other city unions subsequently receive the same pattern settlement. If DC 37 sets a lousy pattern, then Randi will again trade away more of what's left of our Contract to get us some money as she did in 2002 and 2005.

It's up to ICE-TJC in the next few months to get the message to everyone that we can organize to improve UFT member salaries as well as teaching and learning conditions without trading away our rights.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? Now you just look ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the people who didn't even bother to vote this time out. I voted NO last year. I didn't vote because of the hopelessness of the situation - my one NO vote wouldn't matter at all. What's going on with the Weingarten dog and pony act mirrors what's going on in NYC with Bloomberg, who is either feared, or has bought all of the press in this town. I'm a native new Yorker and don't recall a mayor who has cruised by with such little criticism in the press. It seems everyone and everything is bought and paid for these days in New York City, as the poor , and their children are falling behind at a faster rate than ever.

Regarding this contract and Unity, many veteran teachers are just now realizing their blunder in passing the '05 contract since our school is now being phased out, and they face the reality of moving to another school. Now they are realizing how bad the contract is. Also, regarding Unity, our chapter leader has done more to destroy our school, by sending negative stories to the press for years, all for his selfish Unity career plans, and God knows what other pathologies he exhibits. In the end, he is just a Unity thug who has sold out his school in the worst and most cynical of ways, while he sticks his ugly face in front of the nightly news cameras speaking of "the up-side" to all of this - he's the definitive example of "scum bag".

Anonymous said...

I think the 90% speaks for itself. Obviously, the membership supported this contract and will support Randi in the upcoming election. You've made fools out of yourselves with all your posturing, and you've received a beat down you clearly deserve.

Anonymous said...

First I think your new message comes 2 years too late--even though I have tried and tried and tried to get you guys to focus. And if you guys don't think money is needed here because some of you are too cheap to invest in your cause--think again!

You came across as too radical with your Vote No campagin even thought you were on the committee.

Again, that was the time to put money into a PR firm to get your message out about the vote without looking the sore losers.

If you guys are trusting yourselves to run this new strategy--fuggetaboutit!

Anonymous said...

Unity thug? Have your colleagues been fitted for cement shoes? Are they afraid to start their cars? Should they take the gun and leave the cannoli?

Listen anonymous, I don't who you are or where you teach but if your chapter leader is as bad as you say he is, then why is he your chapter leader? If the whole staff feels as you do, how did he get voted in? OR is it just you and a couple of others who constantly complain about everything and do nothing?

And let's be honest, no one that I have spoken to in the UFT (Unity, TJC, ICE) has said that the last contract was good. When I attended the DA, I heard that this was the best contract we were going to get at the time. When a rep from the UFT came to my school, she explained that every union was getting slammed and it was either accept this deal or strike. And let me tell you, only like three people in my school (75 members) were willing to walk. And when I talked to my friends in other schools around the city, my school was not the exception.

And Jeff, less the one-tenth of the members voted against this contract. If that is your rallying cry...good luck.

Anonymous said...

Can you explain the math?

How many teachers are there now in the system? How many actually voted in total? What percentage is that?

Anonymous said...

7,637 rediculous people. And maybe a few more who didn't vote. Shame on ICE and TJC if they can't reach out to these people and create a base of operation against Unity. Otherwise, it's just spitting in the wind.

Anonymous said...

Go Unity. 90% show they support Randi. With New Action support that rises to 90.01%. On to victory in the elections. Let's get Kaufman and Eterno off the Executive Board and New Action to take their places so we can end the meetings quickly and get home early instead of their constant questionning of Randi's program.

Anonymous said...

Onionproud said exactly what our own Union did to us. They scared us by telling us we had to vote yes or strike. There were no other options? You're such a loser. And those nitwits on Edwize supported the contract by telling us how great the provisions were on the 2005 contract. Listen to how these clowns laugh at as while we continue to work with all the lousy crap from 2005. Unity is patting itself on the back, congratulating themselves on how they again bamboozled their own members.

Max Factor said...

The contract that should have been voted down was the last one.
If you really believed you were going to get anything back less than a year after such a massive score for the city than you need electro-shock.
The only vote that counts is the one that gets rid of Unity and I don't see any organized effort to get that message out to the members.
You wasted valuable time arguing about a contract that simply wasn't that important. I've read that you wanted to send a message -and you did- but I don't think it's the one that you intended.

Anonymous said...

Messages have been sent... teachers are ready for change... Randi better get ready for battle... change is a comin'...

Anonymous said...

There is so much spin here that I have a bad case of vertigo.

Do you guys ever listen to yourselves?

Anonymous said...

The last anon isn't even in the classroom, what do they care!

Anonymous said...

Talking about spin, have you read the NY Teacher lately?

A Very Ice Idea said...

What we need is a new approach. 7637 people voted against this contract. While some of them may have voted no just to be contrary, a good number of them must be people who hate the UFT. We need to identify who those people are and reach out to them. Together we should all drop out of the UFT and become agency fee payers. Start our own union. We could distribute flyers in all the schools telling folks that we can do it better. We can put up a few bucks each and rent a place, get some phones put in. Then we can take turns volunteering after school every evening. When the members call with their problems about micromanaging principals or maternity leaves or the 37 1/2 minutes, we can fix the problems, and voila, take over from Unity.

Anonymous said...

Voila!

Something along those lines would take years to achieve.

Anonymous said...

Here is something Unity is failing at since the last contract gives control of 3rd step grievance to the Doe...

Remember the days when grievances hearings and answers had a specific due date? Those days are gone and the DoE can spin their wheels and Unity can't do a thing about it because they are the ones who allowed it.

There is a school in D15K where 2 teachers are only given 2-20 minute preps a day instead of 1-45-minutes because of scheduling conflicts using the 37.5 minutes during school time. How fair is this??
The Unity special reps are telling the teachers to all go against the principal. But the teachers told Unity just because they can't get the job done, don't put it on us!!
Do what we pay you to do!

This is what the YES vote to our last contract got us. And I am sure many of the teachers in this school voted YES to this one because they had no idea that the last contract put them in this situation.

Anonymous said...

One of "New York's Brightest" who teaches in my school thought we were supposed to get $7,500. And you wonder why we accept one bad contract after another. God help us.

Anonymous said...

People will be complaining about the contract. ICE is going in the right direction by getting moving toward the election.

Anonymous said...

You're clutching at straws. People will be complaining about the contract? 90% of the membership endorsed it. People are pleased with the raises and the provisions. You guys are finished. Might as well wrap it up. Maybe you can make this into a sports blog.

Anonymous said...

94% voted for the 2002 contract and within months they hated it. This contract too will age like cheese, no doubt about it.

Anonymous said...

Don't give up because things don't look too wonderful now. It's always darkest before the dawn.

Norm said...

Good idea about a sports blog.
Think the Knicks will have to work the extra 37 and a half minutes? I bet all those suspensions land them in the rubber room.

Anonymous said...

Washington May Be in Future of Teachers Chief Randi Weingarten

By SARAH GARLAND
Staff Reporter of the Sun
December 18, 2006

It has been a good year for the president of the city teachers union — so good that education watchers say Randi Weingarten may soon be leaving New York to become the president of the national teachers union.

After negotiating a rarity — an early contract with no givebacks and significant raises for teachers, who overwhelmingly approved it last week — Ms. Weingarten will probably sail to reelection this spring as president of the city union, the United Federation of Teachers. Experts say she may be campaigning locally with an eye on running to replace the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Edward McElroy, in that union's 2008 election.

"She's been groomed for this from the very beginning," a researcher who runs the Education Intelligence Agency, Michael Antonucci, said. "He's old and Randi is young — it's just a matter of time. When he decides to step down, she'll step up."

Speculation that she might be headed to Washington, D.C., to lead the national union first began in 2004, after the death of Sandra Feldman, a former president of the UFT whom Ms. Weingarten replaced in 1998. After leaving the UFT, Feldman led the national union until a year before her death, and some people thought Ms. Weingarten would move immediately to replace her.

"She's the natural heir-apparent for the national union," an education writer who has written a book about school unions and bureaucracies, Joe Williams, said. "It could have been Randi then … that seat is just sort of waiting there for her."

Anonymous said...

Randi always had her sites on this--old news.

The problem is who will replace her here? Does she select her replacement?

Anonymous said...

Of course Randi picks her replacement just as all UFT leaders do. They get elected and then leave. But Randi doesn't really have to leave. Shanker did the AFT and UFT for many years. All Randi has to do is fly into New York a few times a month.
But if she leaves she has probably selected her replacement. Just watch who gets time trying to run the Delegate Assembly.

Anonymous said...

Probably that toad, Michael Mendel.

Anonymous said...

I understand James Eterno wrote this piece. I think it's eloquent, principled, and brave.

When things don't work out, you pick yourself up and start over again. You don't lay down and die.

I won't abandon my principles, and I won't teach my kid (or my students) to do so either.

Anonymous said...

Go ICE!

Anonymous said...

Obviously, you beleive everything you read in the paper or on the internet.

Anonymous said...

Including this blog.