Why We Must Say NO to Weingarten/Unity Caucus-New Action
The UFT has not stood up against the closing of schools
The UFT has not stood up against the closing of schools
The Department of Education can no longer be allowed to mismanage and inadequately fund schools and then close them, displacing students and staff, even when consultants hired by the DOE give schools like Tilden HS in Brooklyn proficient ratings in quality reviews. Randi Weingarten’s Unity Caucus (her political party) has put up no real opposition and has in fact cooperated with the DOE. ICE calls for a moratorium on closing schools were watered down by Unity. The giveback-laden 2005 contract gave away preferred placement rights for UFT members, eliminating Article 18G5 that gave members “the broadest possible placement choices available within the authority of the Board.” Hundreds of experienced teachers were forced to become day-to-day subs. UFT leaders actually branded this as an “improvement” along with the Open Market Plan (which leaves all choice in the hands of principals).
Weingarten/Unity still refuse to oppose mayoral control of NYC schools
ICE has called for the end of Mayoral Control when the law (giving the mayor full unchecked authority over the schools) sunsets in 2009. Weingarten backed the law change that allowed the Mayor to assume control of the schools and the UFT passively sat by as a system without checks and balances, ran amuck, ignoring views of both parents and educators. When Bloomberg needed a waiver to get a lawyer appointed as Chancellor, Weingarten was silent. When privateer Christopher Cerf was recently brought in to continue the attack on public education, again silence. We need to get politicians out of education and set up a new system that truly gives power to teachers at the school level. Weingarten/Unity rejected our position, instead, creating a committee that will examine all forms of school governance, including the possible renewal of Mayoral Control. An honest poll of members would show an overwhelming rejection of mayoral control.
Lower class size must be priority contract demand
Teachers list class size as a number one working condition priority. NYC has the highest class sizes in the state, if not the nation. The only protection teachers have had for 40 years has been the contracts negotiated in the early 1970’s, before the UFT changed its policy. Yet, Weingarten-Unity-New Action refuse to make this a contract negotiating demand, using the bogus excuse that money would be taken from salary increases (note how prep periods and other basics like health care are never tied to salary). Weingarten throws up smoke screens with petition drives (twice so far and more to come) for referendums to lower class sizes, knowing full well this tactic is subject to the mayor’s veto, with virtually no chance of reaching voters.
New Action is a phony opposition group in bed with Unity
New Action had been the oldest “opposition” group in the UFT until they began to give uncritical support for Weingarten, even endorsing her in this election. New Action is claiming their alliance with Weingarten allows them to influence UFT policies but they can’t cite a single gain other than for themselves in getting New Action’s entire leadership on the union payroll. Their latest leaflet proclaims, “President Weingarten changed a forty year policy of excluding opposition caucuses from having a voice in the UFT. She opened the door and New Action opted to enter.” How can New Action call itself an opposition when it no longer opposes Unity policy? And if they support Unity, why not just run on the Unity slate instead of as a separate entity? Weingarten cannot tolerate even a few critics on the Executive Board and is using New Action in an attempt to replace the only legitimate opposition voices from ICE-TJC. No party should be allowed to monopolize power for half a century. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely and the Unity/New Action alliance epitomizes a corrupt system.
Contract givebacks extended through 2009 while salary does not keep up with inflation
Weingarten gave away many hard-fought rights (seniority, hall patrol, grievance procedures, etc.) in the 2005 contract for salary increases (much of which were time for money swaps) that didn’t even keep up with NY area inflation. In addition, NYC’s 190-day school year is the longest of any district in the Metropolitan area. A raise is when you get more money for doing the same job instead of accepting whatever DC 37 negotiates with the city and saying “me too.” We need to organize a strong militant membership aligned with other unions so we are the ones to set the pattern on our terms.
Democratic reforms are needed to repair the UFT
Unity Caucus has controlled our union since 1960. Absolute power breeds an unhealthy climate for the kinds of decisions needed by a dynamic union to fight the attacks on public education and unions. Unity’s major interest is in holding onto power so that they may augment their own salaries and privileges at the expense of the working conditions and salaries of working teachers. ICE supports: election of divisional vice presidents (academic high schools, vocational high schools, middle schools, elementary schools) by the teachers in that division instead of by all the members, including retirees (who make up over 1/3 of the members) and reinstitution of elections for District Representatives. Dues increases should be subject to vote by members.
Weingarten/Unity Caucus/New Action have:
given away seniority rights and weakened tenure protections
not been able to stop the wave of micromanagement
allowed massive erosion of the contract
stood by while the ability of UFT members to fight harassment withers
allowed an emasculated grievance procedure
allowed a longer day/year (37.5 minute small group periods in most schools/2 days in August)
still not delivered on promised 55/25 retirement plan
Vote the ICE-TJC Slate in the Upcoming UFT Elections
ICE-TJC Officers (AdCom) (CL: Chapter Leader, D: Delegate)
President Kit Wainer - Goldstein HS, (CL)
VP Elem. Lisa North – PS 3K, (CL)
Secretary Camille Johnson - Humanity & Arts (D)
VP Middle Josh Kahn – MS 443 K
Ass’t Secty Ellen Schweitzer - Stuyvesant (CL)
VP HS Arthur Colen - FDR HS (CL)
Ass’t Treas. Yelena Siwinski - PS 193K (CL)
VP Spec. Ed Joseph Wisniewski - PS 163 (D)
Treasurer Marilyn Beckford - Hillcrest HS (CL)
Voc. HS Gerard Frohnhoefer - Aviation HS (CL)
VP At-Large Ellen Fox – Ret.
[Schweitzer and Colen are current Ex. Bd members and Fox served for yrs.]