Monday, March 19, 2007


Unity Rep Zahler and Eterno at WBAI

Demonstrating that the UFT opposition has a clear plan to take our Union back from its current giveback leadership James Eterno debated Unity spokesperson Jeffrey Zahler on WBAI this evening. While it is clear to us who the winner is we encourage our readers to listen to the debate. It can be downloaded here.

The debate demonstrated the difference between the caucuses vying for union office. The Unity rep attempted to extoll the virtues of losing our rights and watching our Union become more like an insurance company than a Union.

Thanks to all that participated especially Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash, the debate moderators.


Unitymustgo said...

I look forward to listening to this, but I have to ask. There wasn't a better picture to use? You could have at least touched up the photo and removed the red eye. James looks neurotic! No offense James.

On a side note I've heard of a problem with the ballot envelopes. The address is wrong and new envelopes are being sent out? Some UFT guy was here yesterday to talk to my school about the reorg by Bloom/Klein and he said something about it. He suggested that if we hadn't mailed out our ballots yet we should wait a few days for new envelopes.

ed notes online said...

Actually, James always has red-eye-- from lack of sleep after working in the elections, teaching and servicing all 200 members of his chapter. Doesn't Zahler look nice and relaxed after his tough day at 52 Broadway?

Anonymous said...

Are you guys nuts? How could you possible say that James Eterno won? I always suspected ICE-TJC would do or say anything...but I was surprised they wanted to reduce the starting teacher's salary. Shame on you!!

Anonymous said...

I listened to the show, and frankly, I think Zahler did a very credible job. Eterno was okay, but he certainly didn't put anyone to shame. I don't know why you would post this unless you are secretly shilling for votes for Unity. Zahler had the edge the whole time.

ed notes online said...

Nice comment Jeff (Zahler.) And nice fiction that ICE at any time wanted to reduce starting teacher salaries. Remember back in '95 we rejected the Unity negotiated contract the first time around partly because it penalized starting teachers. You made that mistake already. We learn from your mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Debate scoreboard:

Eterno-ICE TJC 100
Zahler-Unity 0

Anonymous said...

Bravo, James! You did an excellent job last night on the WBAI debate with Unity's Jeff Zaller. I agree that you were the clear winner. Your statements were clear and strong and reflected the ICE/TJC position very well. You were not defensive and challenged Unity with intelligence. You gave specific examples of what ICE/TJC believe is wrong with the UNITY approach to leadership and presented an alternative way to lead our union!
Bravo once again!

Anonymous said...

Thank you James Eterno for participating in the debate on WBAI last night. You were strong and concise. You presented the ICE-TJC position with pride. The views of ICE-TJC were explained with no hint of antagonism or malice in you words and voice. I'm sorry to say this was not true of your opponent. You clearly were the winner. The union should be proud to have you as a representative.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks James Eterno won this debate either didn't listen to it or is completely out of touch with reality.

Anonymous said...

From an email to James Eterno

You kept talking about important stuff, and the other guy kept talking about little stuff. Camille must have done a great job (with preparation). You were unflappable!

I loved when the Unity guy tried to be like Reagan against Carter.

It didn’t work…you came off with integrity and courage.

NYC Educator said...

He kept claiming they'd get back the givebacks. They'd taken 40 years to acquire, though, and they dumped them in a nanosecond.

Anonymous said...

Another email to James:

You did a great job on WBAI. You gave the impression of being really at ease and you presented everything really well. Zahler was doing his best to provoke, but you sounded focused and in command.

Take care

Anonymous said...

Why wasn't this broadcast publicized to all? I am just reading about it now, nor did I see it advertized on blogs that support the ICE agenda?

And, why wait til after many votes were casts to hold this debate?

NYC Educator said...

That's a good question. I believe the debate was hastily organized and it's true that many votes were cast before it happened. It would have been better, also, to hear the presidential candidates debate.

I'd have loved to hear Ms. Weingarten vilify Kit for being a socialist. In fact, I regret that didn't come up in the debate.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the issue with Kit is that he is a socialist. The issue is that he advocates a "socialist revolution" and with this aim he would preside over the union.

By the way, you really think James won the debate? I don't think he could have done any better than he's just that ICE has a weak platform, no ideas, and no plan.

Anonymous said...

The part I liked best was Eerno's trying to weasel out of his position that the UFT should have cut the salaries of new teachers to finance a raise of senior teachers by saying that it was a private email.* This fits perfectly with the campaign strategy of ICE and TJC -- it's red-baiting and slander to just quote what you guys say.

* Actually, it was on the comments at Edwize.

NYC Educator said...

It's funny that we talk about what James may have written on Edwize.

The reality is we are far worse off than we ever were. Unity has given up key seniority benefits, subjected its members to 90 day suspensions based on unsubstantiated allegations, given us punishment days in August, cut our prep time in half, and failed to see where Klein was moving.

Unity's best friend is apathy. The only way you can defend its failures is by ignoring the 05 contract. Mr. Zahler focused on benefits that do not affect teachers, and claimed he would win back what he gave away.

Pardon me, but if these things are worth retrieving, why give them up in the first place? That indicates and inadequate leadership bereft of vision.

Like many of my colleagues, I took those two zeros for the C6 benefit. I never imagined my union would be so clueless it would give it up, along with a grab-bag of goodies for Mayor Mike, and accept less than cost of living in return.

The big defense for Unity is they didn't screw the new teachers? That's only valid if you ignore the fact that they screwed every working teacher in this city.

And the only ones who defend them, frankly, are on their payroll.

Norm said...

This is not an ICE positions but my personnal opinion.

I have always thought that before we raise top salaries, the steps in the middle should be compressed so it does not take 22 years to reach max. There is a point reached where the difference between people with say 5 years and those at the top is so great for people doing the same job becomes rediculous.

Others in ICE do not agree. But to say this personnal opinion somehow is ICE policy is what Unity does when someone even remotely connected with ICE says anything. ICE positions are published on the blog, web site and in handouts. Nothing else. Show us anywhere that we say anything about starting teacher salaries. In fact I have never heard one person at an ICE meeting ever express such a view. Just Unity lies and distortions.

ICE does not order people not to express personal public views as Unity does.

I have Unity people say all kinds of things to me but we do not say they are Unity positions.

jameseterno said...

A couple of us thought of a bunch of questions about the proposed contract back in October 2005. Jeff Kaufman and I sent the questions to our people so that they could be prepared to ask intelligent questions to UFT officials when they came to speak in our schools. We distributed them to our icemail group and I had forgotten that we put them out on the blog as well. It's not exactly a major gaffe to say on the radio that this was a private email.

Questions for discussion are not ICE positions. We are teachers and we ask questions all the time. The questions do not necessarily mean we advocate a particular point of view.

We felt there were alternatives to the 2005 giveback laden contract that had to be discussed that would only be discussed if the contract went down. Leo Casey chose to selectively answer the questions on EdWize and Unity has falsely turned the question comparing our strategy with the Police union's into ICE-TJC leader positions.

Here is the actual question that we proposed people ask back in October 2005: "Given the choice of evils, wouldn't it have been better to do what the police did and cut pay for future hires to get annual 5% increases without major givebacks for incumbent officers rather than agree to these draconian givebacks that the UFT is accepting? 5% is greater than 3.4% isn't it?"

We were comparing our pay increase with the police and their lack of changes to work rules as compared to our draconian givebacks. There might not have been a choice of evils had the UFT organized and been prepared as we had suggested.

Ironically, the UFT in that round of bargaining gave significantly smaller increases to people not yet hired as compared to people already on payroll so UFT agreed to unequal treatment for those yet to be hired just like other unions. (Jeff Zahler got that wrong in the debate on Monday.) For Unity to come out now as the champions of the not yet hired teachers is ridiculous. Norm mentioned the first 1995 contract that held part of new teacher pay for 4 years that we opposed and go way back to the tiers in the retirement system to see how Unity has made life worse for future hires.

ICE never took a position on whether the PBA settlement was better or worse than the UFT Agreement. We wanted a discussion on the topic of giving up everyone's rights or preserving all member rights (not yet hired and veterans).

We know that the UFT givebacks have demoralized tens of thousands of teachers(new and veteran alike) and made our working conditions intolerable in so many ways. Meanwhile, NYPD has a recruitment crisis and the PBA is in arbitration again. We don't know yet how it will end.

My main point is that to take a question and turn it into ICE leaders' position is false. However, that's what Unity has been doing in print and on the air.

Anonymous said...

After a few days, I got to hear the debate. It's a little difficult to find on the show as you have to fast forward to the end.

The Unity spokesperson's first comment is that Unity is for democracy. I'm still laughing at that one. This is from the group that stopped elections for district representatives so that Randi could appoint them. This is the party that didn't support the First Amendment right of people who were opposed to contracts to go to schools to distribute material in boxes. Their chapter leaders have also been known to pull stuff out of mailboxes.

I wonder when the last time Mr. Unity Democracy ever voted against anything that Randi proposed? Could someone check the record on that one?

At least Unity people make for good comic relief.

Anonymous said...

All one needs to know about this debate is that ICE is linking it to its blog for people to hear while I couldn't find it on the Unity site or on EdWize.

Unity doesn't want anyone to hear what happened. Not a surprise considering what they've done to us.

NYC Educator said...

As for Unity's take on democracy, don't forget they took the VP elections away from the branches they nominally represent, to ensure that high school teachers wouldn't be able to select a non-Unity representative.

Over on Edwize, they'll delete your comment if you even mention Unity. They claim to be non-partisan. Yet Leo Casey wrote an entire piece trashing the ICE leadership for questioning the "tradition" of union democracy.

Mr. Casey declined to address the issue of vice-presidential elections, as he does not deign to consort with The Help.

Anonymous said...

NYC Educator you are such an ungrateful person. It only took Unity twenty years to get back restoration of health sabbaticals for secretaries and lab specialists. In the debate, Jeff Zahler boasted about these major "takebacks" that will impact on at least 20 UFT members.

If you will just be patient for another hundred years or so, I'm sure that we can win back an end to hall patrols. By 2300 AD we will be getting back letters in the file grievances and by 2525 AD we will get seniority rights back. You need a little patience. Negotiations take time.

You also don't understand the first thing about democracy. Elementary school teachers obviously know best who the high school VP should be.

Finally, to paraphrase Mr. Zahler, a great spokesman for Unity, "There you go again" NYC Educator. Why do you want facts to get in the way of anything? Censorship on EdWize is a very good thing. We need more of it because we don't want to overburden already overworked teachers with having to deal with opposing points of view. Unity can make things so much simpler.

Anonymous said...

It's true. People like NYC Educator don't realize how difficult it is to make a century-long commitment to getting back the things Unity has given away.

Anonymous said...

5:09 pm you are very inpatient. You don't realize that it is a millenium commitment that Unity is making to get everything back, not just a century. Everything will be ours by 3000 AD.

1000 more years! 1000 more years!

Anonymous said...

Are you guys laughing so you won't cry because of the state of the UFT under Unity rule?

Anonymous said...

Take a look at some other goodies from Leo supporting the 2005 contract. He said that because ICE wants people to be presumed inoocent until proven guilty that you guys don't support zero tolerance for sexual misconduct. The implication is that you support pedophiles.

I'm not surprised that Unity would dredge up other material from 2005 and take it out of context to say that you support lower salaries for new teachers. It is so untrue. They are swiftboating you guys. They will say anything and make up whatever they want to stay in power and convince teachers to accept lousy deals.

Anonymous said...

The teachers in the middle have always been screwed.

Least we forget that it was Unity that first proposed slashing new teacher salaries, and it was the rank and file that voted that contract down. (Unity has such a poor memory.)

I also would have rather seen larger salaries in the middle than for newer teachers--but not slashing as Unity wanted to do!

It took me 15 years to make $50,000. By that time I should have been earning top salary, not at 22 (which used to be 20 until Unity increased that too!)

Anonymous said...

It used to be eight years to get to top salary and then it gradually went up.

Anonymous said...

I've heard from several ICE people that have told me that they would have rather had a lower starting teacher salary. In fact James' questioning implies that that is what ICE would rather have.

Anonymous said...

ICE is criticized for not having any plan except striking. When they talk about possible alternatives, you are all over them for not liking their questions. ICE never took a position on whether the PBA or UFT had a better contract. They were both awful. ICE just said there are alternatives.

Would you rather have your rights back now for a little less money?