Monday, November 19, 2007

Randi to Bloom-Klein:Apologize to Teachers for Witch-Hunt

ICE To Randi:Fight Back for Real This Time

The "first I love you then I hate you, then I love you" saga between UFT President Randi Weingarten and the Bloomberg-Klein administration seems to be moving back to the "I hate you" mode. Chancellor Joel Klein announced last week the creation of a new witch hunt office of prosecuting attorneys whose job will be to help principals go after ineffective teachers. Randi wrote a response that she sent to Chapter Leaders where she names the new office the "gotcha unit" and she calls on Bloomberg and Klein to "retract it and...apologize to the hard working teachers of this city."

Randi is so incensed that she has decided to support U Rated Teachers who have called for a vigil at Tweed headquarters on November 26, the night of the next meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy. ICE endorses the vigil and is glad to have Randi's support. However if this is to be more than the usual public relations' push to show UFT members that she feels our pain, then it is time for the UFT leadership to finally come to the realization that there can be no collaboration with this administration and we must fight back for real. You see we've seen the "Randi is Angry" show before and we didn't like how it ended.

Just as Randi is ticked off now as Klein's "gotcha" squad is announced one day after dismal test score results from national tests are released, she was incensed in 2003 only a few months after the UFT supported Bloom-Klein's first school reform. Soon thereafter, Klein was attempting to micromanage everything including how teachers should use classroom rugs. Randi challenged Klein to teach and then there was the UFT's protest that the city should "Let teachers teach." There was a giant UFT rally at City Hall with that theme.

Then, there was the protracted Contract fight from 2003-2005 where Randi was angry with the proposal to have an eight page Contract that would have eliminated virtually all of our rights, but she still ignored strong warnings from ICE members of the Executive Board and went to non binding arbitration where the UFT lost. She ended up standing next to Klein for that famous kiss as she gave away so many of our rights in the 2005 Contract (longer day, school in August, no right to grieve file letters, return to hall and cafeteria patrol, suspension without pay based on Office of Special Investigations' Reports that are often biased against teachers, no more seniority or SBO transfers so schools have become Principal's patronage fiefdoms, no placement for excessed teachers and more) in exchange for salary increases that were the same as every other Municipal Union received except that we work more hours and get paid at the same rate for that extra time. Since then, it's been mostly a love fest as the next Contract was negotiated a year early.

There was the bus route change fiasco earlier this year. Bloom-Klein were having a real hard time as the UFT joined with parent organizations in opposing Klein's latest reorganization of the schools. A major rally was planned for the spring, but was cancelled when Klein made some minor changes to the reorganization that appeased Randi. By the start of this school year, she was joining with Bloom-Klein to say how smooth the opening was and the UFT had commercials on the radio urging collaboration between management and UFT Chapters. Simultaneously, Klein was rewriting rules for School Leadership Teams which were rendering Leadership teams powerless.

Now, Randi's furious one more time and demanding an apology from Bloom Klein over the "gotcha" team of prosecuting lawyers who are being sent in to help principals get rid of tenured teachers. Randi is supporting the vigil that U rated teachers had already planned and demanding an apology as well as the end of the "gotcha" squad. We are happy to see Randi supporting the vigil. However, Randi has gotten on and off the Bloomberg -Klein bandwagon so many times that it is quite difficult to figure out where she really stands.

Those of us who work in the schools have continually seen teaching and learning conditions deteriorate under Bloom-Klein. ICE has consistently opposed their anti-education, anti-union agenda and we have supported the parent groups opposing the administration. We have also called for an end to Mayoral Control of the schools to be replaced with real School Based Shared Decision Making between administration, parents and teachers with accountable oversight that is not tyrannical. Randi's support for the vigil and call for the apology are great but woefully inadequate. We need this to be the starting point to rebuild the UFT as a viable trade union.

Specifically, here is a ten point plan to revitalize the UFT which we would like implemented immediately:

1. Revitalize the trade union purposes of the UFT by sending out to the schools teams of UFT officials to encourage members to use the grievance process to protect our rights. No more officials coming to schools to push for the latest Department of Education "flavor of the month." Too many members feel little or no real union presence in their schools. That must change immediately if members are to have the confidence to stand up for their rights with rank and file actions.

2. The UFT created an award for Principals who collaborate with UFT Chapters; we would like to see an award and publicity in every issue of the NY Teacher for Chapters or individual members who stand up for their rights in the face of unwarranted attacks from administrators. Why should people be calling Norm Scott or ICE about their issues? They should be calling the UFT and the Union should be fighting assertively for its members.

3. Use the harassment provision of the Contract aggressively. Right now members are told to keep an extensive log before an intimidation/harassment case is lodged against a principal under Article 23 of the Contract. Why not make these cases routine as soon as the harassment of our members begins? Two negative file letters/observation reports should set a pattern and be enough for us to fight back and file a harassment/intimidation special complaint in most cases.

4. Encourage Chapter Leaders to tell their members that the Contract calls for us to be treated equitably and fairly (Article 22A) and if we are not, let's file grievances that are all moved forward quickly by the UFT and insist that the DOE follow time limits outlined in the Contract.

5. If the DOE refuses to hear grievances in a timely manner, let's go to court to force their hand.

6. Take the DOE to court or to the State Education Commissioner against U ratings that are unwarranted if the Chancellor will not overturn them. We have nothing to lose but our members must know that we are fighting for them with every weapon at our disposal.

7. Picket in front of schools where the UFT Chapter is not being respected by administration and call in the press.

8. Publicize the failures of management. For example, show how there is a huge problem with students who are mis-programmed in the high schools because there isn't enough time between the end of summer school and the start of the school year. Show examples of great teachers who can't get jobs because of a political hiring process that has turned schools into principal patronage fiefdoms. Tell the world about teachers who have PhDs who are watching students in cafeterias. Publicize how extra money that has been added to the education budget in NYC is not going to classrooms (Where are the lower class sizes from the CFE settlement?, etc...)

9. No more standing next to Bloom-Klein if they back off a little on their "gotcha" plan. We don't need any incremental gains. It's time to renounce their mismanagement of the schools and abuse of our members forever.

10. Demand an end to Mayoral Control of the schools. The system does not need to be fine tuned; it needs a major overhaul and now is the time to push for it as the law permitting the mayor unilateral control of city schools sunsets in 2009 and must be renewed by the State Legislature. We should not give a penny in UFT political contributions (COPE money) or any kind of support to any politician who does not oppose Mayoral control. It's time to mobilize our members to end it and not merely try to mend it.

We welcome our readers to add more suggestions to the list.


Anonymous said...


The UFT got us into this witch-hunting of teachers mess by accepting Bloomberg-Klein's description of the Union as weak- unable to fight back. Randi went along with the "Big Boys" and now the chickens are coming home to roost on her back- claws sharply extended. We gave away the store and now have to fight back without the contractual rights the Union had fought so hard to get- like protection of our job rights! The Union has accepted the myth that the TEACHERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE STATE OF THE INNER CITY EDUCATION SYSTEM. Randi's acceptance of this 50 year old lie is the cruelest cut of all. It is the teachers who have kept this system from imploding entirely- going back day after day to try to teach while society has closed its eyes to the problems that has made teaching so difficult. Randi- the "Big Boys" are finally owning up to the truth- they are bribing kids to learn. Now will you show the fighting spirit that you and 200 other UFTers had the nerve to travel to New Orleans to "teach" to that City's teachers' union.

ENOUGH and again ENOUGH!


Randi- You have to follow your own advice "Spit in the face of fear." Bloomberg and Klein do not have to be feared.


Anonymous said...

Ten point PLAN?

Chapters don't need UFT "officials" to come into schools to encourage members to file grievances. That's a right we all have if you can grieve something, you should. PERIOD.

Chapter leaders don't need a monthly award to do what we were elected to do.

Harrassment? File the damn grievance!! What are you waiting for?

Chapter leaders often encourage members to use their rights. It's chapter leaders like those in ICE that would rather blame the union for every ill instead of taking individual action, like filing a legitimate grievance.

Any chapter should picket in front of school if it's not being respected. Do it because it right, not out of spite!

Publicize failures of management at a school? Use your chapter newsletter. I'd like to see the newsletters of those chapters that believe the union there to help.

The ICE bloggers should spend more time motivating the very teachers they claim the union does not help. IT's these bloggers and the members that don't stand up for their rights that are to blame, not Randi.

Get up!!

Stand up!!

Stand up for your rights!!

I step on the souls of dead puppies said...

Isn't that what we're paying union dues for? To have them lead us, publicize, use their clout to help us and encourage us? Aren't we paying these professionals a lot of money for...???
Randi put us into this situation by weakening our will and not fighting for our rights. It's insane to think what we lost in 2005 has a positive effect on our jobs.

Anonymous said...

Hey 4:47 p.m.

You can't file a harassment grievance without the UFT. They decide if it will go through and most times they send letters to people saying they are sorry but there is no harassment. ICE is trying to get the Union behind its members.

Anonymous said...

4:47 has nerve using Bob Marley's words.

Anonymous said...

When the UFT so-called district "rep" comes to my school, he spends all of the time listening to his own voice. He generally disuades anyone from filing a grievance by never encouraging anyone to do so. He says "we can't help you if you won't file a grievance." We need union leaders who will educate, encourage, and support us. Not bully us.

Anonymous said...

I'll second the last comment.

Woodlass said...

4.47 - ICE bloggers should spend more time motivating their chapters, should they?

A lot of the ICE bloggers, as you say, got to this degree of anger because we HAVE stepped up the plate and been vocal, and raised consciousness at our schools, and stood up for teachers and against bad princpals. Some of us have been spent time in the rubber room for speaking up. Others have been excessed for being strong chapter leaders whom the principals just wanted out of the building.

We don't come to this lightly, or without sacrifice.

Many ICE people are chapter leaders and delegates. When we blog, it's after hours. We're doing the dirty work of this union more than most, and if we criticize leadership -- it's because we've earned the right to.

Anonymous said...

Hey 4:47:
Where were you when motions were raised at the DA calling for more protections for chapter leaders against retaliations from principals- a motion voted down overwhelmingly by Unity?

How about telling is to file grievances on letter in the file? Oh, yeah, you gave that right away.

File a harassment grievance? They are told by the union they have to compile a log the length of a novel before the grievance wil be filed.

How many step 3 rejections by the UFT of teacher requests?

How about violations of time limits that you guys never figured out how to enforce?

Stop wasting your time reading these blogs and enjoy your double pension.

As for ICE - chapter leaders like Fiorillo, Kaufman, Eterno, Lazarus, etc. don't have to back down to anyone when we can point to numerous Unity sell-out chapter leaders who make deals with the principals to screw their members.

Your post is so typical - blame the victims of your policies.

Anonymous said...

ICE has offered a real plan, a real alternative. It's time for the UFT to change course.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:47, what happens when a chapter leader files a grievance, then the UFT doesn't back the chapter leader? What happens when the the DR urges an aggressive course of action, then tells the chapter leader to back off because he had a friendly chat with the principal? What happens when a principal puts letters in the file of the chapter leader and the higher ups say,"Don't worry about it, its only a letter." I find it hard to believe that this is not going on all over the city, in every borough. The UFT leadership projects weakness and self-interest. They need to counter this image of a parasitic, uncaring elite by actually doing something. Go into the schools and educate teachers about the their rights and responsibilities. File lawsuits when our rights are trampled. Give top class legal help to members accused of misconduct. How about suing abusive principals? What happened to the age discrimination suits? Why aren't the rubber rooms being picketed? I remember once upon a time when teachers in my school grieved even satisfactory observations that contained material they did not agree with. Non school based union officials have distanced themselves from the schools, they are afraid to fight anything they don't have a 90% chance of winning. People file grievances if they feel that they have a strong union to back them up. If the leadership won't exert themselves to protect a chapter leader, who will they protect?

Anonymous said...

7:51 has it just about right.

Anonymous said...

If only the teachers read this and cared. The solutions are sitting before us and now we only need to take them.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the last comment. We are now surrounded by teachers who have no interest in either union contracts and instead have all rights violated rather than file a grievance. Many principals make lives miserable for those that stand up, especially if the rest of the staff is not behind them.

But I do agree with your analysis that the chickens are coming home to roost. A stronger UFT would not have made my above paragraph possible.

Anonymous said...

The last comment is sad but true for the most part. How do we change the mind set of teachers so they will think of each other?

Anonymous said...

Worsening conditions will change their minds. Think pre-union days. Imagine what it took to do anything when there was no contract. The few teachers who did become active in the late 50's began to strike a nerve.

It might happen again. Or it might not.

Ex-Unity Member said...

The problem is that too many of the younger teachers are teaching fellows, who generally come from non-union fields. Pair this with a generation of right-wing Republican brainwashing that has convinced the youth that unions are evil, and you have the mess we're in now.

Anonymous said...

Ex Unity so how do we get out of this mess?

Anonymous said...

People think the UFT is corrupt and only out for themselves. Change should come from the top to change that perception which is reinforced when UFT District Reps and others come into schools and spin garbage into gold.

Anonymous said...

Teaching Fellows only comprise 10% of all new hires with the BOE each year. Many are very pro-union, and are NOT accustomed to the manner in which they are treated.

Many of us have taken active UFT roles upon tenure.

Anonymous said...

Great name for this article. My school closed two years ago. The UFT rep. told me to file a grievance, I did. My grievance did not go through for a year because it was a faint-hearted pretense of a grievance. This document was never followed.
The day of the hearing, the chapter leader who represented me said " NOBODY WINS A GRIEVANCE". She was right. The Union failed to represent me properly. That day the principal did not come or call, the DOE said I lost the case, the UFT never sent me a letter = A CIRCLE OF CORRUPTION a complete waste of time and energy to file a grievance with this union.

Anonymous said...

Stories like the one above need to be told all over the system. That's how change starts when people start to say that they've had enough.

Ex-Unity member said...

Organized labor must use the media to show how unions built this nation up in the 20th century, and how the life of American workers has declined since Reaganism. Expose the lies of terms like "Right to work." And, STOP SELLING OUT THE MEMBERS IN GIVEBACK CONTRACTS!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with your analyis of our new union policies. Recently Mike Mendall visited our school, and for every infraction teachers listed, he responded the same way..."The principal has the right..."

One Special Ed teacher complained about being hit and bitten by a particular student. His response..."fill out more paperwork." The teacher was so disgusted by this response and told him that extra paperwork was not a solution.

At least when Michelle Bodden visted our school, she didn't leave until she spoke directly to the principal about many of our concerns. At that time the principal was splitting up classes instead of hiring a sub. Michelle got that stopped. Now the principal is at it again, and nothing is stopping her.

More and more union visitors are bringing the same messages to the school that Mike is bringing. Teachers leave these meetings feeling hopeless.

Anonymous said...

Then start your own movement and force the UFT to join you.

Anonymous said...


You're either an idiot or Mike Mendell. If more union officials acted like Michelle rather than Mike, there would be no need to complain.

Anonymous said...

Wake up, for all our sakes!

The UFT and the DOE are together, deliberately destroying public education in this city, putting it into the hands of the corporations and the rich psychopaths (who are EXACTLY THE SAME psychopaths who are the union suits and the city government suits!).

We have few "teachers" left. We have people either new to teaching through their age or through their experience. Many are arrogant, self-satisfied, smirking imbeciles who could not care less about anything other than their precious selves.

We are ALL done for if those who have a clue don't stand up and strike back hard.