Sunday, November 30, 2008


In an unprecedented display of pathological paranoia, our Union's leadership will submit on Monday, at an Executive Board meeting, a resolution which attempts to silence any reporting, discussion, or free speech rights of our representatives concerning the matters discussed at Union meetings. Just like our sweetheart agreements with the DOE, the resolution, unsurprisingly, provides no penalties for violating its provisions.

The UFT leadership regularly records, photographs and reports on the goings-on of the DA and Executive Board in the NY Teacher and on the web. What the resolution does not address is how this practice will be impacted. The actual wording in the second resolved reads as follows: "That this Delegate Assembly call upon all in its ranks to respect the right of their fellow members to meet and deliberate in union meetings, secure in the knowledge that their words and their images will not be transmitted or reproduced without their permission."

Does this mean the UFT will need to obtain everyone's permission before they print in the NY Teacher anything that anyone says at a union meeting? What about our DA reports on the blog? Are we violating the gag order when we don't obtain Randi's permission before we tell our readers what she said? Or, perhaps the intent of the second resolved clause is narrowly focused on silencing frequent UFT critic and editor of Education Notes, Norman Scott, and his video camera.

The Executive Board and Delegate Assembly are elected, representative bodies; elected by our members to represent our interests. When elected bodies discuss sensitive matters they generally go into executive session; a tactic used sporadically at the Executive Board (as per Article V, Section 12 of the UFT Constitution ) during contract negotiations and rarely if ever used at the Delegate Assembly.

Since most of our 180,000 membership do not attend Executive Board and/or Delegate Assembly meetings, they rely on publications of leadership controlled and opposition produced material to understand how our Union works and what decisions have been made. Since there is often a great difference of opinion at these meetings, it is vital that all ideas, statements, and comments, be reported and not edited by the leadership. Members must know and understand how their representatives voted and what statements were made.

So basic is the fundamental right to freedom of speech of union members, it was written into our labor law, under which our Union must comply.

The Landrum-Griffin Act (the LMRDA) provides, in relevant part:

Every member of any labor organization shall have the right to meet and assemble freely with other members; and to express any views, arguments, or opinions; and to express at meetings of the labor organization his views, upon candidates in an election of the labor organization or upon any business properly before the meeting, subject to the organization's established and reasonable rules pertaining to the conduct of meetings: Provided, That nothing herein shall be construed to impair the right of a labor organization to adopt and enforce reasonable rules as to the responsibility of every member toward the organization as an institution and to his refraining from conduct that would interfere with its performance of its legal or contractual obligations. LMRDA, Section 101 (a) (2).

It has been held that a blanket prohibition on disseminating information from Union meetings is violative of the Act. See Bishop v. International Association of Bridge, Structural, ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, 310 F. Supp. 2d 33; 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3229; 174 L.R.R.M. 2649 (D.C. Circuit, 2004) and Callihan v. United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9715; 169 L.R.R.M. 3085; 147 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P10,122 (District Court, D.C., 2002).

When a Union becomes nothing more than a self-serving public relations operation, it ceases to care about free speech or other rights of its members. We must protect our precious rights and demonstrate to our misguided, paranoid leadership that they work for us…not the other way around.

The proposed resolution follows:

Motion: To recommend to the executive board and delegate assembly the following resolution on the Confidentiality of Union Meetings:

WHEREAS, it is essential that UFT chapter leaders, delegates and members have the full confidence that they can speak honestly and frankly in union meetings without fear that their words and their images will be reproduced in the news media or on the Internet without their knowledge or permission; and

WHEREAS, without such meetings and the free and open debate among union members that they allow, the democratic deliberations of the UFT are diminished and the ability of the union to learn and represent the views of its school-based leadership and members is undermined; and

WHEREAS, in recent weeks UFT member meetings have been surreptitiously recorded and transmitted to the news media, reporters have been invited to attend union meetings without identifying themselves, and video cameras have been brought into such meetings for the purpose of recording the proceedings – all without the consent of those present at the meetings; and

WHEREAS, there are ample opportunities for those who wish to speak to the news media and make their views known publicly to do so outside of union meetings; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that this Delegate Assembly affirm the vital principle that our union be able to hold union meetings, without outside news media present and without the proceedings being recorded and disseminated in public forums, in order to encourage the widest possible freedom of communication and deliberation among union members and leaders; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this Delegate Assembly call upon all in its ranks to respect the right of their fellow members to meet and deliberate in union meetings, secure in the knowledge that their words and their images will not be transmitted or reproduced without their permission.


Anonymous said...

Randi will not rest until you guys are completely shut up. Her biggest fear is that UFT members wake up and demand a real union. This blog is one of the few places where people can get real information about the UFT.

Mad as Hell said...

Unbelievable. What the hell is wrong with our hacks? Randi always talks about how democratic we are. I guess she only speaks about her democracy.

Anonymous said...

Is there a chance this will be defeated at the Executive Board?

Anonymous said...

Ridiculous. As a retiree delegate Norm Scott should have the right to film and take pictures. He was elected and his constituents expect him to report back.

Anonymous said...

Somebody wrote this words in a comment:
"when the TRUTH disappears from society...there is NOTHING LEFT"

It seems that the UFT leadership doesn't want to expose the truth that is in the video taken by Mr. Scott. That is why -- they want to stop people from video taping at the meetings. They are afraid of being exposed with telling lies and not doing their job for the members who pay their dues.

We do not live in CUBA!! We have the RIGHT to know the TRUTH. Thanks Mr. Scott for the real information you give in your blog.

Anonymous said...

The Executive Board, it was reported to us tonight, voted for the gag order with three dissenting votes. Shut up everyone.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 11-30-08 at 10:53:00 PM, Norman Scott hasn't been an elected rep in years. Besides, people aren't elected knuckleheads, they are born that way.

Anonymous said...

Knucklehead Knorm Knows he was wrong!!

Why else would he hide the camera under his arm as he walked around the second floor videotaping everyone?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes circumstances dictate
"guerilla" videotaping. I think this was clearly an instance where one could justify the use of recording. What Norm puts out will be shocking, no doubt, and useful. In our reality-tv, video game, internet you-tube world, people more and more need to see images on screens in order to believe and understand something. Print has become problematic.

However, is ICE saying that UFTers should have the right to
videotape/record our union's DAs and other meetings? If so, is there a belief behind this that thinks this will keep our leadership "straight?"

This is foolish. How many UFTers, if polled, would say "sure" when asked: Do you think it is ok for UFTers to randomly tape other UFTers without their permission in union meetings? Not many.

This resolution on the part of our leadership is an attempt to marginalize us at the DA (maybe not so important)but also at the school level because they are beginning to understand that some UFTers are becoming activated to organize other members. This is a legitimate threat to their power structure. They would much rather we sit in meetings once or twice a month and strategize for DAs.

Throwing hissy fits about the E-Board resolution is just what they want.

Here are some ideas: Let's take cameras outside of schools and conduct a series of reports on the shenanigans of the DOE. Think of it as a war correspondant's role in trying to bring to light the insanities of our school system. Could you imagine ed blogs showing videos of the outside of schools that include "voice over" information and stories about pyscho, inexperienced principals? Passing out leaflets to parents at elementary schools that explain what Klein is doing to our system? Conducting interviews with teachers who share their horror stories on camera (disguised if they feel more comfortable)? Distributing leaflets that state what chapter leaders should be doing in their school (especially to elementary school teachers who are the most oppressed and from informal"research" are more likely than not to want to bother with their CLs or attend meetings if meetings are even held)?

Let's create pressure at the school level to force CLs and delegates to actually attend DA meetings. Let's encourage as many UFTers as possible to come to pack the DA and take ownership over their union meetings by demanding democratic flows of information. Who will take up Marilyn Voight-Downy's challenge to Randi to open things up? To create more time for discussion? Randi said sure. There is a DA campaign worth undertaking.

The more people who attend the DA, the harder it will be for her to not acquiesce.

It's time to pay less attention to Randi and Unity and more attention to UFTers all across our city who wait for us to find them.

Let's take the union right out from under them.

Here is a question to consider once per week: How many new UFT contacts have I made this week?

Tired of Whining
Tired of Complaining
Tired of Waiting for things to just happen
Tired of being Tired

Anonymous said...

You know, we are tired too. Tired of having our basic contractual rights destroyed.

Tired of having Randi pick the DRs rather than chapter leaders.

Tired of reading that the ATR and Open Market was the best thing that ever happened.

Tired that Leo has no longer is posting the Open Market statistics--but of course if the results show that we were right and he was wrong, why do it?

I remember when the DA was an open meeting until people started to disagree with Randi. Then the rules change.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 1:31:

And your point is...

That we are all tired. Agreed.

And then what? And now what?

"I remember when the DA was an open meeting until people started to disagree with Randi. Then the rules change."

Perhaps you can illustrate this for us?

BTW: Here is a strange irony: Weingarten calls on more oppositional voices than one would expect considering all of the Hacks in the house. True?

Our energy should be pointed in all directions outside of the DA.

Anonymous said...

Sandy used to call on opposition people too. Big deal.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:58

misses the point.

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Anonymous said...

If your principals or AP's coached you or your staff on how to answer the school surveys this past spring, e mail to tell your story. Yesterday's Post reported on how they coached parents and withheld surveys fron those whom they thought would report negatively.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 9:40..You mentioned surveys and democracy?..Well, there was supposed to be a per diem survey sent out to all substitute teachers. Now the UFT committee leader claims they never obtained the mailing list that I requested last year where we discovered that there are, or at least were 11,000 subs in the city. Now they are telling me they can only "afford" to send it out to a handful of members. A handful will provide no consensus. So much for listening to the voice of the "rank and file". (what about all those dues we pay?) Subs by the way, are getting so little assignments from Sub Central or even non-Sub Central schools, that instead of a survey, they are getting eviction notices, filing for bankruptcy, on unemployment while working, and are quitting to look for other work. So much for the advocacy I attempted. No one at the UFT seems to be listening. They won't even send a rinky dink survey which by the way if sent to all members properly, (and I have my doubts) will reveal what is really going on with sub teachers. But, I already know..I am one, and hear the complaints coming in all the time. But according to them "everything is "wonderful" in the sub world"..Really? Now Sub Central claims they provide reasonable assurance and is blocking unemployment. They are bringing in not one, but TWO D.O.E. lawyers at unemployment appeals hearings. Lord have mercy! We are just itinerant workers. Have they no shame?
Subs are too afraid to speak out so they leave it up to me. Well, I think it's our turn to have a rally at Tweed.

Anonymous said...

Tell us specifically what the sub story is. It sounds interesting but it is hard to comprehend from what you stated.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes silence is golden, other times silence = death. Think about it.

Ty Johnson; BBA, MS, MPIA, J.D., D.P.M., retired Navy Seal, urban ninja, and personally recognized as a good samaritan by Judge Judy in 1998.

Anonymous said...

Dear annonymous from Dec. 10th.
Well it appears that there has been so much ignored by the UFT about what's happening to subs in N.Y.C. But I was glad that you expresssed interest. I have been working on a sub committee at the UFT since last year and it has been very difficult to get any of the proposals I suggested through. I requested more outreach to subs because most say they have never heard of the UFT per diem committee which is neglectful on the part of our union. Finally Randi has agreed to send subs a survey which I actualy created and was edited by the committee, but the mailing list was how should I say "LOST". It seemed weird to me that they could lose a sub mailing list, very weird. So there has been a "promise" to get another one. At this time I don't know if the survey will go to all 11,000 per diems because the UFT has always complained about what it will cost. Don't we pay dues? But what about all the years no correspondence was sent to per diems so couldn't they admit that it is high time something was done to help us with this million dollar top down arbitrary Sub Central registry that is using "do not call" lists as a progressive means of discipline, and subsequently possible termination? I drafted many proposals and mostly all were ignored except for the one on summer unemployment which NYSUT is helping with. What right should people have to evaluate us who have never once watched us teach? Sub Central thinks they have the right. But this is "due process" according to the UFT to get an adverse letter after the fact that you did "something" in a classroom weeks or even months or years ago, when you have not been given the opportunity to answer to these alleged infractions on the day they allegedly occured.They used to put subs straight on the ineligible list without a warniong or letter in their file. This new policy is just a slowere way of thier ultimate goal, to fire substitute teachers. Why is the D.O.E. concentrating so hard to get rid of us?
The registry sends us to schools we never submitted resumes and many times do not want us anyway.
Real relatonships are interrupted and circumvented by this random and arbitrary computer system that has micro-managed sub assignments all over the city. I used to work in about six schools per year an average of 150 days. Since then I must have been in 50 different schools. Totally exausting adjusting to so many environments. If I don't take the first call that comes, then I may not work that day while waiting for my "favorite school" to call. There have been massive double bookings where subs are sent home after going to the school and realizing that there was already someone else assigned.
Now many schools are not even hiring subs at all because they have been told to cover classes some other way, i.e. using ATR's and other teachers. (No offense against ATR's) If ATR's were placed then that would provide more work for us subs. Many subs are on unemployment and have to get oter jobs because they are working less because Sub Central is not calling them hardly at all. With all my advocacy what has the UFT done? There was a recent freeze on new certificates requiring new subs to submit an essay and work in only one school.
There is much more to tell but suffice it to say the union's response to all this is that everything is wonderful "substitute-ville", just wonderful. Really?

Anonymous said...

Survey, I created... I, I, I.

Congrats ICE, you've found another self-important person. This one is a sub. Groovy.

dr_drus said...

Would it be wise to attack this from the opposite end. The meetings are taped already by the UFT. The cameras and microphones are already there and being used. Is it possible/legal to ask for those tapes, or to ask that these things not be used. Is there such a thing as FOIA for us within our union.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Drus

Who are you?

You are actually thinking about a tactic instead of complaining. Put them on the defensive. They can't be reasoned with or persuaded at the DA.

Wait. Watch how dirty Unity will get as the economic crisis and Randi's AFT/UFT work worsens.


justdatruth said...

Unchecked power corrupts. Reminds me of the "BORG". However in this case resistance is not futile. Keep their feet to the fire ICE!

Anonymous said...

Do I have to worry about ICE taping me in the bathroom at the DA?

Anonymous said...