Monday, January 11, 2016

SUPREME COURT AND U.S. ATTORNEY SEND US BAD NEWS

The NY Times piece on the oral arguments held today in the Friedrichs vs California Teachers Association case has this headline: "Supreme Court Seems Poised to Deal Unions a Major Setback."  The Times is confident we are going to lose the Friedrichs case; Think Progress has that same feeling as their piece has this title: "Public Sector Unions Just Got Brutalized In The Supreme Court."

Add to to this that US Attorney Preet Bharara is not going after Governor Andrew Cuomo for shutting down the Moreland Commission investigating corruption at the state level and this was not a very good day for teachers, public employee unions, workers or the people of New York State.

For all of those hoping the teacher unions will lose the Friedrichs case so people can opt out of the UFT and not have to pay any dues or agency fee, your dream might be coming true. It is definitely not my dream, however, as a weak union with out of touch leadership is better than none and having more members gives us more power if we would only use it. Remember, it is not only about the leadership when it comes to the UFT as the majority of the membership votes them in every three years by just tossing their ballots in the garbage can.

I understand the argument that if we are in a right to work situation where people can opt out of the unions and don't have to pay them any dues, it will force the unions do their jobs and service the members thereby convincing people to remain as dues paying members. Maybe small groups will form in reaction to what the Supreme Court is doing where teachers will pull off a sick-out on their own like Detroit teachers are doing today on other issues.

Unfortunately, the Wisconsin situation where the public employee unions were neutered by Governor Scott Walker is more of a probability for our future.  It is not something we want to emulate.  Wages and working conditions have suffered out there since Public Law 10 was passed in 2011 to limit public employee union rights.  Yes, there were some rebellions in Wisconsin but as this Guardian piece by Steve Greenhouse shows, most employees just ended up resigned to swallow their poison.  I fear a similar situation may happen nationally, and particularly in New York, when the Supreme Court makes its decision on the agency fee. People may opt out in droves and leave the union even more powerless than it already is.

Waiting for Justice Scalia or one of the other conservative justices to save us seems like hoping to win that billion dollar power ball jackpot, not very likely. Unions should be fighting back for real now by educating their rank and filers and preparing for real action. That's also not very likely.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Friedrichs" is done. It's locked down. They've probably already taken the vote.


The UFT and NYSUT are officially notified. We, in opposition, must take advantage of the uncertainties to come and to press a forward-looking and positive agenda to protect the members who stay and pay and who will be under even more direct threat come June, when the decision is announced.

Anonymous said...

Question--- Doesn't the UFT dues pay for dental, vision and prescription? So if a teacher opts out of paying will he/she still retain those benefits or not? For whatever it is worth....Would an opt out teacher still be entitled to union representation? What exacting is one opting out of besides an automatic dues deduction? Please explain how the opt out would work - what will benefits will be lost?

Anonymous said...

Health benefits will be first in NY. Not lost entirely, but, our contributions will be increased.

James Eterno said...

As I undrstand it, non union members will not lose welfare fund benefits. That's why non members are called free riders because they still benefit from what the union does.

Anonymous said...

QUESTION: How quickly will this happen here in NYC if the case is lost? News says decision will be given in June. Does that mean in September folks are going to start leaving the UFT? I am very afraid of this situation. I have ten years left to teach before retirement. Maybe this bog can break down the facts and explain exactly what the work place will be like in NYC post Friedrichs.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for contributing your important time to post such an interesting & useful collection of knowledgeable resources, that are always of great need to everyone. Please keep continue sharing.

Working at college paper writing service

Bronx ATR said...

The Supreme Court isn't to blame. People should not be forced to pay for something that's inferior. This is all on the UFT. I'll still pay my dues for that old broken down chair, propped up against an unlocked door. If you remove that chair, watch what comes in.

Michael Fiorillo said...

The problem is that without a union, even a sucky union like the UFT, there's no chair, no door, no door jamb, no wall to keep the Overclass from sauntering in and taking everything.

Anonymous said...

Brooklyn, NY - A teenaged high school student who is free on bail after being charged in a New Year’s Eve assault and robbery that left a 55-year-old man needing 70 stitches has returned to Midwood High School in Brooklyn without any notification to teachers or students by school administrators.
NYPOST.com (http://nyp.st/1Rz1oq9) reports that 17 year-old Eldin Sabovic was charged with stealing the victim’s cell phone and wallet in the year-end stick-up while his 19-year-old accomplice beat the man, leaving him with a massive forehead gash.
A Midwood HS source reported that at least one student said her parents would have held her out of school had they known Sabovic was roaming the halls.
Greg Floyd, who heads up the Teamsters union that represents school safety officers, said, “This is wrong. This student should be taught in an alternative setting, not mingling with students at Midwood HS.”

Anonymous said...

Emil Pietromonaco promised that all UFT members would have a hard copy of the contract by the end of the 2015 calendar year. The only thing online is the Memorandum of Agreement which can't compare to the full contract. What else are they hiding from the membership? If the court supports Friedrichs, I will gladly stop paying union dues. Cops, firefighters, sanitation will continue paying dues because they have proactive union reps. We are the only union waiting till 2020 for full retroactive pay without proper interest. Even school safety agents last summer got their retro pay up front.

Anonymous said...

If the UFT leaders feel that they've properly represented their members over the years, then they should have nothing to worry about

Anonymous said...

If you can get something for nothing, why would you pay for it?

Anonymous said...

You guys want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Not a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Great news! Short-term setback but in the long run very good news for New York City teachers. Let's get rid of this do-nothing UFT.

Anonymous said...

And replace it with what?

ed notes online said...

I don't think Unity will be totally unhappy to be rid of some of the people commenting. They won't be able to vote in elections and Unity will be even stronger even if the union is 75% of what it was - and given other cities that is not an unrealistic number. Dues checkoff continues so they don't have to actually collect money. Welfare is not paid for by the UFT but by the city - the UFT only administers the program so they cannot toss people out.

Anonymous said...

Right, still no contract. Is it b/c of adjusting to Regents committee recommendations? We should call the state's bluff and eliminate *all* Cuomo's crap. Then, when he comes at us, we say he is operating in bad faith since he said test scores don't count this year. And, fire back by opening the flood walls on opt out in NYC. Doing that will sink this common core ship. Do it in an election year, and the whole privatization movement is gone. They are vulnerable. Big time. People do not like the charter school dweebs.

billy said...

Breaking news. 2 teens shot, 1 killed outside Jefferson HS in Brooklyn. Wow, I sure feel safe going back there tomorrow. I wonder if the UFT will help with extra security so I dont get killed going to my job.

Quinn Zannoni said...

Where are these insurgent unionists you are expecting? A decade of shoddy leadership has incited few rebels in our ranks. I fear that most members will remain out of touch, and that erasing the word "union" from our paychecks will enable that apathy.

Many of those eager for Friedrichs to pass the vote no doubt harbor resentment towards their apolitical colleagues and Unity patrons. But as the old union saw goes, "An injury to one is an injury to all." Friedrichs will hurt Unity and the opposition alike.

Won't it be great one day when Solidarity or MORE or New Action take over the UFT to the tune of 1,000 dues paying members?