Thursday, January 28, 2016


We are constantly asking members for non DOE email when it comes to union business including for the upcoming UFT election. The UFT Election Committee has discussed this subject and sent out the following email to chapter leaders.

Dear James,

We have received questions from chapter leaders about the use of DOE email addresses for election campaigning.  The bipartisan election committee wants to remind you that the use of DOE email addresses for union activity, including electioneering, is a violation of the DOE's internet policy.

We have long advised chapter leaders not to use their DOE email addresses to conduct union business.  All email correspondence about union activities, including electioneering, should be conducted using non-DOE personal email addresses.

If you receive an email to your DOE email account from one of the caucuses during this election, we recommend, in keeping with the DOE's Internet policy, that you not engage with it.


Amy Arundell
UFT Election Committee Chair

I accept Amy's interpretation of DOE email policy.

What I don't understand is why email is different from Department of Education letterboxes. The Board of Education ruled in the Baizerman Chancellor's level grievance back in the 1970s, based on a Supreme Court decision, that we do have a right to use teacher letterboxes to distribute material critical of the union. The union has the ability to use the boxes too.  We have used that right many times and continue to do so.  Why wouldn't that same rule apply to email boxes?  Just asking.


Anonymous said...

It is the same, it's just the lazy UFT hasn't challenged it.

Anonymous said...

The postage rates or stamps for email correspondence-might be too expensive.

Anonymous said...

With a letterbox, the Unity CL can remove any election flyers that is not campaigning for Unity. With an email inbox, the Unity CL has no control. Hence, the reason why the union will not dispute the issue.

James Eterno said...

All good points.

Quinn Zannoni said...

Why do you agree with Unity to refrain from responding to emails?

Are you just playing it safe? If so, that doesn't celebrate this new challenge to Unity's stranglehold over union communications.

Are you endorsing Unity's decision because you are just as dismissive as they are to any potential opposition?

I'm just wondering.

James Eterno said...

What are you talking about? Where does it say I support the decision? I accept Amy's interpretation of what DOE policy is. I then questioned it in the final pararagraph. If I was not clear, I hope this clears it up.

Francesco Portelos said...

We questioned Amy as to what part of the policy was violated. We haven't received a response.

You write "I accept Amy's interpretation of DOE email policy."

Can you explain what part?

James Eterno said...

This is the part that is controversial.

"Using the Department’s Internet Systems on behalf of any elected official, candidate, candidates, slate of candidates or a political organization or committee."

I accept that the UFT interprets this clause to mean we cannot use teacher email boxes for the union election. That is why they are urging us not to engage in any email from a caucus.

I question the UFT on the legality citing grievance precedent that rival factions within a union should have equal access to staff letterboxes. I don't understand how that does not include email boxes. Certainly if one caucus is using the Board's email to promote their cause, then all should have the same access just like with traditional letterboxes.

Anonymous said...

We take that to mean as it states "political candidates."

We don't see the employer or UFT leadership playing favorites. What we do see is the Unity led UFT leadership trying to suppress member to member communication. Stating in an email to "not engage" with member emails, regardless of forum, is something the USDOL may have an issue with.

Quinn Zannoni said...

What legal basis does the DOE have to control the use of their email systems in this way? The NLRB has ruled that private-sector unions DO have the right to use company emails for union organizing. The UFT isn't covered by that ruling, but it does make me ask: Is there any legal precedent that clearly says whether the DOE can bar the use of company email for union organizing? The only thing I've heard about is the Baiserman decision you mention above, which seems to say otherwise.

That's why I'm wondering how you "accept Amy's interpretation of DOE email policy" while simultaneously seeming to question it. And while you don't seem to 100% "accept Amy's interpretation", you're saying that you do, which makes me wonder if there isn't something else making you "accept Amy's interpretation", like maybe you just don't like how it was challenged recently.

James Eterno said...

I said before that I accept what UFT's interpretation of DOE email policy is. I questioned it in the post and have no problem with the DOE policy on email being challenged in terms of union issues. Is that now clear?