As this is the week where ballots go out for the UFT election, I planned to spend every spare minute campaigning for the office of UFT Vice President for the Academic High Schools. Before spring break, I drove to Richmond Hill to see Joel Berger from New Action. He had just been to a local union print shop to pick up thousands of copies of the latest leaflet from MORE-NEW ACTION.
Since I had leaflets, it was time to make a campaign appearance at Bryant High School along with former Chapter Leader Sam Lazarus. After meeting the staff at dismissal time, Sam and I split the leaflets so he could take them to a number of Queens High Schools. The time is now here to hit the road to distribute my share of leaflets so that UFT members know what MORE-NEW ACTION stands for which is so different from Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus.
Before I left school on the last day before the vacation, I stuffed the mailboxes at Middle College and International next door in our building. I also gave some to a friend who works part time at IS 193. It was very late so I figured most people would see them when we first returned to school after vacation. I was correct as yesterday (Monday, May 2), many members in my building asked questions about how to vote in the election and the leaflet. I told them to to look for the ballot at home in the mail. I then informed them how easy it is to vote for the hundreds of MORE-NEW ACTION candidates by just filling in an [X] in the MORE-NEW ACTION box, tearing off the first page of the ballot, putting it in the secret ballot envelope, placing that envelope in the outside envelope and dropping it off in the closest mailbox. Everyone told me they were looking for the ballot in the mail.
My wife Camille had a similar experience in her school as she put the literature out yesterday except because Camille is a rock star, her colleagues were asking her to sign the leaflet. Camille Eterno is running for UFT Secretary on the MORE-NEW ACTION slate. I can't top that. Nobody wanted my autograph.
After teaching for the full day Monday, it was off to spread the word to other schools. I filled the trunk of my old Corolla on Sunday with two huge boxes of leaflets to drop them off to contacts across Queens. First stop was Flushing High School where I met a helpful School Secretary and left the MORE-NEW ACTION fliers for a friend who teaches there. Next stop was IS 25 in Flushing where MORE-NEW ACTION Middle School Executive Board candidate Richard Covelli was still working as it was marathon Monday. I got to meet a couple of his colleagues and we chatted about teaching and union matters for a while.
After IS 25, it was back in the car to go to Francis Lewis High School to drop leaflets off for the amazing Chapter Leader Arthur Goldstein. Francis Lewis is a huge school so I needed to count out hundreds of leaflets to leave for Arthur. The people at the front desk are very professional at Lewis and most schools so it really isn't trouble distributing.
After Lewis, it was off to Bayside High School where a Chapter Committee member met me and happily took the fliers. From there it was over to Cardozo where I know a few people so I tried to get messages to all of them. The last stop on the tour of Eastern Queens was Martin Van Buren where Jamaica High School's former Librarian is now in that position there. I was getting a little tired then and I knew the kids and Camille would soon be arriving home so it was off to the grocery store for a loaf of Italian bread and some fruit juice before finally getting back home in Floral Park.
Soon after arriving at home, there was a phone call from a former Jamaica High School colleague to help with a grievance and messages to assist two others. My wife, six year old daughter and 22 month old son came home at the same time so the kids required attention too. Have you ever tried to play kick ball with your daughter while talking on the phone to go over facts of a grievance? That is multitasking at its finest.
After the kids went to bed, I finished up on the grievance preparation and then crashed. It is up bright and early this morning to start all over again. Today I will be teaching all day and then hitting the schools around the former Jamaica High School. I may soon run out of leaflets and need some more but this is the week where we need all of the help we can get if we are going to have any chance of upsetting the known Unity Caucus in the election.
If anyone wants to help out, please contact us at ICEUFT@gmail.com. Sam Lazarus, Kevin Prosen, Norm Scott, Don Doyle, New Action's Joel Berger, others and I will go anywhere in Queens and of course we have people in the other boroughs who can deliver material to any school in the city.
Please note that we all have the right to place UFT election material in UFT member mailboxes. If there are any issues, contact us immediately.