Friday, October 20, 2017

MULGREW TO DELEGATE ASSEMBLY: THESE ARE BEST OF TIMES FOR NYC PUBLIC SCHOOLS

I sat at the Delegate Assembly Wednesday thinking I work in a totally different school system than UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Mulgrew listed a long list of UFT and NYC school system triumphs. I thought I was at a high school pep rally at times although the applause was rather tepid.

He told Delegates NYC high school graduation rates are the highest ever, test scores are up (we have an ad running that says all of this), only 214 teachers were rated ineffective last year under the new evaluation system compared to over 3000 under the old satisfactory or unsatisfactory system, and the lump sum payments are in our bank accounts for the most part. He added the school year was off to a great start before the tragic stabbing in the Bronx; we only have to use our consultation committees for principal and superintendent issues to be resolved; consultation can even lower class sizes; SESIS has improved and everyone's been paid for work they did; and more. The overall tone was very upbeat. As the UFT commercial says, "We're making history."

ICE blog wants to know is this the best of times for NYC schools and for teachers?

Mulgrew did concede there are challenges: the Constitutional Convention, the whacky federal government and Janus. We are with a coalition of 600 organizations including the Conservative Party to get the no vote out on November 7; next year we will win the midterm Congressional election to fix DC; and the UFT will go door to door to convince over 100,000 members to stay in the Union when the Supreme Court makes us a right to work country. Face-to-face contact with our members will save the UFT.


  • Are you feeling the love at school?



  • Since so few teachers are rated ineffective, are you feeling secure in your job?



  • Is the graduation rate real?



  • Do you feel protected if you turn to the Union?

  • Do your friends who are UFT members feel like Mulgrew that the NYC public schools are a beacon of light giving hope to public school supporters everywhere?

I can talk about how the Department of Education is ignoring effective ratings and discontinuing untenured teachers anyway or how tenured teachers with no ineffective annual ratings are being charged in dismissal hearings, how the minimum 4 observations for teachers are brutal, how there is no student discipline in many schools, how there are plenty of administrators who ignore the UFT contract, how there are useless CTLE hours teachers have to endure and more but what do I know?


  • While Mulgrew conceded conditions in the schools could improve, is he right that the NYC schools are a major success story?

  • Are we just a small group of disgruntled complainers?


Please answer. We need the anecdotals. Tell us the level, borough and district where you work.

Thanks.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

LIVE BLOGGING FROM OCTOBER DA (unedited)

First UFT Delegate Assembly of the 2017-18 school year is today. Sorry in advance for any errors from the smartphone.

President's Report
Michael Mulgrew started by having a moment of silence for Mark Schaefer, long time CL, who passed away.

City
UFT proud of what we do. Showed UFT commercial. Teachers who made commercial introduced themselves.

National
Janus, other craziness. State and city budgets start July 1. No common sense about federal government. President proposes getting rid of children's health program. State will pick it up but state looking at $4 billion hole. City doing OK but if federal cut goes through, state will have $8 billion hole. State and city cannot do budgets because of federal situation. Education cut to bone in many states around the country. Instability in DC will impact states and cities soon.

Disasters: UFT there in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican union distributing aid through their building. We will help in California too.

State
Word has gotten out about ConCon. Email Paul Egan if you want a lawn sign. 600 organizations involved, not just unions. Conservative party head in odd coalition with us.

Are we talking to colleagues to vote no on constitutional convention? Magnets to vote no. Nov 7 election day also anniversary of first UFT strike in 1960. Mayor's race also. Happy enemies are reluctantly conceding point that school system is doing better.

SUNY changed regulations for charter schools so it is easy to certify teachers. Turnover rate 40% a year in charters and 50%in Eva's schools. We sued them. Teaching is a profession. Board of Regents looking to have new accountability for charter schools. First charter school high school started with over 70 kids and now has 18. There will be 100% graduation of the 18 that are left. Happy Board of Regents will hold charters accountable. Public schools have 76% high school gradutation rate even with kids sometimes moving to different schools within the system.

City
Year off to good start until student was murdered in class in the Bronx. Young staff. Signs were there and DOE did nothing. Angry at DOE. Why do they give surveys if they ignore that there were bullying problems?
Thanks people at school.

Schools
Emphasize consultations. Superintendents on our radar now that we have information from hundreds of chapter leaders. If superintendents won't deal with issues, we will deal with it at central level. DOE has sent out instructions to resolve class size grievances. Bring it up in consultation.

Paperwork
Good results from paperwork complaints from last year. Chapters have power to stop five page unit plans and curriculum maps.

OPW
Certain things should be exceptions.

Professional Conciliation
Procedures set up to ask for conciliation on line.

SESIS
Money from grievance went out. SESIS inquiry on UFT website.

Lump Sum Payment
By next week everyone should get it. Since it is wages, it is taxable and union dues come out.

Evaluations
Based on matrix. Pick multiple measures. We went from 3000 U ratings to 214 ineffectives. Principals and Superintendents think we are usurping their authority. Does anyone want to go back to principal's having total control over ratings?

Making Strides
We raised over $1 million this weekend. Thanks borough coordinators.
Raffle to raise more money.

CTLE
Trying to get DOE to partner with us. Must be certified CTLE course that state certifies with attendance and proper insructor. DOE has finally agreed to partner with us. PD in contract. Some schools have PD that counts.

ELL conference 1200 showed up last Saturday. Chancellor there. Might have had a breakthrough with DOE on CTLE because of this.

Artie Pepper wins Cogen award at Teacher Union Day. UFT did 1.4 million prescriptions last year.Among 1% who have no premiums for healthcare.

UFT welcome center open.

5600 teachers hired this fall.

Janus: We will probably take a brutal loss according to lawyers in case and become a right to work country. Goal is to weaken unions. We stand in right wing's way. UFT largest local in country. We will be targeted. Goal of right wing is to take away our ability to stand up to them. UFT trying to visit every member at home. Some visits will be tough. Need a group of people to be trained and go door to door. Need face to face contact. Need delegates to do this work. Will give a stipend for this work.

Staff Director's Report
Leroy Barr asked about people to sign up for campaign to go door to door to talk to members. Want to talk to over 100,000 members.

Phone banks open for Nov 7 election. Turn ballot over to back to vote no on con con. Need people to get involved.

Other dates announced. New teacher meet and greet, etc...Next DA November 8

Mulgrew back
Negotiating with city on paid family leave. City coming in right direction but they still want us to pay for it. Don't want march of the onesies.

Question Period
Question: Do we have to upload daily lesson plans on Google docs?
Answer: It is ritualized collection of lesson plans even if it is electronic.

Q March on Albany on new charter certification requirements. Are colleges impacted by dumbing down certification requirements?
A: Governor did not do this. Governor has pivoted. He wants to win back Congress. We have lots of enemies. Have to work with people we might not like on certain issues.

Q: Pension money used for affordable housing?
A: Yes it happens. Trustees vote on investments and they get returns. Pension funds growing.

Q: Advisory ratings issued. How to ensure they aren't used against us?
A: It is in state law that they must be issued.

Q: Is it insubordination not to follow principal's strong suggestions?
A:No

Q: We have to report on kids what about teachers who are harrassed?
A:No, call Office of Equal Opportunity.

Q:Teachers writing annual goals?
A: Post consultation notes and contact Debbie Poulos.

Q:Why don't we get Vets Day off?
A: DOE policy. It is not in contract.

Motion Period
No motions

Special Orders of Business
One resolution was on preserving DACA, one on aiding hurricane and wild fire victims and one on supporting NYC March for climate justice.

Nothing controversial. All passed. The DACA resolution was amended to not let Nicole Malliotakis sue to get NYC ID info out.

HOW SHOULD DISSIDENTS IN THE UFT RESPOND TO IMPENDING UNION LOSS IN SUPREME COURT?

The Nation has a great piece on how the right wing Supreme Court is about to take aim at worker rights in its current term. Union dues in the public sector will almost certainly become optional in 2018. The public sector will become a right to work environment soon with the case of Janus vs. AFSCME

The Nation explains Janus:

At issue are “agency fees,” which unions sometimes charge non-members. By law, unions must negotiate on behalf of all workers in a bargaining unit. Thus, all workers in a unionized shop enjoy the higher wages and better benefits that often come with unionization—according to one study, unionization raises wages by about 12 percent on average. To prevent non-members from free-riding off the union, union contracts often require every worker to pay their fair share of the bargaining costs, regardless of whether they join up. Without such an arrangement, the union risks becoming so starved of funds that it can no longer operate.

Janus, however, asks the Supreme Court to declare these agency fees unconstitutional, at least in the context of public-sector unions—and it relies on an exceptionally aggressive reading of the First Amendment to do so. 

Later, The Nation predicts that it is all but certain the unions will lose.

How do all of us who have been opposed to Michael Mulgrew's dominant Unity Caucus in the UFT prepare for the impending Janus storm?


  • We can stand behind the Union and encourage everyone to do the same. The UFT is in need of electoral reform where there is real accountability but the Unity majority is virtually guaranteed to resist any changes that would threaten their total control of the Union. Still, we have a job that pays six figures annually for those of us who can last and the benefits are pretty good. The UFT has to get some credit for that. 

  • We can organize a new union based on voluntary contributions so Janus won't matter. We wrote about this for high school teachers on Thursday, October 5. It would require a level of member activism up to now unheard of in the UFT (as would fixing the UFT). A new union probably wouldn't get bigger raises because of pattern bargaining (a weak union like the UFT settles on a wage increase and other city unions are stuck with the same settlement) but on working conditions, restoring teacher dignity and enforcing a contract some of us believe we could do better in our sleep upholding teacher rights compared to the UFT.

  • We can encourage people to keep their dues and not bother with a union. That is truly cutting off our noses to spite Mulgrew's face. Can anyone cite any examples of workers who are better off because they no longer have a union? I can't think of one.
My guess is sadly some people who read this blog will choose the last option. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

IN POST JANUS WORLD WILL UNIONS HAVE TO SUPPORT NON-MEMBERS?

There is a very interesting piece in Slate Magazine on the future of public sector unions after we more than likely lose the Janus vs AFSCME case.

Does a post Janus union have to represent someone who refuses to join the union? Slate's answer is no and I would concur.

This is a major part of the Slate piece:

The National Labor Relations Board describes non–union members’ “right to fair representation” from unions as follows:
Your union has the duty to represent all employees—whether members of the union or not—fairly, in good faith, and without discrimination. This duty applies to virtually every action that a union may take in dealing with an employer as your representative, including collective bargaining, handling grievances, and operating exclusive hiring halls. For example, a union which represents you cannot refuse to process a grievance because you have criticized union officials or because you are not a member of the union.


As professors Catherine Fisk and Margaux Poueymirou have persuasively argued, though, if the Supreme Court holds that compulsory fair share fees are unconstitutional because they require non–union members to spend money on political causes with which they disagree, then compelling unions to expend their own scarce resources advocating for the benefit of nonmembers would similarly be unconstitutional “on the court’s own analysis.”

But the violation of unions’ First Amendment rights is more severe than merely compelling them to spend money. In addition to depleting unions’ resources, compelling unions to advocate on behalf of nonmembers who frequently oppose their very existence represents a severe violation of unions’ First Amendment rights to determine their membership and the terms of their association.

The Supreme Court has held over and over again that governmental interference with a private group’s membership requirements “may impair the ability of the original members to express only those views that brought them together.” Given this reality, the court has long recognized that “[f]reedom of association therefore plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate.” The Supreme Court expounded on this principle in a landmark 2000 ruling, which held that the Boy Scouts of America had the right to expel a gay member, lest the organization lose its “ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.”

In other contexts, allowing the government to force organizations to advocate on behalf of people who oppose them would lead to results that most would properly regard as absurd. For instance, what would be left of the right to associate if the government could compel Republicans to allow Democrats to vote in their nominating conventions? Or force the Jewish Anti-Defamation League to promote the views of Nazis? Can civil rights advocates be compelled to permit the KKK to march with their members at parades, or vice versa? Simply put: Individuals are either free to define the terms of their association, or they are not.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

AFT ASKS FOR DONATIONS FOR CALIFORNIA FIRE VICTIMS

What an insane period for the Union's disaster relief fund. The AFT is now appealing for donations for California wildfire victims. Here is the latest email from AFT President Randi Weingarten.

James,

I’m writing from Puerto Rico, where I’m spending the weekend working with our leaders and activists from the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico and our volunteers from our healthcare and nurse locals helping deliver food and water and opening makeshift health clinics for people in San Juan and other regions of the island hard hit by Hurricane Maria.

It has been three weeks since the hurricane hit, yet on the ground it feels like it hit three days ago. Our union—understanding the importance of schooling—is working in communities to repair and reopen schools, despite a majority of the island still being without power and having little access to food, water and medical supplies. Many of our nurse and health professional members from the mainland have volunteered, and 25 traveled to the island on Oct. 4 for a two-week stint to provide much-needed medical care. They have literally been the difference between life and death for some. Everywhere we’ve gone, we hear that we are the first help to reach people. And the stories of so many who have lost so much are heartbreaking.

But their union is there for them, and the AFT Disaster Relief Fund donations you have so generously given are being used here, just like in Texas, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to help people survive and rebuild.
Now I must come to you again—a fourth time in just seven weeks—on behalf of our members who are facing another kind of natural disaster. Wildfires are raging through Northern California, destroying thousands of homes, schools and buildings. Already, at least 38 people are confirmed dead, with hundreds more missing.

The AFT and the California Federation of Teachers are doing everything to reach our members via phone, email and text to make sure they are safe and to see what they need. We’ve heard from members whose homes have been destroyed, members who lost everything as they fled from these terrible fires.

Please donate to assist our brothers and sisters in California who need our help.
It is times like this that we come together as a union and as a family to help our fellow members. As we did in Texas after Hurricane Harvey, in Florida after Hurricane Irma, and in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Now, we are asking for immediate help for our members through the Disaster Relief Fund, and we will be there for the long haul to help the rebuilding and recovery process.

I know we have asked a lot in the wake of these recent disasters, but please help our members affected by the fires by making a donation to the AFT Disaster Relief Fund.

In unity,

Randi Weingarten, AFT President
Joshua Pechthalt, California Federation of Teachers President


P.S. We’re still fundraising for our members in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well. Please click here to donate to that specific fund.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

UNION DUES SHOULD BE THE SAME FOR EVERYONE WHO WORKED SINCE NOVEMBER 2009

People are asking me why do teachers and other UFT members have to pay union dues on our lump sum payment checks? The city is paying us back the second installment of what was essentially an interest free loan we made to the City/Board of Ed for work we did from 2009-2011. Other municipal unions received the money back then and it has been in their checks ever since that time but UFT members agreed to effectively loan our raises to the city when they finally settled our long overdue contract in 2014. The city cried poverty and the UFT agreed they were broke and couldn't pay us the money they owed us back in full until 2020. The second installment is on the October 15 check. It is 12.5% of the money the city owes us.

We already paid union dues on our original pay checks since 2009 so we shouldn't have to pay them again on the loan repayment (lump sum payment). Before 2015, we didn't pay union dues on retroactive checks or loan repayments because we already paid dues on that money.

If we accept the premise (I do not) that the UFT can take a little more because the money should have been paid to us at a higher rate back in those years, then according to the UFT's dues structure, every teacher who worked continuously from November of 2009 until now should have the exact same amount deducted.

This is from page 30 of the October 5, 2017 NY Teacher, a page called Notice of Dues Changes:

As approved by the UFT Executive Board and the Delegate Assembly on October 6, 1999 and November 3, 1999, UFT members' dues were reduced to .85 of one percent of the maximum salary of Step 8B plus L20 as defined in the teachers' contract plus the AFT & NYSUT pass-through.

All of us on the teacher pay scale should be paying a flat rate, not of our salary, but of Step 8B plus L20.

The Notice of Dues Changes says that all Full Time Teachers and Attendance Teachers had deductions of $58.31 per check, which has now gone up to $58.44 per semi-monthly pay period. There is no different dues schedule based on where a teacher is on the salary scale. On the lump sum, what we pay should also be identical for everyone who has been working continuously from November 2009 through now. We all were short for the same amount of pay periods.

Can anyone tell me why those of us working continuously since November 2009 have many different deductions for union dues on the lump sum payments? I don't get it or was this just another DOE mistake that has been corrected?

Friday, October 13, 2017

RAW STORY WRITES ABOUT TEACHER UNION-PUBLIC EDUCATION DEMISE

I read a piece in Raw Story about Education Secretary Betsy De Vos taking down unions and public education in Michigan and now going national to do the same.

As the Janus vs AFSCME Supreme Court case approaches where union dues are extremely likely going to become optional for government workers nationwide, this part of the Raw Story piece hit me concerning Michigan teachers leaving the union after they became a right to work state:

The demise of retirement benefits means that new teachers have little incentive to join the unions; the shrinkiing terrain of collective bargaining gives veteran teachers little reason to remain in them.

This is scary stuff. Without any union, workers will be in even more trouble than we are already in today. When the right to opt out of paying union dues comes to us, it seems to me that so many of the people who come by here are ready to cut off their noses to spite UFT President Michael Mulgrew's face so they will quit the UFT.

While it is clear that workers are so much better off by having a union, can anyone really figure out what our union, the UFT, does to organize and mobilize its members? Defending this union is not easy but the idea of a union I can promote enthusiastically.

We need a real labor union now more than ever. Is anyone listening and willing to help?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

UNPLUG CABLE BOX AND MODUM FOR 24 HOURS FOR CHARTER SPECTRUM WORKERS SUNDAY NIGHT

This came in my inbox from UFT Staff Directors Ellie Engler and Leroy Barr. It's a real union solidarity action for striking cable workers.

When is labor going to call for a boycott of Charter Spectrum and try to get their NYC franchise revoked by our friends the mayor and the comptroller?

Dear James,
We must stand united at this moment when our rights as unionized workers are under siege. Join us in an action to unplug your cable boxes to send a message to Charter/Spectrum that you support a fair contract for striking members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 3.
  • What: Unplug your cable boxes and modems for 24 hours
  • When: Sunday, Oct. 15 at 10:16 p.m. until Monday, Oct. 16 at 10:16 p.m.
Almost 2,000 Spectrum workers are five months into a job action against the cable giant to keep the company from destroying their retirement and health benefits, unfairly disciplining workers and threatening job security. Read more about their fight in the New York Teacher »
We hope you'll join us in this effort to demonstrate labor solidarity.
Sincerely,
LeRoy Barr and Ellie Engler
UFT Staff Directors

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

UFT PUBLIC SCHOOL PROUD AD UP

I got an email from UFT President Michael Mulgrew yesterday introducing the UFT's latest television ad.

To me it kind of looks like a de Blasio campaign ad on how well the schools are doing.

What do you think?

Dear James,
We know you're proud of the work you do as educators. And you have every reason to be. Thanks to you, New York City public schools have their highest graduation rate ever, a record number of students enrolled in college-level courses and more computer science, music and art classes than ever before.
The UFT is committed to fighting for the working conditions, professional voice and resources you need to make a difference. Together, we're moving our schools forward.
Our new television ad celebrating our public schools will start airing this morning, and I wanted you to be among the first to see it.
With challenges looming in the year ahead from powerful forces looking to take away your hard-earned rights and benefits, it's more important than ever that we stand together as UFT members in support of the amazing work we do. Together, we are making history. Together, we are #PublicSchoolProud.
All the great work you have done as New York City public school educators made this ad possible. Thank you for everything you do.
Sincerely,
Michael Mulgrew
Michael Mulgrew
UFT President

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PAYROLL PORTAL DOWN

The UFT sent out a text saying that some members have incorrect deductions on our October 16 checks. Consequently, the Department of Education has shut down the payroll portal.

Many of us can do some math but can we seriously tell if the DOE is paying us the right amount in these interest free loan repayment checks?

The UFT article is below:

Incorrect deduction information on DOE's payroll portal

Some UFT members who have viewed their lump-sum checks on the DOE's payroll portal have noticed that their deductions appear to have been doubled. This information is incorrect.
The DOE verified to the UFT that the deductions shown on the pay stub in the portal are incorrect, but that the check displaying in the portal does reflect the correct amount.

The portal has been shut down while corrections are being made, which should take about a day or so. Please wait until the portal is back up and running before making an inquiry about your payment.

FRESNO TEACHERS AUTHORIZE A STRIKE

Out in California, the Fresno Teachers Association has voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.

A strike you say? In NY that word is never spoken among government employees. We are too afraid of the Taylor Law which makes strikes illegal in the public sector in "progressive" New York.

Never mind that an agency of the United Nations called the International Labor Organization ruled that the Taylor Law is a violation of workers' rights to free association and collective bargaining.

Why don't we tell our new progressive friend Governor Andrew Cuomo about this law that a UN agency says violates international law?

We can keep the Triborough amendment that allows expired contracts to remain in place until there is a new one. However, the two days pay penalty for each day of a strike and jailing union leaders as well as crippling fines on unions for striking need to go.

The Fresno teachers have been working without a contract since 2016.

A look at some of the issues out there shows that salary and health benefits are of course in dispute. They are also fighting over lower class size and student discipline.

From the Fresno Bee piece:

The FTA also wants a greater emphasis on reducing class sizes, asking for class-size ratios to be capped at 24 students per teacher in kindergarten through third grades, 26 students in fourth through sixth grades, 28 students in seventh and eighth grades, and 30 students in high school. So far, however, the district’s proposal calls for reducing class size ratios only in core classes such as English and math at the high school level.

On student discipline from a separate article in the Bee:

A call for stricter, more uniform discipline policies has also been a top priority for FTA, with teachers reporting that the district’s restorative justice efforts have led to unruly – and sometimes violent – classrooms.

You see if we were united and ready to do union battle, we could have a say in our working conditions.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article175970556.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article176894156.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, October 08, 2017

DOE FILED DISMISSAL CHARGES AGAINST A TEACHER FOR TELLING KIDS TO BE DECENT IN DANCE ROUTINE

One of our friends from the Bronx sent us an article on Saturday about a veteran teacher who was charged in a termination hearing because according to the NY Post she "​raised objections when some of the 30 girls, ​in extremely ​short ​cheerleading ​skirts, ​wore panties underneath that were too skimpy​ or ​ill-fitted​..."

I am not making this story up. While the teacher was not fired, the arbitrator still gave the Department of Education some satisfaction in the dismissal hearing as the teacher received an official letter of reprimand. The DOE has to get something in these hearings even when they are totally absurd.

The climate is so bad for NYC teachers that we can be charged for anything at any time.

Here is the Post story:

Veteran dance teacher Karen Eubanks was appalled when cheerleaders at the High School for Environmental Studies in ​​​Manhattan bared their bottoms during a school performance.

​Eubanks​ ​raised objections when some of the 30 girls, ​in extremely ​short ​cheerleading ​skirts, ​wore panties underneath that were too skimpy​ or ​ill-fitted​ ​and sh​ow​ed “some of their genitals,” butts and even pubic hair.
She spotted eight to 10 boys in the gym audience videotaping the show.

​Instead of commending Eubanks for promoting modesty and decency, the Department of Education brought her up on ​misconduct ​charges — including verbal abuse — and tried to fire her.

​Eubanks, 59, a city teacher for ​two decades​ and former educator with the New York City Ballet, was ​​accused of saying the girls ​“showed a lot of vagina” ​or “flashes of vagina​,” ​ and using ​the words “g-string​,” “burlesque moment” and “nasty” within​ ​earshot of students, thus embarrassing or belittling them in violation of chancellor’s rules.

“It’s shocking that I was accused of wrongdoing after advocating for the dignity of our students,” Eubanks told The Post.

​The ​flap erupted in April 2016 when Eubanks​, who was substituting a​t​ the Hell’s Kitchen school, ​​ attended an after-​hours spring concert​​, which included a dance ​performance by the cheerleaders.
Besides students and staff, the audience included parents.

​As part of their routine​, the ​cheerleaders executed a “fan kick.” They sat on the floor facing the audience, leaned on their left hips and raised their right legs high in the air, waving them like a fan across their faces and bodies.

Eubanks testified she saw some​ girls wore “what looked like panties” that didn’t stay in place, ​​“riding up” ​to expos​e their ​​genitals​ to the audience​​, she said.

​Darius Williams, a DOE contractor and former dancer and choreographer with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, also attended the concert. He backed Eubanks’ account, calling the display “vulgar.”
He also saw boys filming ​it​.​

But Principal Amber Najmi-Shadid, who brought her 10-year-old chil​d, testified she “did not see any ‘vaginas’ showing,” and insisted, “Everything was appropriate.”

​Afterwards, Eubanks said she praised the ​girls for a “wonderful” ​performance​, but told a few​​ of them: “You know that fan kick? Did you guys ever think about turning it upstage, or to the side, or on a diagonal? . . . 

I’m a bit concerned because your crotches were facing the audience.” She denied ​saying words like “nasty” or “burlesque” ​to the girls.

The cheerleading coach, Nicola Brugueras, said Eubanks pulled her aside on a stairwell the next day to discuss the dance.

Brugueras said Eubanks was “confrontational” and used the words “crotch shot” and “nasty.”

Brugueras called a meeting with the cheerleaders to address the issue. ​In a chat room, one girl ​angrily ​mentioned “some f–king dumb ass lady talking s–t about our choreography, saying its burlesque and how she saw vaginas.”

“Yea. She think she some high and mighty bitch,” another texted.

The teachers who complain on this blog about teachers having no rights and having to put up with being called all kinds of obscenities from students do have a point as this case proves.

Back to the Post story:

​The DOE held a trial, which also included charges that Eubanks arrived late for ​​a class​​​ at her former school, Gramercy Arts HS, ​​when the hall bell was broken and filmed​ students in the mistaken belief ​the school had already obtained parent permission.

The proceeding​ last fall​​ ​ generated a 974-page transcript and a dense 42-page ruling in January by Doyle Pryor, a hearing officer who gets $1,400 a day plus expenses to conduct testimony and write rulings.

Termination cases typically cost some $300,000 in investigative ​efforts, lawyer fees and other staff time.

Pryor concluded that Eubanks was too harsh and should have used​ gentler words like 
“private part​s​.” But he found she “acted out of concern” for both the cheerleaders and their coach.
​He ordered that she receive a letter of reprimand.

​Eubanks, who makes $93,790 a year, is now teaching at ​nearby ​Facing History HS​.

All I can say is be careful out there. The DOE increasingly looks as though they have no qualms about trying to fire any of us. UFT protection: They will get you a lawyer to defend you in a dismissal hearing.

It is not a teacher friendly environment we work in.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

LOAN REPAYMENT UP ON PAYROLL PORTAL

Anyone interested in seeing how large the 12.5% loan repayment the city is making to UFT members, without any interest, or work we did from 2009-2011 can go into the payroll portal. Our stubs for the October 16 paycheck are there.

As in 2015, the UFT is getting a piece the action taking out union dues from the loan repayment. In the past (pre 2015), union dues did not come out of retroactive pay because we already paid dues on the checks during the pay period w hen we originally worked.

Leave it to the UFT to take their cut of our money.

It is just the latest indignity.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

COLD HARD FACTS ABOUT HOW DIFFICULT CHANGING THE UFT IS

There were some insightful comments on Monday's posting on the future of the UFT next year when the U.S. Supreme Court in the Janus vs AFSCME case will most likely make union dues optional in the public sector for non-union members (agency fees).

In comments it was suggested that the membership should oust President Michael Mulgrew through the ballot box while others thought starting a new high school teachers union would be a better alternative as we move ahead. These are both ideas that could lead to a more militant union movement but I wrote a comment telling people how next to impossible the former suggestion would be to achieve and how extremely difficult it would be to accomplish the latter too. Either way it would require a level of commitment from the rank and file that would be an extraordinary change compared to what we have now.

We need a strong union for sure. How do we get one? After 22 years of actively opposing Mulgrew's Unity Caucus, I do not know if I have the answer on how to get people to stand up collectively. I do know change will not occur without real involvement of the rank and file.

This is my response to the comments from Monday's post. It was originally a comment that has been expanded into a separate posting.

We cannot, I repeat, cannot win a UFT election as an opposition group unless there is a miracle of the size of Moses parting the Red Sea. Forget about an electoral takeover of the UFT. The system is rigged in a very sophisticated way to ensure Unity keeps control.

The UFT has close to 200,000 members scattered throughout the country. Remember, retirees vote in UFT elections. The Union controls the flow of information to the membership through the NY Teacher newspaper, a website, Facebook and Twitter as well as officers and district reps all spouting the Unity party line all day and throughout the night in visits to schools and UFT functions. Add the bought and paid for chapter leaders, delegates and others who join Unity and agree to be loyal to the caucus and you have a one party political machine that is second to none in this country. It responds to itself but not the membership of the union at large.

While Unity people have full time jobs where they can spend at least part of their days spreading UFT propaganda, the opposition is in school all day teaching classes so we cannot campaign enough to answer the three questions from politics 101 that voters must answer yes to for a candidate to have a chance of winning an election:

1-Do they know you?
2-Do they like you?
3-Do they trust you?

We never can get beyond question 1 except in the high schools where we have had a presence for a long time. They know us. We can campaign enough to be competitive and often times win the high schools which nets us a grand total of 7 seats on the 102 member UFT Executive Board. Our representatives try valiently but are basically treated as a kind of a nuisance by the UFT leadership. I know this because I was a High School Executive Board member for a decade. Not much has changed for our 7 brave reps today.

There has never been a close UFT election in the elementary schools or with non-teachers in the UFT (Functionals) or retirees. Functionals and retirees make up the majority of the UFT. How are we going to get to all of them? Opposition cannot; Unity has their ear regularly.

One ad buried in the NY Teacher every three years and an email attachment of the ad are basically all we get as an opposition. It is not sufficient to say the voters know us, like us or trust us.

Middle schools are a potential target that were won one time by the opposition. However, if opposition won the high schools and middle schools, it would net us a grand total of 12 seats on the 102 member Executive Board. If we were to win all three teaching divisions (elementary, high school and middle school), we would have less than 1/4 of the entire Executive Board and no officer positions as they are all voted on at large by the entire membership. We still would not be represented at the AFT or NYSUT conventions as elections for those delegates are all voted on at large by every member including retirees and non-teachers.

The bottom line is that unseating Mulgrew/Unity in an election is an almost impossible dream and high school teachers in part probably because we vote opposition have been marginalized for decades by the UFT leadership.

For those who wish to pull the high schools from the UFT and start a separate militant high school teachers union, that too would be a steep uphill climb for sure. There are about 20,000 high school teachers in NYC. We would be a significant union local if we dropped the UFT and started our own union.

The rules of the state Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) say 30% of a potential new bargaining unit must sign a petition seeking to get to PERB to try to certify a new union. The new bargaining unit must have a showing of interest, meaning basically that the makeup of the new union would have to make sense as a bargaining unit.

Here is the actual language from PERB rules Section 201.3d: "A petition seeking to certify a fragment of an existing bargaining unit as a separate bargaining unit shall be supported by a showing of interest of at least 30 percent of the unit alleged to be appropriate."

Since high schools were once a separate entity who have our own dedicated section of the contract and certainly could make the case that we've been abandoned by the UFT (see closing schools for evidence), leaping over the showing of interest hurdle is possible.

However, getting 30% to sign a petition to have a showing of interest hearing is another matter. 30% of 20,000 would mean obtaining 6,000 signatures of exclusively high school teachers on petitions. Those petitions would need to be signed by the 6,000 before there is a new 2018 UFT contract according to the PERB rules. In other words, right about now would be the time to organize the petition drive.

By the way in case any ignorant person tells you we would lose all of our salaries, benefits and whatever rights Unity hasn't given away if we dump the UFT, the Triborough Amendment would keep the current contract in place until we have a new one. It would just be different people enforcing those rights.

I appreciate that some teachers think I could lead such a movement but a leader isn't what is needed. It's activists willing to work their butts off that are necessary if people really want change.

If there are 100 activists who can get about 60 signatures each exclusively from high school teachers, then those hundred activists and not some leader can start a UFT revolution.

That is a herculean task.

Most teachers, including high school teachers, don't bother to vote in UFT elections. Would they sign petitions for a new union?

Do those activists even exist who can educate those 20,000 and have them sign petitions?

Please also keep in mind that Unity would fight like crazy to force high school teachers to remain in the UFT to keep collecting the dues if a movement to certify a new union got off the ground. Unity may leave something to be desired when it comes to defending teachers but they are extremely adept at holding onto power.

Finally, this movement could be started by middle school or elementary school teachers too or all three divisions. It doesn't necessarily have to come from the high schools. Teachers are a minority in the UFT.

If people really want change, many teachers are going to have to step up and get involved either within the UFT or in some post Janus organization that some want to start.

That is the cold reality. The alternative of an even weaker, smaller UFT with people just keeping their dues to spite Mulgrew is something I don't even want to contemplate.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

PD THAT USED TO BE FREE ON SCHOOL TIME NOW COSTS $75 ON SATURDAY

The UFT is offering professional development this Saturday for the "low" cost of $75 (see below). Teachers certified since September 2004 must complete 100 hours of PD on their own time because of a 2015 law the UFT refused to oppose.

Before this law was passed, teachers could count in school PD on Modays during the school day to fulfill PD hours. Not anymore.

Another great UFT win to have you give up your Saturday and pay them some money to keep your job.

Dear James,
Please join us at "ELLevating," the Second Annual UFT Conference on Effective Instruction for English Language Learners. The UFT hosts this conference so ALL educators can learn strategies to help English language learners reach their full potential.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017
Time: 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. (Registration and breakfast begins at 8 a.m.)
Location: UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, second floor. Directions »
The conference will honor Dr. Luis O. Reyes, New York State Regent, for his lifelong advocacy on behalf of English language learners. Conference speakers include UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
You may register for the conference to receive 4.5 Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) hours.
  • The registration fee for teachers to receive 4.5 CTLE hours is $75.
  • The fee for paraprofessionals to receive 4.5 CTLE hours is $50.
  • The fee for registrants not seeking CTLE hours, including teachers and paraprofessionals, is $40.
Your registration fee also includes a breakfast and lunch. This year, we've increased the number of workshops you may attend. When you register, select three workshops (one in the morning and two in the afternoon) in the areas of academic support and achievement, advocacy and technical assistance.
Registering early will give you the maximum chance of attending your top selections as we anticipate seats will quickly fill up.
Last year's conference was a huge success thanks to you. I look forward to seeing you at this exciting event.
In solidarity,

 Evelyn DeJesus
UFT Vice President for Education

Monday, October 02, 2017

REALITY BASED EDUCATOR SPECULATES ABOUT A POST-JANUS UFT; WHAT DO YOU SEE?

One of our favorite bloggers is Reality Based Educator. He has not written much in the last year which makes us all a bit less knowledgeable about the world of politics from a teacher's perspective. However, RBE is still on Twitter, he comments here sometimes  and emails me occasionally too.

RBE wrote a comment on our last posting that he thinks the UFT might lose more than 30% of its membership next year after the US Supreme Court more than likely will make union dues optional in the public sector in the case of Janus vs. AFSCME.

I am posting his comment in full below. The best argument in favor of staying in the UFT and paying dues is that an often unresponsive, bureaucratic union like the UFT is better than no union. We are afterall still paid a decent salary and have good benefits. That doesn't happen without a union and is a strong point for staying and paying.

In addition, we have precedent in Wisconsin where public sector unions were broken by Governor Scott Walker and a Republican Legislature. Salaries and working conditions are worse out there for sure as a result.

However, many of our gains in NYC were made over 50 years ago and we are barely holding on. Working conditions are horrible and deteriorating fast in many NYC schools and the Union is basically powerless to stop the assault on teachers. Each UFT claim of the latest "victory" seems even more hollow than the last.

Winning a UFT election is virtually impossible outside of the high schools because politics requires people to know candidates and the Union controls the flow of information to its 180,000 members spread all over the country. There is no accountability for the UFT leadership and they know it.

NYS law would keep unions together in the public sector even after Janus. It is probably a matter of whether we would have to opt in or opt out of the union. Would teachers be more vulnerable if the UFT was smaller because of defections? People are asking if UFT dues are worth it.

I so want to be part of a powerful union that defends worker rights with everything it has. The problem is it is increasingly difficult to defend the UFT. I have fought with everything I have to make the UFT into a real union but conditions keep getting worse in so many schools throughout NYC.

 I plan on being a union member even when I retire and get few tangible benefits from being in a union. (My wife is a NYC teacher who is younger so I can ride on her benefits for the most part.)

RBE calls the UFT a company union and expects many defections even with the UFT spin machine telling people to stay.

I would like to hear from our readers. The readership of the ICE blog goes from left to far right and everything in between.

What are you going to do if and when the Supreme Court says you can keep your dues?

What do you predict your colleagues will do?



RBE'S comment on our previous post where the UFT says consultation with principals, superintendents and the chancellor will resolve most issues:



Anonymous RBE said...
Telling the superintendent about abusive principals?

That's a fucking joke.

Farina has her superintendents telling principals all across the city that ineffective and developing ratings must increase in every school and that Danielson should be wielded as a weapon against teachers.

The UFT should be targeting Farina and her superintendents for the abuse principals and assistant principals mete out because that's where it's emanating from.

We know Farina ran her own school just like this - meted out the abuse to vets, added on mandate after mandate until people felt like they couldn't take it any longer and left.

Now Farina's burn and churn strategy has been taken system-wide and the UFT leadership enables it by doing nothing about it.

Janus is coming.

Mulgrew and the UFT leadership think they're slick and that membership can be fooled by their bullshit.

But rank and file know - this is a company union that does little to protect members and maximum to suck all the perks and privileges they can out of us.

It will be very interesting to see what membership looks like post-Janus.

I bet that 30% fewer number the UFT throws around for their post-Janus prognostications is on the low side.

It doesn't have to be this way.

They could be responsive to members, protect us against abusive admins, fight Farina and her insanity.

If they did this, they wouldn't have to worry about Janus. People would be happy to pay dues for the protections.

But because the UFT is a company union completely unresponsive to membership, they need worry about Janus very much indeed.




Note: no links today because of computer trouble everything is on the smartphone. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

UFT SAYS CONSULT WITH PRINCIPAL AND REPORT ISSUES TO UNION; HUMANITIES AND THE ARTS HS TRIED

The UFT leadership is making a big deal out of Chapter, District and Central consultation meetings with administration at all levels of the Department of education. These consultation meetings are all part of the UFT contract. See Article 19H of the Teachers Contract.

According to UFT President Michael Mulgrew, once the UFT gets the information they can take care of problems. Forgive me for being skeptical. I see little evidence that this will succeed system wide.

Take for example, Queens High Schools where this blog has documented many awful principals.The UFT is highlighting Namita Dwarka from Bryant, Jose Cruz from Math Science Magnet High School, Meredith Inbal from Queens School of Inquiry, Charles Ogindimu from Frederick Douglass Academy VI, Allison Persad from Young Women's Leadership School of Astoria and Kayode Ayetiwa from Humanities and the Arts Magnet High School because they all received low scores on teacher-principal trust on last year's school surveys. UFT wants to concentrate on high staff turnover as a problem. The Superintendents' response is classic. Staff turnover is a result of teachers leaving for the suburbs (see below).

The focus here will be on Ayetiwa. He had numerous grievances and other complaints filed against him by the staff during his first year in 2016-2017. The reaction from the principal when people filed grievances or spoke up at meetings was fast and furious as the Principal and two assistant principals turned up the heat against the targeted teachers and other UFT members. The UFT was powerless to stop the assault against the Chapter. The Chapter Leader ended up out sick in part from the stress. Then, a teacher who many thought was a supporter of the Principal ran for the job and lost an election to a pro-union teacher who spoke out at meetings.* Ayetiwa responded by going after that new Chapter Leader by giving him an adverse annual MOTP rating.

Recently, there has been a mass exodus at Humanities and the Arts with many teachers and other UFT staff being forced to transfer, brought up on 3020a or 3012d charges or pushed into retirement before they were ready. School aides now serve as deans; the student population is down as word has spread to avoid the school. It is so bad at Humanities and the Arts that a guidance counselor awaiting 3020a charges has been exiled to a room in the basement where she must sit all day as if in a medieval dungeon prison.

For full disclosure my wife Camille was one of the teachers who took a job elsewhere this fall after she worked at Humanities since 2004 and was UFT Delegate since 2005. As the Delegate, Camille and her Chapter Leader documented numerous abuses from administration in consultation meetings, through the grievance process and other forums the last two years. The UFT, from the District Representative up through the Vice Presidents for Academic and Career and Technical High Schools, Staff Director and Union President were informed along the way. (The AFT President was informed too.) The Union response has been to deal with problems individually and to encourage people to parachute out of the school. How does that build a strong union?

After they have conceded the battle, the UFT makes it a district consultation issue? A little late guys! The damage to the Union has been done. 

I'm not saying the UFT shouldn't tell the Superintendents about the terrible conditions at Humanities and the Arts and the other schools. However, having endured the endless ramblings of Superintendent Juan Mendez during the Jamaica High School closing battle and hearing horror stories about how Superintendent Elaine Lindsey ignored or dismissed complaints from our friends at the High School of Applied Communications about Principal Michael Weinstein, these two superintendents might not be the best people to resolve problems fairly with teachers.

The UFT is wasting great organizing opportunities at schools like Humanities and the Arts and the other ones on the list. Instead of telling members to run for the hills, the UFT should be picketing in front of these schools and screaming to the press after we tell the Superintendent what is befalling our members and the kids.




Below is the account from Unity's Gene Mann's The Organizer documenting the Queens High School District Consultation meeting with the UFT. Jonathan Nuesra, Chapter Leader from Bayside High School, took these excellent minutes. After that you can read the UFT Chapter Leader Weekly Update to see how the UFT is emphasizing how consultation is the way to resolve issues at the school level.

 A Model:  The Importance of Consultation
         The Consultation Committee in your school is replicated at District and City Levels.  The agendas for the meetings outside of your school come from the concerns you raise in consultation in your school.
         The Queens High School Consultation of September 15 is an exemplar.  Note how, in my annotation of Jonathan Nuwesra’s meticulous minutes, the UFT folks raised issues, the superintendents (in this case) went on the record with some surprising claims and some promises, which will be followed up at subsequent meetings.
         The meeting was held at 30-48 Linden Place, Flushing, NY.  The UFT members present were 
Camille Toma – CL of Martin Van Buren HS (Renewal Schools)
Christina Lopez – CL of The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens (New Visions)
Janice LaVaute – CL of Civic Leadership Academy (New Visions)
Brian Gavin - CL of Glover Cleveland HS (District 77)
Jonathan Nuwesra - CL of Bayside HS (New Visions)
Sandra Dunn-Yules - UFT QHS Special Representative
Washington Sanchez - UFT QHS Special Representative
James Vasquez - UFT QHS District Representative 
The Superintendents present were
Elaine Lindsey - D24, 25, 26, 27, 29 and 30 QHS
Juan Mendez - D28 New Visions QHS
Michael Alcoff – Renewal High Schools
Kathy Pelles - Consortium, International, Outward Bound QHS
Fred Walsh - CUNY QHS
I.    Schools with High Turnover and School Surveys 
The UFT Consultation Committee highlighted several schools that have high turnover rates of staff.  These schools included Bryant HS, Humanities and the Arts, Math and Science, The Young Women’s Leadership School Astoria, Frederick Douglas Academy VI.  What do the Superintendents do when receiving reports of schools with high turnover? How is high turnover addressed?
Response: Superintendents believe there is no “cookie cutter” approach because each school may have different causes leading to high turnover. There is a conversation with Principals reviewing the relationship of trust as measured in school survey data. There is a belief that the NYC school system loses educators to our wealthier neighbors to the north and east. Geography may play a role in impacting hard-to-staff schools like those on the peninsula where it is difficult to place math and science educators. Superintendents do not believe that trust alone correlates to high turnover.
Editor’s Note: “There is a belief” does not equal evidence that the members who leave those schools go to higher-paying jobs in Westchester and on Long Island.  Other schools on the peninsula do not have the high turnover that FDA VI has, nor do other schools in Astoria suffer the same staff losses as William Cullen Bryant and Young Women’s Leadership School.
The UFT C.C. agrees that geographic location and competition with other school districts in NY may make it more difficult to recruit and retain staff, and that is why it’s so important to create school communities where the staff feels supported and trust the administration.  The UFT has received complaints from members working in high turnover schools and those complaints have been forwarded to the superintendents.  In many cases, UFT members have stated that they would leave their present school location if they could. These reports are connected to low morale and trust in these schools and not because of out-of-district employment or geography. The UFT C.C. asserts that there is a correlation between the measurement of perceived low trust on school surveys and high turnover of staff. It is an important indicator of the success of leadership at a school. How are Superintendents using school survey data to address the issues of low trust and high turnover at Bryant HS, Queens School of Inquiry, Humanities and the Arts, The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria? 
Editor’s Note: The high school boroughwide average for the teacher-principal trust questions on the school survey is 79.13.  For the schools mentioned in the minutes:
Q252 Queens School of Inquiry (Meredith Inbal) 70.5
Q260 Frederick Douglass Academy VI (Charles Ogindimu) 54.75
Q286 Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria (Allison Persad) 31
Q445 William Cullen Bryant (Namita Dwarka) 39.75
Q492 MAST (Jose Cruz) 53
Q498 Humanities and the Arts (Kayode Ayetiwa)28
Response: At PPOs, there is a discussion between a Superintendent and Principal. There is a conversation about perceived trust levels in these schools. In some instances, Superintendents meet with teachers to gain a better understanding of the trust issues in the schools. In general, Superintendents are looking for (1) the number of teachers completing the survey and (2) the ratio of teachers taking the survey among the whole. Superintendents believe that in cases where there is high turnover, Principals should focus on retaining their faculty in the school.
Superintendents agreed to a follow up at the next meeting to discuss trust and high turnover in the highlighted schools, Bryant HS, Humanities and the Arts, Math and Science, The Young Women’s Leadership School Astoria, Frederick Douglas Academy VI.

II. CTLE & PD
NY State begins the second year requirement that educators meet 100 hours of CTLE within five years. Many educators are apprehensive about acquiring the necessary hours because of availability, timing, geography and expense. The UFT C.C.  reported that faculty in our schools often feel “left out” of the CTLE conversations. This is a factor that might impact trust and high turnover. How can we address the concern and better provide for CTLE/PD opportunities for employees?
Superintendents agree that schools should look into UFT Teacher Centers as a possible solution to better provide CTLE within schools. In addition, Superintendents suggest that schools look into webinars paid for by the school and seek opportunities at the BFSCs. Both of these avenues may provide opportunities for CTLE both during and after the school day.

III.        SAVE Protocol
SAVE legislation originated in the early 2000s and is a required implementation in NYC schools according to Chancellor Regulation A443. 

The UFT reminded Superintendents that removed students should not miss instruction.  Students are required, and should be expected to, complete their class assignment in a designated location (i.e.; a SAVE room staffed by a teacher). Guidance Counselors cannot be assigned to SAVE room duties.
The UFT and Superintendents agreed that the student removal procedures in a school must be codified and shared with all staff. SAVE procedures within a school should be reviewed periodically. Additionally, the SAVE procedure must be an addendum to the school’s hard copy safety plan. 

IV.        Teacher Evaluation
There is a growing concern to address how teachers are evaluated, especially where MOTP ratings are low and MOSL ratings are high. How do Superintendents look at teacher ratings and outcomes with Principals? The UFT Committee asked the superintendents to identify schools and departments where the MOTP scores were significantly lower than MOSL scores. Two schools in this situation are Bryant HS English department and Hillcrest HS physical education department. 
The Superintendents agreed to examine discrepancies in terms of MOTP vs. MOSL scores.
V.  Intervisitation
The 2017-18 school year introduces new options for MOTP observations that include peer intervisitation. The UFT reminded Superintendents that teacher intervisitations are not evaluative and have no requirement for paperwork.

Superintendents agreed and as requested by UFT are advising Principals that intervisitation is non-evaluative and does not require paperwork; there should be no written reports or submission of documents. Superintendents believe that intervisitation effectiveness might increase when supervisors promote guidance: “what does an educator want to learn/what did you learn” -or- “how might you integrate what you learned into your practice?” These conversations, while important, should be informal if they occur. Superintendents agreed that building this practice will take time. In addition, Principals should have a cabinet of teachers (i.e.; representing departments) where these “teacher teams” can discuss teacher needs and progress in terms of intervisitation.

Respectfully submitted,

Jonathan Nuwesra


First story in UFT Weekly Update for Chapter Leaders:

UFT’s first Chancellor’s Consultation meeting focuses on consultation process


The UFT leadership held its first Chancellor’s Consultation meeting of the year with Chancellor Carmen Fariña earlier in September. Most issues on the agenda each month come directly from members, who are reporting issues to their chapter leaders and district reps. At this initial meeting, the union’s primary focus was on the consultation process in schools and at the district level to ensure that the consultation process detailed in the DOE-UFT contract is not only in place, but used effectively. Let’s make sure that our rights are upheld and resolve issues as they come up. Putting things on the record is key to holding people accountable at every level. The only way we can solve workplace problems is if we know about them. Chapter leaders can now go online and enter notes about their consultations — not the minutes, but the topics that were discussed as well as what was resolved and what wasn’t.  What’s more, district reps can now track those conversations and bring up unresolved school-level issues with superintendents. 

*This post was updated after a comment from someone who apparently works at Humanities and the Arts. The word lackey was taken out and replaced to make it clear that I am reporting on what was told to me by inside sources. Sorry about that choice of a word. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

EMAIL INBOX REVEALS SAME OLD UFT LEADERSHIP ACTING IN SAME OLD WAY

UFT President Michael Mulgrew sent out two emails to members within two hours of each other on Thursday. Mulgrew claims another great UFT success because next month the city will pay us 12.5% of the money they have owed us since 2009 but without any interest. In his second email, Mulgrew warns us about the danger that lies ahead because the US Supreme Court is hearing a case that may soon make union dues in the public sector optional. He urges us to be unified.

Keeping Mulgrew's advice in mind, I read with more than a little irony High School Executive Board member Arthur Goldstein's email to three UFT officers requesting office help and space at UFT Headquarters so the High School Executive Board members can properly carry out their duties. Arthur sent a copy to me. 

These emails reveal a UFT whose leadership talks about being together and then does everything they can to surppress anything and anyone that dares to question anything they do.

In one of Mulgrew's emails he warns us of the Supreme Court case called Janus v AFSCME. If the unions lose (the most likely result) non-union members will no longer have to pay fair share (agency) fees and can ride for free. We don't know how the decision will be written. It might be that people will have to opt in to the union or maybe they will have to opt out. Many will probably choose not to pay dues to a union that seems almost completely detached from its rank and file.
Mulgrew reminds us to remember "that all of us together are the union." True but his Unity caucus that controls the UFT, and has for over half a century, is unaccountable. They run the UFT as a top-down organiztion that rarely seeks input from the rank and file.  Since it is virtually impossible to get to almost 200,000 members to win a UFT election, Mulgrew's invitation only group knows they can't lose and act as if the rest of us and our ideas are not important.
If you want the most recent example of UFT's lack of democracy, just look at the resolution they passed on Monday at the Executive Board stating that Executive Board members who want to present a resolution must have it copied for the entire Executive Board and available at least a half hour before the meeting starts. Unity leadership does not work in the schools. Their resolution does not impact them.

Since the meetings begin at 6:00 P.M. and High School Executive Board members work all day in schools as teachers, the Union leadership is making it more difficult for high school people to raise something at the Executive Board. The high schools not coincidentally are the only part of the UFT that voted against Unity in the 2016 UFT election.

Resolutions require five signatures to be introduced at the Executive Board. The seven high school people (the only ones on the 102 member Executive Board opposed to Unity Caucus) are coming from all over the city to get to 52 Broadway for meetings after school and now must get there earlier to present a resolution to the Board.

This is just another anti-democratic rule put in place to stifle opposition to Unity. It is especially not needed now when the union as we know it is being threatened  by the Supreme Court.

Arthur Goldstein sent what is a funny but sad email requesting office space and assistance from the UFT leaders. I can't wait to see if there is an answer. 

Arthur's email is copied below and under that are the two from Mulgrew: one on Janus and the other gloating about the UFT's triumph of managing to get the city to pay a loan paid back to us without interest.
The people Arthur wrote to are Staff Director Leroy Barr, VP High Schools Janella Hinds and UFT Secretary Howard Schoor. I was sent a copy.
Dear LeRoy, Janella, and Howard,

Since you’ve decided to not allow us to bring resolutions without distributing them 30 minutes beforehand, we are at somewhat of a loss. Unlike you, we all teach full time. We are able to meet at the lobby at 52, but since we all teach we are often unable to get together earlier than 5 or 5:30. Furthermore, we are not allowed into the actual building until at or very close to 5:30.

Unlike all of you, we have no staff. We have no one to make copies.

Therefore I’m certain that you’ll have no issue giving us an office in which to meet whenever we need to, along with a copying machine. I’m certain you’ll have no issue granting us the use of staff to distribute whatever resolutions we come up with.

Thank you so much for your kind consideration.

Very sincerely,

Arthur Goldstein 



Dear James,

It’s official. The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear the anti-union Janus vs. AFSCME case in its current term.
The Janus case is the new Friedrichs case. It is paid for and brought to us by people who want to destroy unions so your benefits and rights can be taken away. They want public-sector unions to be barred from requiring non-members to pay fair-share or agency fees to cover their portion of costs associated with collective bargaining and union services.
The court will hear oral arguments, and a decision will be rendered no later than June.
As we brace for this challenge ahead, remember that all of us together are the union. Because we have stuck together, we have pensions, employer-paid health insurance, job security, due process rights, a grievance process and a voice in how our schools are run. Because we have a strong union, UFT members are receiving SESIS compensation and lump-sum payments this fall.
We must continue to stand strong and united since so many invaluable rights and benefits hang in the balance.
Sincerely,
Michael Mulgrew
UFT President


Dear James,
Because you have a union that fights for you, you are entitled to be compensated for the two 4 percent raises that Michael Bloomberg gave to members of some municipal unions in 2009 and 2010 but refused to give to public school educators and other city employees at the time.
When Bill de Blasio became mayor, he agreed to pay the money owed but said the city could not afford to pay it all at one time so we negotiated a contract in 2014 that ensured that UFT members were made whole by 2020.
I am pleased to remind you that all UFT members now on payroll who worked for the Department of Education between 2009 and 2017 (plus those who retired after June 30, 2014) will receive a lump-sum payment of 12.5 percent of the money they are owed in their October paychecks.
This payment comes on the heels of a 4.5 percent rate increase that all DOE-employed UFT members received this past May and in advance of a 5 percent rate increase coming in the spring of 2018.
The 2017 lump-sum payment, which will be added to a regularly scheduled paycheck, is the second of five lump-sum payments between 2015 and 2020 (see “The payment schedule” graphic).
For in-service teachers, other pedagogues and paraprofessionals, the money will be part of your Oct. 16 check. For nurses, therapists and other members who are paid on the H-Bank payroll, the money will be in your Oct. 20 check. Per-diem and per-session payments will be issued on Nov. 2. If you are on leave this October, you will receive your money on the date of the next scheduled payment that you are back on payroll.
Even if you weren’t working for the DOE in 2010 but are on payroll now, you will be receiving a lump-sum payment since the 8 percent rate increase all members should have received then is being phased in.
Your TDA will be updated, along with all other payroll contributions and deductions.
While the calculations can be complicated, the truth is simple: You deserve this money.
For every check you have received since late 2009 until today, lump-sum money has accrued representing the difference between what you would have been paid if your paycheck had reflected those two 4 percent increases in 2009–10 and what you were actually paid.
Think of it as a savings account. If you have been continually employed, you have been depositing money in this account since Nov. 1, 2009. This October, you’ll make your second withdrawal.
See this handy chart to learn more about the salary increases and lump-sum payments you will receive as a result of the 2014 UFT-DOE contract.
Thank you for everything that you do.
Sincerely,
Michael Mulgrew
Michael Mulgrew