Wednesday, February 08, 2017


Michael Mulgrew left the chair to praise Mayor Bill de Blasio from the floor at today's Delegate Assembly. Staff Director Leroy Barr took over the chair and butchered democratic procedures during the "debate" on a UFT Bill de Blasio endorsement. Leroy took such a huge hatchet to democratic rules that deomocracy could not be recognized after the DA.

Before Mulgrew left the chair, multiple speakers from his Unity Caucus spoke in favor of the UFT's support for the mayor. Mulgrew had bent the rules to allow anyone who was on the UFT's Mayoral Endorsement Committee to speak. One speaker was then called on to oppose the endorsement and then Mulgrew left the chair to speak in favor of supporting the mayor.

I really wanted to speak because there are legitimate questions that have to be answered before we give de Blasio our support but Barr called on Unity's Greg Lundhul (sorry if I spelled his name wrong). I immediately jumped to my feet to raise a point of order. Barr thought I was complaining because Mulgrew was coming back and looking to be taking over the chair after he debated which is improper but that was only one issue.

The main problem was that after calling on the President, temporary chair Barr had an obligation to call on a speaker against. Instead he called on a Unity person. Caucus obligations require that Unity members support leadership positions in union and public forums so I was totally right in calling for a point of order.

If readers would like chapter and verse, in Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised it says on page 31 in paragraph 3: "In cases where the chair knows that persons seeking the floor have opposite opinions on the question, the chair should let the floor alternate between those favoring and those opposing the measure."

Since I raised my objection immediately, I should have been recognized. Instead, Leroy gave a speech about how the UFT as a courtesy called on a speaker against but they don't have to. I wonder what his definition of debate is.

I immediately objected to the ruling of the chair but Leroy moved on to a vote as if I wasn't even there. According to Roberts Rules on page 256, appeals are taken from the chair and go to the assembly. I never had a chance as they didn't even give me a microphone throughout the entire process. I had to shout. What a disgrace.

Actually I should feel pretty good about the whole fiasco. The reason they were rushing through the non-debate was because the mayor himself was right outside in the hallway probably listening in as there are closed circuit televisions out in the hallway. Leroy Barr and Michael Mulgrew wouldn't permit me to talk against de Blasio while he was in the building. Democracy be damned.

The UFT shut me up. I feel like Elizabeth Warren after she was shut up by Mitch McConell in the US Senate last night. Leroy Barr was afraid to let the Delegates hear my rational argument against the endorsement of Bill de Blasio so he just ignored the rules. I could have gone and made an Earl Weaver-Billy Martin type scene at that point but instead I calmed down and sat back and just voted against the endorsement which not surprisingly overwhelmingly carried. The speech I would have given explaining my vote is below.

In the final analysis, if the UFT is right that our early endorsement will persuade the Mayor to improve teaching and learning conditions, then it might pay off. On the other hand if the Mayor continues to take us for granted because he already has our support, then this is just another dumb UFT political move. Furthermore, if de Blasio is indicted or his close aides are indicted and he is dragged down, we might look like fools and it might help someone from the right move in to clean up the corruption. Once again, as with many other UFT decisions, I hope to be proven wrong. However, the issues I wanted to raise should have been discussed and would have if the DA was a truly deliberative body.

UPDATE-As for the total disregard for democratic procedures, I have concluded after sleeping for a few hours that Leroy Barr's actions were worse than usual but nothing out of the ordinary for UFT leadership. Stifling dissent and throwing rules out the window are par for the course for them. In the end it probably would have been healthy for the mayor to hear what I had to say. Read my remarks and judge for yourself.

 Opposition to UFT Bill de Blasio Endorsement Remarks
February 8, 2017 DA

I rise in opposition to endorsing Mayor Bill de Blasio's reelection bid. The timing is very questionable.

There are two investigations on de Blasio's fundraising taking place right now. Do we really believe a federal prosecutor and a local district attorney are both going to spend all of this time and money looking at the mayor's fundraising and indict nobody close to the mayor or the mayor himself? 

The question I hear in the schools is if it is actually worse now compared to when Bloomberg was mayor. Yes we have a contract but the mayor gave us paltry raises and he had us make an interest free loan to the city that won't be paid back in full until 2020 while the city now has record budget surpluses and reserves. 

The contract terms are insulting enough but what really concerns me is how the mayor and his chancellor have kept the Bloomberg-Klein system at the DOE basically intact. NY1 reported last month that spending on bureaucrats is up a whopping 70% at DOE Central compared to when Bloomberg was in power. Spending is up considerably at the DOE on non personnel costs too. What is this money being spent on? Not the classroom. Most of Bloomberg's people kept their jobs at DOE and new blood has been added. Extra money is certainly not going into the classroom.

As my colleague Marc Epstein said, "de Blasio-Farina cemented Bloomberg-Klein into the DNA of the system." My wife Camille was at a recent arbitration where the UFT did great for her but there were three DOE attorneys on the other side. Two were training. The DOE's anti-teacher army at the Office of Labor Relations continues their work to destroy teachers. De Blasio has done very little, if anything, in three+ years to stop the war on teachers. For that, does he really deserve our early, unqualified support.

I don't favor endorsing a pro-charter Democrat or a Republican but when a mayor and his chancellor show they do not support our members and there is a corruption scandal surrounding that mayor, now might be the time to consider staying neutral. The mayor needs to do something concrete to earn our endorsement.


Anonymous said...

As always, James, bravo and thank you for standing up for the rank and file, or at least making the best concerted effort that the Unity squad was right there to squelch.

We can acknowledge that a UFT endorsement has been the kiss of loss for quite some time. That proverbial seat at the table hasn't been working out too well as of late. Maybe time to find a new tactic Mike Mulgrew and Unity oathers. Just a thought, how about something that would be good for the rank and file.

Anonymous said...

Corruption reigns at the UFT, evidenced by the fact that an honest man attempting to speak truth to power was silenced.
Disgusting. However, these arrogant bastards will not be able to silence us when we have the option to quit this sham of a union.

Anonymous said...

We should start a war on the UFT for supporting bad principals that are going after veteran teachers. The UFT is responsible for the age discrimination that is going on.

Anonymous said...

The opposition shoots itself again. Instead of letting James speak first, some demented communist got up and ranted incoherently about how DiBlasio of all people is a right wing supporter of imperialist war. This about a man who the Post describes as a loony leftist. Don't blame LeRoy. Blame your own Zenofiev deviationists.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this will be as meaningful as everything we've done, it will have no meaning.

Anonymous said...

We should not endorse the current mayor unless he promises to give us something in return. Give us our parking permits back and 2 observations and we will gladly endorse you Bill!

Bronx ATR said...

The UFT should have endorsed DeBlasio earlier than this. The city's biggest union DC37, endorsed him a couple of weeks ago. There is no potential candidate that is more sympathetic towards us. Those saying we should negotiate from a position of weakness don't seem to realize how ridiculous that is. The time to that was during the last contract. It was wrong how the UFT treated you, James, and treats many of us, but they are correct in endorsing deBlasio. Parking permits, fair student funding and ad neauseum observations are items that don't make sense for the city or teachers - they should been changed via the normal channels of a seemingly good rapport between the UFT and the chancellor. As those things have not been changed, the the UFT relationship with the chancellor and our president has to be questioned. Those questions are for Mulgrew. There is a deep disconnect between what the UFT says and what it is not doing.

Anonymous said...

It is so simple: Bring back our parking permits and 2 observations. This costs the city NOTHING. We are gonna get Bill re-elected and he should return the favor by doing this for us.

Bronx ATR said...

The UFT has to ASK. The UFT doesn't give a shit about parking permits or anything that doesn't involve their own self interests.

Anonymous said...

It's the kiss of death, I love it. It will make Mulgrew look like an idiot again. The UFT leadership is so out of touch with rank and file anyway. It's a matter of time when another Fredrick's case comes to the Supreme Court and the UFT will be powerless.

Anonymous said...

Hey UFT!-
Your time to be silenced is looming on the horizon. Get your resumes together.
Mulgrew, you may actually have to work for a living.

Anonymous said...

Just this week I had a conversation with another teacher who I would never have imagined being against the UFT. She told me how upset she was over a bunch of things, and all of a sudden 7 teachers in the lounge were all professing their hared of the UFT...and we teach at a good school, mostly Asian and White students, an administration that's not on our backs, I can't imagine the amount of teachers waiting to end their dues! The UFT surely will suffer greatly for letting its members down. A slow death is in store for the UFT.

Highly Effective King Clovis said...

Sad and disgusting really.

Anonymous said...

Add all the small schools where there is no union presence where the young faculty firstly, believes they will not be teaching long and secondly, believes that the UFT stand for eye and dental care. The UFT abandoned all these people a long time ago. These people can't wait to be cut free.

Anonymous said...

I don't hate the UFT, but why would I pay if I didn't have to? I'm on my way out. I could give that money to my grandkids, I'm not going to pay if I don't have to and that my friends is why the union is a dead man walking.

Anonymous said...

Does any one know what the deal is with the ATR rotation? Some are saying it will continue, others that we stay where we are and others that the next one is the one we will remain. Of course the UFT has a different response depending on who you ask. Arundel knows nothing, Schoor says the rumors of the end of the rotation could be true, and Engler says it's not true.

Francesco Portelos said...

Great job as usual James. As the anonymous comment stated above, this is the Kiss of Death.

I was invited to de Blasio's birthday in the Meat Packing district when he was 4th behind Quinn. I worked a little in his Brooklyn office and made calls during the primaries. However, he's been a big disappointment. Huge. So much that I've emailed to change my $5/check contribution.

SLT opened to the public via court order, de Blasio appeals.

Grievance department states Step 2 grievances denied at a rate of at least 93%.

Principals Ralph Martinez, Namita Dwarka, Rushell White and hundreds of others, who violate the contact and abuse our members, are still in the system.

We do need to thoroughly look at alternatives. This silver platter endorsement is not good for members.

James Eterno said...

Thanks Francesco. All your points are valid for sure and it would have been great if there was a real debate at the DA so someone could have made them.

Quinn Zannoni said...

At his DA speech, DeBlasio said he'd done a good job at education. He mentioned higher test scores, grad rates, better PD, and PROSE.

Test scores are being fiddled with, and consequently so are grad rates:

Better PD? It took them a painfully long time to announce what would count as PD hours, and they disqualified in-school staff meetings as countable hours.