Friday, August 17, 2018

INDEPENDENT BUDGET OFFICE ESTIMATES CITY SAVES $9.5 MILLION FROM UFT PAID PARENTAL LEAVE DEAL

The Independent Budget Office has crunched the numbers on the UFT's Paid Parental Leave and DC37's more expansive Paid Family Leave. Thank you budget expert Harris Lirtzman for sending this report to me.

The IBO conclusion: DC 37's Paid Family Leave should be cost neutral for the city while the city should net a $9.5 million surplus from the UFT deal. That surplus will be paid for by UFT members.

This is taken right from the IBO summary:

IBO estimates that under the deal with the United Federation of Teachers cost and savings will not be equal. We project that in the first year deferral of raises will save the city more than $45 million while the de Blasio Administration estimates the delay will save about $36 million.

We agree with the estimates by the Mayor’s office that pension and other fringe benefit savings tied to the agreement will save the city about $15 million annually.

While the de Blasio Administration projects the cost of parental leave for teachers’ union members will be about $51 million a year, we estimate the annual cost will be about $46 million.

As a result of our differing savings and cost projections, IBO estimates the city will garner over $9 million more in savings than necessary to pay for the teachers’ parental leave and the union’s welfare fund will accrue a surplus of more than $5 million.

The cost to the city for parental leave is fixed under the terms with the teachers’ union, and effectively zero for the deal with District Council 37.


How does the IBO reach their conclusion?

This is from their detailed analysis:

IBO estimates that the UFT’s parental leave benefit will require $45.6 million to be paid out each year by the UFT Welfare Fund, a figure that includes the cost of managing the program. With the city providing $50.8 million to the UFT, we project that the welfare fund will have $5.2 million left over after the first year, surplus funds that can only be used for parental leave. The UFT’s members paid for this benefit by delaying a pay increase for two and a half months and by structuring the PPL benefit in a way that reduces the city’s pension obligation. The de Blasio Administration estimates that delaying the pay increase will save the city $36.0 million and values the pension savings at $14.8 million—combined savings equal to the $50.8 million the city provided the UFT. 

Based on the pattern of wage increases set by the new DC 37 contract, however, IBO projects that delaying the pay increase will save the city $45.5 million, which—together with the pension and other fringe benefit savings—means that the city will save a total of $60.3 million. (Note: do not confuse the $45.5 million IBO estimates the city saves from delaying the pay increase with the $45.6 million we estimate will be paid out in benefits.) After subtracting the city’s $50.8 million payment to the welfare fund, the city would retain a surplus of $9.5 million.

To put it simply, IBO is estimating the savings based on the raise that DC37 was about to agree to with the city in June that UFT members will now have to wait another 2.5 months to receive because of the extension of our current contract.

Am I to understand that UFT President Michael Mulgrew had no idea what the DC37 settlement would be when he was negotiating Paid Parental Leave?

Let's go to the IBO conclusion:

The de Blasio Administration and UFT have stated publicly that paid parental leave would cost $50.8 million in benefits and administrative expenses, funded through UFT members’ concessions on wages and fringe benefits. Based on our estimates, IBO projects that this new policy will not be cost-neutral. We project that the city will accumulate $9.5 million of savings annually while the UFT will accrue a surplus of $5.2 million a year in its welfare fund. 

Meanwhile the union membership, through a deferral of their contract, will have given up $45.5 million in wage and fringe benefits. 

UFT members deferred a raise to get Paid Parental Leave but part of that deferral won't be needed to pay parents. Therefore, each member will be donating an estimated average of about what I would say is around 95 bucks to the city coffers as part of the deal. Thank you Michael Mulgrew.

Bottom line from IBO analysis: city wins, UFT membership loses. So what else is new?

This loss, while not huge, was easily avoidable by just using an updated set of numbers.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

CUOMO GETS HUGE CONTRIBUTION FROM SUCCESS ACADEMY BOARD MEMBER

From the NYPost:

Hedge fund investor John Petry — who sits on the board of the city’s largest charter school network, Success Academy — contributed $45,100 to Cuomo’s re-election campaign last month, records show.

That’s the largest contribution the campaign received during the 32-day pre-primary period — and represents more than 10 percent of the $394,000 the governor collected.

Why won't the UFT oppose Andrew Cuomo?

 Cuomo is not our friend.

Cynthia Nixon has said some really dumb things and she is way too close to Bill de Blasio but when it comes to public schools and labor issues, she is a thousand times better than Cuomo.

Nixon favors repealing the horrific teacher evaluation system; she opposes the inferior Tier VI pension for NYS public employees and she favors giving public employees in NYS the right to legally strike that is protected by international law.

Cuomo is no fool. He signed legislation making it easier for unions to have access to potential members to convince them to pay dues and he signed a bill into law giving NYSUT officers double pensions.

He may have no use for working people beyond election day and his attack on public education should not be forgiven or forgotten but he knows how to buy off union leaders and pivot to the left when necessary.

I am not totally sold but I will vote for Cynthia Nixon in the primary next month.

Cuomo taking $45,100 from someone on the Success Academy Board is just more evidence that Cuomo has not changed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

CHIEF LEADER COVERS ATR DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT

Civil service newspaper The Chief Leader has an in depth article on a discrimination complaint filed by multiple Absent Teacher Reserves.

From the Chief:

ATR Instructors Claim Age, Pay Led to Bias

By CRYSTAL LEWIS

More than two dozen educators in the Absent Teacher Reserve pool have filed complaints with the state Division of Human Rights arguing that they were discriminated
against because of their age — and the seniority and higher salaries that come with it.

The complaint argued that the Department of Education’s Fair Student Funding budget system, which was implemented in 2007, was discriminatory because it determined how much money schools get (including for hiring new Teachers) based on how many students they have, and granted Principals control over hiring.



High pay a Drawback

Teachers in the reserve earned a $94,000 salary on average, with those at top salary earning twice as much as new educators.

Teachers in the ATR pool typically had 18 years of experience, greater than the average Teacher’s 10 years on the job, according to the DOE.

Last month, 27 Teachers filed age-discrimination claims to address the problems plaguing the 1,202 educators in the reserve.


"It appears that there is an agenda to rid the employee pool of veteran, high- salaried educators,” according to the complaint by attorney Bryan Glass. “The means to do so are through unjustified excessing in violation of the ‘last in, first out’ method where veteran Teachers are pushed out before younger and less-senior Teachers.”

Similar complaints were filed by 13 educators over the age of 50 who worked in the DOE’s troubled Office of Adult and Continuing Education. The veteran Teachers claimed they were targeted with poor ratings and discipline because of their age.

ATR Teachers have previously decried the stigma of being in the reserve that has contributed to the difficulty of being hired permanently. The complaint noted that
ATRs also lose financial opportunities, such as after-school work and teaching summer school.


The article continues by quoting some of the teachers involved including Francesco Portelos, one of the founders and leaders of an opposition group called Solidarity.

We believe this case has merit. Let us see where it goes. The only real question is why didn't the UFT file this complaint instead of members having to pay a private attorney?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

CHIEF LEADER HAS ARTICLE ON LEGALIZING PUBLIC EMPLOYEE STRIKES

The ICEUFT blog may look like a one trick pony the last few days as there has surprisingly been fairly extensive press coverage of Democratic primary candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon's campaign proposal to legalize strikes in New York State for government employees.

She has found a wedge issue where Governor Andrew Cuomo cannot out flank her on the left. The problem is union leaders to my knowlege are not embracing Nixon's proposal up to now as they should be. Do we need any further proof that these are company unions in bed with management?

The latest article is from the go-to civil service newspaper The Chief Leader.

Some main parts:

Jane Latour, a union activist and labor historian, said in an email exchange that Ms. Nixon’s message could resonate with some union members, especially “younger voters, fed up with incrementalism and looking for a fresh, direct-action politics.”

And Richard Wolff, an economics professor at the New School University, observed that European public unions can go on strike because authorities that punished them would quickly face a more-widespread strike.

“The right to strike is the closest thing to an equal playing field for employees and employers to bargain and negotiate,” Mr. Wolff said. “Without that right, employers have much more power to force their wills on employees. Public employees should never have been deprived of that right by the power and pressure of employers, public and private together. Bravo to all politicians with the courage to return the right to strike to public employees.”


I cannot overemphasize how important having the ability to withold our labor is for working people. We should demand that union leaders endorse this proposal as well as only supporting with UFT COPE money (voluntary political contributions) politicians who are on board with legal public sector strikes.

Maybe we should threaten a statewide action in support of Nixon's proposal.

More from the Chief:

In a phone interview, Doug Muzzio,  a Political Science Professor at Baruch College, said that after trying for months to find a wedge issue to set herself apart from the Governor, Ms. Nixon had finally got one with her call to lift the prohibition against public workers striking.

“The Governor has successfully adopted her other progressive policies and positions, which has muddied the distinctions between the two. But this [lifting the Taylor Law] is concrete,” he said. “Cuomo has been adept at adopting her other policies, but this is not going to be one of them.”

Mr. Muzzio continued, “This is likely to appeal to younger progressives who are in an economy where wages are stagnant, and then for them there’s also the issue of student debt. The other open question is whether it is wise or not.”



Nixon's proposal works for older workers too but can we force union leaders to get behind it? That is debatable. It is up to us to put pressure on union leaders to get us back the right to strike.

Monday, August 13, 2018

LABOR PROFESSOR JOSHUA FREEMAN SUPPORTS PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RIGHT TO STRIKE

I am somewhat surprised the Daily News printed an op-ed piece in support of Cynthia Nixon's position that public employees should be legally able to strike.  The author Joshua Freeman is a renowned labor history professor.

Here is the main part:

Since 1947, it has been illegal for public workers in New York State to go on strike, first under the Condon-Wadlin act, which called for strikers to be fired, and after 1967 under the Taylor Law, which penalizes them two days pay for each day off the job.

Now Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor, has called for eliminating the strike ban as a way to strengthen unions in the face of fierce legal and political assaults.

No one likes strikes, especially ones that disrupt the lives of the public, but Nixon has a point. There is no reason why public employees should not have the same rights as privately-employed workers. In 1919, Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge crushed a Boston police strike in the name of defending the sovereignty of the state.

But such arguments have long been outmoded, as private-sector style labor relations have been imported into the public realm without undermining the power of government. Several states, including Pennsylvania, allow public sector strikes without the sky falling down.


New York unionists have long complained that the Taylor Law strips them of their most powerful weapon, the right to withdraw their labor. Complicating the situation is a provision of the law that says when public employee contracts expire, their terms will remain in effect until a new contract is signed. This protects workers when public officials and union leaders fail to come to an agreement, but eliminates the pressure to do just that.

Employers often simply wait unions out, not fearing a walkout. Mayor Michael Bloomberg allowed over 150 city labor contracts to expire by the time he left office. For workers, such rope-a-dope means decreased spending power as inflation eats away at their salaries. Meanwhile, without the right to strike, public employee unions turn to politics, mobilizing their resources on behalf of candidates with whom they may end up bargaining.


Strengthened public employee unions might drive up government labor costs, but they also will benefit workers far beyond their own ranks by setting higher benchmarks for wages and benefits and sustaining hundreds of thousands of middle-class families who live within New York State, paying taxes and spending money.

Freeman goes on by citing a possible compromise if there is no new contract and he also makes the case that unions should not be reckless with the strike weapon.

It is an excellent read. This blog fully endorses the Nixon proposal as the way to level the playing field between workers and management.



Sunday, August 12, 2018

DE BLASIO AND CUOMO AGREE PUBLIC EMPLOYEES SHOULD NOT HAVE RIGHT TO STRIKE

The United Nations agrees that workers are entitled to free association rights. A UN commission ruled that the NYS Taylor Law's prohibition on strikes by public employees is a violation of international law. Twelve states in the US allow legal public employee strikes. Supposedly progressive N.Y. is not one of them. Our so called liberal leaders Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio agree teachers and other public employees should not have the right to strike.

Cynthia Nixon came up with a pro-worker campaign proposal in her quest to unseat Cuomo as governor. Nixon wants to change the Taylor Law to allow public employees in NYS to exercise what under international law is a protected right: the right to strike.

From the Daily News,
first Mayor de Blasio:

"I have a lot of respect for Cynthia but I disagree with her on this,” de Blasio said. “I acknowledge and appreciate that she said there should be an exemption for first responders, but I don't agree with changing the Taylor Law.”

The mayor said “the Taylor Law serves an important public purpose and at the same time there are lots of ways for workers rights to be acknowledged and their voices to be heard. I think we have the right law now."


Is the mayor serious? Voices heard? DOE workers filed many hundreds of sexual harassment complaints and almost none of them were substantiated. I am not surprised he would like the current law. After all, city employees under his leadership are receiving salary increases that do not even keep pace with inflation and giving back on healthcare. He is no friend of working people.

Governor Cuomo is a long time enemy of workers.

Cuomo in that same Daily News piece:

The premise of the Taylor Law is you would have chaos if certain services were not provided,” said Cuomo, citing police, firefighters, and prison guards.


He didn't mention how countries like Bitain and France as well as 12 US states manage to survive with public sector employees being allowed to legally strike. Cuomo also has not negotiated with state workers raises that keep pace with inflation in two terms as governor.


Nixon and her campaign blasted Cuomo, her opponent for governor, not de Blasio in a response.

“While Cuomo has done an election year about-face and started aggressively courting the support of union leaders, today’s comments make clear that the governor remains anti-worker at heart,” Nixon said. “We should be standing alongside our brave teachers, not cracking down on them for fighting for fair pay and dignity and better education for their students.”

Most of the public employee unions have endorsed Cuomo this year.

She noted that the president of the Transit Workers Union served time in prison and the union fined $2.5 million after transit workers illegally walked off the job in 2005.

Nixon campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt told the Daily News de Blasio’s comments don’t change Nixon’s stance on the issue.

“We still feel public sector workers should be able to strike,” Hitt said.

Nixon has made transit issues a top priority of her campaigns. Hitt dismissed the idea that giving transit workers the right to strike could further derail the subway system.

“The problems with the subways is not because transit workers are striking,” she said. “The problems with the subways is because of decades of mismanagement, most recently under Gov. Cuomo.”


I don't see the gutless public employee union leaders making a big deal, or saying much of anything, on the strike issue. That is not surprising unfortunately as they seem more interested in their seats at the Democratic Party table than with improving rank and file working conditions.

Friday, August 10, 2018

SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUIT FILED BY COUNSELOR FROM HUMANITIES AND THE ARTS HIGH SCHOOL

Many will be shocked by a lawsuit filed by a guidance counselor claiming an assistant principal sexually harassed her and when she reported it to the principal, he retaliated by attempting to fire her. The principal then directed her to work in a storage closet.

From the Daily News story on the lawsuit:

An ex-Queens high school guidance counselor was sexually harassed at work — and then banished to a filthy closet and brought up on fireable charges after she reported the abuse, a shocking lawsuit charges.

Former Humanities and the Arts High School counselor Sandhya Thomas, 53, of New Hyde Park, claims in the suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court Monday that she was groped by her supervisor, Humanities and the Arts assistant principal Ghandi Moussa, who also allegedly masturbated in front of her in a series of sexually inappropriate interactions between 2013 and 2017.



“Upon Moussa’s arrival at the Humanities,” in 2013, the suit states, “he would regularly make Thomas stand close to him, using that as an opportunity to touch her or brush up against Thomas’s arms, breasts, buttocks, and other body parts.”

The harassment worsened in 2017, according to legal papers, when “Thomas observed Moussa begin to rub his genitals over his pants while starring at Thomas’ breasts, masturbating in front of her, while moaning.”

Thomas, who’s worked in city schools since 1998, reported the harassment in 2016, the suit says. Humanities and the Arts principal Kayode Ayetiwa retaliated and banished her to work in a room filled with broken chairs that had no heat, the lawsuit alleges.

When Thomas complained, Ayetiwa sent her to work in a nastier place — a dusty, moldy storage closet in the Cambria Heights school, the suit says.

Thomas claims Ayetiwa and Moussa also brought her up on bogus charges and tried to get her fired. A hearing officer suspended Thomas for poor job performance, for six months without pay starting in May.


Sadly, we are not at all shocked by this story. ICEUFT has been covering the Humanities and the Arts High School's awful administrators for several years.

For full disclosure, this is the school my wife worked at for over a decade. I can confirm that Ms. Thomas is a decent person who should be credible. She is sane. This is not some crazy disgruntled employee.

Principal Ayetiwa, thanks to the Department of Education's "My principals right or wrong" culture  set up by Joel Klein that  continues to the present day, has been empowered to make life miserable for anyone who questions anything he does. Ayetiwa is very anti-UFT.

He visciously went after the Chapter Leader, the Delegate (my wife Camille) and next  the tracher who had the guts to step up and get elected to relace the first CL. The UFT hierarchy knew all along what this principal was about. Their response was not exactly strong. Complaints went as far up the UFT ladder as an in person meeting with Staff Director Leroy Barr. The Union would not fight in public even when union activists were forced out of the building one after the other.

Do you think anyone who remained in the building was going to speak up after seeing good people removed and not much done about it? Better to hide.

How many more of these stories have to be exposed before the UFT demands, and will accept nothing less than, an end to the anti-UFT member culture spread across too many schools?

We need a real union.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

ICEBLOG SALUTE TO EVERYONE IGNORED BY THE "OPEN MARKET" TRANSFER SYSTEM NOW OFFICIALLY CLOSED

August 7 every year is the official date that the so called "Open Market" transfer system officially closes. Teachers and other UFT members working in the schools will now need a principal's approval to transfer unless they are in excess.

If UFT members are in excess, there are subsidies to schools for hiring Absent Teacher Reserves so don't give up looking for positions. Unlike many, I don't believe Fair Student Funding which charges schools more for having more senior teachers is the reason most of us who are in excess don't get hired. I believe it is our institutional memory more than the cost of seniority that makes it difficult to get a new permanent teaching position. Senior people are not likely to say how high when a principal tells them to jump. Newer teachers need to obtain tenure and therefore are much easier for administrators to control and will pass everyone if told to do so.

If you have sent out ten, or twenty or thirty, or forty resumes and you haven't heard anything back, we understand your frustration. If you are an experienced educator but you lack connections, you don't know the right people, we completely get it and today we salute you.

Giving up our seniority rights has turned out to be one of the stupidest givebacks from the infamous 2005 contract that ICEUFT vociferously opposed back then and have ever since.

I remember former UFT President Randi Weingarten telling us at the time that the Department of Education  proposed the concept that principals should have control of all hiring and the Union responded that this would create a huge pool of excessed teachers with no permanent school. If I recall correctly Randi informed us that this would be totally unworkable but if the DOE wanted this, they could have it. Little did she know that an unworkable situation was exactly what Joel Klein wanted so he could continue to push for the termination of ATRs both publicly and in negotiations. Killing seniority is still the big goal of the union haters.

The UFT, to my knowledge, has not asked for the return to seniority transfers which were done based on strict seniority. I don't even think the UFT has asked for a return of SBO transfers where seniority was a major factor in hiring decisions done by school based committees made up of a majority of teachers. Giving Principals complete power over hiring was one of the worst givebacks ever and has led to turmoil for so many teachers and a patronage hiring system that needs to end. Principal power needs to be checked from below more than from above. That should be a major UFT priority.

This is how we wrote about the 2005 UFT seniority surrender last year:
Ending seniority rights altogether is the holy grail of union busting that Joel Klein pushed for and is still the treasured goal of the zealots who want to destroy our profession.

Don't take my word for it. Read it from the horse's mouth. Chalkbeat did a summary of Steven Brill's 2011 book called Class Warfare.  Former Chancellor Joel Klein says all you need to know on why the ATR issue is a major issue for the union busters and it is something they will fight on for every inch of ground.


  • On labor issues, Bloomberg sometimes undercut Joel Klein. Klein’s team thought they could get the UFT to sign off on a change in the teacher termination process. But Bloomberg, who was nearing reelection, told them not to push their luck. “The mayor blinked,” the DOE’s one-time labor chief, Dan Weisberg, told Brill. “The mayor just gave up.” Weisberg said he “clashed almost daily” with City Hall over back-channel contract negotiations in 2005.
  • Similarly, Brill reports that in 2006, Bloomberg told Klein and Weisberg to “stand down” on pushing a time limit for teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve. As Klein left office last year, he was still calling for that policy.

Weisberg is still pushing to fire ATR's in 2017.

Chalkbeat's synopsis of Brill's book continues:
  • Bloomberg was weighing a third term even a year into his second, and his education policies reflected that. The 2007 teachers contract included little in the way of substantive policy, an oddity at a time when Klein was setting an aggressive tone at Tweed. In fact, the only major change, a schoolwide bonus program, was spiked this year. “The plan,” Klein told Brill, “was to make some progress in the 2005 contract — which we did, though not enough — and then go in for the kill in 2007. Mike deciding to run for a third term completely killed that.”

Note how Joel Klein brags about making some progress in 2005. That is the god awful contract that Randi Weingarten should never have agreed to that 40% of the NYC teachers rejected. Weingarten and Klein created the ATR mess and did so much more to undermine the rights of teachers in that settlement.

Bloomberg went for "the kill" after he was safely reelected to his third term in 2009 and did not relent while he was the mayor. It's why we had no contract from 2009-2014 and why we are still waiting until 2020 to get paid back in full the money the city paid its other workers between 2008 and 2010.

The UFT has never moved the center of gravity even a milometer back toward teacher rights since 2005. The 2014 contract's biggest gain was to form a new committee on excessive paperwork, something that was already in the existing contract. We have not made a substantive work place gain since Circular 6 was added in to the contract in 1996 to get us temporarily out of potty patrol. 2005 put us back in the potty.

It isn't your fault ATRs. That's why we are saluting the ATRs today. This situation is the fault of Randi Weingarten, Joel Klein. I won't condemn the 60% of teachers who voted yes on that contract. They were misled by their Union.

As for the 40% of teachers who voted no in 2005, we honor that wisdom today too.

If only we had the chance to flip about 7,000 votes, so many teaching careers might not have been permanently changed for the worse.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

CYNTHIA NIXON SUPPORTS RIGHT TO STRIKE FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

This is from Democratic Party candidate for Governor Cynthia Nixon's Fair Economy for All platform:


Strengthen Unions
Cynthia has been a proud union member for over four decades. She believes it is in all working people’s interest in New York to support the work that unions do on behalf of their members. As Governor, Cynthia will resist federal, right-to-work attacks on organized labor by amending Taylor Law to allow public sector workers the right to strike and support organizing drives for larger and stronger unions and protect union jobs from abusive non-union contractors. As public sector workers across the country are under attack, Cynthia does not support undermining workers’ wages and benefits, unlike Governor Cuomo who added a Tier VI to the state pension system and reduced benefits for newly hired state and local public workers.


When I read this first thing this morning in the press, I had to look at it closely three times to actually believe that a serious candidate for governor on a major party is endorsing amending the Taylor Law to allow public employees in New York State the right to strike.

Cynthia's policy position should not be considered radical. International law gives workers free association rights. Back in 2011, a United Nations agency ruled that the Taylor Law prohibition of strikes by public employees violates core principles expressed in international law and a treaty ratified by the United States Senate.

This blog covered that decision at the time and we fully support the UN ruling that international law gives us a right to strike. Nixon's position on public sector workers being allowed to legally strike is legitimate.

Without an ability to withhold our labor, workers have little leverage in bargaining for better working conditions. The gains teachers made in NYC came in an era when we were not afraid to strike. Please don't tell me we have arbitration. Arbitration panels use pattern bargaining to settle disputes. They look at what other unions have received to guide them. Governments know they can just come to a contract agreement with a weak union and everyone else will be bound by its basic terms.

The mainstream press is already going nuts over Nixon's support for legalized public employee strikes. It is interesting how Andrew Cuomo apologist TWU President John Samuelsen agreed we should have a right to strike but said Nixon doesn't care about workers. It's also fascinating how TWU took the links to the UN decision off of its website.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

UFT TWITTER FINALLY CONFIRMS TEACHER'S CHOICE IS $250; SPENDING BEGAN AUGUST 1

The official wait to find out about Teacher's Choice for the 2018-19 school year is finally over. This was on the UFT Twitter this afternoon. Leadership may have finally moved because High School Executive Board member Mike Schirtzer sent an email to the UFT officers yesterday asking for clarification on Teacher's Choice. Mike monitored our postings.



Questions:

Why couldn't we get this information for almost a week?

Why didn't the UFT just provide a simple posting that said the actual Teacher's Choice allocation hasn't been finalized yet but spending for Teacher's Choice started August 1 and it should be close to last year's level?

The answers to these questions is that honesty and openness are just not UFT strengths.

I'm glad this is done and happy spending everyone.

Here is the UFT Teacher's Choice page.

Also, I guess I should kind of thank the UFT for not saying really anything official for almost a week on Teacher's Choice. Since this blog was giving out updated information, our spike in traffic was noticeable. Hope some of you keep coming back to us.



Monday, August 06, 2018

CWA TELLS RANK AND FILE AND PUBLIC MUCH OF WHAT'S ON TABLE IN CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS

The email below came to us from the Communications Workers of America. Please sign their petition for a good contract at AT&T Midwest. CWA workers are involved in a contract dispute with AT&T management. Workers have voted to authorize a strike. 
This is yet another union that is not afraid to tell its members and the public basically what is on the table in contract negotiations. 
In contrast, the UFT negotiating committee members sign a confidentiality statement. Having served on the negotiating committee twice, I think the UFT wants the Cone of Silence in part because they are afraid that the members would not be happy to learn how little we actually demand in contract negotiations and then how we concede on issues so easily.

I can only guess, as I have no inside information, but I very much doubt the UFT is asking for seniority transfers, placing Absent Teacher Reserves in schools of their choice or the ability for members to grieve the fairness and accuracy of file letters.

On the other hand, I can also make an educated guess, based on the astroturf organizations writing articles in the papers, that DOE is demanding a time limit for how long a teacher can stay as an ATR before they are terminated. That would basically kill the union if we agreed to it.

For the guy who says he wants two observations per year on every comment, I predict the UFT will ask for it but DOE will want a pound and a half of flesh for it. We have virtually zero leverage since we have done no preparation to mobilize if necessary.

Image result for cone of silence
Maxwell Smart and the Chief under the Cone of Silence in Get Smart TV Show
James,
We’re three AT&T workers about to embark on an epic road trip from Detroit, MI to AT&T headquarters in Dallas, TX to save jobs and win fair union contracts for 14,000 workers across the country.
We’re hitting the road because AT&T broke its promise to working families. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson promised to deliver thousands of new jobs if the company got a tax cut. Well, AT&T got a $20 billion windfall but that didn’t stop them from laying off over a thousand workers across the country in the past few months.
That’s why we’re calling our trip the Broken Promises Tour and we’ll meet workers along the way whose communities have been devastated by AT&T’s job cuts.
Throughout our trip, we’ll meet with other workers to share their stories about the impact AT&T's job cuts have had on their families and communities. We’ll stop at closed AT&T call centers and other workplaces where working people are struggling to save jobs. The trip kicks off from Detroit on Monday and you can follow our journey at ATTBrokenPromises.org

AT&T workers like us across the country are fighting back for fair union contracts that guarantee good jobs, affordable healthcare, and a secure retirement. We won’t just sit back while greedy corporations like AT&T make billions off our backs and destroy our jobs. I hope you’ll stand with us and sign the petition if you haven’t yet: GoodJobsATT.org

Saturday, August 04, 2018

L.A. TEACHERS PREPARE FOR STRIKE AUTHORIZATION VOTE

The piece below came to us from Los Angeles, California where the United Teachers of Los Angeles are fighting back against austerity and privatization. They are calling for a strike authorization vote later this month. UTLA's president is Alex Caputo Pearl, a one time dissident who we met in Chicago in 2013.

Read below to see how UTLA does not have a secret negotiating committee like the UFT here in NYC. We can tell you what LA teachers are demanding and the response from the district.

In addition, please don't tell me how it is different in NY because the Taylor law prohibits strikes by public employees here. We do not involve nor mobilize teachers so we could actually engage in a real fight for a good contract. We negotiate behind closed doors and then the UFT leaders send their paid staff out to sell the contract to us rather than involving the membership in the process. It is different in Los Angeles.

From UTLA:

PERB Confirms Impasse; We Gear Up for Strike Authorization Vote

Although LAUSD claims otherwise, the California Public Employment Relations Board today confirmed what UTLA declared two weeks ago – that negotiations between UTLA and LAUSD are in a deadlock – and a state mediator has been appointed. UTLA is also preparing to conduct a strike authorization vote Aug. 23-30.

“PERB’s decision agrees with UTLA in our belief we are at impasse,” said Arlene Inouye, Chair of the UTLA Bargaining Team. “While we move forward with a state mediator, and continue to try to reach an agreement with the district — one that respects students,educators and the community — we also must mobilize our members for a strike, if one becomes necessary.”

Chapter Leaders will be holding critical chapter meetings on the first day back at school, on Aug. 13, regarding a strike authorization vote at the end of the month.

UTLA’s bargaining team has negotiated for more than 16 months. During that time, UTLA has done informational leafleting, school site picketing, rallies at the School Board, coalition actions with parents, faculty meeting boycotts, regional rallies, delegations to elected officials and a 12,000-member demonstration in downtown LA on May 24.

“Led by Supt. Austin Beutner, the district is trying to blame UTLA members, saying we are being unreasonable in our contract demands. We want to reprioritize LAUSD’s $1.7 billion in unrestricted reserves back into the classroom. Those funds can go a long way to give our educators a fair wage, lower class sizes and hire more nurses, counselors and librarians,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl. “The district has chosen a path of austerity and cuts, and we are fighting to reinvest and save public education. Enough is enough.”

When UTLA declared impasse last month, LAUSD officials said they would bring significant proposals to July 24 bargaining. Instead, they brought a previously proposed 2% ongoing salary increase, an additional one-time 2% bonus and a $500 stipend for materials and supplies.

“Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. We must continue to fight for a sustainable future, yet we don’t have a partner in the very school district we are trying to save,” Caputo-Pearl said. “We have been pushing for real change, they are keeping the status quo.”

Some key deadlocked bargaining issues:

Class Size Matters. LAUSD gave no proposals to reduce class size. LAUSD has some of the highest class sizes in the nation, yet refuses to eliminate section 1.5 of the contract, which allows the district to ignore class size caps.

Improve School Safety. With a student-to-counselor ratio of 945:1 in California and student-to-nurse ratio of 1,224:1, LAUSD refuses to add more school nurses, counselors, social workers, librarians and other staff; rejects greater educator and school employees input on campus safety plans.

Fund Our Schools. LAUSD gave no proposals to address funding issues. California is the richest state in the nation, yet ranks 43 out of 50 in per-pupil funding.

Support Community Schools. LAUSD gave no proposals to fund Community Schools. Community Schools meet the needs in the surrounding community, including wrap-around services, broadened curriculum and parent engagement.

Less Testing & More Teaching. LAUSD gave no proposals to address overtesting. Our kids are being overtested. Their teachers should have more discretion over what and when standardized assessments are given.

End the Privatization Drain. LAUSD gave no proposals for reasonable charter accountability and co-location measures. LAUSD refuses to address the $590 million lost to the unchecked expansion of charter schools each year.

We support the UTLA efforts to win a good contract.



Friday, August 03, 2018

CUNY PROFESSORS AREN'T GOING TO BREAK PATTERN BARGAINING

Yesterday we reported on how the PBA will have a very difficult time in contract negotiations because of pattern bargaining.  Pattern bargaining is when one government union settles on a raise with the government and that sets a pattern that other unions are basically stuck with. Arbitrators have upheld pattern bargaining many times.

Last evening a Professional Staff Congress (CUNY Teachers) member sent me a bargaining update from their President Barbara Bowen and her bargaining team. They make a strong case that CUNY Professors and Lecturers are under paid and need a major salary increase.

Here is a key part of the update:

Management responded that any targeted increases for CLTs and Lecturers (including Doctoral Lecturers) would have to be discussed as part of an overall economic package. They stressed that the "collective bargaining pattern" for public-sector workers in New York City and State in this round of bargaining includes limited raises of just 2% per year.

 CUNY-and PSC members-have needs that exceed this austerity approach. While the bargaining team is fully versed on the current limited economic "pattern," we will continue to demand a contract with both economic and non-economic gains that meet our members'needs.



I think it is great that PSC sends members periodic updates on negotiations. UFT negotiates in secret but we can pretty much figure out what is going on based on past practice and what we hear from other unions.

On the specifics, PSC leadership has no plan to break pattern bargaining. How does PSC intend to beat the pattern? Osmosis? Prayer? Visit the Wizard of Oz? I don't see a strike. Perhaps PSC leaders are talking big on salary so they can get some non-economic gains and declare victory.

Teachers who want two observations a year should encourage UFT negotiators to emphasize how we got 10% over 7 years plus 3.5 months and have to wait 11 years to get back all the money we earned in 2009 and 2010 but only if we literally survive and don't quit or get terminated. The current contract was a very poor deal.

The city is not budging on the pattern for us but if we scream loud enough, there could be real gains in non-economic areas like fewer observations, bringing back grieving letters in the file, getting teachers out of involuntary cafeteria duty, restoring hiring committees with teacher majorities for transfers, placing Absent Teacher Reserves where they wish to teach and more.

Oh wait, it's Unity-Mulgrew negotiating. Regardless, I'll try to stay optimistic. At least the PSC tries to tell their members what's going on.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

ACCORDING TO UFT INSTAGRAM TEACHER'S CHOICE $250; SPENDING STARTED AUGUST 1 (Update: We can't Confirm this Instragram Post)

A day after posting, we received the details from UFT on Instagram. Teacher's Choice is $250 for 2018-19. Spending commenced August 1. Save those receipts. However, please also read the update below.

 UPDATE:
We have been attempting to get some confirmation on Twitter, Facebook or the UFT's own website for this instagram posting and so far have not been successful. We did get this comment on our earlier Teacher's Choice Post:


Anonymous Karen said...
I called the DOE phone number for Special Projects on August 1st, and was told that the City Council had not approved Teacher's Choice funding, that I should not buy anything until the announcement was made at the end of the week (meaning today, 8/3), that there was a possibility we would not receive funding. So frustrating- so many sales have come and gone and I've already spent quite a bit out of pocket. There's enough to be done over the next few weeks that having the $250 would make it easier! Wish they would just make an announcement.

If the Department of Education and the UFT cannot get their act together to announce what is going on with a program as popular and non-controversial as Teacher's Choice, we may be even more trouble than we think. Yes, I know this isn't the biggest problem in the world but symbolically this delay just looks bad.

PBA PROTEST AT CITY HALL AS THEY ARE ONE YEAR WITHOUT A CONTRACT

On the one year anniversary of their contract expiration, 300 PBA members held a protest rally at City Hall where they attacked Mayor Bill de Blasio for not wanting to negotiate a fair contract with New York City police officers.

From the Wall Street Journal coverage:


Scores of New York City police officers rallied on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday, holding up signs and orange foam fingers that said “LIAR,” to mark a year since they’ve been working without a contract.

The rally, organized by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, targeted Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat and frequent foe of the union, which represents 24,000 current police officers. Their last contract expired July 31, 2017, and the PBA is currently in arbitration with the city over a new labor agreement.

The demonstration outside City Hall was the union’s latest effort to draw attention to the expired contract. Labor leaders have also organized protests outside Mr. de Blasio’s gym and favorite bakery in Park Slope and at Gracie Mansion. A truck parked outside City Hall with a photo of the mayor in bed urged him to “wake up” and “do your job” to settle the contract. The vehicle had also circled around a Manhattan courthouse where the mayor had jury duty on Wednesday.

The PBA also planned to send a group of police officers to New Orleans this weekend, where the mayor plans to attend a conference for progressive leaders and activists, a union official said.


The PBA Press Release:
August 1st marks exactly one year since the expiration of the NYC PBA’s most recent contract, leading union members to turn out at City Hall to give Mayor de Blasio a “wake up call” to get engaged in the contract process. New York City police officers are already underpaid by 30% or more in comparison to the average for other police officers in the NYC area and other major cities around the country. Today’s press conference is part of a renewed, multi-faceted campaign effort by the PBA to hold de Blasio accountable for his inaction.

PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said:

“Only seven months after starting his final term in office, and Mayor de Blasio is already checked out. We have been out of contract for a year and bargaining for even longer, and all we have seen from Mayor de Blasio’s team are delaying tactics, unreasonable demands and a complete unwillingness to engage in the process. Underpaying police officers hurts our ability to retain and recruit the Finest, and ultimately has a negative impact on public safety. That should be a serious concern for our Mayor, but he is clearly not focused on running the city.  Instead, he’s focused on raising money so that he can fly off to places like New Orleans and further his own political ambitions. That’s not the job he was elected to do. New York City police officers show up and do our jobs every single day, because that’s what New Yorkers expect of us. It’s time for Mayor de Blasio to start doing the same.”


The NYC PBA’s most recent contract, which was retroactive to 2012, expired on August 1 of last year. In April, following months of increasingly unreasonable demands on the part of the City, the NYC PBA entered the arbitration process with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

Unfortunately for the PBA, DC 37 has already settled a contract that sets a pattern for civilian city employees of 7.25% salary increases over 44 months. de Blasio has been stalling with the cops so they would have that pattern set. Labor settlements are done through pattern bargaining. One union settles on a contract with the city with a certain percentage salary increase and the rest receive the same basic settlement. Arbitration panels have upheld pattern bargaining on numerous occasions. Although the police are a uniform union, traditionally uniform unions receive about 1% or so more than civilians. The Mayor is probably delaying now so he can settle with a different uniform union first to completely trap the PBA.

My strategy, already impossible for this round of collective bargaining in NYC, would be for all of the city unions to wait it out and let the PBA settle first since they earn 29% less than police in the surrounding areas. They have a great pay parity argument. If they received anything close to that, the rest of us could go in and say, "Me too," as there would be a pattern. City Hall can count on a weak union such as the UFT or DC 37 to settle first to set the pattern that other unions are stuck with.

The PBA also reported that 100% of their officers are in the union.

From the Chief Leader:
PBA president Patrick J. Lynch said: “Every NYC police officer, including the recently-hired class, is a member of this proud and strong organization.  Those who take on the challenge of law enforcement recognize that the protection afforded by a strong, active police union is essential to their safety and survival on the job.”

The Corrections officers also have 100% of new hires in their union according to the Chief. The difference between the PBA and UFT is not that Pat Lynch has such wonderful negotiating skills at the bargaining table. The PBA does no better than us because of pattern bargaining. However, whether you love, hate or are indifferent about the police, when it comes to union the PBA has their officers' backs and officers know it.  

Sadly, I cannot make that statement about the UFT but I don't believe massive people dropping out will improve that situation. Let's fix the union; not try to mortally wound it!

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

WHEN DOES TEACHER'S CHOICE SPENDING START? (Updated)

Today, August 1, was traditionally the day when teachers could start spending their Teacher's Choice money for supplies for the upcoming school year. However, I didn't get a celebratory text from the UFT this morning or an email nor did my wife who is still very much active. I looked on line and I didn't see anything either. The DOE Teacher's Choice page is gone and the UFT has information from last school year.

Did this program just quietly end? Apparently not as a reader sent us a comment with a link that said that the City Council passed the funding for Teacher's Choice at last year's level.

Why no information then from the UFT or the Department of Education?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

EVA MOSKOWITZ WRITES LETTER TO SUCCESS ACADEMY HIGH SCHOOL PARENTS EXPLAINING HUGE STAFF TURNOVER

Success Academy charter school Queen Eva Mokowitz was obviously rattled by the bad publicity she is receiving over her high school's 70% staff turnover rate. Chalkbeat has obtained her letter to parents in response and Diane Ravitch has commented on it. Ravitch points out how Success High School had only 16 graduates in its first graduating class. Imagine a public school with those numbers.

Some of Eva's letter reads as kind of a warning  for all of us that this will be the future for all teachers unless we have a strong union.

Notice from the letter how Eva can arbitrarily decide to move teachers around to different schools. This year she feels like offering world history instead of American history even though students are required to complete a year of U.S. and two years of world history and social studies teachers are certified to teach both. She just moves the teachers to other locations as she likes. She does the same in science. This is bad for both teachers and students. She claims "most of our faculty will be returning." How does Eva define most? Here is the breakdown of the turnover from the Wall Street Journal:

Of the 67 teachers and administrators at the Manhattan high school last fall, 20 will be back when classes start in August, its officials said. They said 25 quit, nine were dismissed and 13 took jobs elsewhere in the network.

What about Eva's dismal results at her high school? She, as usual, has answers that public schools would be condemned for.

A student who can’t do the work at Success despite all of the supports we provide is unlikely to graduate from college. That is why we will hold a scholar back if he isn’t meeting our school’s standards. It’s better for that student to spend another year in high school than to set him up for failure in college by just passing him along.

If we forced multiple students to repeat grades in a public high school, we would be called a failing school and threatened with closure.

Eva also compares her school to Stuyvesant and then cynically plays the race card:

To receive that (scholarship) money, your child must compete with students at other top schools like Stuyvesant, where 94% of students take Advanced Placement tests and 96% of them pass those tests. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you’ve read, very few students of color are allowed into Stuyvesant and other specialized schools. These students are instead forced to attend schools where the standards are low and where Advanced Placement courses aren’t even offered.

No Eva, you are wrong about so many public high schools. I recommend you visit some public schools to see the Advanced Placement offerings and other college classes that are given in public high schools, some as early as the ninth grade.

When will Eva meet with the parents to address their concerns? At night one would think so working parents can attend? No, Eva will meet with them at 7:45 in the morning tomorrow. Real convenient.

Those of you leaving the UFT so you can save yourselves $120 a month should be sentenced to Eva's high school or her other schools so you can find out for yourselves what working in a non-union charter school is like.

We printed the text of Eva's letter in full below. Thank you Chalkbeat for printing it.

July 25, 2018

Dear Parents,

I’m writing to address the concerns some of you have expressed about changes in faculty at the high school. 

I know it can be hard on students when a favorite teacher leaves, but our number one priority is providing our scholars with the same high quality education that we’ve given them since elementary school. That has required some changes. Our chemistry teachers have been re-assigned to our middle schools because our high school students will be taking biology this year rather than chemistry. Similarly, our American History teachers have been reassigned to our middle schools since our high school scholars will be learning World History this year rather than American History. But most of our faculty will be returning next year and the new faculty we’ve hired have excellent qualifications. They have deep content knowledge in fields such as mathematics, chemical engineering, physics, and biomolecular science, and many have advanced degrees in these fields.

Some of you have also expressed concerns about summer homework and about our standards for promoting students. I understand that it can be hard for our scholars to meet the high expectations we set, but those standards must be high to ensure that our scholars not only get into good colleges but succeed there.

More than 40% of college students fail to graduate and the situation is far worse for students of color. Only 30% of African-American college students graduate within six years. Only 36% of Latino college graduate within six years. This problem even affects well regarded charter schools. While 89% of the graduates of the KIPP schools go on to college, only 33% of them graduate from college. Most drop out.

The problem isn’t that students of color can’t succeed. The problem is that they aren’t given the rigorous education they need to succeed. They are victims of the soft bigotry of low expectations. We will not let that happen to our scholars.
 
College is hard. At Success, we provide our scholars with a lot of support. If a scholar doesn’t understand the work, we’ll help him individually. If she doesn’t do her homework, we will talk to her and, if necessary, to her parents. Colleges don’t do this. Students are expected to be responsible for their own work — and there is far more of it in college. In high school, students may have a month to read a book for a class. In college, they are expected to do so in a week. In high school, students have two or three hours of homework per day. In college, they may have six or eight hours of homework a day.

A student who can’t do the work at Success despite all of the supports we provide is unlikely to graduate from college. That is why we will hold a scholar back if he isn’t meeting our school’s standards. It’s better for that student to spend another year in high school than to set him up for failure in college by just passing him along.

Holding our scholars to high standards also ensures they will get the scholarship money they need. Only 66 out of 4,000 American colleges and university will meet 100% of students’ financial need. Unless you are in a position to pay over $100,000 for college, your child will need scholarship money.

To receive that money, your child must compete with students at other top schools like Stuyvesant, where 94% of students take Advanced Placement tests and 96% of them pass those tests. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you’ve read, very few students of color are allowed into Stuyvesant and other specialized schools. These students are instead forced to attend schools where the standards are low and where Advanced Placement courses aren’t even offered.

Your child has the opportunity that other parents want for their child: a school that offers advanced courses; 3 electives a semester that range from dance to debate to basketball, and holds its students to high standards. That is why every single one of our graduates this year was admitted to a four-year college and received a combined total of $2 million in financial aid. 

We owe it to your children to make sure our school is rigorous. I know that can be hard on them but it will be far worse if they go to college when they aren’t ready.

I will be holding a parent meeting on August 1 to discuss the above and hear any concerns that you have.
Wednesday, August 1 at 7:45 - 8:45 am

Auditorium, High School of the Liberal Arts

Hope you enjoy the final weeks of summer, and we look forward to seeing you in the new school year.

Warmly,

Eva Moskowitz

Monday, July 30, 2018

UNITY'S ED IN THE APPLE ON THE UFT CONTRACT

Retired Unity Caucus leader Peter Goodman writes the Ed in the Apple blog. It is sometimes useful to read Ed in the Apple to see what the union hierarchy is thinking.

Goodman wrote a long piece on Saturday explaining the contract negotiating process. He does provide some detail but not much will be unfamiliar to the readers here. Goodman understands that our contract's financial parameters are set through pattern bargaining. ICEUFT has reported on how DC 37 set a pattern for the civilian municipal labor force of 7.25% salary increases over 44 months. The UFT is not beating the basic pattern without givebacks.

Where Goodman's piece becomes interesting is when he delves into the non-financial parts of the contract.

He writes:
Managerial Prerogatives : The most difficult section of the contract will be the issue of managerial prerogatives; how far is the Department of Education (DoE) willing to go in the area of distributive leadership, for example, the number of lesson observations, including the union in day to day operation of schools, “cultural” disputes at the school level, etc. The current contract allows schools to modify sections of the contract and section of DoE regulations.
 Of all the breakthrough ideas in the 2014 contract, none has more potential to empower teachers and their school communities than the PROSE initiative. PROSE stands for Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence, and the opportunities for redesign at the heart of this program are predicated on the UFT’s core belief that the solutions for schools are to be found within school communities, in the expertise of those who practice our profession.
I’m sure the union wants to expand the PROSE concept.
Would the Department agree to “carve out” an autonomy district?  A remnant of the Bloomberg structure remains, there are 150 or so schools that work with not-for-profit organizations (The Internationals Network, New Visions for Public Schools, The Urban Assembly) these schools are called affinity schools and operate under the same superintendents and have some autonomy. They are mostly small high schools.
Since arriving in the spring the chancellor has not addressed questions of autonomy and accountability. He is adding another layer of accountability by adding executive superintendents above the traditional local superintendents (See presser describing new structure here)

On one hand the Department appears to be moving in the accountability direction and away from the autonomy direction, on the other hand the union clearly wants to move towards more distributive leadership in schools, more towards autonomy.
I really don't believe that having more schools that agree to waive parts of the UFT contract is right now the key to expanding learning as the contract is to a large extent a useless piece of paper in too many schools. Goodman, on the other hand, cites Eric Nadelstern, a Joel Klein era Deputy Chancellor, to make his point.
I thought having a faculty govern the school was important because if you give teachers agency, they will do everything they can to make sure kids succeed. In an urban area like New York, that’s the only way you’re going to get teachers to work hard enough to be successful. You can’t pay them enough, you can’t cajole them enough, you can’t scare them enough. You just give them more ownership of effort and then they will do it.
So, we will only do everything we can to make sure kids succeed if we are running the school. Otherwise, teachers won't work hard enough for kids to be successful. Am I reading this properly? I once had a conversation with NY Post reporter Yoav Gonen in which he asked me how much merit pay would it take to make a difference in student learning outcomes? I laughed and said most of us don't do this job for more money but do it because we truly care about helping the kids. Any teacher who is motivated only by some extra bucks probably isn't the best teacher in the world. 
For the record, I fully support teachers being involved in governing schools. It can be very helpful but I personally toiled just as diligently for the students at Jamaica High School over 18 years as Chapter Leader when there were principals who hated me as when there were others who wanted to work collegially with the UFT Chapter. Middle College High School, where I worked for my final 3.5 years, has a bit of that collaborative atmosphere. It is a PROSE school in the Affinity district. This model has great potential but most teachers I worked with over the decades went the extra mile or two for the kids no matter how the school was run. 
Yes, we want ownership but sane administrators in every school who adhere to the contract would be a giant leap forward in creating a healthy learning environment in NYC schools. Setting up decent teaching and learning conditions would include lower class size, lower guidance caseloads, a realistic and enforceable school safety plan in each school, placing teachers in schools where they want to work, fewer observations and an end to the anti-teacher gotcha mentality many administrators have. Our collective judgement  needs to be respected again as it was somewhat when I started 32 years ago. Some of this would cost no money. Just making more PROSE schools I don't think will do much.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

UNITY TRIPLES DOWN ON STORY THAT VIRTUALLY NOBODY IS LEAVING UNION

I just read the latest version of The Organizer. Unity's Gene Mann writes a letter to Mark Janus saying there are almost no NYC teachers in Queens who are not in the UFT.

Here is the letter:

Note to Janus et al:  The UFT Will Survive and Thrive

 Dear Mark Janus:
         Congratulations on your new job with the Illinois Policy Institute, the right wing think tank that financed your assault on American public employees.  I’m glad to hear you’re doing well.  We are, too.
  
         We got the e-mail from your friend, “Amanda Burke,” telling us how we could desert our union. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, aka, Betsy DeVos, thoughtfully provided Amanda to save us from the evils of union membership.
 
         Did we take the bait?
 
Here’s a post from the Facebook version of the Organizer:
 
I was thinking of not paying my dues until I realized that this is a right-wing conspiracy against unions, public education, the middle class, etc. I WILL continue paying my dues. Getting notices about opting out has made my decision much easier.

         My “other” union, the Professional Staff Congress-CUNY has re-signed its members at a 96% rate.  This is despite the fact that one Bob Bellafiore, another friend like Amanda, has e-mailed PSC members instructions for opting out.
  
         Here’s what we e-mailed him in return:

Dear Bob,

I want to thank you, the anti-unionists paying your bills, and Betsy DeVos' friends at organizations like the Mackinac Center for reminding working families of all the reasons we are sticking with our union.

Every email you send to a teacher, firefighter or police officer in New York shows us the lengths you are willing to go to help wealthy special interests undercut working families.

We have a message for you: We knew you were coming, we know who is backing you, and we know what you want.

Strong unions mean higher pay, better benefits and improved working conditions for our members. You know that, which is why you are trying to destroy us.

Knowing this will make signing my re-enrollment card and paying my union dues even more of an honor and a privilege.

I'm sticking with our union!

             There’s even better news at the UFT:  There are 29, count them, 29 , among all the teachers, counselors, school secretaries, occupational therapists, and ed paras in all of Queens, who are not dues-paying UFT members!
 
         In all of the alternative high schools (District 79) there are two non-members!

We’re sticking with our union!


We linked Friday to an Op Ed from NYSUT President Andy Pallotta who says that only nine people, that's right just nine, have left NYSUT in the first two weeks after Janus.

Here is the relevant paragraph from Pallotta:

In fact, in the two weeks since the Janus decision, just nine members quit NYSUT.  In contrast, more than 9,000 members signed new cards re-committing to the union, even as another 1,300 fee-payers – who previously were not full-fledged members – have decided to join NYSUT, some for the first time.

This space previously reported on the news coming from the AFT Convention where the UFT boasted that over 99% are staying in the Union.

What is going on here?

I see four possibilities:

1-Virtually nobody is trying to leave the Unions. Maybe there is real solidarity.

2-Unity has a strategy to say virtually nobody is opting out and hopes that it will become a kind of self fulfilling prophecy.

3-Unity is in serious denial. We heard a report that said that DOE HR phone lines were overloaded in the days after Janus with people trying to leave their unions. There have already been way more than Pallotta's nine that have said they are dropping out of the UFT in the comments section here. Are they all Koch brothers plants?

4-Unity has something up their sleeve to make it very difficult for people to quit the Union.

I have no idea what the answer is. I am just reporting what I am seeing and hearing.

Personally, I want everyone to stay in the UFT. Please keep paying dues or organize a better, stronger union. I don't see anyone organizing an alternative right now. Therefore, the Unity led UFT is a much lesser evil than having no union or an even weaker one with thousands of defectors. A union with fewer members will have absolutely no leverage in negotiating with the city.