Sunday, April 05, 2020


Anybody who has read this blog for a while knows that one of the best bloggers out there was Reality Based Educator. His blog was more popular than ours and my ego would be bruised sometimes when I used to think that he wrote a better blog. Unfortunately, he is not blogging these days but on the bright side he is still on Twitter and he also continues as an active NYC teacher. This is his reaction on Twitter to the first death of a teacher from complications from COVID-19. Sandra Santos Viscaino from P.S. 9 worked on the three days (March 17, 18 and 19) that the UFT let their members toil in unsafe schools for professional development. The UFT didn't tell members in no uncertain terms to work from home in the middle of a pandemic.



Awful. Just awful.
I am so angry at the chancellor and the mayor for their callous disregard for our lives.

But I am even angrier at the @UFT because I fucking pay them to protect me and all they protect is their own power, perks and privileges.

RBE is totally right; we pay for the consistent UFT surrenders. I very much doubt what happened at P.S 9 was an isolated COVID-9 in the schools case. Word came to me that five UFT members at one Queens High School who went into work with the UFT's okay from March 17-19 are now sick with Coronavirus. The Union knew this building was infected on March 17 and didn't pull the teachers out.

I know of another Queens High School building where COVID-19 was suspected. One principal in that school building wisely told her staff to stay home but in another school in the same building, the teachers still were given the option to report the next two days. The UFT had a responsibility to clear out all suspected unsafe buildings. Why do we need a union if they won't do everything they can to protect member health? That is ultimately Michael Mulgrew's job.

The Department of Education not releasing the numbers on DOE COVID-19 cases again shows UFT weakness. Why isn't the Union screaming publicly for the numbers? Why is it left to Sue Edelman to fight this fight?

When the chips were down and UFT members were calling out sick en masse for March 16, the Union showed who they really are by putting out the memo to District Reps that was leaked to the Daily News. Don't ever forget these words from your Union:

“A coordinated sick-out will be interpreted by the DOE as an organized effort in violation of the Taylor Law and the Triborough Law,” union officials wrote its leaders.

“They will perceive it as a labor action and strike. Each participant is subject to a fine of two days’ pay for every missed day and arrest. However, even worse, the UFT will suffer greatly with fines and penalties. Please advise against.”

They cared more about their dues than member lives in the middle of a pandemic. Let's repeat what RBE stated perfectly about the UFT: "I fucking pay them to protect me and all they protect is their own power, perks and privileges."

Some UFT apologists will claim that the UFT's robust reaction to losing the first two days of Passover, Holy Thursday and Good Friday in Mulgrew's email sent out Friday night shows how angry the UFT is. No, it is another example of how completely impotent the Union is.

From Friday's email:

Under collective bargaining rules, the UFT has the right to negotiate a compensation package for all the extra days you are being required to work, and I will do everything in my power to see that you are properly compensated for your time.

This statement is basically a meaningless promise. Due to the UFT's usual overabundance of caution (I am being kind here), the Union has basically zero leverage in this negotiation, and as a matter of fact, in virtually every negotiation. The Mayor and Chancellor can laugh about the UFT threatening lawsuits in a pandemic. We do collective begging.

Ultimately, however, it is the rank and file and not the leadership that controls our union destiny. Please stop accepting that the membership's fate forever is just to accept the situation as it is but don't dream about voting Mulgrew/Unity out. UFT elections are rigged in a sophisticated way as the Union controls almost the entire flow of information to the members. There is no way an opposition group could possibly get to the thousands of retirees scattered around the country to get them to know them, like them, and trust them enough to vote for them.

As there currently is no viable political option, I would like to talk about a different idea: a DUES STRIKE.  There is a June opt-out period when members have the option not to pay union dues. I will not opt-out. I am pro-union.

However, we can go on a dues strike until the UFT changes in big ways. I'm not talking about getting the 8.25% interest back on TDA or seniority transfers but rather internal, structural changes so the UFT functions as a union again. Unfortunately, this action will never work unless there are many making the statement of going on strike and are willing to return to paying dues if the UFT fixes itself. We can talk about what that repair means for me and open it up to everyone for their ideas in future posts.

The elite in this country are more than likely going to take advantage of the state of emergency and its aftermath from COVID-19 to enrich themselves while there will probably be major austerity for the rest of us. The economy is more than ruined and will be for some time. We need to stand up for ourselves collectively or beg for crumbs. Mulgrew and company can choose the latter route because they are not impacted that much. I choose the former path but my personal opinion as a humble, semi-retired worker who blogs means very little. I don't even represent ICEUFT in this thinking, just myself. It's the UFT members en masse who matter. If you are not going to collectively take control now, when will you?

P.S. I would like to put out a call today and ask how many other school districts around the area that are all in a state of emergency will be working on Thursday and Friday? I checked around and New Jersey is still getting spring break. I also discovered that one Long Island district still received a full spring break and will be off on Thursday and Friday too. Readers, do you know of many other districts working Thursday or Friday?


TJL said...

In my district in PA, school ended the same day as we did and teachers did their PD similar to how we did it (except they closed the buildings down on the Wednesday) and full blown remote learning started the same day we did. Kids' vacation was already only Holy Thursday through Easter Monday; however school ends on June 10.

With all that said, there has been NO elimination of days off for students. As far as I know it wasn't even entertained. As parents, I and my wife, God Bless her soul as she's done all the work with the kids, are thankful for this. As far as work, I'm still posting my assignments on Wednesday and I'm not checking or collecting anything until Monday the 20th. I'm also taking Good Friday off. Worship is more important than a CAR day.

Cardinal Dolan said this morning “millions of Jews and Christians recall with awe that our God is Lord of life and death, and can bring good out of evil, healing from illness, life from death.” Bill DeBlasio ought to listen.

I'm still holding out some hope that Governor Cuomo will exercise its power to nullify this. The City cannot unilaterally make such laws or edicts without the permission of the State.

Anonymous said...

James, This sounds like a good idea but there has to be input from members about our demands. Otherwise, we don't really know what we're protesting. Just saying they need to do more is too vague. What about the ATR situation? Pay raises? Bringing back seniority transfers? What would we get by opting out?

Justaregularteacher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I find is quite funny that all these young NYC teachers are pissed at the UFT for fucking us over so bad recently. In the immortal words of John McLaine, "Welcome to the party pal".

Anonymous said...

In a case of irony, the teachers who die in the next couple of months from this forfeit the retro. Think about that. Their families lose out on that earned money. How pathetic is the uft?

Unitymustgo! said...

Here's the message from Half Hollow Hills School District, Suffolk Long Island:

For at least the past several years, the Half Hollow Hills Central School District has asked teachers to be mindful of the many religious holidays that occur each year around our Spring Recess. We have always felt that this time is important to focus on religious observances and reconnecting with family, while unburdened from school work. While we have allowed for assignments in specific classes, mainly Advanced Placement, we have always encouraged teachers to be sensitive and understanding when establishing due dates.

This year, as stated in our Distance Learning Plan, we were expecting to follow a similar format and provide students and their families with a true recess as outlined in our district calendar.

In the past several days, we have received a clarification and subsequent directive from the Governor’s Office stating that all schools in New York must provide for the continuity of services over the Spring Recess, including instruction. We understand that this is counter to our original plan, however we must remain flexible in these trying times. Our administrative team has been working on a plan to continue instruction, as required, but to also honor our commitments and beliefs about these days.

Early next week, you will receive a modified education plan that will be enacted from Thursday, April 9, through Friday, April 17. This plan will provide for the necessary instruction, but also the flexibility for families to implement in a manner that best suits their needs. The lessons and/or assignments included in this plan will not be designed around synchronous instruction and will not be graded. They will be connected to curricular goals in the various academic departments and students may be asked to report out or share their experiences once “normal” classes resume on April 20.

As we work to develop this plan, please understand the guiding principles we are focused on:

A full and well-rounded education encompasses much more than instruction. For these lessons and activities, we will be focusing on education.
Certain academic areas, including Art, Music, Family & Consumer Sciences and Physical Education can be challenging in an online format. We plan to address these areas more directly over this time.
Lessons and activities will be focused on reducing screen time for students and parents whenever possible.
Lessons and activities will be flexible and adaptable for differing family needs.
All of our schools regularly interrupt academic instruction to focus on social and emotional learning.
Historically, generations are defined by an event or series of events that are memorable on a global scale. This is undoubtedly one of those moments and, unfortunately, distance learning will be a significant part of this memory for all of our children. It is our hope that everyone in the Half Hollow Hills community will use this time to participate in shared experiences, focus on relationships and be mindful of their social and emotional well-being.

The district will also continue both the “Grab & Go” bagged breakfast and lunch service, as well as the childcare program for the children of First Responders and Medical Personnel, between April 9 and April 17. For more information on the meal service, please click here. To register, or for more information on the childcare program, please click here.

Anonymous said...

Now we are going to demand raises? First, contract doesnt end till September 2022. Second, they will now say they are broke. Where were the raises in the 2014 and 2018 contracts? 6 million dollar surplus, remember? That was 11 years of raises we needed. Now we are done. I already opted out 2 summers ago. Good luck. You guys arent too smart.

Justaregularteacher said...

Forget about the DOE, why isn't the UFT celebrating the contributions of their fallen members.
RIP David Behrbom. I won't forget you bro. Thank you for your 20+ yrs of service.

James Eterno said...

3:36, Deamands that are out of the direct control of the UFT that require DOE, city or state approval are out here. We have to fix the UFT before we can make stronger demands to our employer.

What is within control of the UFT is to not under any circumstances, tell any member to go into an unsafe building.

James Eterno said...

You don't get it 4:28. UFT has no leverage. It will not have leverage again until it has an engaged rank and file collectively demanding change. Under the current structure, that will not happen.

Anonymous said...

Ok james, so now what? Opt out? My points were...The city had a huge surplus, now it doesnt. This, and far worse has been going on for 20 years, thats why i opted out. I was called a scab. I begged people to follow the facts. Let me know the action plan.

Anonymous said...

The UFT lost its power years ago!! The only people that don't seem to realize this fact is the clueless teachers!! It blows my mind how stupid they are LOL

Bronx ATR said...

All thinking UFT members should opt out during the allotted time period in June. (Doing so before is meaningless - they’ll still happily take your money legally.) We should also put our money into an escrow account with the intention of rejoining, if some type of meaningful positive change occurs. I have been putting my monthly dues in a jar, for over year and things have been getting much, much worse (as I predicted) - not better. Mulgrew must learn his true role as UFT President, or step down. If enough people leave, it will force change because the only thing that truly matters to the UFT is the money. Not God, not career, not family, not life. That has been unequivocally proven.

James Eterno said...

That's a great idea Bronx ATR. Put the money aside and put it back when change comes.

Anonymous said...

I just labeled my very own jar......

Mike said...

Here is what I want to kill a fair majority of Uft members for. Thinking back, in the mid 2000’s(I don’t recall the year), I had a principal who loved to do what she called ‘lunch and learns’. They were ‘optional’ if you get my drift.

I was a neophyte teacher, so I went a few times until the Uft rep spoke to the staff as a group. She said,”I’m not saying go. I’m not saying don’t go. However, for those who go you are making others who choose to enjoy their duty free lunch look bad!”

That was eye opening. So, what I am telling Uft members to do is work your contractual hours. Even during this period, work your 6 hours and 20 minutes on Wednesday through Friday.

If a kid emails you at 10 pm Friday, write him back some time Monday morning if you have a chance.

For those who respond to emails or do extra work in non-contractual hours, you are making every person look bad who chooses to only work for contractual hours.

Don’t believe me? Look at those optional open school nights schools did in 2010 I believe. They were optional, but most teachers stayed. So, the city said ‘why not make 4 parent teacher nights?’ And now we stay for a parent teacher night in may that is useless beyond belief.

I closing, to the new teachers or the ones who are killing themselves, do less. Do what you can do during the contractual work day, then stop.

Go in your backyard and work out when the day is nice.

Crack open a beer. Whatever you enjoy.

DONT WORK a 90 hour week!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Bottom line, when teachers got the opt out choice, they continued to pay despite being screwed at every turn. How dumb can you all be? All you did was name call others here. UFT knew they could get away with murder. Now they really have.

Anonymous said...

If I opt-out in June, can I opt back in when/if ever if ever I am ready?

Anonymous said...

For the ones that don't stop working past their required time of work, please know that they suck all the energy out of you while you are young. As the years go by you will get older and become a target as administrations change. Do your work, yes. Absolutely! But, work within your contractual hours. If everyone would do that, it would FORCE the DOE and administration to compensate staff correctly. If this is followed perhaps the DOE central would not be so inflated with ridiculous titles and roles and put more money into the schools and staff. Realistically, why should they when they probably think to themselves, those teachers will work after their contractual hours for FREE so let's (administration and central) get all the funding. Why have so many school staff members work beyond their work hours during this time of remote learning? STOP! You are not doing yourself, this profession and your fellow colleagues any favors.

Anonymous said...

643, you can go to and re-become a uft member if you opt out and then want to opt back in.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, if you opt out, all you really lose is the lawyer IF you need it.

Anonymous said...

What happens if you opt out and are approaching (3years) retirement? Do you lose your pension consult?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately you are right, taking away their money in the form of our dues is the only way they may here how discontented we are.

Anonymous said...

Connetquot CSD has school Thursday and Friday, but they did have their Spring Break the past two weeks.

Mike said...


That’s so true!

These young teachers are only 25 for a short period of time. Before they blink, they are in their 30’s, a little more tired and have a life.

Then, in the eyes of administration, they have lost a step, maybe they leave at 230 and stop coming in Saturday’s on the arm.

I know people will view this as bitter. That’s fine.

If any teachers reading this are working 14 hours a day doing online learning, please stop.

Please stop making your colleagues look bad for not working for free.

I will never ever tell anyone to not do their best. But, stop working until 10 pm at night.

Anonymous said...

This is a good way to spread the virus. "The concern about unreported cases is especially pressing now, as workers at 435 schools across NYC prepare and hand out “grab-and-go” meals to anyone who wants them."

Anonymous said...

Amy Arundell retweeted this...Black people are disproportionately dying from this virus & it's impossible to separate from decades of hypersegregation, overcrowded public housing, landfills & air pollution in our neighborhoods, & lack of access to health care. This is structural. It didnt have to be this way.
Black ppl having higher rates of underlying conditions like hypertension, diabetes, & heart disease can't be disentangled from folks being made to live in communities that are saturated in poverty (that was created by policy), places that are food deserts & have no health clinics.

Anonymous said...

So how do we opt out?

Anonymous said...

If you can't figure that out, you deserve Mulgrew.

Anonymous said...


55 more days till June 1st

James I know you won't let us down and post the info that date or before!!!!!!!!!

James Eterno said...

I will not opt out but I am looking forward to a personal dues strike and figuring out how to do it is not rocket science. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

Mike said...

Opting out is not the answer. A bad union is better than no union.

The answer is to stop being so accessible to the students and to admin.

I did not even put a lesson together today until 8 am. I will look at who did work(no one did) and I will not be contacting parents.

I don’t have to worry about families contacting me bc none of them are and the admins send out messages to cover their ass.

If we did only what was required of us, our lives would be easier.

The reason so much work gets dumped on us is bc people will do it

Anonymous said...

@6:19PM - Oh yes, the "lunch and learns". I cannot believe as I have gone into different schools in the ATR status that this even goes on. STOP!!!!!

Use your lunch to eat lunch, go for a walk, to shop, to make a personal call, etc. It's your time. You are not being paid and you loose your duty-free lunch.

Anonymous said...

908, and then you pass them all, right?

Bronx ATR said...

A dues strike can be synonymous with opting out - there’s no real difference, other than the intention. Unfortunately knowing the apathy and passivity of the sadomasochistic rank and file many may just forget everything and keep paying dues - thus allowing Mulgrew and pals continue unabated, making those on a due strike effectively opt out. There has to be thousands of teachers willing to stop paying dues to facilitate change.

James Eterno said...

The big distinction is those of us on a dues strike must come together and support each other. That is a huge difference compared to opting out.

Anonymous said...

Where is my 4 CAR days, it's funny when you owe them a penny it gets taken out right away?

James Eterno said...

They won't show up for a while.

Bronx ATR said...

It certainly is, but it’s a distinction that gets blurred over time and UFT incompetency. I originally asked many ATRs I knew to stop paying dues and also asked retirees. A few did, but no retirees. Many retirees know they are being used for their votes and don’t mind because they are catered to and because of SHIP. I do mind and find it outrageous. So no SHIP for me. Ok, well fuck you, Mulgrew. I’ve been on a dues strike for quite sometime with no end in sight. I’ve been referenced as a gunk, goon, scab and other colorful names from once former acquaintances . My original preamble in withholding dues - “I'll put my measly eight bucks in a jar and if the UFT ends the ATR pool, stops retirees from voting in elections, actively fights Fair Student Funding, actively speaks out against the Open Market, stop their loyality oaths, voting in blocks OR open their doors to any kind of inclusivity to those of us that are excluded, I'll rejoin and give them whatever is in the jar. You working stiffs will have to wait until June to opt out. I would have opted out last June, but James Eterno persuaded me to remain. Things haven’t become more democratic - it’s gotten worse - the few that were able to initiate positive change inside the snake pit are now newly elected Unity members. Maybe Mulgrew will see the writing on the wall before then and start representing those that need it most - veteran teachers, untenured teachers, ATRs and those teachers that have been targeted for exercising their well paid for rights. I see no other way.” ( It’s actually more than eight dollars and I’ve adjusted accordingly.)

Anonymous said...

James, what do you mean by a dues strike? Opt out for a month or two?

Anonymous said...

If regents are the proof that students learned what they needed, and they are not happening...1 of 2 things is true, either diplomas this year are fraudulent or regents should be eliminated forever.

James Eterno said...

We stop paying dues until the UFT meets our yet to be formulated demands. We do it collectively and we all agree to support one another. That is a big difference from opting out.

Anonymous said...

Remember, if you miss the date you have to pay for the whole year. I would do it in May to be safe.

Anonymous said...

The NY gov is not our friend

Anonymous said...

Alert: Just read in Chalkbeat that June Regents are cancelled. Hallelujah. No ratings this year then.

Anonymous said...

There really needs to be a post dedicated to the ins and outs and specifically to a "Frequently Asked Questions" about opting out to better inform those who are thinking of it. It would help to clarify much of the misunderstood information many have about the process of how to do it, what the consequences of it there are any, and well just to make crystal clear fact from rumor. I think it would really help James.

Anonymous said...

@ 223 Agreed...that would be very helpful

Anonymous said...

Remember that the state was in the process of a yearlong overhaul of graduation requirements. They are trying to develop a non regents avenue for graduation similar to the early 70-90s. This will most likely speed up the process for them while the state tries to distance itself from regents exams as being the only way to graduate. The state has been stuck at 80 percent grad rate for decades, and majority of other states do not require tests to graduate. 

James Eterno said...

I propose a dues strike where anybody who joins in agrees that we support each other. This cannot be an every one for themselves BS action. Nobody will lose welfare fund or health benefits while on a dues strike. You would not get to vote in UFT elections. We will have to figure out how we get representation for dues strikers for grievances or disciplinary matters. Lawyer if in 3020a you would have to pay for.

Damnit, nobody will be left out on their own who refuses to pay for this union that would tell us it's acceptable to go into infected buildings. That's why it is a strike I am proposing and not an opt out. Big difference.

Anonymous said...

This below list is from the uft website. If you have any issue, simply email Susan Edelman, James, and make it public, that is better than what the current uft is doing for you.

Nonmembers will still be covered by the specific terms of the collective bargaining agreements, but you will no longer receive or have access to these services offered by the union:

Certain free legal services
Free counseling
Free or discounted training or professional development
An attorney during 3020-a employee discipline procedures
Member discounts through the UFT, NYSUT and AFT
And you will not be able to participate in union elections, contract ratification votes or votes about school-based options.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, embarrass the principal. It is very hard to fire a tenured teacher. If they are already making you miserable, what's the worst that can happen? Have the NY Post put a microphone in the face of that principal. Get through the given year, go on the open market.