Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Executive Board Report



UFT district representatives provide direct services to chapter leaders and members within a particular school district. The Unity dominated UFT Executive Board after a spirited debate on Monday voted to continue the corporate style top-down system where President Randi Weingarten appoints district representatives while a newly created committee will study the issue of whether it's better for the Union to have elections for DR positions or to continue the present undemocratic hiring system.

The corporate style presidential appointment system has been in effect since 2003 when Unity used the excuse that the Board of Education was restructuring to cancel DR elections and allow Randi to appoint people to vacant DR positions. We know of no non-Unity member who has been selected by Randi for a District Rep position or any other full time Union job for pedagogues for that matter. Their message is clear that if one is not willing to sign the Unity loyalty pledge, forget about working full time for the UFT.

ICE strongly endorses elections for district representatives. Between 1969 and 2003, DR's were elected on a weighted vote of chapter leaders within a district; the more members a chapter had, the more votes the chapter leader had in the DR election. While this system was not perfect, it functioned well enough so that the accountability for DR's was to the chapter leaders who the district representatives serviced directly, not to Randi. The problem for Unity was that two non Unity chapter leaders were elected to district representative positions: Bruce Markens and then Tom Dromgoole when Bruce retired. Even though the overwhelming majority of the DR's were Unity, two non Unity DR's were too many so Unity used the excuse of the Board restructuring to cancel DR elections in 2003. (Districts still exist by state law.)

Unity sun-setted the 2003 district representative resolution every year and so they had to annually renew it. They overlooked that detail this past June and were caught off guard when Jeff Kaufman from ICE raised the issue on September 11 and told the Executive Board that the President was making illegal appointments since the end of June. Kaufman called for immediate DR elections. Two weeks later Unity had a new District Representative resolution that will continue the top-down presidential appointment process until a committee that is formed by the resolution decides how to hire future DR's or what to replace them with. ICE-TJC Executive Board members were outraged. ICE doesn't want a committee; we need elections.

The ICE-TJC reps on the Executive Board all gave passionate speeches opposing the policy of Randi appointing DR's. James Eterno, Jeff Kaufman and Arthur Colon each spoke about how flawed the current DR hiring process is. Our reps pointed out how the UFT uses a committee to recommend candidates for a district rep vacancy to the president who makes the selection. It is similar to the C-30 process that the Board of Ed utilizes to hire school principals and assistant principals that the UFT constantly criticizes. The UFT in the past created two committees to advocate for reforms to the C-30 system. One of those UFT committees recommended that the Board or Ed allow staff in a school to elect their supervisors. Ironically, the UFT when hiring DR's now emulates the Board's hiring procedures that we called unfair.
In fact, the UFT goes one step further than the Board of Ed because the Board at least allows each constituency on a C-30 hiring committee (UFT, CSA, DC37, parents, students) to choose their own representatives. The UFT committees that submit names to Randi for DR jobs are hand picked by Unity. In addition, it was pointed out in debate that the UFT made a similar power grab back in 1994 after it lost a high school vice presidency to the opposition a few years earlier. Unity then changed the rules to allow at large voting so all UFT members, including retirees and non high school personnel, now vote for the HS VP, instead of only members working in the high schools. Finally out of complete frustration, one of the ICE reps asked Unity why they are so afraid of elections?

Unity argued that things must settle down before the committee created to examine this issue could decide how DR's should be selected. This is the same argument Rudy Giulliani made when he unsuccessfully tried to postpone the 2001 Mayoral election after 9-11. A Unity member even said that he works well with the two non-Unity DR's. (Those two were elected under the old system and would never have been selected under the current arrangement.)

Randi left the chair to debate from the floor and argued that the issue was about servicing the members and how best to do it. She urged opposition members not to boycott the committee that will decide on the selection process in the future. She then tried to resume chairing the debate but was forced to sit down when ICE protested that she cannot participate in debate and then moderate the same debate. Finally, a vote was taken and the overwhelming Unity majority obeyed their loyalty oath and voted to allow the President to continue to appoint DR's, instead of reverting to elections. The ICE-TJC members all dissented.

The only way this decision can be overruled is if the Delegate Assembly uses its power and decides to review the issue. We would like to hear from any delegate who advocates for Union democracy as this is a core issue that separates Unity from ICE.

On a positive note, the Executive Board on Monday voted unanimously to donate $50,000 to the Transport Workers Union Local 100. TWU is suffering under the draconian fines that were imposed after last year's transit strike.


Anonymous said...

Unity strikes again with their autocratic behavior. Obviously, they are extremely afraid of any non-Unity person getting a job within their members only boot licking club.

Anonymous said...

Unity is afraid of any person with a mind that is capable of original thought. Drones only for Unity membership.

Anonymous said...

When this is brought up in the DA, do not allow Randi to have a vote on it at the November DA. Do you remember how, about two years ago, Randi called a bathroom break as a motion to not allow the negotiators to allow extended time or school years, and the motion passed? Unfortunately, it was to be voted on at the next DA, which Randi moved to the Marriott and stacked it with loyalists and illegally-voting retirees. Force a vote NOW.

Anonymous said...

This is a perfect report of what occurred at the meeting. To me the funniest moment was when Manhattan Boro rep Jerry Goldman got up to deny that district reps were for Unity only.

After all, he said, wasn't Bruce Markens a non-Unity DR? Of course Goldman didn't mention how Bruce fended off attempt after attempt, year after year to defeat him by Unity. And don't think there weren't attempts to undermine him. But his support among the chapter leaders was rock solid.

Goldman mentioned that Tom Dromgoole, Bruce's major supporter and successor is still a disrict rep. Meanwhile his Manhattan high school district has been shrunk and he is under the constant threat of losing his job if he should be critical of Unity.

Bruce was always able to speak out at DA's and was one of the leaders in the defeat of the first 1995 contract WHILE HE WAS DR. Didn't you see how the DR's functioned last year in the contract battle? Under Randi's system there could not be a Bruce Markens, something we sorely need more of.

I should point out that Bruce was one of the most despised people by Unity because of his 35+ years of standing up to them.

I reached Bruce right after the meeting and his howls of laughter can still be heard. By the way, Bruce, who stays away from union activities, has offered to serve on the district rep committee. When I told this to Randi after the meeting -- after all, who better than Bruce if this is an honest committee -- she said "Hmmmmmmm."

This made Bruce laugh even louder.

Anonymous said...

A study? Hmmmmmmm. I have a feeling Unity will pull all nighters to ace this exam!

Anonymous said...

The fix is in.
It ain't ever gonna change.
After the 2007 vote, I'm quitting the union and I'm becoming an Agency Fee payer.
What do i get for my dues?

Anonymous said...

Where's the outrage? That's all I have to say to the UFT members who let this go on and don't vote Unity out.

Anonymous said...

I pledge allegiance to the caucus of Unity
And to the perks for which it stands.
One caucus, Under Randi, hypocritical,
With second incomes and pensions for us all.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the author of that pledge knows how to scan a line of prose.

Anonymous said...

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers, which I represent, firmly believes that only actively-working members should elect their district representatives. Democracy may be messy, ugly, and slow, but we prefer it to the current autocracy. Let those that pay the dues call the shots! Let those hard at work in the trenches decide! Let fairness and justice prevail!

Joe Mudgett
Editor of ACT! (
Alliance of Concerned Teachers

Anonymous said...

If Chapter Leaders hold their elections this Spring for UFT President on a Thursday immediately AFTER the 4th 37.5 minute session of the week, non-Unity caucuses will have a good chance to win more of a voice in the Union. (That is if teachers will still have enough energy left to enable them to drag themselves over to the ballot box). The membership must remember who wanted this Contract and who mis-read or even worse, spun its contents. Unity DRs were a big part of the publicity campaign. They should be held accountable, but who would do Unity's bidding if they weren't guaranteed "something" for their trouble?

Anonymous said...

As a chapter leader I feel that it is time to go back to election of DR's. There job used to be to provide aid to the CL's. Now they seem more and more to come in to schools to defend the UFT line, not respond to the concerns of the chapter.

Anonymous said...

To Sick and Tired-

UFT elections are usually held in a mailed ballot that goes to member homes. The elections won't be held in schools and chapter leaders will have nothing to do with them.

Anonymous said...

Major elections and contract votes should be done electronically, via internet or phone.

Anonymous said...

Anon Above

Can't computers be hacked? Isn't an election at home fair?

Anonymous said...

I meant to say that an election by mailed ballot seems to be somewhat fair. How would a phone ballot system work?

Anonymous said...

Middle School Educator said...

Let's contact Al Franken so that he can add a chapter to "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them," featuring UNITY and Randi.

Anonymous said...

History shows when the DRs were elected they were save one members of unity - perhaps it has less to do with political party and more to do with union activism and the ability to provide services to members.

Anonymous said...

To Anon.
If Unity DR's were elected in the past because they povided service and were active union members, why not continue that practice?

I'll tell you why. Even though they were almost all Unity, just that one that wasn't created a tremendous threat to Unity. And since Bruce Markens was aknowledged to be a good DR, Unity still always did everything underhanded to get him out.

The other reason is that in the districts there were Unity people who ran against each other and the leadership choice didn't always win. So in some ways the appointment process hurts certain Unity people. I knew one who had served the union for many years and waited for the DR to retire so she could run. That was the time when they first went to appointment and a novice nowhere as capable as her got chosen. She basically quit the caucus in disgust.

And then there was Sal Capella in D. 27 who many people wanted as DR but he got passed over by Randi. He took the fight to the DA and they started procedings to throw him out of the caucus but he quit before they could do it.

Anonymous said...

Re: Electronic Elections

I was very uncomfortable using the ballot box to cast my vote for the contract. Our CL openly pushed a "yes" vote. How secure is a cardboard box? UNITY will do whatever it can to secure a victory. We need an independent firm to set up electronic ballots. If the TWU has it, we should too!

jameseterno said...

Ballots are normally mailed to people's homes in UFT elections and sent back directly to the American Arbitration Association. If you know of a fairer way, please let us know

Anonymous said...

That's what I love about you ICE people. So predictable. Always asking someone else how to do fairer elections. The reality is that the UFT is the most democratic union in the country. In fact most of the officers should not have to run every three years since the members want them all of the time. I am a retiree and would not give up my right to vote for all of the officers and am proud to vote all of the time.

Anonymous said...

"In fact most of the officers should not have to run every three years since the members want them all of the time."

That sounds like Unity style democracy to me; declare the officers elected for life. Are you serious?

How dare ICE ask if someone can come up with a fairer process? After all, only 30% of active members voted in the 2004 UFT election. Why would someone want to increase that?

Anonymous said...

Gee only 23 comments!!

My guess is that the MAJORITY of the TENS OF THOUSANDS of UFTers don't give much credence to what is posted here.

Get over it!!!

The majority of UFTers support Randi.

Accept it and move on.

Proud, card carrying, lapel pin wearing, original thought capable, allegiance pledging, trench working, chocolate candy loving, Unity Caucus member.

Guessed who I am yet?

I am one of the 88% of the voting membership that voted for Randi, and I'll vote for her again.

The negative attitude displayed here can only motivate us in the Unity Caucus to work harder for Randi.

Post what you want. I will follow in the footsteps of the majority that have visited this blog, I WON"T BE BACK!!!


Anonymous said...

Who needs ya?

Anonymous said...

As usual the Unity person does not deal with the issue and only makes fun of the opposition. He can't address the democracy issue because he has no reasoned argument to make.

88% voted for Unity but only 30% of the active members vote. Roughly a quarter of the total membership is not exactly a rousing endorsement for Unity. The membership will wake up when they know what's going on. ICE must get the message out.

Anonymous said...

Let's stage several anti-Randi protests, like the anti-contract one which drew a couple of hundred protesters (Unity cklaims only a few dozen). We'll invite the media and embarass the bitch and her supporters.

BTW, I can't wait for Edzup to be updated!

Anonymous said...

Great idea on the protests. Oh yeah and where is EdzUp?

Anonymous said...

Hey Unity Dude-

I just went to the UFT blog and counted the comments on the current page. For the articles up there now there are zero comments, zero comments,3 comments, 0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 0. Ten articles and twelve total comments. Makes the ICE 28 on this piece look fairly impressive by comparison. I guess I'll be 29. Please join in.

Anonymous said...

Trade Casey for Mussina

Anonymous said...

We hate this contract in our school...I doubt Randi has a lot of support in my building.
As for edwise, I have to agree w/ the lack of commments. I think they may have to think about articles that are more timely and immediate.

Anonymous said...

Casey for ARod and Mussina

Anonymous said...

Casey for a box of baseballs

Anonymous said...

Then we'd have a union with some balls.

Anonymous said...

From Reality Based Educator on the NYC Eduator Blog. ICE should make this part of its program.

"Let's adopt the "Had Enough" slogan for voting the Unity bums out of office this coming election.

Have you had enough extra time added to your school day?

Have you had enough extra days added to the school year?

Have you had enough of the sixth period (oops, I mean the tutoring time) added to your teaching day?

Have you had enough of your job protections being stripped away so Randi can brag about the cost of living increase she got us?

Have you had enough potty patrol, lunchroom duty, loss of grievance rights and loss of transfer rights in this latest travesty of a contract Unity gave us?

Have you had enough of the Unity caucus setting the precedent that UFT members must always give concessions in contract negotiations in order to receive a cost of living adjustment?

Have you had enough of Randi, Leo and the rest of the merry Unity contingent being out-manuevered time and again by the mayor and the chancellor?

Have you had enough of the Unity caucus corruption and incompetence?

Have you had enough?"

Anonymous said...

From the UTP Get Reel page:

Here at 52 Broadway, we've noticed a disturbing trend. It seems the lunatic fringe has been calling for increased democracy in our union. These people have some nerve!Who do they think they are? Don't they know that we are the experts, and we know what's best for this union? Why can't they just shut up and mind their own business? Why does it concern them that we have double pensions and large salaries yet aren't accountable to the membership? They just have to throw a wrench into the gears of the machine, spreading their vile propaganda saying things like "The DR's should be elected by the membership" They are so sick. Not only do they feel dissent should be tolerated, but they think the dues paying members should have a say! These wackos have gone too far. Exposing Unity's weak self-serving leadership, and calling for increased democracy is bad for this union. It's divisive and just plain mean!

What makes them think that the membership is capable of deciding who should represent them? I mean just because they are called "District Representatives" doesn't mean that they should actually represent the members of their district. Why should they be accountable to the members when they can be accountable only to the President that appoints them? Democracy is overrated anyway. If we could just get rid of the pesky electoral process altogether we could rid ourselves of the pretense of working to protect the membership and do what we do best ... protect our perks, and privileges! But no, those Nazi's in the UTP insist on having a democratic union. I knew they were trouble as soon as I saw the American bald eagles proudly displayed on their website! Those Fascists just won't leave the Unity dictatorship alone. When we work to silence the opposition they complain, when we rig the DA in our favor they complain, when we control the Executive Board, and make sure the opposition has no voice they start throwing around terms like "political machine." There's nothing wrong with a one party dictatorship that will not tolerate opposition, that leaves the masses with no say, that claims they know best even though they only serve their own interests. Those Nazi's screaming about democracy, accountability to the membership and free exchange of information should just shut up now ... before they force us to shut them up. This is our union and we will not give up one bit of our control.