Friday, March 30, 2007

While Global Warming Is True, ICE is Not Melting

With about 700 ballots received yesterday and a number not yet counted the preliminary votes from the latest UFT election eliminated the opposition from any leadership or Executive Board position leaving the Union to be run by a cadre of yes-men and rubber stamps.

While Unity may claim that ICE has melted the sad fact is that we will all suffer from Global Warming as a significant number of our members will have no voice on the Executive Board and will undoubtedly be shut out of all decision making in developing union policy.

This election will be remembered not only for the end of the opposition at the Executive Board but by one of lowest turnout of ballots in recent memory.

High Schools

Our strength has been in the high schools and there were about 20,000 ballots sent out. Of these 4,228 were returned or a little more than 20%. That means that only 1 in 5 high school teachers returned a counted ballot. We received 1,524 votes or more than 36% of the ballots counted. Unity may claim victory but there are still a large number of high school teachers who want Randi and her crew out.

ICE-TJC: 1,524

Unity: 2,183

New Action: 521

Middle Schools/Junior High Schools

ICE received 444 votes or almost 20% of the votes counted. With 13,000 votes mailed only 2,216 were counted.

ICE/TJC: 444

Unity: 1,499

New Action: 273


ICE received 1,337 votes or about 15% of the 8,151 votes counted.

ICE/TJC: 1337

Unity: 6252

New Action: 562


Out of the 42,000 ballots mailed 8044 were counted. ICE received 1032 votes or 13% of the ballots counted.

ICE/TJC: 1032

Unity: 6464

New Action: 548

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Have You Voted Today?

There are people in your schools who have not yet voted or are not even aware an election is taking place.

In the last election 70,000 active UFT members DID NOT VOTE. We need you to remind them to vote.

People say the 2006 contract was a holding action till the next one with more givebacks. They also agree that if not for the 40% teacher NO vote on the 2005 contract, Unity would have been emboldened to give back more in 2006.Thus the case: The higher the vote for ICE-TJC, the better the chance to fight givebacks on the next contract.

Without a potent opposition/alternative to Unity, the dictatorship leading to bad decision-making will continue. HELP BUILD THAT ALTERNATIVE!Help get out the Vote for ICE-TJC!The only opposition to Randi Weingarten, ICE-TJC, is under attack. Randi Weingarten’s political party (Unity Caucus) is using their bloated campaign contributions to slander ICE-TJC.

Unity is able to raise vast sums of money because of the patronage jobs they reward their members with. Unity has mailed people a letter distorting the positions of ICE-TJC and our presidential candidate: Kit Wainer. Kit is a decent guy who is the long time chapter leader from Leon Goldstein High School in Brooklyn. He is not advocating an unprepared strike as the answer for every UFT problem. He knows that we would lose an ill-advised strike and all of us would not support one. That does not stop Randi/Unity from making stuff up.

The most ironic charge Randi-Unity made is that Kit is a socialist. We thought “Red Baiting” went out of style when Senator Joseph McCarthy was denounced publicly in the US Senate. The irony is that Randi Weingarten is running on both on the Unity ticket and on former opposition party New Action’s slate.

As Teachers for a Just Contract says in their latest literature: “The New Action members Unity has cross endorsed include longtime open members of the Communist Party USA.” TJC adds, “Weingarten and her predecessors Feldman and Shanker were all socialists, card-carrying members of the Social Democrats USA, an offshoot of the American Socialist Party.”

People’s politics or personal lifestyles are not at issue. We care what their record of achievement is for the members of this union. As students of history, we would rather have socialist Eugene Debs backing us up than Randi Weingarten any day of the week. The real issue is how far Unity and New Action will go to hold onto power. That’s what this misinformation campaign is all about.

Unity certainly can’t run on their record, which is a total failure. They gave away so many of our rights in the 2005 Contract:We lost the right to grieve material in our files.We lost the right to grieve observation reports.We lost the right to say no to hall patrols and cafeteria duty.

We lost the right to start school after Labor Day; we now start in August.

We lost the right to transfer based on seniority.

We lost the right to a job if excessed; we now get in Absent Teacher Reserve positions (subs).

We lost the right to preferred placement if our schools are closed; we now have to hustle for jobs or be placed in ATR positions.

We lost the right to be innocent until proven guilty etc…Unity has the money to mail smear stuff to the members.

All we have to counter it is our mouths, our computers, our telephones, our votes and most importantly the truth.

We need everyone to work for the only real opposition, ICE-TJC.

To vote for all ICE TJC candidates, simply put an X in the ICE-TJC box and then place the envelope inside the secret ballot envelope, seal it, then place it in the outer envelope and put it in the mail. With your support, ICE-TJC will continue to have one agenda: doing what’s right for the members.


The Independent Community of Educators (ICE)

Monday, March 19, 2007


Unity Rep Zahler and Eterno at WBAI

Demonstrating that the UFT opposition has a clear plan to take our Union back from its current giveback leadership James Eterno debated Unity spokesperson Jeffrey Zahler on WBAI this evening. While it is clear to us who the winner is we encourage our readers to listen to the debate. It can be downloaded here.

The debate demonstrated the difference between the caucuses vying for union office. The Unity rep attempted to extoll the virtues of losing our rights and watching our Union become more like an insurance company than a Union.

Thanks to all that participated especially Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash, the debate moderators.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


There's No Comparison; I've been with Both Groups!

By James Eterno Jamaica HS Chapter Leader and Ten Year UFT HS Executive Board Member

We have been reading literature attacking ICE-TJC as people who just complain. Yes, there is a great deal to complain about if you work in the NYC schools but that's not what we are about. We are not a "knee-jerk" opposition group. We support the UFT leadership when they are right and criticize them when they are wrong.

ICE-TJC representatives have a solid three year record of advocating for our members at the Executive Board. I personally have been there for a decade: seven years with New Action and the last three with ICE-TJC.

There is no comparison.

The ICE-TJC opposition to Unity over the last three years has been more active and effective as compared to the prior three when NAC was on the Executive Board, cementing their "bipartisan" relationship with Randi. We have a solid record of raising issues and actually getting some stuff accomplished at the UFT Executive Board.

Chapter leaders and people in the temporary reassignment centers are getting more support because of our advocacy. We also proposed doing our own investigations when people are reassigned by hiring our own investigaators to counter the Board of Ed Office of Special Investigations reports. Randi said no. However, because of ICE pressure, Randi has finally come out against closing schools and displacing staff. Back in 2003 and 2006, Unity refused to support resolutions opposing the closing of schools. I know; I brought them both up. We have come out for the rights of all caucuses to distribute material in mailboxes and being able to email campaign literature to members. Our position on mailing campaign literature is now union policy. When we originally raised the issue, Randi told us we didn’t know labor law. We were right; she was wrong.

We have called for the election of district representatives. NAC abandoned that cause after 2003. In 2004 when the resolution to have the president appoint DR’s was up for renewal, only NAC's Ed Beller and I voted no. New Action's other representatives had changed their view or didn't vote. In addition, you will not find stronger advocates for people who have received U ratings than ICE representatives. We have also spoken up strongly on behalf of members who have been charged under the new expedited time and attendance procedures or members who are being harassed by supervisors.

We also got an executive board resolution amended to include high school students for ESL testing exemptions. We have continued a formerly cherished New Action policy of demanding a VSF for UFT members to include all retirees. (Variable Supplement Funds are supplemental pension checks that can be much greater than a cost of living adjustment. Police and fire retirees are receiving over $11,000 in VSF money this year.) Randi pledged in 1999 that she would push for a VSF for us when corrections got one. I am fighting year after year for our VSF bill to include all retirees, not just those who retire after the bill is passed. We have done a great deal more but I don’t want to go on all night.

On the Contract, we pleaded with Randi not to go to fact finding in 2004 because we knew we would lose based on the 2002 and 1993 precedents. When it was released in 2005, we asked her to reject the horrible fact finding report with all the givebacks (longer day, longer year, loss of right to grieve letters in the file, return to hall patrol, etc...) as it was non binding. I raised the possibility of working with the transit union and other unions. (That summer when my wife and I were in California walking a picket line with Northwest airlines workers, we watched their eyes light up at the thought of a general strike.) We told Randi that the threat of working with other unions would give us more leverage. We hoped at the very least that they would reject the report and start over. Randi got angry and her people ridiculed us. I believe New Action’s members on the negotiating committee voted for every one of those disastrous policies having to do with fact finding that led to the awful 2005 contract. Also, even after every idea we had was rejected and we knew there was no UFT plan to wage a real fight against Bloomberg, ICE still supported every UFT action, no matter how small, that the union came up with to try to engage the members.

It's also a fallacy to say we don't work on UFT Committees. I was the co-chair of a UFT committee in 2004-05. Barbara Kaplan-Halper and Ellen Fox of ICE sat with me on that committee and yes we voted with the Unity leadership. We support and compliment them when they're right and criticize them when they're wrong.

Let us now examine the prior term: the last three years New Action was on the Executive Board from 2001-2004. NAC representatives, with the exception of Ed Beller and me, raised very few issues back in those days. When the Ed Evaluators chapter was eliminated, New Action’s representatives voted for the watered down version known as the IEP teacher. Ed Beller and I did our best to question the leadership but we didn’t get much backing.

In fact, one of New Action’s representatives during the 2001-2004 term was so dedicated to the UFT that she resigned to become an assistant principal in the middle of her three year term. That’s the NAC commitment to the cause of trade unionism for you. I’m not making this up. Doug Haynes is a holdover from that group who is running now. Doug is a really good guy who I will not say a negative word about, but Doug didn’t exactly speak up on a bunch of resolutions back then so NAC should not knock what ICE-TJC are doing now when New Action and Unity for that matter have very little in terms of the facts to support their case.

Unity people under their Caucus obligations must support whatever Randi comes up with. New Action's last stint on the executive board proved that some of their people didn't oppose or question Randi too often either. Why run as an opposition group if you don't oppose much of anything the leadership does? Maybe you want to eliminate the real opposition: ICE-TJC. A truly independent opposition to Unity will strengthen the UFT. I urge everyone to vote for ICE-TJC.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Thanks Randi?

We have assembled a sampling of fan mail thanking our fearless leader for all of the wonderful things she has done for us. Names have been deleted to protect the writers from retaliation.

…from an Elementary School teacher in the Bronx..

Thanks Randi for all of the job opportunities our open market transfer system has given me. After 15 years teaching here in the Bronx my principal retired. The new principal has made my life hell. She says I’m too old and rigid in my ways. Now using the open market I thought I could get out of this place but no one will hire me. I have been told I cost too much now.

…from a Junior High School teacher in Brooklyn…

Thanks Randi for giving away our ability to grieve observations and letters in the file. My AP does not like me. He says I am not a team player so he writes vicious lies about me in letters to the file. I am certain they will result in a “U” rating. My Chapter Leaders says not to worry I can review all of the letters at the “U” rating hearing. Then I read that only 41 were reversed out of the hundreds of appeals brought. I can’t take this pressure.

…from a High School teacher in Queens…

Thanks Randi for giving away C-6 and making me work what is effectively a 6 period day. My Chapter Leader says I can prep at home but when I get home I barely have enough energy to eat and I go right to bed. We have no per session after school. I am really tired.

…from a High School teacher in Brooklyn…

Thanks Randi for watching my school close so we are now all ATRs with no rights to teach.

…from a Para in Manhattan…

Thanks Randi for giving us raises that don’t even keep pace with inflation.

…from an Elementary School teacher in Staten Island…

Thanks Randi for cutting down our summer vacation. I’d much rather be listening to boring professional development than vacationing. Oh, by the way, where was the time we were promised to set up our rooms?

…from a UFT District Rep in Queens…

Thanks Randi for the raise. It’s nice to collect two salaries and two pensions. Thank God you selected me. I would never win in an election.

…from a School Social Worker in Manhattan…

Thanks Randi for the dues increase. I didn’t want to vote on it anyway.

…from a Mayor in New York City…

Thanks Randi for allowing me to control the schools. I couldn’t have done it without your help!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

ICE-TJC High School Executive Board Candidates

Peter Lamphere is a union activist and teacher at the Bronx High School of Science. Previously, Peter was a UFT Delegate from Columbus High School where he led a rare UFT victory to stop his school from being closed completely. The fact that there is a Columbus High School at all that is still in existence is due in no small part to Peter’s organizing ability.

Sam Lazarus has over twenty years experience as a teacher. He currently works at Bryant High School where he is in year four as chapter leader. Sam organized his school and region in leading a Region 4 protest rally that successfully put a stop to Region 4 micromanagement. Teachers in Region 4 are no longer required to use the “workshop model” in all of their lessons thanks to Sam’s organizing and his ability to organize the UFT to join the fight. It was Sam’s idea that the UFT should combine with other unions rather than accept the horrible giveback laden 2005 Contract.

Marian Swerdlow was educated in NYC public schools, and has a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University. She is the author of "Underground Woman: My Four Years as a NY Subway Conductor." She has taught at FDR H.S., Brooklyn since 1990, and has been a UFT Delegate for twelve years. She has presented many resolutions at the UFT Delegate Assembly including many attempts to persuade the Union leadership to actively engage the rank and file.

Nick Licari is the longtime chapter leader from Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan where he teaches. Nick helped to elect the only two independent, non Unity District Representatives back when there were elections for that position. Nick is a strong advocate for his members at Norman Thomas and he has led several demonstrations to protest conditions at his school. Nick was the Teachers for a Just Contract candidate for President in the 2004 UFT election.James Eterno is a twenty year veteran social studies teacher at Jamaica High School who has been chapter leader for 11years. He has been elected to the UFT Executive Board for ten years, seven in New Action and the last three as an ICE-TJC representative. Eterno left NAC when they decided not to run against Randi in 2004. He has authored numerous resolutions that have become Union policy including a recent proposal to demand that the UFT oppose the closing of schools. He argued against Mayoral Control of the schools as early as 2001 when Randi first argued in favor of it.

Jeff Kaufman is the Chapter Leader of Rikers Island Academy. Even though the Department of Corrections along with the Principal at Rikers conspired in 2005 to have Jeff removed from the school because he was helping a student, his chapter still overwhelmingly reelected him as their chapter leader. Kaufman was completely exonerated by the DOE and has taken his case to return to Rikers to the State Public Employees Relations Board. Jeff has questioned Randi on numerous occasions at the Executive Board where he has served for the last three years. Jeff made a demand that the UFT hire staff to do our own investigations when teachers are removed from schools. Why should we rely on special investigations people to make the only record of any incident?James Eterno (left center) and Jeff Kaufman (right) at Oct. 2005 rally at UFT HQ calling for a NO VOTE on the 2005 contract.

Jeff and James also led a vociferous opposition to the Fact Finding report that led to the Draconian givebacks of the 2005 Contract. First, they warned Randi in 2004 not to go to fact finding because they knew we would lose based on precedent of 1993 and 2002. Randi ignored them. Then, they told Randi to reject the Fact Finding Report when it was released and to start all over. She again reacted with anger. Finally, when the final Contract was agreed to, they pointed out all of its flaws and made the case the Contract would be a disaster for UFT members. Randi’s reaction has been to attend fewer Executive Board meetings and when she does show up, she usually is only there for part of the meetings. If she can’t face tough questions from UFT Executive Board members, then how can she stand up to the Mayor?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Can Randi Bite the Board of Ed Hand that Improperly Granted Her State Certification?

Tenure is now under attack from Bloom-Klein. As the excerpt below from a 2003 Village Voice piece by respected investigative journalist Wayne Barrett illustrates, Board of Ed officials finagled the rules back in the nineties so that Randi Weingarten could obtain the permanent state certification that is needed for tenure. How can UFT President Randi Weingarten stand up for our tenure rights when she never legitimately earned state certification or tenure herself? She is at the mercy of Bloom-Klein in order to obtain a city pension on top of her UFT pension.

(The following was taken from the May 14, 2003 Village Voice in an article called "Weingarten's War." The topic was Randi Weingarten's speech at the 2003 UFT Spring Conference.)

The grandiose conclusion of the speech-a challenge to Chancellor Joel Klein and his deputies to teach a weekly class-was designed to portray them as out of touch with school realities, culminating with her snickering offer to allow UFT officers" to mentor" Klein et al. "during their internships."

Ironically, Weingarten is an attorney like Klein and represented the union until 1998, when UFT president Sandra Feldman moved up to the national presidency and installed Weingarten as her successor, handpicking her over a cadre of elected union leaders who were also career teachers.

In urging Klein "to walk in the shoes of teachers" on Saturday, she described how she'd done it, claiming that she "taught, sometimes full time, sometimes part time, at Clara Barton High School for six years." Actually, records reviewed by the Voice indicate that she taught 122 days as a per diem teacher from September 1991 through June 1994, roughly one in four days. She then did what she told the Voice was her only full-time term in the fall semester of 1994, followed by 33 days as a per diem teacher in the spring of 1995.

Strangely, while she told the Voice she was a per diem for the 1995-96 and 1996-97 school years, her records list her as a full-time teacher. Because she was credited with the required two years of full-time service she doesn't even claim she performed, she was given a permanent certificate in September 1996. She has been on union leave since 1997, accumulating a total of nine years of pensionable city time though she only did one semester of full-time teaching.

ICE is putting this piece out now not as a personal attack on President Weingarten, who we acknowledge is a hard working person. Our purpose is professional. Tenure is currently under fire from Bloom-Klein. We need to know that the teachers' union president is not beholden to our employer for his/her pedagogical position so he/she will be able to fight for us and not have to worry about his/her own status being exposed by Bloom-Klein.

Randi is building two pensions: one from the UFT and one from the city. Her city pension is based on her accruing time as a teacher on leave, working for the UFT. Since Randi never gained the necessary teaching experience to be a permanently certified teacher, she is indebted to the city to keep accumulating city time for her city pension. Don't you think the Chancellor is aware that Randi lacks proper teaching credentials? Since Randi is beholden to the city, who clearly broke the rules for her, how hard can she fight for us, particularly on the tenure issue?

To put it another way, Randi has been living in a glass house for a long time; can she throw stones at the people who are allowing her to stay in that glass house who have been trying to destroy us?

Saturday, March 03, 2007


At their regularly scheduled Chapter meeting, Friday, UFT members who teach in worker education programs for several unions in the City and organized as a UFT Chapter called the Consortium for Worker Education (CWE) asked candidates for UFT President to square off and present their differing views of the way in which the leadership should run our union.

Originally set up as a debate, Chapter members sought to have the event video taped so that all of our members could see the opposing views. Unfortunately, at the last minute, Randi, uncharacteristically became camera shy and refused to address the chapter if cameras were present.

Randi, camera shy?

Obviously she is concerned that what she said might reach a large number of our members who will be able to be more informed about whether our Union is going in the proper direction.

Kit Wainer, ICE-TJC presidential candidate, laid out his vision for the Union which works to build our Union through its strong, well organized Chapters. Leaders must reflect the needs of their members and not themselves and help in this organization effort.

Randi, on the other hand, made it clear that the Chapter had to help itself. When asked by one of the Chapter members whether the Union could help raise awareness of adult education issues among the public so that they could gain salaries and benefits equal to public school teachers Randi responded that they had to find "other organizations who were willing to help like immigrant groups."

On behalf of this chapter of private sector employees, thanks. Thanks for nothing.

Finally Randi offered to provide a few minutes at a Delegate Assembly to "inform our members" about adult ed. That will really change public opinion.

We see now why Randi barred the cameras.

ICE-TJC Photog Norm Scott videotaping UFT Presidential Candidate Kit Wainer in front of UFT headquarters. He was barred from taping the "debate."