Friday, March 27, 2009

DA REPORT: Randi, Randi and More Randi but Next Month it's the Contract

The March 25 DA had a marathon Randi Weingarten report that was followed by a political endorsement and a resolution on special education. That was it except for a few questions and the annual resolution for the Union to support May Day activities that, surprise-surprise, was turned down.

The only part of the DA that I found to be truly interesting was that Randi said that with the Contract expiring at the end of October, next month we would need to set aside time at the DA to discuss our aspirations in bargaining. Please attend that meeting folks.

Today, at Jamaica we discussed the next Contract briefly at our Chapter Meeting and everyone strongly agreed that it is time for us to get back what we gave away in 2005. We hope that every Chapter will be having discussions on the upcoming Contract.

Reading through the rest of this unabridged DA report is kind of like going through a junk shop. There is plenty you might want to ignore but occasionally you could find something that is valuable. Happy hunting.

It was quite difficult for me to stay awake at the March DA as I was thoroughly bored listening to the President's Report that lasted over an hour. Randi Weingarten started by thanking us for showing up 70,000 strong at the March 5 rally at City Hall and she noted the lack of major press coverage.

She then stated that many of our members were dissappointed with President Obama's education speech. She said, however, that the federal stimulus plan would put $100 billion of federal funds into education for the next two years and this was almost double the current federal education allocation. She then told us that Obama was getting hammered because of the trillion dollar deficits and that his education speech was much like his education platform in the campaign and that's why we originally supported Hillary Clinton. She added, however, that there was a great deal to applaud in the speech including his saying that we need to develop student critical thinking skills and that testing isn't everything. Obama also noted that schools neeed resources.

Randi then talked about how people concentrated on Obama's support for merit pay and lifting the cap on charter schools. She said that we had convinced Obama that education reform has to be done with teachers and not to teachers. She then talked about how we have to drive education funds into the classrooms.

She moved on to the state and told us how lobby day was important and how we must use our political clout. She urged members to keep going to to send faxes to legislators. She told us about a potential new Tier V pension that the entire public sector labor movement was lobbying against but the newspapers would not run a UFT OpEd piece on our pension. Randi continued by saying our goal with the New York State budget is to make us whole, have tighter class size language and keep teacher centers. She concluded this section by predicting that we might actually have an on time state budget.

Randi then told us that after the budget is done, Mayoral control of the schools, which expires in June and must be renewed by the legislature, would be the next big issue. She noted Klein's popularity is down according to a recent poll.

She then praised Cathy Nolan and the hearings the State Assembly Education Committee is holding on school governance. She said the Committee was asking very tough questions to DOE officials and the Committee is as angry at the DOE as we are. Randi then talked about how it is ridiculous that we have to use the courts to force Klein to obey laws. She mentioned a lawsuit that was filed because the DOE is changing zoning rules without going to Community Education Councils.

Randi continued by talking about the UFT's "Principals in Need of Improvement" program which has been effective in MS 8 and PS 14. She told us that it helps when fighting a principal to have strong community involvement. She then stated that Eva Moskowitz is organizing against us in Harlem but we will engage the community.

She closed by saying the parents are as frustrated as we are so we are building the case for checks and balances in school governance and although we are not out of the woods yet, we are better off than most of the rest of the country.

UFT Secretary Mike Mendel then talked about how the DOE and DOT have violated the parking agreement. He said the situation is not acceptable for next year and there would have to be a new plan within two weeks.

This was followed by the District 31 representative talking about School Leadership Teams and Aminda Gentile speaking about reducing paper work.

Randi was then asked a question about layoffs and she answered that by law and contract, there is a system of last hired=first fired that must be protected. (Everyone who is saying that UFT leaders are preparing us for a massive layoff of senior teachers should believe Randi on this one. It's not going to happen.)

Contrast this to Randi's answer to the next question from Steve Hester who asked about healthcare. He stated that we have strong contractual language on healthcare in Article 3. He then asked why should we even negotiate on the issue? Randi's answer was that we rejected a Tier V pension for new hires and a 10% healthcare premium payment but in the seventies during the fiscal crisis, we didn't negotiate because we had a contract and it ended up causing a disprortionate share of teacher layoffs.
Translation and I hope I'm wrong: Watch out for healthcare cuts or some kind of increase in copays or GHI's basic plan not being free.

This was followed by Joan Heymont making the May Day resolution which is an annual DA motion that always fails and also allows a Unity person to rise and score some points with the leadership by opposing it. There was another
resolution on the Stella D'oro workers where Randi said that since it is already UFT policy to support them, we didn't need to have another resolution.

Finally, it was time to go but Randi extended so we could endorse Reuben Diaz Jr. for Bronx Borough President and then Carmen Alvarez gave a presentation on the UFT joining the ARISE coalition to support special education. This carried unanimously.


Anonymous said...

Hey James since we're reporting the whole truth here lets reveal the full facts to "our" readers.

It was ICE's TJC ally Peter Lamphere (a failed ICE/TJC HS Executive Board nominee) who didn't bother to do his homework and raised the redundant Stella D'oro resolution. Maybe he didn't bother to attend the earlier Delegate Assembly where the original resolution was passed unanimously? I can't say I'm surprised with the lack of research and effort as TJC's website hasn't been updated since early January.

Also, ICE's Joan Heymont made the failed May Day resolution which, and it should be noted, was passed out on a memo endorsing the Progressive Labor Party. What I found particularly startling was the nifty little graphic on the bottom right corner which featured a raised fist surrounded by a star encircled by the slogan "Fight For Communism, Luche por el Comunismo". I'm curious, why isn't this memo posted on ICE's website? Is ICE afraid to reveal how extreme it's ideologies really are?

Label me a "Unity Hack" all you want, ICE's support of the Progressive Labor Party is simply absurd and it certainly is not something general membership wants to be affiliated with.

Begin the misinformation, half-truths, and distancing yourself from that absurd resolution now...

Under Assault said...

To the Unity hack (you said it, I didn't):

I don't speak for ICE, but I can't remember a meeting when ICE endorsed PL's entire platform, or anyone else's for that matter. ICE will upon occasion agree with some of the positions of other caucuses, just like it agrees upon occasion with Unity (for ex., that smaller classes are better for kids).

Actually, on this class size thing, it's Unity that now seems to be agreeing with ICE! I remember many people over the years, including myself, asking RW why not demand smaller class size. I guess she's come around.

I'm glad to see we're down to criticizing ICE for statements made by other caucuses. I'm assuming that means you agree with the rest of ICE's positions, which is good news, though woefully belated.

Anonymous said...

And Woodlass checks in with the first round of "misinformation, half-truths, and distancing".

Surprise, surprise.

Anonymous said...

"I'm glad to see we're down to criticizing ICE for statements made by other caucuses. I'm assuming that means you agree with the rest of ICE's positions" -Woodlass

1 + 1 = 9?

Highy illogical.

And isn't it commonly known that ICE's Marjorie Stamberg is a communist too?

17 (really 15) more years said...

Can't we just stick to the facts?
Plain and simple- NYC is going to be the last place to have its economy bounce back. We are in a perfect place to negotiate what we have lost. All I need is:
1) The two pre-Labor Day torture days;
2) A set number of days in the school calendar;
3) Seniority protections returned;
4) Right to grieve LIF;
5) Tighten up the ambiguous language in the contract regarding lesson plans and excessive paperwork;
6) NO contribution to our medical benefits.

Give me that with double zeros and I'll take it as a big BIG win.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 17. Double zeroes made no sense in the early 90's, but it makes sense now. It would help the city and us as well. But I would also cut the New Teacher Project and the Leadership Academy.

Anonymous said...

"And Woodlass checks in with the first round of "misinformation, half-truths, and distancing".

And don't forget the name calling, she couldn't pass that up.

Anonymous said...

But it looks like the 37.5 minutes are here to stay?

Chaz said...

I find it disturbing that Randi will be negotiating the next contract. I believe the contract should be negotiated by the people in the trenches.

17 (really 15) more years said...

It is critical that we NEVER allow the 37.5 minutes to become incorporated into the school day, rather than being a seperate tutorial as it is now. Schools need to be very careful about allowing their principals to persuade them to do an SBO to lengthen class periods, etc. As long as it remains as it is, we stand a chance. I don't know about you, but when 3:12:30 rolls around, you could just pick me up off the floor- I can't even imagine adding MORE time and teaching a full 6th class.

In addition- when the time is used for children needs to be renegotiated. There should be NO kids in attendance in September or June. There is nothing more idiotic than having a small group on the first day of school, and it's even worse having kids languishing in the heat in June. I'm sure every teacher can find plenty to do in that time, and it would be an olive branch in the paperwork reduction issue.

Anonymous said...

The Unity faithful are back to red baiting. That's sad. Swerdlow is TJC. I don't think she would be happy being called ICE. Anyone who implies that ICE endorses the PL platform doesn't know what they are talking about. Plenty of left leaning people with the Unity Caucus but I don't see ICE red baiting Unity. Maybe you guys should start red baiting them too.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah and I think Marjorie Sternberg is a leader of CSEW, not ICE. Get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

How about Unity co-endorsing a few well-known leftists who now serve on the executive board only because of Unity? Unity must prefer the Stalinist variety over the Trotskyists.

Anonymous said...

Was that last comment from Angel Gonzalez?

NYC Educator said...

In fact, the 37.5 minutes is already incorporated into the school day in multi-session schools like the one in which I work. And we do, in fact, use it to teach kids in real classes, not those classes that aren't really classes that I read about in Edwize.

What's it like to teach a class that isn't a class?

Anonymous said...

Double zeroes would be a disaster when DC 37 has already set a pattern as have the uniform unions of 4% and 4% over two years (uniforms got a better welfare fund deal). We need to get a whole lot back to defer our pattern raise that anyone could negotiate at this point.

James Eterno

somewhatsunnypost said...

I think highly important to restore the seniority transfer -- specially in the climate of administrators abusing their power.

This is an environment of nepotism and harassment. We need the seniority transfer back to even the playing field and to leave abusive administrators -- to a point where they also have to be accountable for their actions.

The open market is not open. Principals control who they allow to leave by disparaging reputations of very good professionals (letters can be put in files for no reason, and these cannot be removed).

A movement toward restoring seniority transfers would make it a fairer method -- by evening the playing field for all, based on time served -- to allow teachers and specially more reduced staff such as guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers to procure transfers based on seniority and clustering.

Anonymous said...

good point.

Anonymous said...

Great Points. But lets face it, the position that Unity has put us in puts us back to the 1930's when the principals had all the power. That's the situation we are in now. It would be great to get back Seniority Transfers but do you really think that the DOE will give anything back. They just want to take from us.

Anonymous said...

We can make it happen if there are many of us and we demand it from the UFT.