NYPD Commissioner William Bratton finally had to admit on Friday that police officers in New York City are engaging in a job action. When asked on National Public Radio if there was a police protest or job action under way, Mr. Bratton replied, “There is.” My source here is the not so pro-union Wall Street Journal.
Whether you support the police or not, I personally think former Transit Workers Union President Roger Toussaint's very nuanced analysis hits it on the mark, the reality is there has been a police job action that is costing the city financially as most officers are neglecting a part of their job responsibilities.
However, there is no call from the right wing press for the penalties of the Taylor Law, which prohibits job actions among public employees in New York State, to be invoked against the cops. After the police commissioner concedes something is happening and it is being addressed internally, this slowdown should be seen as a precedent by labor in New York State. The hypocritical right wing media is supporting the police protest. Their anti-labor bias is being put on hold for a while. We should file this knowledge away to be used when necessary.
Compare and contrast police tactics and how effective they are to the reaction of the leadership of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City and the New York State United Teachers to the true disrespect shown to us by Governor Cuomo who is trying to break what he calls the public school monopoly. Cuomo has recently raised the straw man issue of teacher sex offenders and also the non-problem of the state caring more about teacher pensions than the kids. The reaction from UFT President Michael Mulgrew has been kind of soft and our state union leader Karen Magee, while starting a little slow, has become more forceful as the title of her weekly message to members on January 9 is, "Ready for a Fight."
Are we prepared to fight?
NYSUT is a union with 600,000 members. I don't expect a call for a statewide slowdown or other job action but what is the membership going to be asked to do? Calling for equitable funding among New York State school districts as some of our allies are doing and sending out some strongly worded letters are nice starts but won't nearly be enough.
How do we express our outrage over the governor's attempt to destroy our profession?
President Magee's message:
Karen's notes: Ready for a fightThe gloves are off! NYSUT is calling out Gov. Cuomo for reneging on the moratorium bill and for his completely misdirected agenda for the legislative session. On New Year's Eve, NYSUT officers and activists from across the state -- joined by parents, students and community members -- gathered outside the Executive Mansion as Exec VP Andy Pallotta led us in chants protesting Cuomo's recent attacks on public education, pensions and teachers.
This came on the heels of our scathing condemnation of a letter from a Cuomo chief aide to Commissioner King and Chancellor Tisch outlining the anti-public ed and anti-union agenda. By the way, if you expected a voice of reason from SED and the Regents, think again. Here is Tisch's 20-page response, agreeing with the governor and, actually, adding fuel to the fire. NYSUT was out front with an immediate response calling the letter from Tisch and King disingenuous and irresponsible. Here are links from The New York Times, the Democrat and Chronicle and the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).
The parent-driven Allies for Public Education echoed NYSUT, sending a strong letter to Cuomo, responding in detail to the questions posed in the Dec. 18 letter.
We responded just as forcefully when the governor, out of nowhere, criticized teacher pensions and the legislators who protect them.
Sad to note that in the midst of all this, we all took time to mourn the passing of Gov. Mario Cuomo, an extraordinary figure in the history of our great state. The union proffered sincere condolences to the governor and his family.
But now, it's that time of year when the rhetoric of extremes prompts officials to begin negotiations with outrageous claims and dangerous myths. We will not let posturing, hyperbole and outright lies shape policy. NYSUT is speaking truth to power and we will stand up to the bullies.
They are looking for a fight, and we are going to give them one they'll wish they had not started.