Monday, December 21, 2015


I think there is ample evidence to conclude that Michael Mulgrew is no longer the head of a labor union but is Bill de Blasio's Deputy Mayor in charge of the teachers.  Mulgrew is certainly the official apologist for everything de Blasio.

Take last Wednesday's Delegate Assembly for some examples.

When Michael Bloomberg was mayor, the UFT would at least rant and rave and even sue when schools were closed.  Now the UFT supports it when schools are closed or reorganized. Our apologist president now claims that schools have been closing for thirty years and we can't have schools with low enrollment.  What about the members who work in those schools?  Couldn't sometthing be negotiated with our supposedly union friendly mayor and chancellor to keep our members from being displaced? Update: If anyone has word on what happens to UFT members in these schools, please tell us. We will update again.) Watch out as de Blasio is threatening to close more schools.  I am fairly certain he will get the union's seal of approval for any school he wants to shut down.

Mulgrew even left the chair to argue against Vice President for High Schools Janella Hinds who wanted to strike from a resolution UFT support for the mayor's affordable housing plan.  I have been going to Delegate Assemblies since the mid 1990s and I have never seen a UFT vice president disagreeing with the union's president on anything until last Wednesday.  I have no idea if this was orchestrated or not but it was interesting to hear that Janella introduced an amendment to oppose a de Blasio initiative and then our president left the chair to argue from the floor how we have to support the mayor's program. (I had to leave early so I missed this.  Someone sent it to me.) President trumps a VP so of course the crowd supported Mulgrew.

Then there are adverse ratings.  The UFT President repeats over and over at the DA how the number of ineffective ratings is down compared to how many unsatisfactory ratings we used to get under the old teacher evaluation system.  What he doesn't say is that teachers are being brought up on charges even when they receive developing ratings or that after two ineffective ratings, teachers are now presumed to be incompetent.  To put it another way, we are guilty until proven innocent under the current evaluation system.

We have now toiled for two years under former State Education Commissioner John King's imposed, UFT endorsed teacher evaluation system. The question to ask is not how many ineffective ratings there have been but rather how many tenured teacher are being forced to resign or will be terminated for incompetence in the new system compared to the old one?

If we start talking about how many teachers have had their probation extended since Mulgrew became president as opposed to the past, we clearly see a much weaker union. Has the UFT done anything to stop the abuse of non-tenured teachers?   We don't hear our president talk about this subject much at all at Delegate Assemblies.

Surely the union must have something to say about the many principals and assistant principals who are not working in any way shape or form to help teachers better the educational process.  All the President will say is that we have always had bad principals so it is nothing new.  We wouldn't want to insult our chancellor and mayor who it seems can do no wrong. At this month's Delegate Assembly, Mulgrew admitted that we are still dealing with a culture that says a principal can do whatever he/she wants. What is the union doing about it?  Not much.

He told the Delegates we are having a disagreement with management because 70% of school breakfasts are being thrown out. This blog favors students eating and disapproves of so much food being wasted but is that the only issue we are at odds with the administration on this month? That and some Integrated Collaborative Teaching problems that in the past would have prompted citywide grievances at the very least but now prompt a survey.  The reality as everyone knows, is that conditions in the schools are as bad if not worse today for most schools as they were under Bloomberg.  The major difference is the UFT is now the official apologist for the administration instead of putting up a little resistance.

Last month Mulgrew told Delegates that there have always been bad principals.  His previous line was we had to give de Blasio-Farina time to get principals in line.  Notice he doesn't say that any longer.

The 2014 contract with its meager city pattern setting raises of 10% total over 7 years, one month, while making us wait 11 years until 2020 to get money most other city unions received back in 2008-2010, and throwing in yet to be seen healthcare givebacks, is another example of de Blasio apologist trade unionism on the part of our union.

Mulgrew is such a friend of the administration that he would probably accept a position as deputy mayor for education or even chancellor but he couldn't take the pay cut to be a deputy mayor or the lack of job security for chancellor. Personally, I just wish we had a union president and not a de Blasio-Farina apologist.

Reality Based Educator has called the UFT  basically a company union on this blog.  He has a point but the term doesn't really fit the UFT because we don't work for a company; we work for the government.  As such, the union is part of the Democratic Party establishment for better or worse. The term "party union" doesn't sound very catchy but the union is a part of the party at the city, national and state levels and that party takes us for granted. I say this as someone who voted for de Blasio and sees only bad alternatives for 2017. The problem is how do we make the UFT an independent trade union again. We can't be the union arm of the Democratic Party.

Step one: We need to spread the word in our schools and then vote for Jia Lee and the entire MORE-New Action slate in the spring UFT election. We need to send a message that we want a union president and not a deputy mayor in charge of the teachers.


Anonymous said...

DeBlasio is completely clueless and Mulgrew needs to step in. Cell phones in, metal detectors out and now this. I used to work scanning, you have no idea the crap I confiscated. Brass knuckles, lighter switchblade, a one bullet lighter, belt buckle knives, canes with swords, thousands of razor blades and of course a couple of hand guns.

Anonymous said...

No, "Company Union" doesn't exactly fit, but there are some definitions out there that come close. Like this one:

"A company or 'yellow' union is a worker organization which is dominated or influenced by an employer, and is therefore not an independent trade union"

I think the point is that many feel that our union doesn't always stand up for members, instead, union leaders seem to collaborate with the DOE/city/state, etc. even when it's against members' best interests.

What I equally troubling is how our union almost exclusively backs Democrats, even when those Democrats (Cuomo) support charter schools and vow to do things like "break the public school Monopoly".

Honestly, I'd like nothing better than for our union to consistently do the right thing, stand up for members against any and all outside threats. It's actually quite exhausting to fight our union in addition to fighting corporate deformers. But until they do what members' dues pay them to do, it seems we're left with little choice.

I just wrote a long email to the UFT concerning my schools' opposition to Breakfast in the Classroom. It's not that we want hungry children, we don't. It's more about allowing school communities to decide how to best take care of their students' needs without losing valuable learning time. Instead of the UFT trying to sell every misguided mandate that the city or DOE comes up with, they should listen to members and fight for our right to "opt out" of programs that we feel will cause major disruptions and in the end hurt our students and our schools. Let's see if they listen.

Mary Ahern

Anonymous said...

Our "raise" is that much more insulting today when the City Council gave themselves 12% immediately while ours is less, spread over 15 years.

Anonymous said...

A few more thought I want to add.

I like Bill de Blasio. Yes, I know he's not perfect but I have no doubt that he and Carmen Fariña truly believe in public education. de Blasio continues to support public ed. even when billionaire-backed anti-public education groups attack him with million dollar ad campaigns. And I know people find fault with Mulgrew for continuing to bring up the fact that we no longer have to deal with Michael Bloomberg, but I share that sentiment. I just came across my "12-31-13" button the other day and remember wearing it and counting down to Bloomberg's last day of office. I'm thankful everyday that Bloomberg is gone.

I also like Carmen Fariña. I've sent several emails to her over the past two years voicing my concerns and offering suggestions. Not only have I received replies to every one of my emails, but she's actually acted on them. Last year she had a Deputy Chancellor contact me to discuss an issue I brought up. Recently, I sent her an email about a truly tragic situation that one of my members is facing. She not only replied but put someone in charge of the matter who was able to work with the UFT to quickly bring about a favorable outcome. It proved to me that she really does care and I am extremely grateful for her assistance.

So, do I think the UFT should support Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña? Absolutely! Do I believe they should go along with everything they propose? Absolutely not! One thing I wish the UFT would prioritize is addressing the ATR situation. Finding a solution to that would go a long way in gaining the trust of members.

OK, just wanted to add that because after what the Chancellor and the UFT did to help my terminally ill colleague, I don't want to seem like an ingrate. I'm not. I appreciate their help more than they'll ever know.

Mary Ahern

Anonymous said...

Yes, Anonymous 10:56, it wasn't a great contract but it passed. I don't see any chance of changing it so I'd rather work on things that we can change/fix.

I made a typo in my previous comment: "A few more thoughts" not "thought"

Anonymous said...

DeB has good intentions. That's nice. That and $2.75 will get you on the subway. Bloomberg's policies are still in effect and his people are still ruining the schools. DeB proposes equality but has institutionalized discrimination against veteran teachers with Mulgrew's full approval. Worse he has perpetuated the negative stereotypes expounded by Bloomberg. Mulgrew isn't his apologist, he's his bitch.

Anonymous said...

Very good point on the non tenured teachers! I happen to be one of them. I was excessed from y Queens high school 6 months after joining it. I spent 1 year in the ATR and this summer I was sent a program to come back in the last week of August after I had been gone for over a year. I was told I had to go back because the year and 1 day policy starts in September not June. I had been rated with ineffective by my AP before I left which my Principal had to change to Effective in a bitter battle. I never planned to come back. Nevertheless I came back cause I had to and the UFT told me they would help me get released if I found a job. I found a job in DOE, demoed and accepted. The UFT told me to talk to the new principal. He told me he would only release me if I found my own replacement. I sent him 3. He said in writing he would setup interviews. I don't believe that ever happened. I was then denied release and 2 days later was rated ineffectively. I am fighting all of it in addition to many of the other unethical activities going on with grade inflation. I am not letting these reckless administrators ruin my career. By the way I was rated satisfactory all of last year in the ATR and even received letters of recommendation.

Anonymous said...

We need a revolution to take back our union. The sham vote that will take place in 2016 isn't going to do it. Perhaps Frederichs will. One can only hope.
I never really disliked Randi Weingarten in the past, but now, after having to live with her gift to membership, aka Michael Mulgrew, I despise her.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew does not teach. He makes 250000 dollars for doing what. I want his ass in the classroom teaching. I am swamped with paperwork. I have teaching for 25 years and have never seen anything like this. The superintendent came in the other day to our school. She does not teach either . I say make them all teach. Right up to the chancellor