Saturday, January 09, 2016


The family came with me for the trip out to the Stronger Together Conference on Restoring Power to the Teacher out in Port Jefferson Station,Long Island.  My wife Camille and I were glad we attended. ST Caucus is the statewide opposition to Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus which dominates the UFT, NYSUT and the AFT.

For those who know us well, I think we can all agree that Camille is not easily impressed by some of the groups that have attempted to activate our membership. The people of ST Caucus won her over today as they are some of the most dedicated educator-trade unionists in New York.  They understand the big picture of our profession being attacked and aren't content, as our UFT, NYSUT and AFT leaders are, with a "seat at the table" with the corporations and politicians who are destroying our profession.

During the plenary session this morning, we heard from Mel Holden, a teacher activist in Buffalo. Approximately half of the Buffalo schools are being threatened by receivership.  Those schools are now under the control of two people: the school superintendent and the state education commissioner.  If they don't improve in the next year, some of those schools will be turned over to an outside receiver to run them. Collective bargaining agreements will mean nothing.  Teachers can be terminated without any due process regardless of their seniority or tenure status.  This is unacceptable and should be fought with every ounce of collective strength we can muster but the leadership of NYSUT and the UFT don't seem to think repealing the state receivership law should be a priority.

The receivership problem along with opt out, the sad state of union leadership both in New York and nationally were among the topics conference attendees discussed today. The workshops were filled with high energy and intelligent conversation.

ST Caucus is made up of many union presidents, vice presidents, building representatives and rank and filers from all over the state. Some people traveled from long distances to make it to the conference.  A number of us from the UFT including MORE presidential candidate Jia Lee were there.
The MORE crew, my daughter Kara and Brian St Pierre at ST Conference

Thanks to President Beth Dimino, Vice President Brian St Pierre and their people for setting this up as well as Labor Notes.

If Stronger Together is the future of education unionism in New York, we have real hope.

You can watch the feed from this morning here:


Anonymous said...

Beautiful to see Kara in the picture!

Anonymous said...

Great conference. The speakers and presenters, as well as the active and engaged members in the audience, give me great hope that we will find a way forward to a stronger, more democratic union that truly stands up for public education. I really needed this after feeling so discouraged by last week's UFT Delegate Assembly.

No pomp & circumstance, just fearless, intelligent, welcoming union brothers and sisters coming together through a shared commitment to protect our schools, our students, and our profession.

Huge thanks to Beth, Brian, Jia, Mel, LaborNotes, Norm and all who organized and facilitated the discussions. Great job!

Mary Ahern

Brian said...

Thanks James and Mary. It was so exciting to have our union sisters and brothers from all over the state out here to join us. As you alluded to, it was a "no frills" sort of conference... just real and honest discussion on the state of our unions and how we can improve them. It is the type of discussion that has been all to rare throughout my career as a NYSUT member.

I want to offer a really heartfelt thanks to the large number of UFT folks who made it out here as well. Your willingness to travel out here to participate in the conference is a real symbol of the failures of your local leadership.

James Eterno said...

Thanks Brian. We had a wonderful time and learned a great deal from you and everyone else.

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