Friday, September 30, 2016


In a significant victory for Absent Teacher Reserves, Speech Teachers, Pre-K Teachers and other teachers not covered by Advance, an arbitrator has ruled that UFT members are entitled to a lesson specific pre-observation conference before a formal observation.

This is from the NY Teacher with a quote from Grievance Director Ellen Gallin-Procida:

With respect to the principal’s lack of notice, Gallin-Procida said the arbitrator’s ruling “confirms that a formal observation is one where the teacher knows in advance when an administrator is coming.”

There should be no surprise formal observations.

The arbitrator also ruled that post observation and pre-observation conferences are separate meetings according to the NY Teacher.

Teachers are supposed to be rated by formal observations under the old system. Therefore, while informal observations, which should also have a post observation conference, can be placed in teacher files, formal observations are needed for the rating.

This is an important ruling but why wasn't it taken on over two decades ago when this provision was put in the contract for all teachers?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Not that much to report out of last nights UFT Executive Board meeting. The big topics, according to Arthur Goldstein's minutes, were an election appeal and the high school reps advocating for their schools and lowering class sizes. The high school reps did not ask for the resolution on abusive supervisors to be taken from the table so it dies. Hopefully, it will be revived in a different form at a future date.

The only surprise from the meeting was to learn that the UFT and Department of Education are in negotiations for a new Absent Teacher Reserve agreement to replace the one that expired last June.

According to President Michael Mulgrew via Arthur's report, "ATR negotiating session did not go well-no agreement."

I have one question: Why don't they ask the rotating ATRs how they feel about negotiating a new ATR agreement? When the union goes to talk with the DOE, we can usually count on our working conditions worsening. I believe that will be the case here as well. I want to be wrong but the union's track record leads me to conclude nothing will improve for ATRs if there is a new ATR agreement.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


My entire family attended the Mets game as Middle College High School held a staff family day at Citi Field today. I think our school gave the Mets some positive energy as the Mets won 17-0 over the Phillies. It was one of their most lopsided victories in a long time.

Middle College proves over and over again how a dedicated staff with a supportive administration can make all the difference in the world. My family was happy to be a part of this amazing experience today. We had a great time.

Thanks to my social studies colleagues Jay and Jordan for taking and sharing these pictures.

The MCHS Crew Takes up Much of  the Section.

Some of the MCHS Staff along with my Daughter and me.

From Left to Right: Camille, Kara, Matthew, James

Friday, September 23, 2016


Class size grievance time is upon us. I have worked in a setting since 2014 where oversize classes are frowned upon by the administration. At Middle College High School my class sizes are between 21 and 27. This is manageable at the high school level.

However I am hearing horror stories of the Department of Education packing students in oversize classes. The DOE is once again misusing the half class size exception in the contract to pack academic subject class sizes with over 40 students in them. The DOE does not wish to create new sections of a subject class if the class won't have at least half of that 34 in it. A first grade teacher also told me recently about 33 6 year old kids in the class she was teaching. These stories should never happen.

The DOE agreed to settle the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit in 2007. The goals in the law to be achieved by 2011 was for these to be the average class size numbers in New York City schools.

Grades K-3: 19.9
Grades 4-8:  22.9
Grades 9-12:  24.5

Are you laughing or crying as you read these goals that are in the law?

The UFT contract also mentions the CFE funding in Article 8L where it says:

With regard to the long term recommendations the 2005 Fact Finders made subject to adequate CFE funding, the parties shall establish a Labor Management Committee to discuss the following issues: ...d)a program for the reduction of class size in all grades and divisions. 

We have been hearing for about a decade about how the UFT is going to fight for CFE funding to lower class sizes.

Even the class size limits in the contract (K: 25, Grades 1-6: 32, Grades 7-8: 33, Grades 9-12: 34, gym in middle schools and high schools and required music in high schools: 50.

The exceptions to these Article 7M contractual class size limits are wide enough to drive several trucks through. The UFT won't even demand that the loopholes be taken out of the contract even though the law says funding should be provided for significantly lower limits than our contract provides for. The UFT seldom uses the leverage they have. Go figure.

Anybody else want to chime in on class sizes? Chapter leaders should have grieved all oversize classes for teachers after yesterday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


One part of the contract that still can work for UFT members is the reorganization grievance process. These are grievances claiming violations of the programming parts of Article 7 of the contract. If a school administration does not follow the contract on honoring preferences, rotation, keeping preparations to a minimum, giving teachers only three classes in a row or four work periods in a row and more, teachers have a legitimate way to address these contractual violations in an expedited manner resulting in their schedules being altered.

Reorganization grievances can succeed because they get to arbitration very quickly. On a regular grievance the administration just denies at the school level and the Chancellor's level (two kangaroo courts) and then it can take years before the union takes the case to an independent arbitrator. Meanwhile, the abuse of the member who filed the grievance continues and other UFT members see that fighting the system is pointless. The regular grievance process is completely broken and has to be restructured to have any chance of giving members any kind of justice.

Only obvious contractual violations get resolved through the regular process. The UFT is completely complicit in allowing the Department of Education to stall. They tell members to grieve and then they just abandon us in many instances after Step II (Chancellor's level).

Reorganization grievances still can be successful because the grievance goes right from the school level to arbitration in an expedited manner. These grievances must be filed within two school days of knowledge of the problem with the program but the Union then schedules many of them directly for arbitration after Step I (Principal's level) which has to be decided within two school days after the grievance is filed. I worked on on a reorganization case this week for someone in another school and we were successful at arbitration.

Teachers should know they have to present their own cases in the reorganization process. Some go to the Superintendent's level while many others go directly to arbitration. I generally write scripts that can basically be read at arbitration and provide talking points for administration's possible rebuttals. UFT does send someone from the Grievance Department to provide support. Principals have Department of Education lawyers to defend them. My experience with the process is that it actually works as long as members are prepared with evidence. It kind of reminds me of small claims court. Smart principals settle these problems in their buildings and don't let them get to arbitration.

We won or resolved so many reorganization grievances in favor of teachers at Jamaica High School that it really made administrators look ridiculous.

Monday, September 19, 2016


For the first time since 2007, tonight's UFT Executive Board meeting will include representatives not endorsed by Michael Mulgrew and Randi Weingarten's Unity Caucus. I am going to the meeting to show support to the seven high school reps from MORE-NEW ACTION.

If there is anything of great significance that is raised, we will certainly report on it but sometimes the most interesting part of the meeting is the food. We can pretty much count on reports from Arthur Goldstein who is now on the Board and Norm Scott.

Report from Meeting
Food was just some wraps. What a letdown.

On a positive note, MORE-NEW ACTION came prepared. Four rank and file members used the open mic to all speak against abusive supervisors (one was primarily there for a Chapter Election complaint but there is a vacancy due to an abusive principal).

All want the union to be more aggressive in going after administrators who get away with treating UFT members horribly.

One of the new high school reps asked about ATRs. Amy Arundel said there were fewer ATRs.

President Michael Mulgrew appeared to give the President's Report. School opening ok. Some schools had to shelter in because of suspicious packages today. No new ATR agreement but fewer ATRs. Negotiating for a new evaluation system. We want authentic assessments in evaluations. Small cities lost a lawsuit. Might make meeting CFE goals tougher on funding. NYC high school graduation rate at 70% for first time ever.

There were some reports from districts on events. Paul Egan gave a legislative report saying the UFT did very well on primary day. He talked about turnout and importance of electing Hillary Clinton.

There was a resolution on streamlining the process to start Career and Technical schools. It passed without opposition.

MORE and NEW ACTION raised a resolution (see below) for the UFT to identify and work to remove from schools abusive administrators. Mike Schirtzer motivated it. He said we have abusive administrators. Some only have two years teaching experience. Principals have incentives to hire junior people through fair student funding. It is a serious issue. Must use any means available to get administrators removed if majority of staff says for two years in a row the administrator is abusive.

Leroy Barr moved to table and then made a speech which is improper.  A motion to table is not debatable.

Chair Howie Schoor allowed MORE to respond.

Marcus McArthur from MORE spoke about a principal creating a toxic learning environment when he was a new teacher. Must do what we can to combat administrators in schools like that.

Howie Schoor after Unity voted to table said that principals have a union and collective bargaining rights too.

Resolution to Use School Survey to Identify and Remove Abusive Administrators
Whereas, UFT members in many chapters are working in fear because of abusive administrators; and

Whereas, too many UFT members are being given unfair adverse ratings by autocratic supervisors; and

Whereas, many administrators have very little experience in the classroom and are provided with a blue-print by superintendents and Department of Education lawyers to remove veteran and new teachers; and

Whereas, our working conditions are our students' learning conditions so when a UFT member is being unfairly treated it has a direct negative impact on students' learning environment; and

Whereas teachers have a limited opportunity to anonymously express their concerns about principals through the New York City School Survey Report, including whether “I feel respected by the principal at this school” and “I trust the principal/school leader at his/her word” and “The principal at this school is an effective manager”;

Resolved, that the UFT will publish the name of any school administrator in email updates, social media, the print and online versions of the New York Teacher and a press release the names of any administrator who receive less than a 50% favorable rating on the NYC School Survey Report from UFT members or when there is a chapter vote of no confidence in that administrator; and be it further

Resolved, that the UFT will use any means available to pressure the Department of Education to remove from a school any administrator who receives two years of unfavorable ratings from their staff.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Most New York City Department of Education employees do not go through their Chancellor's Regulations. UFT members should know these regulations because they are appended to the UFT Contract under Article 20, Matters Not Covered.


The final standard for removing a principal is this:

Elementary, Middle and High Schools (Including Alternative High Schools and Special Education Schools) 

Other Standards: A pattern of failure to adhere to laws and regulations such as SOPMs, Chancellor’s Regulations, circulars, memoranda, local, state and Federal laws and regulations, and collective bargaining agreements. 

Chancellor's Regulations are part of our contract. A reason for removing a principal from a school is when he/she does not adhere to collective bargaining agreements. There are probably hundreds of principals that show a pattern of not adhering to any collective bargaining agreements. Why doesn't the UFT go after them en masse using this provision?

It makes sense and it could energize teachers and others to fight back within a school community when there is an abusive principal so it will more than likely never happen with our union leadership.

To be clear, this post is not about about trying to remove from schools average or a little below average principals. We are talking about administrators who consistently abuse their staff. Sadly, they exist and the UFT these days does little or nothing to attempt to compel the DOE to reign them in even when there is language in the Chancellor's Regulations that could be used in our favor.

Friday, September 16, 2016


Arthur Goldstein in his review of Michael Mulgrew's citywide Chapter Leader meeting actually reported that our esteemed UFT President stated that the school opening this year was "smooth." I must work in another system. The reports I get are that the opening was somewhat chaotic in many schools with budgets that have still not recovered from the recession and abusive supervisors running roughshod over UFT members.

In a later posting on the same meeting, Arthur listed poor supervisors, oversize classes, the ridiculous teacher evaluation system, ATRs and other problems as the main concerns of teachers.

People call and email me about grievances sitting around for years waiting to be heard; teachers being brought up on charges and the union doing nothing for them; teachers being rated ineffective and the union sitting around not supporting them and the old standby of oversize classes that the UFT does less and less to lower as the years go by. I also hear constantly from Absent Teacher Reserves who are being targeted by the DOE with nowhere to turn to for help.

So is Mulgrew right that paperwork is the biggest problem in the schools and that there was a wonderful opening this year or are we correct that the system is as bad or maybe even worse than ever as this school year begins? I am seeing low morale and people just holding it together to survive in so many places.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Management at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus agreed to end their lockout yesterday so professors will return to work today. Management agreed to extend the current contract through the end of next May while the union agreed not to strike until then. They will be meeting with a mediator now as they try to hammer out a new contract.

The union members will be reimbursed for any health care expenses they incurred while they had their medical benefits taken away from them.

The students held several walkouts during the lockout. They wouldn't agree to be taught by scabs.
The key lesson for teachers is that student/community support is very important during a labor dispute.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Many chapter leaders received an email the other day from longtime UFT Vice President for Special Education Carmen Alvarez (see below). In her email, the VP stated how we should be vigilant in enforcing the recent IEP Teacher posting in schools receiving central funding for this position.

Here is my question: In schools where administration is not complying with the posting, are teachers/chapter leaders going to the Union?

I hope so but my guess is in certain schools principals are getting the funding for the IEP Teacher and are out of compliance but nobody is saying a word because some teachers do not think of the UFT as viable option to protect their rights

Dear ____________,
Welcome back! I am writing, as I did last June, because your school has been allocated a centrally-funded IEP teacher position. Under the new posting, which must be used for all centrally-funded IEP teacher positions, IEP teachers will assume a new role as learning specialists. The first few weeks of school will set the course for the rest of the year.
We need your help to ensure that the position is filled as soon as possible and that your IEP teacher’s program meets the requirements in the posting.
Selection of IEP teacher:
  • The June 20, 2016 posting about the new IEP teacher position sets out requirements for the role.
  • If, prior to the date of that posting, the IEP teacher in your school was selected through the preference process prior to the date of the posting, your principal may keep the selected teacher in the position or use the posting to select a new candidate on an expedited basis.
  • Special education teachers who served as education evaluators in your school during the 2002–03 school year have preference for the assignment.
  • Schools that choose to continue a previously selected IEP teacher must adhere to the new job description in the posting for the position.
  • Issues with selection of the IEP teacher will be addressed through reorganization grievances which must be filed within two days after the employee has knowledge of the decision.
IEP teacher assignment:
  • For no fewer than five periods a week, this title serves as the IEP teacher at initial IEP team meetings for newly identified students and provides coverage for special education teachers of students already receiving special education services while they attend IEP team meetings (annual review, three-year review and requested reviews) for their students.
  • Up to five periods a week, this position will provide IEP-mandated specially designed instruction, e.g., Special Education Teachers Support Services, part-time Integrated Co-Teaching and part-time special class services to students with disabilities.
  • For the balance of the program, this position provides individual or small group reading interventions for special education and at-risk general education students and, after receiving professional development, delivers workshops and provides coaching support to teachers and paraprofessionals on evidence-based reading interventions.
If your IEP teacher’s assignment does not comply with the posting, you should first attempt to resolve the issue with your principal. If you are unsuccessful, seek help from your district representative. Your DR can try to resolve the issue with the district superintendent or DOE Borough Field Support Office. If the issue cannot be resolved, you should file a grievance.
IEP teachers will participate in DOE-provided professional development on their new roles and responsibilities. This PD will take place during the contractual workday at various times during the school year. The first of these sessions will occur in late September and early October.
In the meantime, your IEP teacher should work with the Pupil Personnel Team or other intervention team in your school, become familiar with the reading program and interventions that are currently in place in your school, review available data on students’ reading levels and begin to work with students who need additional support individually or in small groups.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email
Carmen Alvarez
Vice President for Special Education

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Today is primary election day in New York City with many important races occurring for state Senate and Assembly. Normally I am asked to volunteer to work the phones for UFT candidates. This year I have not received any live phone calls from the UFT on behalf of any endorsed candidate, just a couple of robocalls from political director Paul Egan.

The UFT has endorsed some important candidates including Robert Jackson for State Senate. Some of the UFT endorsements make absolutely no sense but many are solid.

Jackson is running against Micah Lasher for the NY State Senate seat in the 31st Senate District. Jackson was one of the supporters of Jamaica High School when we were battling to stay alive while he was the head of the Education Committee in the City Council. He was one of the leaders in the fight for fair school funding for New York City public schools.

His main opponent is Micah Lasher, one of the most loathsome figures in Mayor Bloomberg's administration. Lasher came to our community on behalf of Bloomberg to sell the Community Board on closing Jamaica High School. He was met with stiff opposition and just ignored the Community Board's concerns and talked right over them. I don't even recall him saying he would take back their views to people at Tweed or City Hall.

Where I live in Queens the UFT has endorsed Clyde Vanel in the 33rd Assembly District. Our voice could actually make a difference in local races as turnout is usually quite low which the UFT acknowledged in the robocall.

If there is a primary in your area today, don't forget to vote. It really does matter particularly in these not so well known races.

Friday, September 09, 2016

UFT DUES UP AGAIN (Updated with numbers)

While going through my NY Teacher this afternoon, I noticed that once again union dues are going up for UFT members to $56.65 from $56.10. We are paid semi-monthly so that translates into $1359.60 annually for NYC teachers. Why do dues always increase automtically and why is it the same for every teacher?

Back in 1982 the UFT membership voted to raise dues automatically. This is the structure as amended by the Executive Board in 1999:

As approved by the UFT Executive Board and the Delegate Assembly on Oct. 6, 1999, UFT members dues were reduced to .85 of one percent of the maximum salary of Step 8B plus L20 as defined in the teachers' contract plus the AFT and NYSUT pass-through.

This is a highly regressive structure that I do not support because of the high cost for beginning teachers. It is one of the most regressive taxes one will ever see.

Note that for retirees that dutifully vote for Unity Caucus the rate is only ".4 of one percent based on their retirement allowance." If you make less as a retiree, you pay less. This is not a progressive system but it is not as bad as the active member dues structure.

What does federal labor law say about union dues increases?

  Rights regarding dues, initiation fees, and assessments
Increases in the rates of union dues and initiation fees, and the imposition of assessments, are prohibited unless the procedures contained in the Bill of Rights are followed. Briefly, these are—
In local unions, dues and fees may be raised and assessments imposed only by:
  • A majority vote by secret ballot of the members in good standing at a special or regular meeting, after reasonable notice of the proposal has been given; or
  • A majority vote of the members in good standing in a secret ballot membership referendum.

Did anyone reading this have a say in that 1982 referendum on dues increases? I guess it lasts forever. Many of today's teachers weren't even born yet in 1982. 

The rate isn't changing so the UFT is following the law.

However, challenging the regressive dues structure would be an interesting campaign.

Thursday, September 08, 2016


Since we returned to school on Tuesday, the question asked of me most often is this:

How much of the money the city owes us from the 2014 contract are we going to get this October?

The answer of course is we aren't getting back anything this year. To put it precisely: $0. We will have to wait until October of 2017 to get the second 12.5% back from what is essentially an interest free loan we made to the city of New York.

We do get a contractual 2.5% increase in May of 2017. In addition, the third of four 2% increases from the 2009-2011 round of collective bargaining that most other city unions received back in those days, and has been in their checks ever since, will be added to our checks beginning next May.

I pointed out to people that asked that the city's "Budget Cushion" aka surplus continues to grow and sits at $9.4 billion. Any which way you slice it, the 2014 deal is a lousy contract.

The number of people who voted no does seem to be rising.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016


It is quite rare for management to lock out teachers and hire scabs but that is what is occurring as fall classes begin today at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University.

For Professors at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus, Labor Day weekend was anything but a celebration. On Saturday, all 400 members of the faculty union were told that their services were no longer required and that their positions, their health insurance and their campus email accounts were being cut off.

We can't find any prior examples of colleges locking out teachers in a contract dispute.

The LIU faculty union, which is part of NYSUT and the AFT, will be holding a rally this morning at the corner of Dekalb and Flatbush. For any of our retired readers, we hope you can go out and support them.

Monday, September 05, 2016


For the 2015-16 school year, student test scores were supposed to account for 40% of the annual rating for high school teachers in New York with the other 60% based on observations. Teachers at the elementary and middle school level had the Common Core tests removed from their ratings altogether. However, this little clause in the New York City Department of Education's Advance Overall Ratings Guide means student test grades actually account for 100% of the rating for some teachers:

*NOTE: According to NYCDOE’s New York State Education Department-approved APPR Plan, if a teacher is rated Ineffective for both State and Local MOSLs, s/he will receive an Advance Overall Rating of Ineffective. 

I saw this actually happen this year with a teacher who scored more points than needed to avoid an ineffective rating but because of the ridiculous use of a discredited growth model for student test scores on totally unreliable/invalid tests that didn't count for anything for students, the teacher has been rated ineffective overall. How can anyone let this happen?

65-74 total points should equal a developing rating.
75-89 total points should equal an effective rating.

If the teacher only gets 12 points out of a possible 20 points on the state testing part of Measures of Student Learning and only scores 12 points out of a possible 20 points on the local part, the teacher automatically receives an ineffective rating.

Therefore, test scores count for 100% of the rating for some teachers.

A union worth anything would be out on the streets before they would let one person be rated ineffective based on this absurd, highly flawed evaluation system.

I think if the UFT shirks its responsibility to these teachers, it is time for someone on their own to do a follow-up to the Sheri Lederman lawsuit where a judge has already thrown out a ridiculous rating under this awful state law that the UFT supported.

Saturday, September 03, 2016


From DNA Info via Harris Lirtzman:

MANHATTAN — Workers at hundreds of city-funded pre-schools serving low-income New Yorkers have voted down a new union-backed contract — in a surprise upset that forced City Hall to cancel a planned victorious press conference, DNAinfo New York has learned.

A group of 220 union members of the Day Care Local 205 — or about 7 percent of the 3,200 membership — voted "no" to a four-year contract that its parent union, DC 1707, wholeheartedly supported, in an emergency meeting Wednesday night. The contract got 158 votes to ratify, according to a tally from union officials.

The contract would have been the first in the past decade to include a raise for day care workers — many of whom have been toiling at poverty-level wages, including subsisting on food stamps. 

So a group of workers barely surviving on subsistence wages who have not had a raise since 2006 are able to say no to the city and their union leaders. I respect their intestinal fortitude.

If only the supposedly much more powerful members of the United Federation of Teachers had acted like the pre-school day care workers and voted against the pathetic 2014 UFT contract negotiated by Michael Mulgrew, then we would have renegotiated when the city was swimming in surplus revenue.

If more teachers showed some courage by standing up to our union bosses, we might not have to wait until 2020 to be paid for work we did back in 2009. Then again, our union has built a formidable machine that it uses to deceive its members when necessary so it's not all on the membership.

Friday, September 02, 2016


For those who worked as regular teachers and were rated in Advance during the 2015-16 school year, our final Advance rating is finally available in our DOE email.

If anyone cares, I am still effective but now I'm highly effective in two out of three categories. I guess I am improving with age.

Well maybe not.

I am not disputing the judgment of the administrators at Middle College High School - where I have worked the last two years - or taking anything away from the fine results on the only Regents exam MCHS kids take. The observations and test results were all thrown into a sausage grinder to make up my rating which went up again this year. However, I don't see myself as any better as a teacher than I was two years ago at Jamaica High School when almost all of the teachers were rated either developing or ineffective in a closing school.

I've altered my style in a progressive school that does not emphasize testing but I'm still basically the same teacher.

Advance to me is a sad joke on all of us and what replaces it will be a bigger one.

Thursday, September 01, 2016


In two rulings last week the National Labor Relations Board decided that charter schools are private corporations whose employees must organize if they want to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act as opposed to state laws for organizing public employees.

These are generally positive decisions. Charter schools are not public schools; they are private schools that the public pays for. Note the 2-1 split on the Board in these NLRB decisions. The two Democrats voted that charters are not public schools while the Republican said they are public schools.

NLRB members are appointed by the President of the United States for five year terms and are confirmed by the Senate.

President Obama's education policy is for the most part worse than we had under President George W Bush. However, a federal bureaucracy including the NLRB run by Republicans presents a major problem for working people, particularly unions.

Read this analysis of labor policy under Bush from Inquires Journal if you don't think it matters to workers which party controls the Department of Labor and the NLRB.

Here is a key line:

This politicization has been widely criticized as having damaged the fairness of decisions rendered by the NLRB. Instead of impartial members making fair decisions, we now see the NLRB disproportionately favoring unions when a Democrat is President, and favoring management when a Republican is President.

Before anyone jumps on me, I am fully aware that the UFT is covered for the most part under the New York State Public Employees Relations Board and not the NLRB but having a Democrat in the White House gives labor a bit more of a chance against our over-funded enemies. The decision that charter schools are private corporations can be used by us to further the cause of real public education.

Overall, the situation for working people under Obama has not improved much in terms of changing labor law. However, under Bush it was worse. Read this example from Inquiries:

One controversial decision made by Bush's NLRB concerned workers' "Weingarten" rights. The name "Weingarten comes from a previous NLRB decision, and refers to the right on an employee to request the presence of a coworker or union official at any investigatory interview that the employee reasonably believes might result in disciplinary action. The Weingarten representative is present at an interview in order to recall facts that an employee might have forgotten or not been aware of, and to suggest other employees who could have information concerning the case, in order to present a more well-rounded version of what happened in any labor dispute. At the time of Bush's inauguration, non-union workers were able to request the presence of a coworker at such an interview. Bush's NLRB decided to remove this right from all non-union workers which is about 90% of the American workforce. In defense of this decision, the Bush NLRB argued that: coworkers, unlike union representatives, do not represent the interests of the entire workforce; that coworkers do not redress the imbalance of power between employers and employees; that coworkers do not possess the same knowledge base and skill set as a union representative; and that having a coworker present at an investigatory interview could limit the confidentiality of investigatory interviews.

The arguments made by the Bush NLRB in defense of their Weingarten decision do not hold up to much scrutiny, as the National Labor Relations Act is quite clear on this issue. Section 7of the NLRA states that all employees have the right to "engage in...concerted activities for the purpose aid or protection." The act does not limit this right to unionized employees, nor does it say that employees may only seek assistance from a representative with certain skills and motives. The confidentiality argument is weak as well, considering that the risk of breach in secrecy is exactly the same with a union representative as with a coworker. However, due to the Chevron decision, no court or governing body is able to evaluate the decision made by this NLRB. This decision limits the Weingarten rights of union employees as well. As was the case with many of their decisions, the Bush NLRB shaped policy in a broad manner, which often did not concern the case at hand. Instead of simply deciding which workers would receive Weingarten rights, the Bush NLRB put more power in the hand of employers who are faced with an employee choosing to exercise his or her Weingarten rights. Following the decision, employers can end the interview at any time, and can choose to refuse any negotiation with the Weingarten representative, Employers can now refuse to discuss certain information, such as medical records, while a Weingarten representative is present. The two labor representatives on the NLRB issued a biting dissent to this decision. They charged that this decision violates Section 7 of the NLRA, by denying American working people the right to seek "mutual aid and Protection," by having a coworker assist them in a meeting that could mean a termination of their employment. The dissenting NLRA members stated, "it is our colleagues who are taking a step backwards... They have over-ruled a sound decision not because they must, and not because they should, but because they can."

(Footnotes were taken out. Please go to Inquires link above for exact citations.)

Control over the federal bureaucracy and judiciary are the main reasons I still usually vote Democrat.