Saturday, May 15, 2021

TIME TO MOVE ON FROM OPTING OUT OF UFT ARGUMENT

Based on the many comments we received today, I think there might be a consensus that nobody is convincing anyone to either opt-out of paying UFT dues or not opt-out. Therefore, it is time to close the debate. We are just wasting everyone's time with repetitive arguments and comments.

Those on one side feel the UFT is an awfully run organization that exists to feather its own cap and nothing more. They believe that a large-scale opt-out of individual teachers will send a loud message to Michael Mulgrew and the Unity leaders who will get the message and start suddenly coming through for us so that members will no longer leave the UFT.

We counter by saying there is no need to reinvent the wheel. We comment on this all the time and now we will post a replay of a piece we did in 2019 on this topic. 

We'll follow that up with one from 2020 at the height of the pandemic so you know that it is extreme right-wingers who are trying to convince us to leave our Union. I'm staying and hoping we get a united front against Mulgew-Unity in the 2022 election.

The May 2019 piece:

NOT PAYING UNION DUES WILL NOT IMPROVE WORKING CONDITIONS

On just about every topic we write about recently concerning the schools in New York City, one or two or sometimes more comments are written saying that routine extensions of probation, the broken testing system, school on Monday, December 23, etc. are just more reasons why we should stop paying union dues and drop out of the UFT. I disagree with these commenters but not because you don't have a point that UFT advocacy leaves much to be desired. 

I agree wholeheartedly on this point and nobody has been a more robust critic of the UFT in public than me, including while serving on the UFT Executive Board and at the Delegate Assembly. However, the commenters who want to drop out provide no viable alternative to the union we have. You say the UFT doesn't support us so to protest we should stop paying union dues. Short term, you will keep more money but long term you are dooming all of us to much more and deeper misery. Quitting the UFT is not the answer unless you are organizing something better which I see no sign of anywhere in the New York City teaching force.

Understanding all of the UFT's faults, including a lack of a real democratic structure, let us still acknowledge that NYC teachers during the current contract will eventually start out earning $61,000 per year and max out after 22 years making over $128,00 per annum with good benefits and, except for Tier VI, a very good pension. Do you think our salaries, benefits and pensions are in any way, shape or form possible without a union? Be truthful, please if there are comments.

Beyond the wages and benefits, you say the UFT doesn't defend us very strongly and in many cases, they merely go through the motions by pretending to advocate for members. I agree there is some truth here. UFT's advocacy is not full force like say the way PBA President Patrick Lynch defends his members or TWU's John Samuelson supports his.  Let's accept it here as a given that the UFT is not always behind teachers 100% although I am sure many who work for the Union would disagree with that assertion.

The question then becomes this: What are you going to do about the sorry state of the UFT in many schools? If the answer is you are going to drop out and keep some more of your money, well how does that help our cause?

The argument I have heard is that if we all starve the UFT beast, then the Union leadership will be forced to work harder to support us to win back our dues money. There is a giant flaw in this argument as I see it. Many in the UFT leadership are basically incapable of changing and dues money or no dues money, they aren't becoming a militant union on behalf of their members. It is not in President Michael Mulgrew's DNA. Any show of activism is purely for show. The only game he and many of his Unity Caucus followers will play is the political game to try to convince the politicians to support us. They do play this game well at times.

These are not great political times for unions but we have kept a core of  a decent salary and benefits. The UFT will still play the political game whether they have $100 million in the Union treasury or 100 pennies. If they only have 100 pennies, they will just be even weaker advocates for the members than now. If thousands of UFT members drop out and are not organized into anything, do you think the city is going to say we better listen to the teachers? No, we will all be that much weaker.

Do you truly feel that Michael Mulgrew is going to become Eugene Debs if half of us leave in order to convince the other half to stay? It won't happen. The militancy has to come from the rank and file. It will have a much greater impact if those militants are UFT members.

Potential defectors need to face reality. There is absolutely no evidence or historical precedent that anyone can find showing that weakening unions by dropping out and leaving the union with fewer paying members and thus fewer resources leads to improved wages, benefits or better working conditions. Find me an example, just one, where this has worked and I will listen.

There is plenty of evidence, however, that working people in states that have right to work laws  (unions can't force workers to join a union or pay a fair share fee if a non-union member) do worse economically. 

From the Economic Policy Institute 2018 study comparing right to work with non-right to work states:

  • Wages in RTW states are 3.1 percent lower than those in non-RTW states, after controlling for a full complement of individual demographic and socioeconomic factors as well as state macroeconomic indicators. This translates into RTW being associated with $1,558 lower annual wages for a typical full-time, full-year worker.
  • The relationship between RTW status and wages remains economically and statistically significant under alternative specifications of our econometric model.

Now that we are right to work in the public sector nationally after the Supreme Court ruled last June that government employees cannot be forced to join a union or pay fair share fees for what the unions do, those of us who are union dissidents are left with four choices:

1-We can shut up rather than be critical and ask to join the in-crowd (become Unity UFT cheerleaders).

2-We can quit our union, go home and hope for the best.

3-We can try to form a better union.

4-We can attempt to bring about change from within the union while still being critical of its flaws. 

I still believe, until someone can convince me otherwise, that choice 4 is the way forward. We are better off staying in the UFT, even if we despise much of what our Union's leadership does, or rather often doesn't do, to defend us. Change happens in schools when we persuade our colleagues that it is in our collective interest to be active and force the UFT to support us. Dropping out to save some money each check is the wrong answer; it is pure "me only" selfishness.



The May 2020 piece:

NATIONAL RIGHT-WING ANTI-UNION PEOPLE ARE PUSHING WORKERS TO OPT OUT OF UNIONS

Nobody that I know of has expressed complete rage in public (using their own name) except for me about the UFT's lack of action in March when the Union was not willing to pull members out of schools that had COVID-19 cases. The UFT cares more about protecting their dues than the lives of their members. But what to do about it?

There is a group of individuals that say we should cease paying dues to such a morally bankrupt organization. They then provide a compelling list of other UFT failures including but not limited to: the 2005, 2014, 2018 Contracts with paltry raises and huge givebacks, the 2009 agreement to reduce the interest on the fixed TDA from 8.25% to 7% that CSA (principals and assistant principals) and PSC (CUNY teachers) have not had reduced, Danielson observations, Tier VI pensions, four years to get tenure and routine extensions of probation, etc. These arguments are all valid.

Even some of my colleagues who are very pro-union want us to consider encouraging our readers to drop out of the union. I thought about it. I called it a potential "dues strike" and did some research on how those who went on a "dues strike" could still be protected in case they were in trouble at work. Every avenue on the internet I went to would lead me to anti-union websites that want to finish unions off and use our anger with the union leadership as a justification. There is one group that will even take your money and support you as long as you are against union action.

From a critic of this organization:

The organization focused on the bottom line, literally, because it barely raises enough money to sustain itself, and as a result, does not provide its employees with decent wages and benefits. This was always troubling to me especially since we represented teachers who are underpaid.

The structure is decentralized with so-called hubs in Orange County, CA and Alexandria, VA although there is no management actually in the Virginia office.

I thought this was an organization focused on advancing the teaching profession but saw little evidence of that. In fact, there are no teachers in senior leadership at AAE. They'll say that the board is made up of teachers but they hardly have any say in day to day work and the founders have zero K-12 experience. I found it's a front organization created to sell teacher liability insurance. In fact, the founder was an insurance salesman, which now all makes sense. I kinda feel duped and so should teachers if they think this is more than an organization that tried to sell liability insurance.

Advice to Management

If you are anti-union, say so. If you are pro-teacher, act like it more than selling a product. If you are trying to improve the teaching profession, prove it. Otherwise, be who you really are, an insurance company (but currently in disguise).

These people are not our friends. A separate right-wing organization that is Koch funded is backing a lawsuit by two Chicago teachers who crossed the picket line during last year's successful strike and now want their union dues back. The Chicago Teachers Union only lets members stop dues in September of each year. Here is the reaction to the suit from a CTU lawyer in the Chicago Tribune:

In response, CTU attorney Robert Bloch said the suit was part of a national effort to hurt unions and workers’ rights.

“This is another anti-worker lawsuit from a reactionary, Koch-funded law project, filed as part of a coordinated, national right-wing effort aimed at undermining the rights of workers and their unions," Bloch said in a written statement. “We operate stringently within the letter of the law” governing dues collection, he said.

I believe those right-wing funded or at least inspired individuals might be two or three of the regular commenters on the ICEUFTblog. The two Chicago teachers who are suing for their union dues back are Ifeoma Nkemdi and Joanne Troesch. They sued the CTU, the Chicago Public Schools, and the AFT to get their dues money back. These two scabs from last year's strike were tried by the union.

Someone who crosses a picket line could face “appropriate charges” by the CTU executive board and then go through a judicial process akin to a trial, according to the union’s bylaws. If found guilty, they could be fined, or even expelled.

In March, the CTU informed Troesch and Nkemdi that they had been found guilty of violating the union’s internal strike policy and would be kicked out of the union unless they paid a fine equal to the amount of money they made during the strike, according to copies of the notices.

It's not dues first at the CTU. They don't want teachers who are scabs in their union.

Nkemdi said she was paid for the days during the strike when she worked, helping out with child care alongside nonunion staff, since schools remained open for students who needed care. When she walked by the picketing teachers, they called her names.

“They called me a scab. They said, ‘You turned your back,’” she said. “They were just saying how dumb and stupid I was. ... It was very traumatic, and I knew right then and there that I had to take a stand. I wasn’t going to be bullied out of my decision, and I wanted to make sure other teachers, if they felt the same way that I did, that they had opportunities without harassment and without bullying to go ahead and do so.”

There is no defense for crossing a picket line and making your brothers and sisters face the risk from the strike while you get paid.

These are the types of teachers and groups that are backing pedagogues who want to quit their unions. I looked around if there were non-right wing alternatives and I couldn't find any.

Quite frankly, I am in a terrible bind now. I despise what the UFT did in not telling people to leave unsafe buildings in March and letting those three days of staff development occur on March 17-19 at the height of when COVID-19 was spreading in this area. UFT inaction played a role in getting people sick. I know full well the Union will probably have no good answers in the fall if there is a second wave of COVID-19. Michael Mulgrew, in my opinion, will not tell members to leave unsafe situations as he did not in March and has been silent on the question since then.

In addition, it is virtually impossible to change the UFT electorally since Mulgrew controls very tightly the flow of information. I have said on many occasions that it is unfeasible to get to the huge number of UFT retirees scattered all over the country to get them to answer yes to the three questions Politics 101 says must be answered yes before voters will vote for you:

1. Do they know you?

2. Do they like you?

3. Do they trust you?

I still keep praying that something will happen to wake up teachers so that they demand a real say in their union representation. I even did the research in 2017 to find out what it would take to pull one of the three teaching divisions (high schools, middle schools, elementary schools) out of the UFT and start a separate union. Just to be clear, if a group broke off and started their own bargaining unit, they would keep all current salary and benefits, including the welfare fund. The Taylor Law taketh away double pay in a strike but it also giveth the right to keep a contract until you negotiate a new one.

For high schools, it would take about 100 activists to get about 60 signatures each from high school teachers exclusively to get a decertification referendum to start a separate union. At the time this was being pondered, the daughter of High School Teacher's Association and early UFT leader Roger Parente got in touch with Norm Scott to defend her father's honor. Doctor Matilda Parente and I soon thereafter became email friends. I think she saw me as a spiritual heir to her father. Chaz was also notified and did not discourage this push for divisional unions. We asked for 100 activists. So how many volunteered to help? Ten. Maybe COVID-19 has changed things and teachers are no longer willing to accept a union that would send them into unsafe buildings. I don't know.

Electoral or structural change is tough but the alternative right now to the UFT is right-wing and neo-liberal groups who want to destroy public education and make working conditions and salaries much worse (see Moskowitz, Eva for a possible future for education). They could do real damage in this economic climate. I don't support Mulgrew and I don't endorse Koch. The UFT  might react if a bunch of school Chapters go on a "dues strike" with demands for union reforms.  Scattered individuals opting out mean nothing even if it is a thousand lone wolves. You will only weaken the UFT more than it already is.

I thought about if there is anything of value in the UFT. There is. The school Chapter level is where there is still real democracy (Chapter Leader, Delegates, School Leadership Team, School Based Options, PROSE, Chapter Committee, School Safety Committee). A majority can still have a great deal of say in school-based decisions if they are organized. If you leave the union as an individual, you lose a chance to serve, vote, or have any influence at the school level. Some schools still do it right. Make sure yours is one of them.

My best hope now is that more schools will become organized and we will stand by them if they take action as we did in March when UFTers asked me if they could stay out if it was unsafe. It is still worth the price of paying dues to have a say in how your school is run. If everyone in your school is on the take or you are an Absent Teacher Reserve, then I totally understand your frustration but rather than quitting, expose the corruption out loud like we bloggers do. You'll feel better and the world is listening.

Finally, I have trouble making the stop paying dues argument in my own home. My wife (a great union activist) told me it was not up to me to lead anyone who wants to quit the UFT. She correctly pointed out that as a retiree, I switched over to her health plan and face absolutely no risk if I leave the Union. I pay dues basically for symbolic reasons as I get no substantial material benefit from being a UFT member.


I have nothing much to add in 2021 although I think it may be possible to see people being more receptive to a different type of union now. 

This is my last piece for a while on this issue and also the last time we will be accepting comments on this topic. Cue the cursing out James for censoring your comments.

The last word goes to TJL, no leftist:

TJL said...

To the opt outers: I get it. $1500ish in dues and terrible service. This is what happens in a monopoly. However with no Union at all there is no contract, no grievance. The boss tells you if you don't like it, there's the door, don't let it hit you on the ass on the way out.

The answer is to get rid of exclusive collective bargaining and allow competition. I may not agree on national politics but I'd certainly rather be represented by James, Camille, Jeff Kaufman, Norm Scott, Jon Halabi, and some others I'm leaving out rather than the likes of Randi and Mulgrew.


90 comments:

Jeff said...

1st, your info about salary is misleading. If you rank and include cost of living and taxes, we actually make below many teachers in other states. And, as repeatedly stated, in Chicago for example, you max out after 14 years. Also, you refuse to answer one question...If Mulgrew wins in 2022, which I think you agree is highly likely, then what?

Anonymous said...

It is really a choice between Moral Clarity and Moral Depravity.

Opting out is moral clarity.

Continuing to pay dues to a corrupt, incompetent UFT is moral depravity.

James Eterno said...

If we build a united front, we can make inroads and make change. I choose to stay and fight. I would be lying if I said I am going to miss your opt out comments.

Anonymous said...

Remember how irate James was when we were sent to die in March 2020? The mayor the uft supported did that. Uft was silent. James was faking outrage like mulgrew did when we didn't get retro last year. Pretty pathetic.

Anonymous said...

This is what you wrote in May of 2014.
How was it been since then? Still hoping and wishing. SAD!

"As for setting the pattern of 10% over 7 years, this is an abysmally low pattern to establish (we did better monetarily under the anti union Mayors Bloomberg and Guilliani). I can understand why other labor unions in the city are angry with Mulgrew, particularly when it is considered how much surplus revenue the city has. We should have been able to achieve non monetary gains for loaning the city our money and setting a very low pattern but instead we surrendered as usual."

Where is the Memorandum of Agreement?
I asked the president when we would be seeing the full Memorandum of Agreement in writing. He said he didn't know but Staff Director Leroy Barr said it would be out soon. Mulgrew asked for a motion to recommend the contract for approval. I abstained as I would never vote on something I haven't seen. The Unity faithful followed their caucus obligatons and all voted in the affirmative while the New Action people went along with Unity too. The other MORE members abstained silently during the vote but I screamed out for my abstention to be counted.

For the seven years from 2011 to 2018, where the UFT will set the pattern for raises that other city unions will now follow, we will be getting a total of 10% in raises for seven years plus a $1,000 signing bonus. That works out to less than 1.5% per year.

For those of you expecting to go back in the fall and at least have the 4%+4% added to your pay, forget it.

We will not be made "whole" for Bloomberg denying us the raises that other city unions got 5 years ago until 2020.

Thanks to inflation, Retro delayed is really Retro denied!

James Eterno said...

That should be the campaign next year: Protecting dues vs protecting lives. I was not afraid to walk out in 2006 when my school wasn't safe. I encouraged people in 2020 to do what I was able to do. Many friends did not stay in unsafe buildings.

Anonymous said...

One year from now you're going to have a lot of explaining to do when your ridiculous hopes and dreams don't work out.

Jeff said...

Missing the point, as usual. The union we pay did nothing, and people got sick and died. That is reprehensible, unforgettable and unforgivable, on top of all the other failures.

James Eterno said...

I have been a part of the opposition to Unity since 1995. I have no intention of quitting now. Unity was terrible then when they agreed to two years with no raises while the city's economy was about to boom. We defeated that contract. We came close to defeating the 2005 contract where I was on the exec bd leading the opposition. The post you fished out from 2014 has over 70,000 views.I stood up to Mulgrew at the DA on that contract.

I pay dues now when I don't need to in order to keep my voice. I am doing my part. I fight for what I believe in. I don't keep my dues and run away.

Anonymous said...

Something only a unity hack and James could be proud of. Voting on a contract we've never seen.

"In the next couple of weeks an army of union officials will be invading the schools to sell the contract. UFT members need to understand that these people work for the union and are accountable to President Mulgrew. They are there to push the contract and members must not be afraid to ask them detailed questions.

Ultimately, the membership has the power to either say yes or no. If we say yes, we live with what we voted for. If we say no, it does not mean a strike. It means we think we can do better. However, just saying we think we can do better is not enough. Members will need to mobilize themselves to get a decent contract."

James Eterno said...

Hey Jeff, Mulgrew's inaction in 2020 should be highlighted over and over. His inaction caused people to get infected with COVID and some died.

What are you doing about it? Keeping your money. We are trying to end the Unity misrule.

James Eterno said...

I abstained on negotiating committee when we were not given a contract to vote on. Voted no at DA when we had the contract.

Anonymous said...

For the opt outer, remember that even if people opt out of dues, Mulgrew still keeps his same salary.he couldn't care less! Yes, he is a firebug, agreed.so vote him out!Many posters here have been unrelenting disgusting toward James as well as to each other.james runs this as a favor.he doesn't need us.we need him.show some appreciation and respect.and professionalism.he didn't create the ultimate issues.he works for change but can't do it alone. As far as attacking each other, that is what the higher us want.dont play into their hands.

Thall67 said...

You did James and I listened and left with you thank God.

Anonymous said...

Go Solidarity!

I see change coming!

More union members are waking up!

Go Solidarity!

Jack said...

I’m not a UFT shill, but I’m in my 40’s, make more than a decent amount of my friends in other jobs who work a lot harder than I do.

Here’s why people are so upset and it’s simple. They care too much and think this job means something. Spoiler: it doesn’t. It’s a racket. It’s a work.

Accept this fact and you may actually have fun.

The kids are working us, we are working admins and colleagues by smiling, being polite all the while collecting a salary that leads to a pension and contributing to a 403B.

Oh yeah, in another month we get ten weeks off.

You have two choices in the doe. They are work the system or let the system work you. To each their own.

Anonymous said...

1232 how about some capital letters or is that too hard for a teacher?

Anonymous said...

You abstained. Mulgrew and the contract won with landslide victories. What will change next time? You must be a comedian.

Michael Gatton said...

I'll be joining you in retirement soon. What can I do to help, James, besides voting and commenting on Twitter? Like what's a playbook for people to bring about change, an "indivisible" type guide if you will?

Anonymous said...

NYC teachers during the current contract will eventually start out earning $61,000 per year and max out after 22 years making over $128,00 per annum with good benefits and, except for Tier VI, a very good pension. Do you think our salaries, benefits and pensions are in any way, shape or form possible without a union? Be truthful,

James, first I want to say I am in support of a strong union-which is obviously not the UFT.

Your point about salary-yes, we make $128,000 WITH 22 YEARS AND A MASTERS DEGREE AND 30 ADDITONAL CREDITS. That is a very long time to wait AND a master's degree plus 30 credits is EXPENSIVE TO PAY FOR.

Look at people with a few years less in
8B+L18 111,350. So 18 years, masters plus 30 make $111,350.

It's a very long wait to earn $128,000. Also, it costs $800,000-$900,000 to buy a home in Northeast, Queens and those are modest homes which need upgrades.

The salary does not provide enough income to pay student loans, finance masters plus 30 and try to live within the community I work.

This is sad to me. I have friends who yes belong to unions but stronger ones that they could get jobs with no advanced education thus started careers earlier and incurred no long term debt-NYC Sanitation_which also provides a pension after just 20 years to tier 4 and Local 1-2 for utility workers. My friends don't have to work/prepare materials before they go to work. If they have to work extra they are paid extra to work before/after their actual work schedule. They all earn more than me and have nicer homes and no student loans.

So, no I do not think $111,000 is a good salary for a teacher with 18 years, a masters and 30 credits beyond. Also, waiting 22 years for $128,000 is laughable as well.
Many in private industry have their masters degrees paid for my their companies AND They earn significantly more than their peers within less education.

These friends aren't also badgered constantly one the news, social media, the mayor, governor. They also don't have multiple observations that supervisors use to degrade and control teachers.

So while I support unions I absolutely do not think our salaries and working conditions are what they should be. I am embarrassed by them and the fact that I pay $1600 to be a part of the UFT.

Anonymous said...

I remember when membership defeated a contract, it was re-worked, then it passed. This was in the 1990's I think.

Thanks for explaining that the DNA of the leadership is "trying to get along" not "fighting". It explains a lot.

My local, under AFT, had fighting president. Our membership was mad as hell about givebacks and they elected her. She was defeated after someone apparently misappropriated money and complaints about the slowdown of the grievance process.

Workers, rightly so, are very sensitive if their negative work experiences are not taken seriously, especially by a "fighting" labor rep.

Years ago the biggest teacher complaint was that the teachers in the nearby suburbs were paid significantly more. Teachers got a big raise under Bloomberg, but we also got the nasty leadership academy for administrators, fair student funding, ATRs and elimination of school secretary sabbaticals-classic divide and conquer. The union coasted on the big raises for a long time.

I'm a strong believer in union membership. I wonder what the membership wants now.

Anonymous said...

The biggest landslide presidential election was 1984, Reagan got 58%. Mulgrew got 86% in 2019. Can you point to any election where mulgrew or Randi came close to losing? Then you say that mulgrew would be lousy either way, whether way pay or not. You guys aren't doing a great job arguing your point. An unwinnable election, a uft president who clearly doesn't care, above called him a firebug, tjl said we pay for awful and shifty service, this is the best you can do? James proudly states that he has been part of the opposition for 30 years, yet he has never come within a million miles of getting change. Saying that mulgrew will get 300k whether we pay or not... Pretty sad. Good luck next year, ill try not to laugh my ass off. Oh, and enjoy the triple dues in retro say.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew actually did better in 2019 than he did in 2016. Still think there is a chance?

2019-86%
2016-80%-this was after the awful 2014 contract
2013-84%
2010-91%
2007-80%-this was after the awful 2005 contract-Randi

Anonymous said...

I am turning 41, going into my 20th year, will be getting bumped to 111k on the next check. I agree with above, not great for that many years with that much education in a high cost and high tax place. James, you said chicago is 42% cheaper. Can I take 42% off my 111k? Then I make 66k.

James Eterno said...

Email us at iceuft@gmail.com Michael Gatton. We can certainly have a conversation.

8:09, I abstained at the negotiating committee because I didn't see the contract Mulgrew was selling. I don't vote on something I can't see. I helped lead the fight against the 2014 contract at the DA and online when I saw what was there. Look at how similar contracts passed with something like over 90% in other unions. We got tens of thousands to vote no.

A united opposition has not existed in a UFT election since 1997. That year we got 58% of the high school vote. It's about organizing. I have no illusions. Unity is the last of the giant political machines in the United States. Taking it down will take a massive effort and yes, I have not succeeded in getting enough people to join that effort. Maybe, now that will change. It certainly won't happen with the opt-outers.



James Eterno said...

Opting out isn't going to get you a Chicago cost of living, 10:07. Joining an opposition group might just help.

Anonymous said...

James 1013 am, you failed each time. NMt blaming you, just proving the point. You say you have no illusions, but then seem to say the opposite about coming together, as you say the uft sucks.

Anonymous said...

And paying isnt either.

Anonymous said...

819 is 100% correct. Look at these housing prices. And we're going to get so screwed in the next contract. We will be expected to play ball. Inflation is going to ruin the decade.

Anonymous said...

I think over this last year with teachers being divided over remote accommodations vs working in building has woken alot of folks up. I don't see the next election going so smooth for mulgrew. We need another voice to challenge him and highlight the disaster he has created. I'm hopeful for change. Thanks for keeping up the fight James.

James Eterno said...

10:17, I have been at this for a long time. I have had many potential exit ramps. I keep trying.

I see young activists like Lydia Howrilka and union fighters like Ibeth Mejia and Daniel Alicea out there so I am willing to share my experience. Not ready to give up but some of the comments here are depressing and discouraging.

Anonymous said...

My advice to young teachers who still aren't married: Find yourself a wealthy spouse. At least you won't have to worry about money. You can use your money for vacations and luxuries.

Anonymous said...

Stopped paying COPE many years ago and stopped union dues in retirement. I refused to pay for SHIP. Best decisions I have made. Randi dropped Fixed-TDA down from 8.25% to 7%. She claimed in a text that the CSA also agreed to lower their TDA rate to 7%. This was an absolute lie. For over 10 years, the CSA continues to enjoy a nice 8.25% return.
Wake up Union Due Members.

Anonymous said...

There are alot of teachers that are ready to fight down Unity and Mulgrew's mafia...we need to join together and keep a positive mindset and organize and execute to defeat corruption....the time is now... when you don't have an "in" to get some good trouble started...that's when all hope is gone..opting out is not a way to deal with ending corruption... aggressive action and being united is the only way

Anonymous said...

The fact that I am taking the time to respond to such non sense a find it very amusing...but in all seriousness. if anyone that knows James Eterno...knows he is not FAKE!.. what is fake is your comment about James..and what's pathetic is you follow his blog because you are a loss soul without it LOL! LMAO LOL

Anonymous said...

There has to term limits. Perhaps, 6 to 8 years at the most for the UFT President and all top level UFT Executives.
Also, does Mulgrew get to be the AFT President when Weingarten retires?

Anonymous said...

Someone else mentioned on another post that the non-Unity groups should pick ONE person to run against Mulgrew and have ONE person for each elected official. It’s idiotic to have multiple other candidates. If ALL the other opposition groups had a single slate instead of being petty and ego fueled there would be a chance. UFT members would take them more seriously. Current UFTers are annoyed, retirees are pissed and if they start now they have time to be on all types of online forums to get the word out. They need to start NOW… I don’t want to hear how Unity hides retirees… there are enough retiree groups for people to join to get the word out- you just have to put the work in.

Of course they need to not pick loons or extremes…. think Biden (I’m not talking about political beliefs, but someone who checks enough boxes to allow different types of people voting for them). Let’s see if the different caucuses are interested in leading or just screaming.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has an issue with sill, Amy, mulgrew, Hinds etc making between 170k and 300k each?

Shelley said...

It's simple: is the UFT better than nothing?
James argues that it is by insisting that history proves the value of unions.
And history supports his position.
Without unions, wages would be much lower, inequality, as bad as it is, would be far worse, working conditions would be worse, and so on.
So Unions are good for workers.

But James's argument, while historically sound, doesn't quite close the circle here.

We are not debating the values of unions.

We are not even debating the value of one corrupt union, our local, the UFT.

We all agree that if we could ever reform the UFT it would be great.

What we are debating are the reform methods James and others keep proposing.
These methods have failed us for decades and there is no reason to expect that they will succeed.

So what should we try next?

Some say, pull dues.




James Eterno said...

We have argued based on historical precedent that individuals pulling dues will weaken us further and not magically turn Mulgrew into Eugene V Debs and the rank and file into the TWU workers.

Anonymous said...

Can al shanker please be resurrected?

waitingforsupport said...

Blame those who
A. Don't vote
B. Have surrendered their professionalism to their bully employer
C. Believe Mulgrew is the end all.

Jeff said...

Again, people are changing the argument. Nobody, or very few, are anti union. We just can no longer look in the mirror and pay this union. Just as James says no union would be worse, I can simply respond that paying dues hasn't helped. I can't, as an adult, be so stupid, and keep suffering while paying.

James Eterno said...

Okay, Jeff, then why do you still constantly comment on this pro-union anti-leadership blog? Let's move on and agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

Anti leadership? Lol. Seems like Shelley and others don't see it your way.

Dave said...

Is it April Fools Day? James is anti leadership as he demands we pay for awful leadership from awful leaders.

Anonymous said...

By the way, the dr in Wuhan said it came from the lab.

Anonymous said...

Maybe people are upset as they go from 22 to 32 to 52 years old and they see their lives going down the toilet in a disgusting, fraud filled and abusive job. And their union doesn't help or care.

David Suker said...

👍

David Suker said...

👍

Anonymous said...

like I have said numerous times, we need to strike against our union
I don't blame the city for our awful contracts, awful conditions, awful etc.. I blame our useless union. they are the ones who are suppose to fight for our best interests. our union has become an arm of the progressive woke left. they cafe more social issues.
withholding dues for a period of time is the only leverage we have left

that is the discussion we should be having, how to strike against our union!
the only way I know how to strike against my union, yes its my union also is to withhold my dues for a year, maybe 2

James keeps saying a shitty, corrupt, abusive union is better than no union at all, not sure if that makes sense

my abusive, corrupt and shitty spouse is better than no spouse at all , does that make any sense?


no caps just for you, you know who you are

Anonymous said...

Opt outers can never help our cause because they cannot vote in UFT elections. No UFT teachers will miss it if they are banned from making anti-union comments.

Anonymous said...

Shelly summed up the debate on dues. What method of reform should we pursue? We’re divided on THAT issue.

Anonymous said...

Nice work, james. You managed to piss people off further who clearly hate the union and know the union doesn't deserve payment. Now people are calling for a strike. I think you may have done 1 thing, you are gonna get people to hope unity wins by a landslide next year just to prove how foolish you are. "Band together." "I'm hopeful." Lol.

Anonymous said...

uft elections are fixed, unity will never allow anyone else to be in charge
they are better than a 3rd world dictator, yes 3rd world my woke friends

strike against our union by withholding our hard earned dues!!! who's with us???

David Suker said...

Stop holding up the mirror to my life! Year 23 of a 25 year sentence!!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Koch brother loving alt right MAGAs. You are wrong. We are better off without you in the UFT. So long and don't let the door hit you on the way out. We won't miss you.

Anonymous said...

Ban the scabs. They have no place on a pro-union site.

Anonymous said...

Freeloaders suck.

Anonymous said...

956. You are already without me. And what's happened? You are a big joke. No wonder you get stomped on by your employer and your union. Your answer is "Haha,Ii pay dues and you don't?" Proud of getting ripped off?

Anonymous said...

Didnt you all say scabs were gonna get furloughed last year? LOL. You aren't too swift. I guess the scabs should thank the sheep for paying, you keep the scabs getting the "great" benefits.

ed notes online said...

Opting out of union membership is moral clarity? Perfect far right talking point. You would have shit if not for unions. Just look at the world before unions and where there are no unions now.

Pressure on Unity? More bullshit. They want power and will take it with 200,000 members of 20 members. For them goodbye good riddance to people who are critical. So now you can't even vote those Unity slug chapter leaders in your own school. Have fun when your principal eyes you like a piece of meat.

It's about saving money. If union membership were free you would say why not?

Shelley said...

Why don't the opposition caucuses unify to send a strong message to Unity.

If they won't do this, the leadership of the caucuses are also a problem.

They, like the Unity caucus, like to blame the rank and file.


James did this recently when he said we would never fight like the TWU. It's not a matter of a sudden rank and file transformation (to the TWU or to any radical or militant position, as James puts it). The membership is not to blame.

More money and more members than more concession bargaining. That's how the AFT and the UFT roll.

Do members even know about this?

How do we stop this?

How can this be stopped and then, reversed, so that the rank and file, younger every day, and more likely to be in Tier 6, and unaware of the history, the real and true history of what has been given back, and less and less likely to care about any of this as they see nothing worth fighting for, will stand up and fight, or at least vote?

And the retirees dominate. So how do we find common ground with the retirees as more and more the work they did and the total wages they got look like some golden days long gone to the newbies and youngsters?

Push to end Tier 6.

Anonymous said...

@10:08
that's funny, you believe this is a pro union site
have been reading iceuft for 8 yrs or so and cant recall a pro uft post from James
im pro union, anti uft and believe we should withhold our dues for a 1-2 year period and strike against the uft until they represent the interests of its members

call me a scab, freeloader, alt right maga's all you want (I thought personal attacks were suppose to be banned James)
I didn't know ed koch had a brother
I am pro union, just not pro corrupt, abusive, shiity union
they aren't getting my $1600 every year.

you know you are going to miss me, tells me the truth lol

Anonymous said...

12:46 and 9:47 said it perfectly!

We get piddely raises, our lives pass by and we are not getting ahead in life. We are just keeping our heads above water. People with masters degrees and beyond should not have to live like this.

9:47-YES! MANY, MANY TEACHERS DON'T REFER TO IT AS A CAREER. It is is a prison sentence that we all hope to survive and get freedom!

Michael Gatton said...

Totally agree, time to move on.

Anonymous said...

To the tune of goodnight Irene:

Good night freeloaders, we hate to see you go,

Good night freeloaders,

We'll see you in our dreams.

(Maybe change last word to nightmares.)

Shelley said...

Norm,

Your view of unions, like James's, is very dated. You can't continue to defend most current unions, especially public service unions, teacher unions, with what unions did because what unions once did they don't do no more.

see _What Unions No Longer_
by Jake Rosenfeld


And, what Unions do now is dismantle what unions did.

And they do it with the dues we pay them.





Anonymous said...

Lol. Scabs are getting the same as you without paying. Who is the joke on? As much as James pushed paying, he can't find one positive thing to write about.

James Eterno said...

Clarification Shelley, The members could become militant as they have done in Chicago and Los Angeles with different leadership. That is what we need in NYC, not a bunch of individuals opting out.

James Eterno said...

Shelley, If we accept Rosenfeld's thesis, how is the solution to have even weaker unions with fewer members?

waitingforsupport said...

@1246 am... so you're saying 30 years of experiencing a deterioration of your rights can make anyone upset. Insightful

Shelley said...

Big membership and big money doesn't make a union strong.

In our union it makes us weaker.

The AFT and Unity keep adding members and money and then using that leverage to dismantle all the great things that unions did for us while maintaining a monopoly on power and control.

The members are weakened, both in the power they have as "democratic" members and in what they get for being members.

This needs to stop.

How do we do it?

Elections? Please. We don't have a snow balls chance in hell of defeating Unity.

So now what?

James, you are very naïve and idealistic about all this and that's fine for a blogger but please don't insult us by insisting that we are anti-union because we see your reforms as a waste of time.

We want change too.

It's a matter of methods.

Anonymous said...

amen shelly!!

I am as pro union as the old fossil ed notes guy but look around everyone, the uft is not a union. you might think it is but its not.

strike against the uft, withhold your dues for 2 years. I started last year and used the money I saved to buy a new door to hit me on the ass on my way out. im not out of the union forever because I believe in the importance of worker protection. our union does nothing but erode the accomplishments made from the 60's-early 90's

Marc said...

James, how long do you want to try your approach? Simple question.

Anonymous said...

So we’re back to name calling. I’m a scab. You’re a sucker. Now what? It’s not about the money. I’d pay 2x union dues if we had a strong union. Agree with Shelly yet again. Outdated thinking. Let’s put a pause on the conversation. Come back in 5 years and see if spineless groveling teachers have grown a backbone and are ready to demand more. My bet is no. I’ll have withheld about 8k in dues by then.

Anonymous said...

James would rather keep banging his head against a brick wall. Maybe after 2022 when mulgrew gets 86% again.

Anonymous said...

So what is your method, Shelly? If we stop paying then what? There has to be a then what?

Anonymous said...

James, if we don't accept Rosenfeld's theory, what has 100% membership gotten us? The 2005 and 2014 contract? You, constantly, in every post, telling us how bad the uft is?

Anonymous said...

105, and if we keep paying, then what? There has to be an answer. Unless you are good with the dtatis quo.

Anonymous said...

914. Our union is neither progressive, nor "left." It is center right at most. It is a wing of the DOE on one side, and a useful tool of our private business sector on another. They do not arbitrate, or fight, for us. They dole out what those two interests want from us DOE employees. That is what Unity has turned the union into. The fight is not against a union, but against the powers that shape the union. We have to change that.

Anonymous said...

931. Organize fellow employees to vote against Unity. Argue to district reps, to your chapter leaders. Give em hell.

James Eterno said...

Shelley,

Your method of mass defections has never worked, ever, not once but if you want to organize it, go right ahead. Starting a blog isn't that difficult. You have a First Amendment right to do so.

We talked about a dues strike in 2020 after Mulgrew sent people into buildings the UFT knew were infected with COVID. When I asked how many were willing to do a dues strike collectively so we could pool the money to protect each other (a sort of alternative union) and put collective pressure on Unity to reform, one person responded and that person informed me that he got zero support for the idea in his school.

I am less naive than you think and not irresponsible.

We have exhausted this debate for a long time. Unless someone has something new to add, time to move ahead.

Pro union- anti-Unity Caucus.

Anonymous said...

Can we on the opt out side at least stop acting like James hasn’t explained his rationale a million times. James has hope someone or something will will unite teachers who will then rise up and demand more. We may not agree. We may think nothing will change but to ask him to explain himself over and over is unnecessary. Mocking him, insulting him....someone who has worked on behalf of us for decades is wrong.

I don’t know if Shelly has an answer to then what? I don’t. I’m not interested in trying to mobilize nyc teachers because I think 90% of them wouldn’t fight back if administrators or union leaders were literally repeatedly punching them in the face and dragging them to the roof to be set on fire. I’m content to just no longer fund the UFT myself. I’m not willingly paying people who abuse me. Stay or go. Your choice.

Anonymous said...

Agree with 203. James' argument has no more validity than the opt out argument. Actually James has been proven wrong over the last 30 years.

waitingforsupport said...

Ha ha ha ha. @2:03 pm...you made my day. I agree with you--to a degree. It is horrible when people don't do what they are supposed to do.

Anonymous said...

Opt-outers can't answer questions that are asked of them and offer no alternatives, but we should listen to them. I think you are disgruntled anti-union folks who hate that we have a union, even a shitty one.

James Eterno said...

From the original post:

Based on the many comments we received today, I think there might be a consensus that nobody is convincing anyone to either opt-out of paying UFT dues or not opt-out. Therefore, it is time to close the debate. We are just wasting everyone's time with repetitive arguments and comments.

I'm ready. We have all had our say and it's time to move on.

Anonymous said...

Can I get an AMEN?

James Eterno said...

From Shelley:

Dear James,
Please put this up on your blog.

This is my last post to your blog.

As I said, in a post you censored, I am not at all comfortable with your
making me the poster child of the opt-out or "mass defections" strategy.

I don't know what to do about the problems we face. There is no easy solution, and yet, like you, I have hope.

Peace,

Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many—they are few!"

--Shelley