Wednesday, March 27, 2024

ICE Endorses in TRS, Retiree and Para elections at March 26 Zoom Meeting

ICE met on a zoom and discussed current major trends in the UFT:

Three current elections pose a threat to Unity Caucus absolute control of the UFT (except for the 7 hs EB seats.)
TRS election
Ben Morgenroth, who is running against the Unity candidate for one of the 3 TRS pension positions, discussed the election process (complicated), his petition campaign (going very well) and a campaign in the schools, where elections take place on May 8. The attendees endorsed Ben's campaign. There was some surprise at the response from so many schools on the petition returns. Unity has been forced to engage in an election for the first time in decades and put out a leaflet for their candidate at the March 20 DA. Ben reports that their candidate wants to come to his school to campaign and get signatures. She seems to be a UFT employee and can go to schools to campaign. But her focus on Ben's school, Brooklyn Tech, the largest school in the city, is also interesting in that if someone sign's both petitions their vote is negated. Surprisingly, one of his colleagues, someone who ran with the UFC opposition in the election two years ago, is supporting the Unity candidate and getting petitions for her in the same school. The reasons are murky.
Going back to the process involved in the DOE running this election, with principals in charge in each school - and process is law - there is a potential nightmare in this being run correctly. There are supposed to be 3 tellers in each school and voting must be on May 8. The Unity machine has a major advantage in the number of chapter leaders that can "manage" to influence the process. Expect some ramifications, with some schools violating the law by not even holding a vote.

Retiree Chapter Election
RA Chapter Leader candidate Bennett Fisher (Unity has not yet announced his opponent) was present and reviewed the LOL RTC March 19 meeting where it was clear that Unity was so worried about this election they have a new initiative to organize the 7,000 retired paras as a way to troll for votes. Bennett reports we have the full slate of 300 candidates for the DA which includes 10 officers and 15 Exec Bd. Petitioning is easy and complete. One glitch came up was the Unity demand we only use UFT ID numbers when we had been following the tradition of giving people a choice of last 4 soc sec or file numbers. That led to some anger at changing the rules at the last minute and a scramble to touch base with the candidates who had not used the UFT ID number. RA decided not to waste time in protest and just get as many numbers as they can. They expect some flexibility if we miss a few due to people traveling, etc. If Unity tries to knock people off the ballot due to the number, then expect a big protest - possibly an election complaint to PERB.
Para Chapter Election and petition for a fair wage
Daniel Alicea, who has been working with a group of paras challenging the Unity machine in the para election, was present to give a report. He described the reso put in front of the Ex Bd on. March 18 and how Unity "supported" it by gutting it by removing the final reso which called for a plan for collective bargaining, with Unity arguing we don't bargain in public (despite the success of other teacher unions that used public bargaining to win big gains for paras).

See Nick Bacon's report on New Action blog:
And Ed Notes: 
Daniel reported on the DA two days later on how the Unity para chapter leader actually raised the gutted reso, making it look like theirs. Daniel made an amendment restoring most of the gutted portion but removed the call for open bargaining. Unity voices muddled the debate and the reso was defeated. 

Nick reported on the meeting:
Daniel also reported on the potential para slate under the banner of UFT Paras For A Fair Contract - website:
Unity changed the rules for the para election by making it slate voting and requiring at least 7 to be a slate. In last year's special election 5 opposing Unity candidates ran as individuals and won 2 seats. Paras know that if they run they may face pressure from Unity so putting together a slate is going to be a process.

A petition has been circulating and the response has been excellent with hundreds of paras signing and some of them are offering to join the slate.  Sign the petition.

There are 25,000 paras and they garner almost 300 delegates to the DA, so if Unity lost in both the Retiree and Para elections, there would be major changes at the DA and Unity control of the union in the 2025 general election would be in danger.

You can read more on the issue:

The Next Step: UFT Paras for A Fair Contract launches campaign for A LIVING WAGE and FAIR CONTRACT; seeking paras to run on its election slate

The next ICE meeting will be in person on Wednesday April 24 during the break. Email if interested in attending.

Submitted by Norm Scott

Monday, March 25, 2024

Pay Parity for Paras

      The role of paraprofessionals in our City's classrooms changes from school to school and even from class to class. But one thing that is constant is that not only is their function and role mandated by law but they play an indispensable part of our students' education every day.

     The role of a para is uniquely tied to the role of the classroom teacher and while they have different responsibilities it is abundantly clear that without paraprofessionals the mission of our education system would not be fulfilled.

     Paras have lagged behind financially and have rarely been recognized for the role they play every day in the classroom. As a result basic job protections, union recognition and other benefits of working in DOE classroom have been slow to be provided.

     Perhaps, most egregious, is the fact that para pay has fallen further behind teacher pay each contract. Providing percentage based pay increases only widen the gap.

     If we are truly serious about guaranteeing a living wage for paraprofessionals we must set their wages, after recognizing their contribution to the education of our students, to a level that is reflected in teacher pay. That is pay parity.

     The concept of pay parity refers to ensuring that employees in similar roles receive comparable compensation. In the context of New York City (NYC), where paraprofessionals play a crucial role in supporting students and teachers, advocating for pay parity between paraprofessionals and teachers is essential.

 Why pay parity?

 Equal Workload and Responsibilities:
  • Paraprofessionals work alongside teachers, providing essential support in classrooms, special education settings, and other educational environments.
  • They assist with student supervision, behavior management, instructional activities, and individualized student needs.
  • Despite their critical role, paraprofessionals often earn significantly less than teachers, even though their responsibilities are similar.
 Equity and Fairness:
  • Pay parity ensures fairness and equity within the education system.
  • When paraprofessionals are compensated at a significantly lower rate than teachers, it perpetuates an inequitable system.
  • Equal pay for equal work is a fundamental principle that promotes morale, job satisfaction, and retention.
 Professional Development and Career Growth:
  • Paraprofessionals should have opportunities for professional development and further career advancement.
  • When their pay is proportionate to their responsibilities, it encourages them to pursue further education, training, and certifications.
  • Investing in paraprofessionals’ growth benefits students and the entire educational community.
 Retention and Stability:
  • Adequate compensation is crucial for retaining skilled and experienced paraprofessionals.
  • High turnover due to low pay disrupts continuity in classrooms and negatively impacts student learning.
  • Pay parity contributes to a stable workforce, benefiting both educators and students.
 Student Outcomes:
  • Paraprofessionals directly impact student outcomes by providing individualized support.
  • When they feel valued and adequately compensated, they are more likely to be motivated and effective in their roles.
  • Improved student-teacher ratios and personalized attention positively influence academic achievement.
Cost-Effective Investment:
  • Investing in paraprofessionals benefits schools and districts economically.
  • Well-supported paraprofessionals enhance teacher effectiveness, reduce teacher burnout, and contribute to a positive school climate.
  • Ultimately, this investment pays off in improved student success.
Implementing pay parity by ensuring that paraprofessional pay is a reasonable percentage of teacher pay is not only a matter of fairness but also a strategic decision that positively impacts education quality, workforce stability, and student outcomes.
The DOE should prioritize equitable compensation for all education professionals to create a thriving learning environment for students and educators alike.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

Resolution to Continue the Work of James Eterno

 ...the following resolution was passed unanimously by ICE...

Resolution to Continue the Work of James Eterno

WHEREAS, the late James Eterno was a dedicated member of the Independent Community of Educators (ICE-UFT), serving as a co-founder, UFT Presidential candidate in 2010, committee member for the 2010 ICE-UFT platform, long-time Chapter Leader, 12-year Executive Board member, and fierce advocate for labor unions; and

WHEREAS, James was committed to maintaining a vibrant ICE that meets regularly and contributes its experience in UFT organizing and advocating for a strong, militant, and democratic UFT; and

WHEREAS, James played a key role in the 2022 UFT election as a United for Change organizer and long-time Executive Board candidate for UFC, MORE, ICE/TJC, and New Action, consistently supporting UFT opposition groups while remaining a passionate advocate for the union;

  1. Continue to meet on a regular basis.
  1. Maintain its email listserv and blog.

  1. Remain open to all UFT members, regardless of affiliation or persuasion.

  1. Serve as a platform for civil and open discussions, encouraging respectful disagreement and collaboration towards strong unions and good public schools.
  1. Advocate for a UFT that embraces diverse viewpoints, open debates, militant unionism, responsive leadership, and an engaged membership.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that ICE will continue to support and participate in union elections as part of coalitions and caucuses fighting for responsive leadership, engaged membership, and rank-and-file militant unionism.

Dated: February 21, 2024