Tuesday, June 25, 2024

ICE Calls For a Unified Effort to Replace Unity Caucus and Bring our Union into the Modern Age

The Independent Community of Educators (ICE), a key advocacy group within the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) since 2003, calls on all UFT members, regardless of political affiliation or caucus connection, to join in a mission to replace Michael Mulgrew and his Unity Caucus and install a broad based leadership that genuinely fights for its members, broadens decision making in the UFT through democratic reforms, and gets tangible results in alignment with the priorities of its members. This effort may require the caucuses to at times restrain themselves from competing with each other to achieve this common goal. Let's build a united front where individuals within the UFT, no matter caucus or not, join in a common effort and aim at restoring a key tenet of unionism—being member drive .

As we witness the growing discontent among our ranks and the erosion our ability to meet the needs of our students and patients, it is clear that the current leadership has failed to meet the needs and expectations of UFT members or protect the people we serve. Our members deserve leaders who are not only committed to advocating for their rights but also capable of delivering meaningful and positive changes for the community as a whole.

In the wake of the historic victories in the Retiree and Paraprofessional chapters, we urge all members to come together and support this movement to bring about the leadership change that our union and our city desperately needs. We need leaders who will prioritize the well-being of educators, support staff, and retirees, and who will stand up to external pressures without resorting to intimidation or bullying tactics. In addition to a leadership that understands what unionism truly stands for and contributes to the elevation of all the people in the city whom we work with and serve.

ICE-UFT envisions a future where UFT leadership is transparent, democratic, and responsive to the concerns of its members. A leadership that fights for its members, instead of focusing on alliances with politicians and administrators that actively work against us. Our voices are being silenced by management and by our union which directly affects us and what we can provide to those who rely on our expertise. 

Our goals include:

Fighting for Members: Ensuring that all negotiations and decisions are made with the input of all members in the best interests of educators, nurses, support staff, and retirees in mind.

Ending Bullying by DOE and UFT Staff: Creating a respectful and supportive environment within our schools and union where every member feels valued and heard.

Achieving Results: Delivering on promises and implementing effective strategies to improve working conditions, compensation, and benefits for all members by activating our membership so they are empowered to advocate for the the conditions and systems that work for all. 

We believe that with new leadership, we can restore trust in the UFT and build a stronger, more unified organization that truly represents and advocates for its members and the people they serve.

We invite all UFT members to join us in this crucial effort. Together, we can bring about the changes necessary to ensure our union remains a powerful and effective advocate for educators, nurses and support staff  who contribute to and serve New York City and its citizens. 

Monday, June 24, 2024

A Victory for Our Voices, A Fight for Our Future: Healthcare on Our Terms

We did it! Michael Mulgrew's reversal on forced Medicare Advantage Plans is a monumental win for UFT retirees. This victory wasn't handed to us – it's the result of tireless grassroots pressure and unwavering resolve.

For too long, the narrative has been: the Union leadership makes decisions, we accept them. But this win flips the script. It proves that our voices have power. It's a reminder that we, the members, are the Union.

This victory exposes a crucial truth: the current leadership structure leaves retirees particularly vulnerable. The secret Medicare Advantage agreement is a glaring example. We need a fundamental shift to ensure our healthcare needs are truly represented.

Here's how we turn this win into lasting change:

Dissolve the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC). Their negotiations ran counter to our interests and shrouded in secrecy. We deserve better.

Demand real negotiations for health and welfare benefits. Every decision impacting our healthcare must involve our input and approval.

Eliminate conflicts of interest. Union-run benefit bureaucracies can prioritize their own agendas over ours. We need independent representation.

Separate retiree and active member healthcare negotiations. This removes conflicts and allows each group's needs to be addressed fairly.

Transparency, transparency, transparency! No more backroom deals. Every negotiation needs to be open and accessible to the membership.

The fight isn't over. We can't trust the current leadership to represent our best interests if they operate in the shadows. Let's harness the power of this victory, demand a transparent, member-driven approach to healthcare, and secure the benefits we deserve.

Together, we can build a stronger UFT that truly fights for ALL its members.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Press Release: ICE-UFT Demands Transparent and Efficient Ballot Count and Reporting Results by the American Arbitration Association (AAA)

New York, NY – The Independent Community of Educators within the United Federation of Teachers (ICE-UFT) is demanding that the American Arbitration Association (AAA) implement a transparent, efficient, and equitable ballot counting process for the upcoming UFT elections, including those for the UFT Retiree Chapter, Paraprofessional Chapter, and all other contested elections. ICE-UFT insists that all members, regardless of caucus affiliation, must be treated equally and provided with equal access to observe and participate in the ballot count and access to all data generated during the entire election process.

(See Education Notes for more background: Can AAA Competence, Management and Reporting Process be Trusted in UFT Elections?)


This demand follows numerous issues observed in previous elections, including inefficiency and delays on the part of AAA, frequent machine jams, and extremely limited observation opportunities for members. Additionally, concerns have been raised about private communications between the UFT officers, all members of Unity Caucus, to which others were not privy, and AAA, as well as delays in announcing results. During past UFT election counts, requests for school-by-school data were denied, with AAA stating that only UFT officials had access to those reports.


“Transparency and fairness are non-negotiable in our union elections,” said Norm Scott, spokesperson for ICE-UFT. “We demand that AAA conduct the ballot count in a manner that is open, efficient, and equitable, ensuring that representatives from all caucuses have the same opportunities to participate and monitor the process. Any deviation from this standard undermines the integrity of our elections and the trust of our members.”


ICE-UFT’s demands include:


1. Equal Access for All Caucuses: Representatives from all caucuses must have identical opportunities to monitor the ballot count and raise any concerns in real-time.

2. Transparency in Procedures: AAA must communicate and adhere to clear, consistent procedures throughout the counting process to ensure transparency.

3. Efficient and Accurate Counting: The counting process must be carried out with utmost efficiency and accuracy to reflect the true will of the UFT membership.

4. Access to All District and School Data: Full access must be provided to all district and school data related to the elections to ensure complete transparency.

5. Access to ballot process during the voting period: Regular reports on numbers of ballots received, a report on number of ballots that were returned due to wrong address, number of ballots returned past deadline of reception, modification of the 8AM due time in final date of return to account for late mail delivery.

6. Prompt reporting to all caucus election committee reps on day of the count instead of being told to wait for the official AAA report.


ICE-UFT emphasizes the critical importance of these measures in the ballot counts for the UFT Retiree Chapter, Paraprofessional Chapter, and all other contested elections.


“These problems have cast doubt on the integrity of the election process,” continued Norm Scott. “We cannot allow these issues to persist and compromise the democratic principles our union stands for.”


ICE-UFT’s call to action comes amid increasing concerns about potential discrepancies and biases in the ballot counting process. By demanding these measures, ICE-UFT aims to uphold.


This press release is intended for immediate distribution.


For more information or to arrange an interview with Norm Scott, please contact him at (917) 992-3734 or via email at normsco@gmail.com


**About ICE-UFT** 

The Independent Community of Educators within the United Federation of Teachers (ICE-UFT) is dedicated to advocating for the rights and interests of educators and supporting democratic practices within the union. ICE-UFT works tirelessly to promote transparency, fairness, and inclusivity in all union activities.