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.

Friday, May 31, 2024

ICE-UFT Unyielding in the Face of Unity Caucus’s Unwarranted Personal Attacks

New York, NY – May 31, 2024 – The Independent Community of Educators - United Federation of Teachers (ICE-UFT) vehemently denounces the recent onslaught of personal attacks instigated by the Unity Caucus, under the misguided leadership of UFT President Michael Mulgrew, against our esteemed members. These unwarranted attacks, orchestrated by District Representative Adam Shapiro and sanctioned by Staff Director Leroy Barr, are not only devoid of merit but also serve as a smokescreen, diverting attention from the urgent issues plaguing our educators and students.

ICE-UFT has consistently been a beacon of equity, justice, and authentic representation for all UFT members. Our unwavering commitment to cultivating an inclusive and supportive environment for educators remains steadfast. Regrettably, Unity Caucus, under the misguided leadership of President Mulgrew, has chosen to resort to personal attacks rather than engaging in constructive dialogue and addressing the legitimate concerns of our members.

Our priorities remain steadfast:

  1. Championing Fair Working Conditions: We are committed to ensuring that all educators are provided with a safe and supportive work environment.
  2. Demanding Transparency: We are relentless in our pursuit for greater transparency in union operations and decision-making processes.
  3. Empowering Educators: We are dedicated to equipping educators with the necessary tools and support they need to excel in their roles and advocate for their rights.
  4. Revamping Our Dental Plan: We are determined to rectify the deficiencies in our current dental coverage to ensure comprehensive and accessible dental care for all members.
  5. Safeguarding Changes to Active Member and Retiree Healthcare: We are committed to ensuring that all changes to healthcare plans for active members and retirees prioritize quality care without escalating out-of-pocket expenses.
  6. Securing a Living Wage for Paraprofessionals: We are unwavering in our advocacy for fair and livable wages to ensure that paraprofessionals receive the compensation they rightfully deserve.

We challenge Unity Caucus, President Mulgrew, District Representative Shapiro, and Staff Director Barr to abandon their personal attacks and join us in addressing the critical issues that impact our education system. The strength of our union lies in our collective ability to unite and collaborate for the betterment of our schools and communities.

ICE-UFT remains resolute in preserving the integrity of our union and will not be swayed by these divisive tactics. We extend an invitation to all members of the UFT to stand with us in solidarity, focusing on the shared objective of enhancing our education system for the benefit of both educators and students. We will not be silenced. We will not be deterred. We stand firm. We are ICE-UFT.

Friday, May 03, 2024

Press Release: Independent Community of Educators of the UFT Criticizes Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus Leadership and Supports Insurgent Campaigns

(New York, NY) - The Independent Community of Educators of the UFT (ICE-UFT) issues a critical examination of the leadership of Unity Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and its President of 15 years, Michael Mulgrew. As advocates for educational equity, fair labor practices, and democratic governance, ICE-UFT voices deep concerns regarding the direction and actions of Unity Caucus under Mulgrew's leadership.


Unity Caucus, entrenched as the dominant political faction within UFT, has come under scrutiny for its lack of transparency, lack of accountability, and lack of responsiveness to the needs of educators and students. Michael Mulgrew, as the long-standing president of UFT and a prominent figure within the Unity Caucus, bears significant responsibility for the failures and shortcomings of the organization.

Our critique encompasses several key areas:

1. Lack of Teacher Empowerment: Unity Caucus and Mulgrew have stifled dissent and marginalized voices of teachers who challenge the status quo. This authoritarian approach undermines the principles of democracy and collective decision-making within the union.

2. Failure to Address Educational Inequities: Despite professing commitment to educational equity, Unity Caucus and Mulgrew have failed to effectively address systemic inequities in New York City's public schools. Issues such as resource disparities, racial segregation, and unequal access to quality education persist under their leadership.

3. Neglect of Member Concerns: Many UFT members have expressed frustration over the union's handling of grievances, contract negotiations, and other labor-related issues. Unity Caucus and Mulgrew have been criticized for prioritizing political alliances over the interests of their constituents.

4. Opposition to Progressive Reform: Unity Caucus's resistance to progressive reforms, such as empowering classroom teachers, incorporating class size limits in the contract, dynamic curriculum reform, opposing the negative effects of high stakes testing, opposing controls of schools by the mayor and increased funding for public education, reflects a disconnect from the grassroots movements advocating for meaningful change.

5. Ethical Concerns: Allegations of cronyism, conflicts of interest, and financial mismanagement have cast doubt on the integrity of Unity Caucus leadership and Michael Mulgrew.

In contrast to the status quo represented by Unity Caucus, ICE-UFT proudly supports three insurgent campaigns within the UFT:

  • The Retiree Advocate Slate in the UFT Retiree Chapter election: Led by retired Chapter Leader Bennett Fischer for Retiree Chapter, fighting to preserve Medicare benefits for retired educators.
  • The Fix Para Pay Slate in the UFT Paraprofessional Chapter election: Committed to securing better pay for paraprofessionals, addressing long-standing wage disparities.
  • Ben Morgenroth for Teacher Retirement System Teacher Trustee: Advocating for the reform of Tier 6 and the establishment of independent oversight to ensure the financial well-being of active and retired members.

ICE-UFT calls for a renewed commitment to democratic principles, transparency, and accountability within UFT leadership. We urge Unity Caucus and Michael Mulgrew to heed the voices of educators, students, and community members demanding genuine reform and representation within the union.

For media inquiries or further information, please contact:
Norm Scott, normsco@gmail. com, 917-992-3734

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Call to Action: Our ‘Get Out The Vote’ homework for upcoming UFT & TRS elections

 

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Disclaimer
The views expressed by our individual authors are their own and may not reflect the views of the EONYC community. Just as we may not all agree with the editorial views expressed as the collective Educators of NYC community.

🚨 Call to Action: Our ‘Get Out The Vote’ homework for upcoming UFT & TRS elections

Help us GET OUT THE VOTE for: Ben Morgenroth for TRS Pension Trustee, Fix Para Pay Slate for Para Chapter Election and Retiree Advocate for Retired Teachers Chapter (RTC)

We need your help to get out the vote for three important elections affecting UFT members that will launch/take place in the coming days.

It’s time for CHANGE! As a union proud and union strong community, we must take back our union.

We’ve seen way too many cuts to our healthcare and pension, and wages that lag behind inflation.

Each one of these races challenges Michael Mulgrew’s dangerous establishment control over our beloved union. They are also vital in educating our union family about the crisis regarding health & pension benefits and about our struggles with sub-inflation raises/wages. 

Please share these campaigns and resources with friends, family and colleagues via: Text, e-mail, phone call, in-person, mail, social media


1. Ben Morgenroth For TRS Pension Trustee

What’s at stake:

Fixing Tier 6, now. Not later. Ben will provide expert, independent oversight of our pensions. We must end pension cuts while securing and fully funding our pensions.

Learn more about Ben’s highly qualified credentials and his priorities here.

🗳️ Election Day:  Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Principals will conduct elections in NYC DOE schools. CUNY will conduct elections at their campuses on May 8 & 9. 


📅 Join this event this week:  A virtual town hall will be held on Thursday, May 2, at 5:30 PM. RSVP for the Strengthen our TRS Pension virtual town hall with Ben Morgenroth. His opponent, a Mulgrew appointee, has been invited. It will be held via Zoom.

⬇️ Download, print, share the Ben Morgenroth for TRS Trustee flyer.

🌐 Follow, like and share these links with everyone:


2. Fix Para Pay Slate for UFT Paraprofessional Chapter Election

What’s at stake:

NYC paras deserve a living wage, a fair contract and respect & dignity.

Learn more about Fix Para Pay, their candidates and detailed priorities

🗳️ Election Window:  Ballots will be mailed out around May 9th. Mark an “X” in the FIX PARA PAY box on page 1 only. Return your sealed mail-in ballot, ASAP, to the address provided. All ballots must be mailed back by Thursday,June 13th.

If you do not receive a ballot by May 15th, contact Fix Para Pay via their website.


📅 Join this event this week: RSVP for Bronx in-person meetup to meet the Fix Para Pay candidates on Thursday, May 2 from 4-6 PM.

⬇️ Download, print, share the FIX PARA PAY flyer.

🌐 Follow, like and share these links with everyone:


Retiree Advocate Slate for UFT Retired Teachers Chapter (RTC) Election

What’s at stake:

Preserving our premium-free, quality healthcare benefits. Stopping the inferior, predatory, and privatized MulgrewCare / Aetna Medicare Advantage plan from being forced on UFT and city retirees by the City and Mulgrew.

Learn more about Retiree Advocate here

🗳️ Election Window:  Ballots will be mailed out around May 10th. Mark an “X” in the Retiree Advocate box on page 1 only. Return your sealed mail-in ballot, ASAP, to the address provided. All ballots must be mailed back by Thursday,June 13th.

If you do not receive a ballot by May 15th, contact Retiree Advocate via their website.


⬇️ Download, print, & share the RETIREE ADVOCATE flyer.

🌐 Follow and share these links with everyone:

Retiree Advocate

Retiree Advocate Flyer


Sunday, April 14, 2024

TIER 6 A HUGE DEFEAT FOR THE NEXT GENERATION

 (This post originally from March 18, 2012, was written by James Eterno.)

No spin from NYSUT or Leo Casey or President Mulgrew on the legislation to stick anyone hired in April or thereafter with a Tier VI pension.  (Tell any paras that haven't joined the TRS to do so immediately.)  This is another crushing defeat for working people that will yield no savings today as current employees and retirees are not impacted.

For those yet to be hired, the legislature and governor wiped away virtually all of the pension gains we made over the last thirty years.  A new teacher or new state employee will have to work until they are sixty three to receive a full pension which will only be 55% of final average salary according to what I read.  Final average salary has been increased from the average of the last five years of employment instead of three.

I remember when I started working and all of the people who were on Tier I told those of us who were on Tier IV how horrible our pension was.  Now we will have to face the Tier VI people and tell them they are in it for the real long haul if they want to make teaching a career. It is the same for other civil servants across New York State.

Think about a twenty-two year old new college graduate who wants to become a teacher.  That person will have to work forty-one years to qualify for a full pension. This is not a very pleasant prospect.

With the attack on teachers and other public employees continuing unabated, could anyone encourage a young person to get into this line of work?

What about those COPE contributions?  We don't seem to have much influence with the legislature these days.

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: https://www.fixparapay.org/
 
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 normsco@gmail.com 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.