Sunday, March 2, 2014

North Rockland TA Pres Slams Revive NYSUT

As I'll report in a later post, it's all over but the shouting in the upcoming NYSUT election on April 5, given the big locals all came in for the UFT's absolute takeover of NYSUT by endorsing the misnamed Revive NYSUT slate over the incumbent Stronger Together slate.

Currently there is also a small independent slate running out of MORE for the city NYSUT election districts plus Arthur Goldstein directly opposing Andy Pallotta for NYSUT Exec VP and Port Jefferson Station TA president Beth Dimino running as a rep from an election district out on Long Island. See the MORE blog for more details as out candidates publish their statements this week:
 Here is another endorsement from a small local. One question that comes up is will NYSUT in its present structure survive this battle. Would these small locals form a coalition to fight on either inside the current merged NEA/AFT framework or are they so pissed as to look elsewhere? Or are they willing to stay in and build a stronger than opposition to Unity, which may be easier once the old leadership is gone?

This was posted on Facebook.
Thank you North Rockland Teachers' Association for supporting Stronger NYSUT! Listed below is a compelling endorsement letter written by NRTA president, Robin Brennan.

A Response to;

Harrison Teachers Union Head Seeks to Lead NYSUT

A politician and a statesman are not equal. According to Dr. Rufus Fears in The 4 Qualities of a True Statesman, a statesman by definition requires a bedrock of principles, a moral compass, vision and the ability to build consensus to achieve the vision.

I would add that a statesman is in service to his or her constituency, not for personal gain or self-promotion. Why am I talking about a statesman? I strongly believe that NYSUT officers Dick Iannuzzi, Maria Neira, Lee Cutler and Kathleen Donahue are statesmen. In my opinion, those who have chosen to challenge these leaders’ positions are mere politicians.

- Dick Iannuzzi has fought Governor Cuomo and won for us 80% of our APPR to negotiate. As a last resort, he has filed lawsuits against the tax cap. He has stood steadfast against the Governor’s ill advised initiatives and for increased funding for education.

- Maria Neira has battled Commissioner King and the Regents to bring about the current parental involvement to stop high stakes testing and a poorly implemented Core curriculum. She has informed parents of the data collecting that would follow their children throughout their academic career and beyond. She is a stolid fighter for the rights of members, parents and students.

- Lee Cutler has work ceaselessly for social issues of poverty, the true dividing wall of student achievement. He has worked with the Kerry Kennedy and RFK Center, the NYS Labor-Religion Coalition, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network and other Civil Rights organizations. He has advanced issues such as fair trade, child slavery, farm workers rights, women's rights, anti-bullying and others. Under Lee’s leadership, the oversight and hard work of the Financial Review Committee and working in conjunction with our in-house bargaining units and the Board of Directors, NYSUT embarked on a three-year financial and organizational restructuring plan. Since then, they have re-calibrated the organization structurally and economically without impairing ANY services to locals.

- Kathleen is an ardent protector of our TA and school support staffs’ working conditions. She has created strategies that more closely link our SRPs and their teacher colleagues or our nurses and health care professionals developing their own political and legislative platform through the health care professionals council.

This NYSUT Executive Board collectively has:

- Unified all AFT and NEA Locals in New York State

- Represented ALL the voices of the entire rank-and-file membership of NYSUT

- Negotiated the fairest APPR deal in the nation

- Initiated a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the tax-cap

- Withdrawn support for Common Core due to repeated implementation failures on the part of SED

- Initiated a unanimously approved resolution by the NYSUT Board of Directors declaring "no confidence" in the policies of Commissioner John King, asking for his removal by the Board of Regents

- Effectively adjusted the NYSUT budget over a 3 year period to reflect the loss of 30,000 members

- Traveled the state to visit and listen to the concerns of rank-and-file members more than any officers in the history of NYSUT.

There is no substantial reason to contest the election of these individuals since they have been doing their jobs and doing them vigorously. The Revive slate has actively recruited people to run against all of these dedicated, vetted union leaders. NYSUT members have turned the Revive slate down when they were asked to run against this team purely knowing the caliber of these incumbents. We should examine the motivation of those that agreed to run.

As Dr. Fears said more eloquently than I can, we as a society need people in positions of responsibility who hold their beliefs dear and treat them like the foundation of our collective house. We need people who are not constantly checking which way the wind is blowing, but who follow the dictates of a moral compass. This is, in my opinion, what our current Executive Board does.

The Revive candidates are relying on educators’ frustration over decreased state aid, the tax cap, budget cuts, Tier V, Tier VI, charter schools, APPR, layoffs and program cuts. These issues frustrate us all, but the reality is that they have no platform. They have given no solutions. They just keep repeating, "We need change". It is an easy thing to say.

The Revive slate is now blaming Dick Iannuzzi for initiatives implemented by Andy Pollatta, the leader of the NYSUT Legislative Department. Under Andy Pallotta’s leadership of the Legislative Department, we have "gained" a tax cap, charter schools, Tier V, Tier VI, a decrease in school funding, no movement on a moratorium and a further shifting of the balance of power away from small city, suburban and rural locals to the interests of New York City. Mr. Pallotta, a single NYSUT officer with a mixed record, is now claiming to be the only officer worthy of reelection while disavowing all four of his fellow officers. This should be a "red flag" to our membership. We all recognize that there is no alternative to negotiating with Governor Cuomo but much of the complaints that we have right now is the outcome of Andy Pollatta’s relationship with our Governor.

We do not need this type of change. We do not need NYSUT officers who are aligned with Governor Cuomo or Michael Mulgrew, UFT President. It is understood that the UFT members will not vote against his interests because he can read the results of each member’s vote. There is a reason why most votes in the world are conducted as secret ballots.

We need to understand that Randy Weingarten, Michael Mulgrew, the UFT, Governor Cuomo and the Revive slate have become one faction. This group is sure to deliver more charter schools, tax caps, APPR, more TIER changes, privatization of education, high stakes testing and more of the same. This will also consolidate all the power in the NYC area. That is the change the Revive slate is seeking.

The one public example of the direct misuse of funds by Andy Pallotta separates the statesman from the politician. As Mr. Iannuzzi explained to me, “When the request came for a fundraiser for Governor Cuomo, I directed Andy Pallotta’s staff to purchase me a ticket to the event and suggested that Andy and UFT President Michael Mulgrew also attend. Upon my arrival, I learned that Andy had unilaterally authorized VOTE/COPE to purchase a $10,000 table for 10—highly unusual given the sentiments of our members statewide. Even more disturbing, Andy invited political candidates he was supporting and actively working with for NYSUT Officer positions -- Karen Magee and Paul Pecorale, as well as their supporter Nadia Resnikoff to the event”.

As a result, Mr. Iannuzzi, Ms. Neira and Mr. Cutler have implementd a rule to require the approval of the members of the VOTE/COPE committee BEFORE any contributions over $5,000 are made to any statewide party committee or statewide candidate.

If this blatant misuse of our member’s hard earned VOTE COPE contribution is treated with such disregard by this slate, why would anyone place them is any position with more power. Your trust in better behavior from the Revive slate would be a fool’s errand.

I love my union. The bullying and deceptive tactics of the Revive slate that will concentrate power, aligning with an anti-education governor, and rise against diligent incumbents is a frightening proposition. I am hopeful that every delegate at the RA this April will vote for the statesmen who are our current officers: Dick Iannuzzi, Lee Cutler, Maria Neira and Kathleen Donahue. We have enough self - serving politicians.

Robin Brennan
NRTA President

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