Thursday, January 19, 2017

Detroit Redux? Syracuse Union Suspends President - Looking for Randi's Fingerprints

"The Syracuse teachers union president says she was suspended after she uncovered a fellow officer’s inappropriate use of a computer during an audit.”
The Syracuse Teachers Association situation is escalating. President Karen Fruscello apparently discovered another union officer was routinely surfing for porn on an office computer. The executive board, consisting entirely of members from an opposing caucus, suspended Fruscello, reportedly for conducting an unauthorized investigation, but has yet to take action against the unnamed porn surfer.... Mike Antoucci at Intercepts/Educational Intelligence Agency.... 
There are some implications - possible for NYSUT - in the story currently playing out in Syracuse where the STA board removed the recently elected president, as reported by Mike Antonucci,
Lesson 1: NYSUT Elections

A NYSUT election is coming in April - remember that 3 years ago Stronger Together (ST) Caucus created a serious challenge to NY State Unity Caucus (which includes NYC Unity) and MORE was involved by running for 5 seats and Arthur Goldstein ran on the ST slate for NYSUT Ex VP against Andy Pallotta --- The Unity slate had the support of the big city 5  unions -- Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers and of course NYC. If there would be a break from some of the big 5 -- say Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester, and ST could get close enough to create a serious challenge and Randi's control of he AFT, where NYSUT has one third of the membership, could be threatened.

So what's really going on in Syracuse and does the fact that an independent was elected as president without having the support of anyone on the Ex Bd in any way relate to the NYSUT election picture? According to Antonucci something about porn is involved -- now I know you all are going to keep reading.

Lesson 2:  Historical record

I've always maintained that if one day MORE won power in the UFT and it was close, Unity would protest to the AFT that there were irregularities and the AFT would find an excuse to overturn the election. Back in 1985 when Michael Shulman of the NAC coalition of multiple caucuses (New Action emerged as one caucus in 1995) won the high school presidency, Unity wouldn't seat Shulman, protested to some agency and got another election 8 months later while Shulman had to sit and wait. Shulman got even more votes but his term of office was cut short, meetings were held without him once he took office. Unity dumped one of the major UFT founders, George Altomare for daring to lose to Shulman and  mounted a campaign to make sure he lost in 1987, which he did.

The New Action coalition came back in force in the 1991 election, winning both the high and junior high Ex Bd seats -- 13 - the most ever for an opposition -- but won nothing in 1993, which gave Unity 100% of the EB -- and they immediately pushed through a constitution change to make all divisional VP elections at-large - which NYC Educator explains in today's post --  Downsides of Democracy.

What about Detroit and Steve Conn, anti-Randi who was elected while the Ex Bd was tied to the former pro-Randi president? Steve was removed as president. Rules called for a referendum which needed 2/3 to get him removed but came up short -- while still over 50%. They just ignored that rule and refused to re-seat him. This story was a big bone of contention at the AFT2016 convention, pretty much the only bone of contention given the union leaderships of Chicago and LA having a love affair with Randi.

Here are the EIA/Intercepts posts on the Syracuse story.
Posted: 11 Jan 2017 10:45 AM PST
The lede in this story reads: “The Syracuse teachers union president says she was suspended after she uncovered a fellow officer’s inappropriate use of a computer during an audit.”
That doesn’t make much sense, and the details aren’t very illuminating either. Another story tells us what the inappropriate use was. But make your way down to the 12th paragraph and you see:
Fruscello first took office in July. She defeated six-year president Kevin Ahern in an election. The rest of the elected board ran with Ahern as part of the “Professional Partners” caucus. Fruscello ran as an outsider determined to disrupt business as usual at the union.
I don’t know if Fruscello is a crusader for transparency or another Steve Conn, but a careful examination of the Syracuse Teachers Association bylaws shows the union’s executive board has no authority to “suspend” anyone, much less the president.
It can recommend to the union’s representative assembly that the office be declared vacant if the president “has been grossly negligent.” It then takes a two-thirds vote of the RA to remove her.
How long before AFT sends in the paratroopers to restore order?
Posted: 13 Jan 2017 11:50 AM PST
* The Syracuse Teachers Association situation is escalating. President Karen Fruscello apparently discovered another union officer was routinely surfing for porn on an office computer. The executive board, consisting entirely of members from an opposing caucus, suspended Fruscello, reportedly for conducting an unauthorized investigation, but has yet to take action against the unnamed porn surfer.

Yesterday, acting president Megan Root released this statement:
The Syracuse Teachers Association deeply regrets that what should have been an internally handled personnel issue has become a salacious matter for the public. It is always STA practice to handle personnel matters in a way that preserves our members’ confidentiality and right to privacy.
The Association is disheartened that Karen Fruscello is so insistent in trying this issue through the press. Her statements and behavior do not serve the members or the Association and are regrettable. The Association needs to be able to conduct our investigations internally and privately to ensure that our members are given due process. Karen Fruscello’s actions are damaging, harassing, and interfere with the work of the Association.
The reference to due process is rich, considering the lack of due process for Fruscello’s suspension and the fact that STA’s bylaws do not authorize the actions the board has taken. The appeal to confidentiality and privacy is also a straw man, since the identity of the alleged perpetrator has not been disclosed.

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