Saturday, March 18, 2017

NYSUT Blues - Dire Finances and ST Criticism of Non-Union Consultant

The information came from NYSUT's Labor Dept filings. If UFT is "fully paid up," it is a recent change. I have no reason to doubt Carl Korn but when reporting I can either choose to believe something he writes in a blog comment, or something NYSUT reports to the federal government under penalty of perjury. And why were the payments overdue?... Mike Antonucci, comment on Ed Notes
There is a lot of intrigue around NYSUT, even extending to internal divisions in MORE over how to deal with the Stronger Together slate running against NY state Unity Caucus. I have had about 10 drafts on ST laying around over the past 2 months, but something new always comes up and I don't finish them. Thus I've left it to my pals Eterno and Goldstein to carry the story -- James supports ST, Arthur has been critical. I pretty much stand with James on this -- might as well support ST over Unity even if they are not perfect. Sitting neutral with Andy Pallotta running for president is not an option.

At this point, most people in MORE aren't paying much attention, a big change from 3 years ago --- I don't have the energy to find the links - but if you are interested, check my archives from late March-April, 2014.

For today, let's talk NYSUT finances, which may be in deep doodoo, with worse to come. And if NYSUT is in trouble, so is the AFT. Gee, maybe those 250K salaries might have to go. And how about that golden parachute for a newly made AFT position for the dumped NYSUT pres, Karen Magee.

I posted a report on NYSUT finances - NYSUT/UFT Finances in Distress? - linking to Mike Antonucci at EIA/Intercepts (not to be confused with Glenn Greenwald's Intercepts -- call it the right and the left wing versions) on March 3, which happened to be my birthday. Seeing the dire financial situation in our UFT dominated state union was not one of my pleasant gifts - well, basically my only gift, if you can call it that.

Mike reported that the UFT hadn't paid up its NYSUT dues, which would make the 750-800 Unity slugs going to the April 7-9 NYSUT convention here in NYC at the Hilton (at a cost of?) ineligible to vote -- but why worry, they could party anyway at our expense.
And yet AFT has millions to pour into the Clinton campaign and the Clinton Foundation.

Norm, I'd like to know what Antanucci's source is for the UFT not paying their dues to NYSUT?
A Unity slug, no doubt, left this comment, denying that the UFT hadn't paid its dues:
Facts matter: The assertion that UFT owes NYSUT money is false. Fully paid up.


The information came from NYSUT's Labor Dept filings. If UFT is "fully paid up," it is a recent change. I have no reason to doubt Carl Korn but when reporting I can either choose to believe something he writes in a blog comment, or something NYSUT reports to the federal government under penalty of perjury. And why were the payments overdue?
Keep in mind, Mike comes from the anti-teacher union right, so people are often suspicious. I, however, trust his facts and reporting, if not his interpretations.

Now let's shift to the current controversy just 3 weeks before the NYSUT convention with an ST critique and a  report from Mike addressing the ST criticism of the NYSUT leadership over the use of outside agencies instead of in house.

ST sent this out on March 14:
ST Caucus Stands in Opposition to NYSUT’s Outsourcing of Union Work.
It has recently been brought to our attention that NYSUT has begun outsourcing work previously performed by NYSUT employees who belong to the Communications Workers of America (CWA).  Secretary-Treasurer Martin Messner is now requiring that NYSUT managers send receipts and expense reports to an out-of-state company for processing.  The work which was previously completed by CWA members is now being done by Certify, a non-union company.  Participation in this outsourcing is required for managers and optional for members of the Professional Staff Union (PSA), who are all refusing to participate.
ST Caucus stands in opposition to any type of anti-union outsourcing.  NYSUT members across the state are fighting charter schools, distance learning, and similar outsourcing schemes.   We are perplexed and disheartened by the decision made by our current officers to subcontract the work of our union brothers and sisters.   According to Secretary-Treasurer candidate Nate Hathaway, “This flies in the face of our core values as unionists.  We must not fall into the trap of pursuing expediency at the expense of what is right.  Union workers are paid more because they defend the value of the individual worker and the concept that a worker should have protections in the workplace and be compensated with a reasonable, living wage.  What do we stand for as an organization if we espouse these principles in grand platitudes, yet pursue a policy of employing the services of those not afforded the very rights we claim to fight for?  This is very disheartening news.”
To address the budget issues that exist within NYSUT, our officers need to reduce costs through a transparent process that honors the work and commitments made to our unionized staff.  Any local leader who experienced the devastating budget cuts of the last decade knows the key components to an effective cost savings strategy. To reduce the budget of an organization and not have it lose its core purpose, cost savings must be transparent, involve shared sacrifice, and be mutually agreed upon by all parties. ST Caucus supports the elimination of one officer position (a 20% savings in officer salaries and expenses) and a 15% reduction in officer salaries.  Unlike the current officers, ST Caucus believes that fiscal responsibility starts at the top, not by outsourcing the work of some of our lowest paid employees at NYSUT.

ST Caucus Executive Board
I can pretty much agree with all of the above.
Now, in this age of "let's read all sides of an issue so we can find the true path" here is Mike A.'s take:

Union’s Internal Cost-Cutting Is Thorny

The finances of New York State United Teachers are a mess, but NYSUT’s officers are not entirely blind to the problem. When a union tries to cut its costs, it not only runs into labor unrest with its own employees, it might also provide political fodder for internal opponents.
Case in point: NYSUT sought to save a few bucks by hiring Certify, a company that supplies mobile apps and reporting tools for the processing of expense reports. This task is usually done in-house.

The staff contract bans outsourcing of work previously done by bargaining unit members without the staff union’s permission. NYSUT had to make the new process optional for employees, and evidently every single one of them has refused to use Certify.

NYSUT managers and executives, however, are not members of the staff union, and are required to use Certify. This irritated not only the staff union, but also Stronger Together, the opposition caucus within NYSUT that is running candidates for the union’s executive positions. It posted its complaint, which I excerpt here:
We are perplexed and disheartened by the decision made by our current officers to subcontract the work of our union brothers and sisters. According to Secretary-Treasurer candidate Nate Hathaway, “This flies in the face of our core values as unionists. We must not fall into the trap of pursuing expediency at the expense of what is right. Union workers are paid more because they defend the value of the individual worker and the concept that a worker should have protections in the workplace and be compensated with a reasonable, living wage. What do we stand for as an organization if we espouse these principles in grand platitudes, yet pursue a policy of employing the services of those not afforded the very rights we claim to fight for? This is very disheartening news.”
​To address the budget issues that exist within NYSUT, our officers need to reduce costs through a transparent process that honors the work and commitments made to our unionized staff.
A noble sentiment, but honoring the work and commitments made to NYSUT’s unionized staff has resulted in net assets of negative $413 million. The teachers of New York are on the hook for that.

http://www.eiaonline.com/intercepts/2017/03/17/unions-internal-cost-cutting-is-thorny/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Intercepts+%28Intercepts%29
So Mike is pinning the entire deficit on obligations to unionized staff. He provided numbers last time that made me dizzy - but check them out and it looks like he is right. Read his analysis if you have the stomach - http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2017/03/nysutuft-finances-in-distress.html


These numbers look scary and ST might want to address them. Cutting some salaries at the top won't cut it.

Lucky I live at the beach
I think there are over 20 and possibly 40 NYSUT lawyers who have to be there to defend all teachers in the state who are threatened with 3020a firing hearings, without cost. (One is defending Marilyn Martinez.) I have found the ones I saw in action to be pretty capable. But quality lawyers don't come cheaply.

I don't have answers to these complex issues which make me want to bury my head in the sand, or binge watch any crap I can find on Netflix - which makes me feel worse since the guy who runs it is a major ed deformer.


1 comment:

  1. This is scary stuff, showing that the current union apparatus (which, despite its many shortcomings, we still need) is in crisis, even before considering the literal existential threat posed by national right-to-work (for less) and Friedrich's 2.0 legislation.

    But don't worry: some mole in the CIA will release the Secret Putin Tapes, Trump will be impeached, and the Democratic Party (and AFT/UFT/NYSUT) will rejoice in the Restoration of the old order.

    Or not.

    ReplyDelete

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