Monday, September 26, 2022

I was in the first class (56-59) at George Gershwin JHS in East NY Bklyn - Happy B-Day George

I sub to the daily posting, The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor (free sub) and the b-day of George Gershwin reminded me of how remarkable it was for a major new school complex that opened in East NY in 1956 was named after a musician who had died at an early age - 39 in 1937 - just think - less than 20 years and he has a school named after him. And his brother Ira came to the school and even wrote the school song -- 

There's a bit of personal history related to the coming neighborhood white flight out of ENY. The school was place on Linden Blvd and Van Sicklen  - a few blocks east of Pennsylvania Ave, not far from the future Starrett City - about a half mile walk for many of us. For decades, kids in my area had gone to Strauss JHS 109 on Strauss St in Brownsville which had already experienced white flight and the white parents in my area had been complaining about the walk we had to take to get there. The school was in a very old building from the 1890s named after the Strauss family that died on the Titanic.



Older students told us about rookying - where the incoming 7th graders were harassed and that fear became a big deal. As the new school year in 1956 rolled around, the new school wasn't quite ready to open and we had to go to the old school they told us for a month. But after the first day of rookying, parents were outraged and after the 2nd day they pulled the entire 7th grade out and sent us to the unfinished Gershwin which was still having its roof put on I believe.
It was heaven - for a month - a new gleaming school - in a fairly newly settled area of  Brooklyn which was almost all white. A month later the rest of the JHS 109 8th and 9th grades came over with the entire staff. The school number was changed to JHS 166. For the Brownsville kids it was quite a walk and they got bus passes.

Along with the school, we also got a massive complex of playgrounds, basketball courts and a full sized football field with real grass -- that part took almost a year to finish. 

While the JHS 109 rep was not good, the JHS 166 school with mostly the same kids - well, probably much more white - was considered one of the best in Brooklyn at the time. There were 16 classes on a grade -- I was in 7-16 -- they reversed the numbers that year - so 7-1 was the tough class. Generally, there were two top level performing classes on each grade -- the school fed into Thomas Jefferson HS -- the only kids who didn't go on to there were the ones who passed the Brooklyn Tech and Stuy tests -- and we were given after school prep for those tests - which I still bombed out on.

Decades later, as even that new at the time white neighborhood began to experience white flight, the poverty in the area increased and the school by the Bloomberg era was considered a failure and charter schools, including the UFT middle school charter (which ultimately failed) were installed and the JHS 166 school was replaced. So the very promising George Gershwin JHS disappeared into history a half century after it began.
 
I previously wrote about the closing of Gershwin (all 3 of the schools I went to as a kid ended up being closed) ten years ago: Tweed Terminates and my family history 5 years ago: My Family History of White Flight From East New York in the 60s.
 
And I placed some blame on the UFT for opening a competing charter school in the same building: Saturday, February 28, 2015 UFT Closes Charter: UFT Charter Created Wrecked Co-Located Public Schools in its Wake .
 
 
Here is Keillor's post today:

Today is the birthday of the composer George Gershwin, born Jacob Gershvin in Brooklyn, New York (1898). He was the middle child in a tight-knit family of recent Russian Jewish immigrants. When his father bought a piano for his brother Ira, George sat right down on the bench and started to play. At 15, he left school to work on Tin Pan Alley as a song plugger, a sort of house musician for the music companies. Gershwin had an ear for arrangement, and before long, he was writing his own songs. His first one earned him just $5, but soon he was turning out hits such as “Swanee,” which sold in the millions.

Encouraged by this early success, Gershwin partnered with his brother Ira and began composing full Broadway operas. The two produced popular musicals, including Funny Face (1927) and Strike Up the Band! (1930). At the age of 25, Gershwin premiered his “Rhapsody in Blue,” and later “An American in Paris,” which featured accompaniment written for taxi horns. These compositions became orchestral standards. In 1935, he composed his folk-opera, Porgy and Bess, which features such classic songs as “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” In 1936, at the end of its original run in Washington, D.C., the cast successfully protested segregation at the National Theatre, leading to the venue’s first-ever integrated performance.


Saturday, September 24, 2022

MulgrewCare Run Amuck: Union Leaders Lobby City Council on Admin Code that has protected healthcare delivery since the late 60's?

Yellow - union/city modifications to 12-126 admin code - giving city an out on coverage

The unions' first mistake was in agreeing to $600 million in savings every year - Marianne Pizzitola, President, NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees Inc

Saturday, September 24 -- I almost lost track since I tested positive for covid for first time this week -- I can still type.

When did our unions become the fiscal hound dogs like Adams? Imagine he comes to the UFT and says no money for class size reductions but if every UFT member pays 191 bucks  month we can make it happen. Let's pay for our own contract like Mulgrew is asking retirees to pay for what was free.

I got a call asking me to get more involved in the city council lobbying campaign being hit hard my our UFT misleaders who are telling the council people that the Unity Caucus stacked UFT retiree health committee supports changing the admin code which will free the unions and the city to offer me a choice of their privatized Med Adv plan or I can stick with my currently free plan for the cost of almost $400 a month for me and my wife. The city has been paying $191 a month for each of us to cover the 20% senior care uncovered by Medicare. Now I'd have to pick that up. I've been told that if the UFT gets its way, the city costs would drop to $7 a month per UFT member. That number should get us great coverage. But they can only get around the court case by convincing the council to change the admin code from 1967 which forces the city to pay much higher fees.

The reason was that the city wanted to only pay the 20% that Medicare didn't way and this addition to the code was viewed as a money saver in 1967. Even the massive fiscal crisis of the 70s didn't lead to calls to change the code.

Thanks a lot. And by the way, there are a bunch of Retiree Advocate (the caucus) members on that committee who oppose the changes but are given no voice at the town halls. The lobbyists on our side want to show the city council that the UFT top is a locked box where rank and file voices are stifled.

I got a quick primer on what exactly is going on with the changes. The admin code provision goes back to 1967 and covers retirees and working members for guaranteed city coverage of over $900 per member for health coverage. Due to Mulgrew 2014 raid of the stabilization fund to cover the raises for working teachers contract with back pay after 9 years without a contract, and a 2018 agreement to help the city cover healthcare costs, the unions owe the city a billion dollars and selling out the members on healthcare is the only way.

Actually, rather than have me interpret, watch this video from Marianne Pizzitola- a sentence by sentence explanation of the admin code - https://youtu.be/SiveIIwCaPc

Let me just interject that the two main competitors for the city contract are Emblem (which pulled out after the recent debacles over the court case) and CVS owned Aetna - by the way note this about the people we want to run our healthcare --

Yeah, these are the people I want our union to hand a $38 billion contract.

Eterno comments on ICEUFT blog:

The Municipal Labor Committee (an umbrella group of over 100 city government unions) is working with the city to try to get the City Council to change the Administrative Code (city law) on city employee healthcare benefits. 

The UFT Contract entitles UFTers to a choice of premium free healthcare plans (see Article 3G1). The change in the law would make it only a choice of health plans. This is part of a checklist on what the UFT is currently doing that is part of the Chapter Leader Update:

Lobbying the New York City Council to amend the administrative code to state explicitly that the city must negotiate with the Municipal Labor Committee on all employee health care plans and must allow that city unions may negotiate for employees to have health care plan choices.

Notice they don't say choice of free healthcare plans.  A judge threw out the city-MLC's attempt to move Medicare-eligible retirees into a Medicare Advantage Plan (privatized healthcare or what we termed Mulgrewcare) or pay premiums for what they have now. 

The city is trying to change the law so they can easily end choices for premium-free coverage and impose the inferior Mulgrewcare. They could then charge around $400 a month for couples to keep traditional Medicare-Seniorcare that today costs $0 in premiums. Unions like the Professional Staff Congress are opposing the change. The city and MLC will be able to end premium-free healthcare choices for active UFTers and non Medicare retirees if the change passes in the City Council.

Go to the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY union) page for more information and to get involved in the fight to oppose healthcare givebacks. 

Here is a supporting response from Tiffany Caban, one of the most progressive city council members, a Dem Socialist (boo to you corp dems and republicans): 
Good morning,

Thanks for taking the time to write. Our office is supportive of retiree's having a choice in their healthcare coverage. CM Cabán was among the signers of the Open Letter to cancel the proposed Medicare Advantage Plus plan (attached) and continues to support the current Medicare/Senior Care health insurance coverage for municipal retirees. We are keeping an eye out for any legislation on this topic that may appear in Council.

Best,
 
Steph Silkowski (she/her)
Chief of Staff
Council Member Tiffany Cabán
District 22, Queens

The above is in response to a letter from a UFT retiree on the Retiree Advocate listserve:

Dear Council Member Caban,

I am on your mailing list because I have supported you in the past.  I believe we share the same political philosophy.

I am 78 years old, and my wife is 77.  We are being threatened with a severe reduction in our healthcare by the plan to eviscerate the protection provided to New York City retirees and their spouses by § 12-126 of the city administrative code since 1967.  The proposed changes would eliminate the cost-free guarantee to retirees and would pave the way to completely privatizing our Medicare/Senior Care.  

The Medicare Advantage private insurance plan that would be forced upon us is significantly inferior to our current plan, which was cost-free until co-pays were recently added (in violation of §12-126) for breathing near any healthcare provider (slight exaggeration).  That plan, or whatever replaces it, since Anthem pulled out, has a restricted network of providers, imposes financial liability on retirees if their out-of-network doctors do not obtain “prior authorization”, and, most important, incentivizes the private insurance company to deny expensive medical procedures, as they are allowed to keep anything they don’t spend on care.  

Medicare Advantage companies typically deny medical procedures at a much higher rate than Medicare itself does, even though they are supposed to use the same rules.  It’s all in the interpretation of those rules as applied, and depends completely on who is doing the interpreting.  Last April, the HHS Inspector General came out with a scathing report exposing the significantly higher rate of denials of care by Medicare Advantage companies as compared to Medicare itself.

When an expensive procedure gets denied by the Medicare Advantage company, what happens?  Either the patient goes without the necessary procedure, suffering health consequences or even death, or the patient comes up with the money somehow, and saves her own life by paying for what Medicare would have covered in the first place.  THIS  IS  NOT  A  COST-FREE  PLAN.  The cost can be enormous.  It violates §12-126, which requires cost-free healthcare (not merely premium-free).  And there is no way to remedy this by tweaking the plan.  It is the Medicare Advantage business model to spend less on healthcare by denying expensive procedures.  

That’s why the Mayor and the complicit Municipal Labor Committee is now asking the City Council to destroy our guarantee of cost-free health care since 1967 by undoing §12-126.

 Please, we beg you, do everything in your power to stop this atrocity.

Sincerely,


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Message to Unity Caucus defenders of profit making healthcare - You've been misinformed

Contributing to the high costs of privately managed healthcare are: high executive salaries(often based on the price of the stock), advertising (those Joe Namath ads), high administrative costs (significantly higher than Medicare), profits, stock buybacks, dividends higher employee turnover - compare benefits to Medicare employees ---and are they unionized compared to employees of private insurers? So how can moving out of Medicare and into plans controlled by these companies save the city money? Unless those savings come out of our hides. And by the way, do you think these jacked up prices have anything to do with inflation?

  • ANTM initiated cash dividends in early 2011 and has raised its dividend ever since. Share buyback activity was resumed last June, considering its solid solvency position. ANTM expects to buy back shares worth $1.6 billion for 2021 and around 60% of the target has been achieved so far.

Note: American Federation of Government Employees
AFGE Local 1923 was chartered as a labor organization in October 1959, representing approximately 30,000 employees nationwide that are employed in the Social Security Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (formally HCFA), Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, and the National Mediation Board.  Local 1923 is the largest federal union in the country with over 8,000 members and continuing to grow.

....the median pay of health insurance executives in 2018 was $7.7 million. Fourteen CEOs made more than $46 million each....There’s nothing wrong with companies trying to make the most profits as long as the market is kept fair, transparent, and accountable. The personification of corporate entities is an utter mistake. It places them at an unfair advantage, more so the sophisticated, or as I like to call it, twisted policymakers need to realize what happens when private markets get involved in public policies and politics.....The Insurance Industry will always Strive to keep Healthcare Costs High - To maximize their profit, insurance executives take decisive strategies to exploit income... to widen their profit margin, insurers often utilize various avenues, including lobbying, manipulating the social determinants of health and sickness, legal kickback privileges, ..the term “nonprofit” is misleading, as numerous nonprofit organizations even take in millions of dollars annually and consistently run in the dark

 ... the total incentives are toward less medical care because the less attention to patients, the more money kept in the pocket.

In the year, 2020 insurance companies spent over $80,428,145 for 166 clients..

Above are a few key takeaways from this 2 year old article which carries lots of important lessons for our union leaders who know not what they've done.


Also watch this video explaining the administrative code Mulgrew and Adams want to remove:
 

 
https://medium.com/beingwell/health-insurance-for-profit-or-nonprofit-58ad393e3191
Dr. ADAM TABRIZ

Sep 21, 2020

Friday, September 16, 2022

Video: Shame - Sanitation workers confront MLC Chair Nespoli On Healthcare sellout - Will MLC Vice chair Mulgrew be next?

The awful presentations from Unity on healthcare at the Ex Bd meeting - Vinny and Mikey and maybe even Tom -- was pretty nauseating. Distortions - Mulgrew wants to change city council law - admin code 12-126 -  that protect us so he can screw us with Mulgrewcare.


To present these changes as a way to offer us choice is embarrassingly similar to the charter schools bleating choice, choice, choice as they try to replace the public school system with a privatized option -- exactly what Mulgrew is doing with our healthcare. 

Who ya gonna call?
Let me give you a simple example. I got a bill for $420 claiming Medicare didn't pay. My wife (who was in this field at a major hospital) called Medicare and got an answer from a civil servant- maybe unionized-  probably a long-termer who knew the ropes - almost immediately -- the doctor's office screwed up and they resubmitted the bill and Medicare was paying it. Under Mulgrewcare, she'd be calling Aetna or whatever private insurer they choose - you know private - who understaff to make more profit - and with high turnover. That's one aspect of Mulgrewcare.
 
People are pissed from multiple unions -- we got this message from a UFTer:
Maybe we need to  take a lesson from these Teamsters Local 831 activists. Perhaps we should also be in the streets at the UFT???
 
On September 8, 2022, protesters confronted Municipal Labor Committee chair and president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, Teamsters Local 831, Harry Nespoli at local 831 union offices in Manhattan. This protester said that the Municipal Labor Committee, a coalition that includes the city's largest unions, voted that morning to slash section 12-126 of the New York City Administrative Code. The section stipulates that the city pays the full cost of health insurance coverage for current and retired city employees.

WATCH the full protest on the NYC for Yourself Rumble channel: https://rumble.com/v1jbtyo-protesters...

Mulgrew obscene use of choice: Less choice of doctors and procedures

Protesters Say Municipal Labor Committee Vote Paves Way to Public Sector Health Insurance Overhaul

https://youtu.be/60GY36Y4DqM
 

 

 


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

American Life Expectancy Drops Below Most Advanced Nations as Opposition to Medicare for All is Killing us - and the UFT is helping


Here is where I just about accuse our UFT/AFT leadership of assisting the increasing death rate in this country. Not quite accusing them of murder - but - After another bout of listening to UFT leaders splain away their support for damaging Medicare at Monday's
UFT First Exec Board of the Year, a publicly managed system that private health insurers are dying to get their hands on and our own union is helping them do it. 

Today I am going to the UFT Chapter Leader meeting to hand out a leaflet on healthcare for Retiree Advocate (see it at the end of this post.)


A shame we have to lobby our own union members to support something so fundamental - not just for us but for the entire population. Use the QR code to sign our petition.




Tomorrow I have my 6 month appointment with my cardiologist - he is doing a carotid artery sonogram which takes 10 minutes and yet lets him know the state of the arteries in my heart. Preventive medicine saves money - which is what I pointed out when I blogged this: 


Our Life Expectancy Falls: Lack of Medicare for All a Factor ignored in mainstream press






The choice on healthcare is bogus propaganda
On Saturday, a guy approached me when I was getting signatures on a petition supporting the NY Health Act and accused me of being a socialist and anti-American and a traitor to this country. He was joking - sort of -- and we actually walked a few blocks together where he seriously gave me the line that government screws everything up and how we never want a government monopoly and we need choice and competition. I thought I was talking to Mulgrew and other Unity apologists for privatizers. I didn't have time to give him the full monty on why I believe he is totally wrong -- that I want a non-profit entity dictating prices. We both agreed that the best way to settle disagreements like this would be over a beer but we both had things to do and bumped fists and went our own ways.

The key takeaways in my blob were:
  • Our lowered longevity rate is due to our mostly privatized healthcare system.
  • Medicare recipients who take advantage of it are probably the best cared for population and a reason for rising life expectancy in the over 65 - the drop is connected to the younger population.. especially due to drugs. Regular visits to a doctor are crucial and not everyone makes it a habit.
  • A medicare for all system with control of drug prices would reverse things and lead to a rise in overall health and life expectancy. In areas with sparse medical coverage, privatized Medicare Advantage plans are often the only option - and some report decent care - if you don't get real sick.
  • In the current political climate only a state by state approach will bring us a universal system. The blue states are the most likely. California was close to passing a bill and so has NYS - but the unions are an obstacle. They shouldn't be.
  • The UFT and other unions should stop opposing the NY Health Act which would bring such a system to our state. Our union claims to support the concept but says only in a national system, which the chances of happening are nil.
  • Medicare for all costs too much both parties say but billions for Ukraine, useless visits to the moon and defense -- no one says a peep except those on the left.
So it was gratifying to hear Krystal Ball do her monologue on Breaking Points the other day on the same subject and this is really worth watching.
  • If we had universal healthcare about one third of covid deaths would have been prevented - $110 billion would have been saved in covid casts alone --- hear that Mulgrew?
  • When Americans don't have access to health care they put off going to doctors until there is an emergency.
  • US GP/capita - 66k and we perform healthwise at the level of 8KGP. We are outpaced by Costa Rica, Chile, Slovenia
 





In other bad news for our healthcare system -- CVS owns Aetna, who is slated to become our new Medicare dis-Advantage Master.

Nurses' Campaign To Win Medicare For All 

It’s been four months since we crashed the CVS Health annual shareholder meeting, and CVS still hasn’t said they will permanently cut ties with the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, a dark money lobbying group funding anti-Medicare for All efforts.

So we’re hosting a call on Monday, September 26, to share a huge announcement about what comes next. Will you join us?

CVS Update Call: Stop Gambling with our Lives!

We’ve put a lot of pressure on CVS in the past year — organizing together across the country, orchestrating petitions and panel discussions, and making hundreds of phone calls to CVS executives.

We organized multiple national days of action at hundreds of CVS stores across the country, and we showed up at their annual shareholder meeting, where NNU President Jean Ross, RN asked why they’ve spent millions to block Medicare for All by funding the largest dark money lobbying group.1 CVS responded that they are not “currently” funding the Partnership; yet they say they agree with everything the Partnership stands for. Their response was wholly inadequate, and we’re not backing down until CVS tells us: Which side are you on?

We can’t let up the pressure now, and we won’t until CVS publicly cuts ties with the Partnership and commits to supporting what’s best for patients, not their bottom line. It’s been a few months since CVS heard from us — now is the time to pick up the momentum again and make sure they know where we stand.

We have a lot of big actions planned for the coming month, and we want you to be a part of them, Norman. Join the call on Monday, September 26, to learn more.

RSVP NOW »

Thank you,

Nurses’ Campaign to Win Medicare for All


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Impressions: UFT First Exec Board of the Year - New Blood - Both UFC and Unity

Is the UFT Ex Bd a space for bi-partisan agreement or does the very idea make you gag? I opt for the former - hold the hostility for the Delegate Assembly.

I was reminded at how adept some union officials are at making stuff look good. I mean you can come out of an Ex bd meeting thinking the UFT leadership does so much. At the next meeting someone dump a bucket of ICE on my head.

Tuesday, Sept. 13,
 
I jumped on the Rockaway ferry yesterday afternoon to attend the first UFT Ex Bd meeting of the school year, looking forward to seeing the 7 newly elected UFC HS candidates at their first meeting. Plus a group of other supporters of UFC. Our election complaint was on the agenda, health care has risen up again, class size may have a new law but for me the contract for class size is still king. So there was a lot on my mind and I had signed up to speak but with so much to say I decided not to say anything.
 
I won't go into the details of the meeting because there are 2 reports of the meeting from James Eterno and Nick Bacon:
Spring 2022 election hostilities fade but UFC Complaint still active
Yes, our complaint still has not been decided on by the UFT. Nick reports on Leroy's response:
Election Challenge: One omnibus complaint that came out in June. We responded to that one in terms of things that were repeated. The challenge is to go to the UFT, then the AFT. We asked them to go forward to the UFT. Complaints: 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, and 29 (?) – go straight to the UFT. In terms of the remaining challenges, we want reports by the next exec board meetings/ We know there is a 90 day rule, so we will work on that over the next few meetings.
So the complaint is and continues to be a bone of contention. He acknowledged they are over the 90 day time limit and invited us to go to the Dept of Labor if we want. Next move is up to UFC, which can decide to wait - or not. Either way, I am somehow up to my ears in whatever is done -- a hostage situation.
Note to the Unity idiot who can't read and compares this to Trump stop the steal --- we are opposed to using union resources and personnel to promote Unity in elections and want it to stop for future elections.
But, let me point out that Ex Bd is very different from the Delegate Assembly. Small number of people, opposition treated with some respect and allowed to raise anything and ask as many questions as they want. And there's food - decent food - I asked Leroy Barr to order beef wellington for me and he promised a turkey burger but they had a choice of Salmon or meat and I took the latter and it was delicious -- plus salad and pie. 

More congenial - generally. It's a space where you feel uncomfortable being contentious - someone pointed out that is the intent - to blunt anger and use these meetings to promote the work the Unity people are doing.

We were also informed by people in MORE that they were working with 300 early childhood coordinators and social workers who found out they were excessed in the Friday afternoon before Labor Day. (I Posted their letter of protest - More Chaos in DOE - 300 Early Childhood Coordinators and Social Workers Excessed by Adams/Banks in Last Minute Hit Job - Friday afternoon of Labor Day Weekend.) 
 
Pre-Meeting was almost better than the meeting
I was asked to help some of the new people to navigate the process at the Ex Bd meeting to make their case to the leadership.
 
The last time the oppo won in 2016, we began meeting an hour before to discuss strategy. These were open meetings and helped set the stage as people discussed questions and issues to bring up. We began to invite people to join us and to sign up for the ten minute open section where non ex bd people could speak. 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

MulgrewCare is Back in Attempt to Overturn Judge's Ruling, PSC Union opposes, Resisters Will Marching In Labor Day Rally

The union honchos want a blank check to reconfigure the health plans of both retirees and in-service members. This means limiting the choices for in-service members (cost cutting being the main goal) and pressuring retirees in to a Medicare Advantage plan.... UFT Retiree

I wrote the other day about contracts being stalled until the retiree issue was settled: NYC Contract Negotiations Stalled Due to Healthcar... 

Sure enough the next day we find the Adams/Mulgrew alliance are doing a work around the judge -- Eterno has details and the article in NY Focus:

UNIONS-ADAMS AGREE TO ASK CITY COUNCIL TO LET THEM RESURRECT MULGREWCARE (PRIVATIZED MEDICARE ADVANTAGE)

I'm in the city for today's Labor Day marches. Two days ago we got the news that so many of the union leaderships, including our own UFT, are still trying to sell out retirees by forcing them out of Medicare and into a privatized Medicare Advantage program. 
 
I'm heading over to the 42nd St library soon to meet up with people from a bunch of unions - called CROC - Cross Union Organizing Committee -- and we will march with Retiree Advocate in the sea of mostly UFT Unity.

One of the unions we are working with is CUNY - Prof Staff Congress and at least their leadership is resisting. Below is their letter and I will be back tomorrow with a report on the rally and reactions as I ask the Unity clones, who slavishly follow the line like Trumpies follow their leader -- HOW COULD YOU?
 
 
Dear PSC members and retirees,

More Chaos in DOE - 300 Early Childhood Coordinators and Social Workers Excessed by Adams/Banks in Last Minute Hit Job - Friday afternoon of Labor Day Weekend

They had all summer to do this but why not open schools with chaos?
Everyone received their excess letters on Tuesday after Labor Day. Their schools were in chaos the next few days and now the DOE is telling some of them to report to the jobs they were excessed from. They technically do not have their jobs to do the work. They would need to be reinstated first! Here is the letter from resistance organizers.
 

Restore UFT Early Childhood Coordinators and Social Workers

Dear Community Stakeholders: 

 

With less than a week to go before the first day of the 2022-23 school year, the DOE sent a press release announcing the restructuring of a program that supports early childhood classrooms across the city, including all Pre-K and 3-K for All programs. Our team of over 300 Instructional Coordinators (ICs) and Social Workers (SWs) works in public schools and nonpublic settings, such as private daycare centers, religious and private schools contracted by the DOE, pre-schools, and Head Start centers. We support teachers and hard working leaders as they strive to help children and families overcome 2+ years of pandemic strain and stress, the worst of which has hit Black and Brown children and families, and many immigrants whose first language is not English. Our work as ICs and SWs includes:  

 

  • Mental health and wellness coaching and social-emotional support for classrooms and families 

  • In-classroom instructional coaching 

  • Caregiver workshops and presentations geared to community needs around early childhood topics 

  • Helping set up classroom environments  

  • Curriculum guidance  

  • Support with the implementation of classroom routines and expectations 

  • Helping programs align with DECE initiatives and state standards  

  • Providing tailored professional learning experiences according to the needs of the program and community

  • Providing social and emotional developmental resources to programs and families  

  • Challenging behavior guidance for teachers and families 

 

This essential assistance helps level our city’s inequitable playing field, providing quality assistance and resources  to children and families in all NYC neighborhoods. ICs and SWs have been collaborating for many years to provide valuable support that helps make our littlest learners’ first school experiences joyful and rewarding.

 

We learned from a press release followed by media coverage on the Friday afternoon of Labor Day Weekend that we were losing our positions, that our hard-earned professional roles, work duties, locations and schedules will be thrown into chaos, negatively impacting our own children and families. A few days after the press release, we were all excessed, our positions dissolved. We are a dedicated and skilled team of educators and mental health professionals who believe deeply in the promise of equitable, best-quality early childhood programming for all, and we all deserve better.  

 

The press release, sent on behalf of Chancellor Banks at 2:01 PM on Friday, September 2nd, states: “It is this Administration’s ongoing priority to meet schools where they are with the resources they need; the reassignment of central and borough staff members brings resources closer to where they are needed in schools.” However, many programs are currently reaching out to their ICs with questions and requests for start-of-year visits, which we are not permitted to provide.   


We, the Early Childhood Coordinators and Social Workers, have requested a meeting with our UFT representatives and call for a postponement of this restructuring.


Please stay tuned for an upcoming virtual town hall. We will hear from teachers and leaders who are impacted by this change, and ICs and SWs who are trying to navigate the current situation in order to return to the important work of supporting programs.

 

 


Thursday, September 8, 2022

United for Change UFT 2022 Election Complaint Filed June 6 - Time runs out for Full UFT response - Is Department of Labor next stop?

I wrote back in June:
Will the threat of going to Dept of Labor force reforms? Probably not, but by publicizing among UFT members, it will raise the idea that Unity is an entity of lack of democracy.

So why are we documenting these violations? There may come a day where the oppo is close enough to win and the Unity machine will actually attempt to steal the election and this document is a cease and desist order and also blueprint for the future where my hope is the oppo lays all this out up front before the election begins.

Sept. 6 the 3 month time limit the UFT had to respond to the United for Change election complaint ran out and according to Department of Labor rules, we have one month to go to the DOL to lodge the complaint. James Eterno, a major player in the complaint process, posted an update on the ICE blog where James has posted a list of complaints:

UFT BLOWS OFF MOST UNITED FOR CHANGE ELECTION COMPLAINTS THAT WERE FILED JUNE 6

You might recall that on June 6, 2022, United for Change filed 32 complaints with the UFT about violations of federal labor law and regulations in the recent UFT officer election by Unity Caucus -UFT. We reported on it here on June 10. We didn't say Hugo Chavez was hacking into election machines or that dead people were voting en masse. 

Right on that. It was all paper ballots despite our attempts to get electronic voting, opposed by the leadership because there is danger to have more people voting - call it Trump light. We observed the election counting process and while I have had issues with the way the process run by the AAA, we didn't spot anything in the actual counting process to raise any objections to in the complaint, which was about the campaign and the misuse of UFT resources to favor Unity Caucus. In other words, we are not claiming "The Big Steal." Unity has enough cheating opportunities in how they structure the election:
Did enough votes get swayed by the actions we listed in the complaint? I will share my thoughts after the case is decided - if we go to the DOL. My personal goal is to affect future elections - stop district reps from using our resources. On the other hand, Unity leaflets are so lame and probably cost them votes so it's not a big deal to me.

On June 6, 2022 (celebrating my 51st wedding anniversary), I and other members of the United for Change election committee, filed a 75 page election complaint with the UFT. After 3 months, if we haven't received a final response from UFT & AFT, then we have a one month window to file with DOL. If we don't file, the internal process (UFT & AFT) just continues and we have the opportunity to file with DOL after we do receive the final response. 

James wrote:
Christina [Gavin] ended up being frustrated with me because I was rushing her to be timely with this action as the election is fading from memory. She wanted to be thorough and I think she succeeded while still managing to be timely. We thank her for her efforts.
I had a lot of back and forth between James, an old hand like me, and Christina over how to proceed.

Christina, who had never been involved in UFT politics until she pitched in to help with finalizing petitions in mid-February, led the way and James jumped on board. Over the past month Sheila Zuckowsky from Retiree Advocate lent her relentless analytical skills to the forensics. But it was Christina who brought an entirely new perspective to those of us who have been doing this for decades and just accepted the Unity machine would play with the election. She wouldn't accept the status quo. We had a lot of fun in this election. Kudos to her.

And of course working with James is always fun even if we fight a lot - which we have over the past 2o years - but it never gets personal.

And let me note that working with Christina since I first met her in mid-February added new insights into the election process for an old hand like me. She is reliable, relentless, demanding and meticulous in her work and as someone who had little experience with internal UFT politics, an amazingly quick learner. And is now on the MORE steering committee, which is a plus for MORE.

Before I proceed, let me go over key dates:

Feb.-March 2022 - AFT Candidate Christina Gavin contacts Department of Labor for advice on process for election complaints, the first time opposition forces explored this process as a way to curb Unity violations. She reports the UFT has 3 months to reply from date of complaint. Upon reply, the next step is to go to parent body, the AFT for appeal. DOL says we should follow the complaint process as set out in UFT by-laws. We find there are no bylaws. Only mention is in UFT constitution which states Ex Bd decides. Only candidates can lodge complaints.

March-April 2022: Individual election complaints filed. Unity Exec Bd rules. Christina comes under attack by Unity.
Addendum: Since the election, Christina has continued to work hard in helping the union organize librarians and fighting budget cuts. She continues to not illegally use union resources or harass/behave aggressively towards anyone.
Christina does the work at John Liu Town Hall

Wed. Mar. 16 - At a meeting Christina and I had with Leroy Barr and UFT lawyer Beth Norton, she told us the UFT appeal process (which is not encoded anywhere - they make these up as they go along.):
1. contact UFT
2. LeRoy and Beth investigate
3. LeRoy presents a Report & Recommendation to the Executive Board
4. The Executive Board votes to approve or disapprove
5. Appeals to the AFT ATTN: Fedrick Ingram and David Strom
6. AFT appeals go to the DOL


May, 2022 - Christina Gavin compiles complaints into a 75 page document, with input from James Eterno.
Read the full complaint Christina put together (if she didn't do it no one would have to this extent): 

(Note: There are still weeks to go until summer break and UFT Ex Bd still meets in June.)

July/August, 2022: James Eterno touches base with DOL officials asking for advice if UFT doesn't reply. He is informed that both the UFT and the parent body, the AFT, have 3 months to reply. James begins to point out that if we don't get a reply or get one very late, the AFT will run out of time on Sept. 6 as will the UFT. DOL surprised there are no by-laws.

August 26: Despite not having received a reply, we send a letter to the AFT informing them we have not yet received a reply from the UFT and urging them to get involved, giving them notice they are held to the same 3 month time frame as the UFT. We ask them to begin their own investigation. There is some confusion as to how we are appealing when we haven't gotten a reply to appeal yet?  We request that Randi Weingarten and 3 other AFT Council members recuse themselves since they ran on the Unity slate.

It is clear that we should have asked Unity caucus candidates in the UFT to recuse themselves too. We didn't.

Sept. 2, 2:45 PM: We receive a response from Leroy Barr which I don't see until 6PM.* 

Sept. 3: UFC sends an appeal to the AFT, following up on its Aug. 26 email.**
Technically the email we sent is not properly an "appeal" because we have not yet received a final reply. 

Sept. 6: 3 months DOL time limit expires for both UFT and parent AFT according to DOL rules.

Sept. 12, 19: UFT Ex Bd meetings - Possibility complaint will be reported and voted on.

Oct. 6: Deadline to go to DOL.  At this juncture (prior to receiving a final response), if we don't go to the DOL now, we can still go within one calendar month of whenever UFT & AFT complete their responses. 

Some don't think the process is even worth it. Others do. This decision must be made by the various groups in the UFC coalition together. 

My position is to wait to see what the UFT and then the AFT come up with. 

I will do a blog on the pros and cons of going to the DOL and the potential political fallout.

Here are the Sept. 1 and Sept. 2 docs.