Monday, August 20, 2007

Oh man, did your readers leave stuff out!

Remember the comment from Son of Unity (you promised to come back - pleeeze, we could use more material) about all the incredible stress UFT leaders are under from having to deal with the likes of BloomKlein on our "Stress Relief for UFT Leaders" post and our top 10 stress relievers? This follow-up comment by the ghost of Eugene Debs deserves a post all it's own:

-Randi makes at least over 350 grand on three payrolls- UFT, NYSUT, AFT. Plus an unlimited expense account-worth tens of thousands- to entertain and feed herself, deputy mayors and candidates, consultants, hangers on and newspaper folks. She has an SUV and a driver- he makes 120K to ferry her back and forth to the Hamptons. Add it up- gasoline, insurance, lease payments, maintenance, parking- it's all free for this "average" person.

Add: she is in the NYC pension system for her part-time job at Clara Barton [where she worked as a full-time teacher for only 6 months, partime for 6 years]- so the value of her pension is increased every year, just like teachers- except she hardly taught!!

Add: she has surrounded herself with sycophants whose main job is to say "yes" to whatever crazy scheme and or sellout Randi comes up with. She tolerates no dissent, rewards her sycophants, allows the incompetents who are her friends to scam the union, punishes those to speak up (think principals) and is wholly owned by BloomKlein and Wall Street- she does whatever they tell her to do.

She hires $20,000 a month consultants who wear different hats with other clients (Murdoch, the Jets, the Post. Whose side are they on?)

Question: How does she get away with filing the LM2 reports a year and a half after they are due? The figures on the last report should be raised by whatever increase teachers got. Someone should ask the Department of Labor why they allow this.
[Ed Note: An older LM2 is available at the ICE website or email me and I'll send you one. Or go to the US Labor Department and download the last one available yourself - UFT File number is 063-924].

ADD - Unity folks get free parking at 52 Broadway that is worth $40 a day because they refuse to ride the subways. Plus they get their tolls paid for and $32 a day to use their car for "UFT business." (going to one school).
[Ed Note: I've seen this myself as they line up with their union credit cards after Exec bd meetings to get their cars. The UFT has around 40 spots and Randi micromanages the doling out of these spots to her favorites.]

ADD- The Unity crew - 50 of them- treated themselves to a five-day vacation in Philadelphia the July 4 week- for an NEA convention! This defines chutzpah.
[Ed Note: Hey, they worked hard all year. Think they actually sat in on meetings? Besides, they were layng the groundwork for the ultimate merger of the AFT and NEA so Randi can lead the entire educator labor movement as the springboard to AFL-CIO leader.]

keep it coming folks-

-Eugene Debs.

Generally, I have not made a big deal about the salary earned by UFT leaders and I never viewed Randi Weingarten as being in it for the money - power is way more important to her. Some people feel they couldn't care less how much Weingarten earns if she had delivered great contracts instead of selling the "Look how bad BloomKlein are and we did the best we could under terrible conditions" line.

But now, it's getting obscene when the union leader earns 4-5 times the salary of the average teacher. Not only at the very top, but throughout the hierarchy of the UFT/Unity Caucus staff, people have an incentive to sell bad contracts as long as there is money in it - for them, since they all get the same percentage raises as teachers do without the negatives - though Randi has ordered all staff members to do lunch duty - at the nearest restaurant. Even the gap between district reps, the people at the union staff level most in touch with the schools, and teachers, has been growing.

And the gap grows between the daily lives of teachers and union officials - who many of us in the opposition think work hard and put in long hours, but that is oh so different than teaching. I worked at the district level for the last 4 years of my career - I worked hard and long hours too, but that was a joke compared to what teachers were doing.

I have been more concerned with Weingarten's lack of real teaching experience just as I do about principals who have not really taught because that gives one so much insight into the emotional core of people - ie, a visceral understanding of the impact of the reinstitution of lunch duty or the longer day or the even why going back a measly 2 days before Labor Day is so disturbing to people or what it means to have a vicious Asst. Princ. on your back or teh humiliation of having a kid curse you out in front of the whole class and have nothing done about it.

Weingarten was/is a lawyer for the UFT when she was hand-picked by Sandra Feldman to succeed her (which everyone knew about) and was carefully placed at Clara Barton HS - not at the scary Prospect Hts. HS across the street. She was treated like a celebrity by the staff and administration and chapter leader Leo Casey assured she would be taken care of, a favor that has been returned 10-fold by Weingarten. This history is such a sore point that Weingarten feels the need to lie and distort the truth, even declaring in a NY 1 interview that she taught 5 periods a day for 6 years.

I hear vets speculate all the time about what Shanker and Feldman would do in today's climate. Some people, even Unity vets, mutter to me at the Delegate Assemblies, "Shanker is turning in his grave." Even their vehement opponents feel Shanker/Feldman had a real sense of "union" that Randi seems to be lacking. They were true Social Democrats, albeit right wing SD's in the SDUSA party, while Weingarten is a liberal of the Clinton variety, which means not all that liberal in the classic sense. When Casey and I used to communicate, he swore Weingarten was not SDUSA.

I'm not so sure if they would have made any difference, but they could not be happy with the state of the union, especially in the schools. Of course a major difference is that Shanker was so smart and confident, he surrounded himself by very smart and capable people. As Eugene Debs points out above, Weingarten is too insecure and needs sycophants and YES people around. People outside the UFT who have worked with them complain at the lack of people around Weingarten one could respect.

Since 1970, I fought against Shanker and Feldman. But today, I actually miss them.

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