Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Unity Gives Itself a Raise – With New Action Support

Updated Tues, Oct. 16, 9pm

New Action joined in with Unity at Monday's UFT Exec. Bd. meeting in voting the same raise for UFT staff as teachers receive. The vote was unanimous with the 8 New Action Ex Bd members going along for the ride. The entire process took about 15 seconds. Now all Unity hacks can make mid 6 figure salaries to go along with their double pensions.

Last time Jeff and James put up a fierce fight. No more fights, with the rubber stamp New Action joining in on the Unity follies. Giving people employed by the union these raises gives them a vested interest in pushing for contracts that will feather their nests as opposed to fighting for better working conditions like reducing class size or eliminating potty patrol.

The desperation with which they fought for the 2005 contract certainly reinforces this view. Especially since they make so much higher salaries than rank and file teachers, so their percentage increase makes the gap between the UFT hierarchy and the members grow. Add the fact that they make up almost the entire Exec. Bd and dominate the Delegate Assembly, and you have a prescription for the disaster that has hit the NYC teaching corps.

Read NYC Educator's report on the election of Leo Casey as High School VP, defeating the token New Action candidate Jonathan Halabi, who actually puts out some good ideas for union reform on his blog, but is silent when it comes to open advocacy at Delegate Assemblies and Executive Board meetings. Reminds me of how the UFT puts out a report on high stakes testing and does nothing about it.

By joining with the non-critical New Action instead of trying to build a real opposition, reformers like Halabi make a choice to accept crumbs from the union leadership rather then help build a true movement for change.

Leo Casey Redux
Speaking of Casey's election as HS VP (which he coveted in 2002 when he was passed over)

Ed Notes reported in the Fall 2002 edition (the first 16 page tabloid we printed):

(NOTE: How New Action leader Mike Shulman was screwed back then but seems to have figured out how to worm his way into UFT officialdom - the ole "If you can't beat 'em" ploy.)

Fall 2002
New HS VP leads to sighs of relief in UFT High Schools
Frank Volpicella’s promotion from Brooklyn HS district rep to the Academic HS VP, despite the sham election at the Sept. 9 Exec Bd. meeting (he won 75-5 over New Action James Eterno despite the fact that the NA/PAC slate won the majority of votes of high school teachers in the last election) has led a number of union observers to breathe a sigh of relief that the ever popular Leo Casey was passed over for the job. Casey, who had been Randi Weingarten’s chapter leader during her 10 minutes of teaching at Clara Barton HS, is currently a UFT full time field rep. doing research into the extent of mouse droppings at union headquarters. Rumor is he won’t get the HS VP position until he has finished counting all the turds at 260 Park Ave. South.

High School VP Election Exposes Lack of Democracy in UFT

fall 2002

When John Soldini retired as Vice President of the Academic High Schools, the UFT Executive Board held an election on Sept. 9 to choose his replacement. Brooklyn HS District Rep. Frank Volpicella was the Unity nominated candidate (which means he was hand chosen by Randi Weingarten.) James Eterno was supported by New Action and PAC. When the votes were counted, Volpicella won by a count of 75-5. With such an overwhelming victory you’d get the impression that the sentiment of high school teachers would be overwhelmingly for Volpicella. You’d be wrong. If a popular election was held in the high schools, Eterno would win by a significant margin.

In the last UFT election in the spring of 2001 HS teachers voted for the NA/PAC slate by a 54% margin. (The opposition also won the Academic HS vote in the ‘95, ‘97, ‘99, ‘01 election.) Yet NA/PAC only has 6 Executive Board seats. Unity owns the rest. Unity also controls the HS vice presidency even though their candidate loses the vote among HS teachers. How can this discrepancy be explained? Sit down boys and girls and let us regale you with:


Prior to 1995, divisional vice presidents were elected only by their constituents. Elementary teachers voted for their veep. Junior High Schools voted for their veep. Ditto High Schools.

Thousands of academic HS teachers are disenfranchised
The opposition began to win HS Exec. Bd. seats back in the 80’s which culminated in Mike Shulman actually winning the HS Veep election in 1985 and becoming the first (and only) non-Unity member of the ruling Administrative committee (the Adcom). This so shocked Unity, they forced one of the UFT’s founding fathers George Altomare to retire for daring to lose. Unity’s new candidate John Soldini recaptured the Veep position in the next election. In 1991, Shulman narrowly lost to Soldini (by about 100 votes) while NA won all HS Exec. Bd. seats. The Unity braintrust cast about for a way to prevent this from happening again. The had their chance when they narrowly recaptured all the Exec. Bd. seats in the ‘93 election. They rammed through a constitutional amendment where the divisional vice presidents were elected by the entire membership rather than the members of their own division. This is known as at-large voting. Thus, retired teachers and paras and elementary teachers and Junior High Schools teachers and guidance counselors, etc., etc., get to vote for the academic HS Veep and Unity gets to keep a monopoly on the Adcom. (Follow all this? don’t worry, we’ll repeat it in future editions of Ed. Notes.)

That is how Eterno’s 5 votes (1 NA member has left teaching) out of 80 cast at the Exec. Bd. meeting on Sept. 9 is so misleading and so unfair to high school teachers. And this is one way Unity Caucus controls the entire machinery of the UFT.

If Gore really won, then Eterno really won
It’s pretty funny to hear Randi Weingarten often joke that Al Gore really won the presidential election. Well the next time she does, tell her that James Eterno also really won the election for HS Veep.

Running a union and maintaining control is simple:
When the opposition gets close to winning or actually wins, just change the rules.

Report from the AFT 2002 Convention: Anti-War Resolution Defeated

Leo Casey of the United Federation of Teachers countered: "If ever there was a just war, this war is just."

Reported by EIA's Mike Antonucci

A group of delegates led by the contingent from the Professional Staff Congress of the City University of New York attempted to substitute its anti-war Resolution 46 for the moderately pro-war Resolution 49 submitted by the AFT Executive Council. Though the AFT leadership was outmaneuvered at the microphones by the anti-war group, the substitute motion was rejected and Resolution 49 was approved by about a three-fourths vote.
The adopted Resolution 49 offers support for the war on terrorism, with appropriate caveats about civil liberties and the use of force. The biggest complaint of the anti-war crowd was this sentence: "We support the use of the wide range of powers at the country's disposal to eradicate this threat to our people, our liberty and our children's future." Tania Kappner of Oakland argued that this was a "blank check for Bush" to conduct all future wars.

But Leo Casey of the United Federation of Teachers countered: "If ever there was a just war, this war is just."

(Ed. Note: Leo Casey is the UFT’s foreign policy director.)


Anonymous said...

Leo Casey = Dooshbag

And of course UNITY deserves the raise.

I wish UNITY would hit the pubs to get an inkling of what REAL teachers like to talk about. Maybe they wouldn't be so disconnected.

NYC Educator said...

Yes Norm, why don't you thank Leo for days in August, hall patrol, potty patrol, erosion of seniority rights, ATR teachers, halving prep time, the sixth class that is not actually a class, longer days, longer periods, and reduced grievance procedures?

I know I think about his accomplishments every day.

The juvenile mentality above, the one that spouts junior high school insults at anyone who disagrees is typical of the mindset that's gotten us where we are today. Rod Paige doesn't admire the UFT leadership because they've made things better for teachers.

He admires them because they sold us out. I don't see them patrolling the halls.

Anonymous said...

Norm, that first guy is an A H. I would be proud to shake your hand and call you friend.


P.S. I'm sick and tired of all pro-unity posts coming from Anon's. If your so proud of Unity then pick an identity and stand behind your ideals.

Anonymous said...

"P.S. I'm sick and tired of all pro-unity posts coming from Anon's. If your so proud of Unity then pick an identity and stand behind your ideals."

That's funny coming from a guy also posting as anonymous!!! You clever jerk you!

Did anybody else think Jeff "Andy" Kaufman made a jerk out of himself tonight? Couple his rudeness to Randi with ICE's bogus amended agenda item 1 resolution (which said nothing, absolutely nothing, new.) Way to go guys...Un-Norm-al's probably spinning over in his grave!

I hope you guys are still at the pub drinking your sorrows away. Have a Zima for me.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous #1 why don't you crawl back into whoever's asshole you crawled out of?? Maybe you ARE Leo Casey, in which case you are a pathetic copy of a true unionist, and are attempting to distract articulate dissent with your venomous diatribes against Norm. It's pretty sophomoric, if you catch my drift. We pay almost $90 per month in dues and all we get from Leo C is KleinBloom propaganda. We are civil servants, moron. All these years we settled for lower pay in return for job security as we accumulated seniority. That is gone thanks to the Leos and Randis and your kind in the union; you all should be indicted for racketeering. You continue to play teacher against teacher instead of living up to your "Unity" name. Shut up if you can't help the rank and file you snake in the grass curmudgeon.

Anonymous said...

It was pretty sophomoric of me to call Leo a dooshbag. I apologize. I'm just fed up with Unity and after a few drinks of bourbon, that was the best I could come up with.

Anonymous said...

Here is your new VP:

Landmark Agreement For Pension Benefits And School-Wide Bonuses Bring Professional Gains To NYC Public School Educators


At 12 Noon today, the UFT, New York City and the NYC Department of Education agreed on mechanisms to implement two of the outstanding provisions of the 2005 collective bargaining agreement. The agreements create positive, pro-active programs that address two major issues which face our schools: attracting and retaining quality educators in our schools, and creating collaborative learning environments where teachers have real voice.

First, current New York City educators who have 25 years or more of service will be able to retire at age 55 without a reduction in benefits. Second, a voluntary school wide bonus program will be established on a pilot basis in a number of New York City’s highest need schools. Finally, building on the victory of making ‘per session’ pay pensionable, this agreement makes coverage pay pensionable.

Currently, NYC public school educators on Tiers II, III and IV who retire before age 62 with fewer than 30 years of service can’t retire without a monetary penalty. This now changes. Subject to legislative passage and the governor’s signature, these educators will be able to retire at 55 with their full pension once they have completed 25 years of service, as Tier I educators are now able to do. (Since pensions can not be bargained, this agreement pledges NYC, the DOE and the UFT to jointly support state legislation to accomplish these changes.) Eligible educators will receive a pension equal to at least one-half of their final average salary, which is generally the last three years of service.

Under the legislation agreed to by the parties, current NYC public school educators will have six months to decide whether or not to opt in to the new enhanced pension program, at a cost of a 1.85% of salary. Future hires will be required to pay 1.85% for their improved benefit. For future hires, the pension will be improved to an eligibility at age 55 with 27 years of service. [No union has negotiated a lower member cost for this kind of benefit, which by terms of the contract, was to be cost neutral for New York City. Tier I members pay at least 5% of their salary for the first twenty years of service.]

The NYC Department of Education and the Teachers’ Retirement System have also agreed that money educators earn for teaching the classes of absent colleagues [coverages] will now count as part of their average salaries for the purpose of calculating pensions. Educators who retired as far back as 1993 will have their pensions recalculated to include this coverage pay, and will receive retroactive payments for up to six years [from 2001 forward] on that basis.

Once 55-25 is adopted by the state legislature, these pension improvements will be a huge step forward in the decades-long fight of the UFT to achieve equity among the different pension tiers. This agreement will provide an important tool to address the retention crisis in NYC public education, providing younger educators with an incentive to make teaching a life career.

The school wide bonus plan reflects the core belief and principle of the UFT: students achieve when all the educators in a school work together on their behalf. When we foster teamwork and partnership, when educators learn from each other and share their successful educational practices and strategies, the whole school moves forward and students benefit. Unlike individual merit pay plans, which set teacher against teacher in cut-throat competition, school wide bonuses encourage educators to work together and help each other improve instruction for all students.

With the adoption of this school wide bonus plan, we have transformed a negative into a positive, and “shut the door” on individual merit pay programs. New York City is sending a clear message to the members of Congress considering the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind: the way to improve schools does not lie down the road of setting teacher against teacher, but of bringing teachers together in common cause and effort on behalf of their students.

For the first time under the current Department of Education administration, a program is being established that treats our members as educational professionals, recognizing them as full and equal partners of the school principal in the educational enterprise. This is an important advance in the UFT’s quest to achieve full professional status for the men and women who educate our young people.

With this agreement, a pilot program as envisioned in Article 8L of our contract will award bonuses to the entire UFT represented staff in participating schools that meet benchmarks for gains in student achievement. In 2007-08, the plan will be offered to approximately 200 of the highest needs schools, and in 2008-09, the offer will be extended to other high needs schools, with the total number being at least 30% of all schools.

Participation in the plan will be voluntary. Each school’s participation will be decided by an annual vote of 55% of the UFT Chapter and the agreement of the principal.

Schools that meet the benchmarks will receive a pool of money, calculated on the basis of $3000 for every UFT member in the school. A four member team of two administrators and two UFT members elected by their colleagues will decide how to divide the pool among the UFT represented staff in the school. If the distribution plan of the team is not ratified by the UFT chapter, appeals may be made to an Oversight Committee of the NYC DOE Chancellor and the UFT President.

This plan empowers school-based educators, placing in their hands the choice to opt in or out of the bonuses and the decision of how to distribute the bonus money. It also creates a positive incentive for experienced, accomplished educators to work in high needs schools.

Since 1999, principals have received bonuses for gains in student achievement; this plan will extend that opportunity to UFT members in the schools.

This is not the first school wide bonus plan in NYC public schools. In 1998, the UFT entered into the Breakthrough for Learning school wide bonus program in District 19; District 23 was later added to the program. Unlike Breakthrough for Learning, however, this school wide bonus plan is focused on partnership and teacher professionalism.

With these programs, the UFT has addressed two of the major issues from the 2005 contract. We will now continue to tackle class size, school safety, ATRs, and teachers who are in ‘rubber rooms.’ For now, our members will now have additional tools and supports from our collective bargaining agreement to take on the challenges of educating all of New York City’s 1.1 million public school students.


Anonymous said...

Hi, this is Unitymustgo!,

Yes I have been posting using Anon, but if you read the blogs regularly you would know my identity. Sadly for some reason one day my username and password stopped working. I tried and tried to fix and/or reactivate it? Didn't work, so alas I post using anon, but always make sure to identify myself. I actually thought to add this explanation to my original post but didn't want to bore you all.

To the anon who was a bit rude, I'll forgive you, I know how tired and stressed out your work day must be thanks to all of the wonderful improvements UNITY has gotten us. Get a good nights rest and sleep secure knowing you can retire at 25/55.