Sunday, October 19, 2008

There is no meeting with UFT today...

.... Here is Why

Here is a follow up from a first year Teaching Fellow who has helped organize TF's threatened with being fired on Dec. 5th. I printed an email to me from this TF in this post on the morning of Oct. 15 before the Delegate Assembly. The demo in front by both senior and first year teacher ATRs brought out reporters. And that naturally brought out UFT officials led by "sweet talking" Michael Mendel and a horde of PR people. Our post delegate assembly report is here. Our first year teacher/reporter is showing a lot of moxie and political savy. We hope this group doesn't go away soon and if they survive they will join the alternative movement to force change down the throats of the UFT/Unity Caucus misleadership.

There are emails from 2 TFs and they read in reverse order so follow carefully.

Thought you might be interested in reading how we didn't have a meeting with the UFT regarding our legal issues.

Best regards,
[TF Correspondent 1]

New York City Teaching Fellows
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2008 06:46:43 -0400
Subject: There is no meeting with UFT today, here is why

The United Federation of Teachers ("UFT")'s Michael Mendel specifically asked me to email you and explain to you why I was not meeting with the UFT today.

In short, I am not meeting with them because Mr. Mendel promised to meet with us, and then less than 24 hours later broke that promise.

At the direct action we had in front of the UFT building on Wednesday when we were speaking directly to the delegates and the media, Mr. Mendel came out and spoke with us. He interrupted us in our work, a calculation designed to impede our communication.

He asked each of our members to fill out some form he had collecting their personal information. This was because he said that they wanted to contact us each individually.

Of course I explained that we were committed to speaking in one voice and didn't need individual communication with the UFT (however if you believe you would like to reach out to the UFT I have copied Mr. Mendel onto this email and his email address is:

He stated to me directly in his sweet voice that they were trying to have a meeting with us.

He promised one of the other Fellows directly a meeting with him.

Then after he had left and I was speaking with two reporters, one from The New York Post and one from The Chief about our situation I directly asked the UFT press representative Peter Kadushin (also copied on this email, at reachable at if ANYTHING I
said wasn't true.

All he could say, in front of these reporters, is that the UFT was interested in meeting with us. I asked him what meeting he was referring to. He said he only knew that Mr. Mendel had mentioned meeting with us. I asked when he had heard that, and he said it was just at the direct action.

If any of this is incorrect I am sure either Mr. Kadushin or Mr. Mendel will email me back to let me know (and I will forward along to you unedited).

So after the direct action we all went back to our normal lives.

The next day, yesterday, I received an email from the Fellow who directly received a promise to meet with Mr. Mendel.

This is the email, the only thing I removed is the name/email of the Fellow (I assume that I am the "David" to whom he refers-- the English teacher in me sees this as an unintended metaphor to our David versus Goliath actions against the UFT):

From: Peter Kadushin [UFT]
Date: Thu, Oct 16, 2008 at 10:36 AM
Subject: RE: Follow Up
To: [
TF Correspondent 2]

I was told that Carol Gerstl, our legal council, is setting up a meeting with David. Please let me know when you hear from her.
Peter Kadushin

-----Original Message-----
From: [
TF Correspondent 2]
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2008 6:23 AM
To: Peter Kadushin
Subject: Follow Up
Dear Peter,

Yesterday, Michael Mandel told me he wants to meet with me and other Fellows threatened with dismissal on December 5th. Could you please email me his phone member? I would like to schedule a date with him.

Thank you again for your assistance. I appreciated talking with you before the delegates meeting and look forward to your help in covering our fight for our jobs.

TF Correspondent 2]

TF Correspondent 1
Notice the times posted.

So when I saw the email I called Mr. Mendel directly. He said that he was "unaware" that I had attempted to have a meeting (about which you have already received emails from me) with UFT legal.

As you know, I gave them a deadline of last Monday for that meeting. Any offer of a meeting was rejected by them.

The funny thing is that Mr. Mendel was copied by Ms. Gerstl on the emails that made clear they were not meeting with me by the deadline.

Mr. Mendel said the only meeting we would have is with Gerstl and her associate.

I told them it was not useful for me to meet with their legal team-- that was an offer I had made to help them understand the legal issue which they actually should be doing on their own and that I had given up on being allied with the UFT management and now only wished to have a meeting with someone who could commit the UFT to action.

He said that wasn't going to happen and that I was being rude because he said I told him that meeting with Ms. Gerstl was a "waste of my time".

He was yelling and me and threatened that I wouldn't meet with anyone if I didn't take the meeting.

He also requested that I let you know that I was declining this meeting. And here I am emailing you as he requested (by the way, the UFT has never done anything we have requested of them and we are the ones that pay them for their services, another $47.27 out of
yesterday's check!).

I did then say we would take the meeting.

He hurried off the phone.

I called Gerstl after I had thought about it, and realized that we were promised, in front of the press and in front of delegates, a meeting BY and WITH Mr. Mendel and taking a meeting without him was not acceptable.

I told her that the meeting was canceled. (I remind you that it is rare that anyone at the UFT actually answers their phones, so I told this to her voicemail).

Later the same Fellow who had emailed Peter Kadushin and I spoke. He said he would meet with their legal staff. He phoned them and had a productive conversation with Carol Gerstl but I understand she declined to meet with him.

So as Mr. Mendel requested, I am writing you (getting up early to do it) to let you know that I did decline to meet with the UFT at this time.

The meeting was not on the terms which were acceptable to me even before a direct promise from Mr. Mendel.

Simply put, we need the UFT to act on our behalf. We have a right to that action, we pay for that action.

If the UFT's leadership stalls and misleads us in our private conversations with them (see the previous emails) and even breaks promises they make in front of delegates and the press, we simply cannot take what they say as any indication of what they are doing for us. We must see concrete action before we are convinced they are helping us.

I look forward to meeting with you this weekend to discuss this, and other matters, in person.
Of course you are welcome, if you don't mind outing yourself, to email Mr. Mendel if you have anything you wish to clarify, he has invited this conversation.

Best regards,
TF Correspondent 2

1 comment:

  1. Well, that is no surprise about Mr. Mendel. he often does not folow through with things originally promised. He wants control of the agenda. However, if you send a copy of your e-mail and request to Randi, she often has been able to move the officers.
    It is ashame that Michael does not like collaboration and discussion. He likes "control". This is so unprofessional. It's difficult for him to say to someone, "You know...that is a great idea! I want to help you with this".
    This should however not be about who get's the credit, but about serving the members, and getting things done. In terms of who I think is the most responsive/ Bob Astrowsky(a gentleman), Jeff Zahler (professional, yet alas no longer UFT)and Leroy will help you.
    Mulgrew is responsive as well.


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