Thursday, August 18, 2011

PEP Pops I - Updated with video and links to coverage

Here are some links to coverage:

GEM's Gustavo Medina has video:
Verizon Workers on Strike Pearl ST NYC

Leonie Haimson:  My take on last night's PEP meeting on Verizon contract and its electric "Norma Rae" moment:  ttp://

Media coverage of the meeting from the Times, Daily News, Post, NY1.  None of it really captures the intensity of the evening, though the NY1 video comes closest with Lindsey Christ at NY1 doing her usual bang-up job.

Fox 5 NY:
International Business Tribune:
Washington Post:

Michael Solo took stills at the rally and posted them at the Fight Back Friday blog.

Back story links at Ed Notes:

There is a Members Relief Fund.  It is a Solidarity Fund that other union members can donate to. If you would like to make a contribution, you may do so online at <> <>

This is especially important as the video testimony of a mother on strike below highlights, these folks will lose their healthcare at the end of the month.

Ed Notes Report
I'm sitting here in the middle of the night with a noisy fan whirring and making a sound that sounds an awful like "What's didgusting union busting," a common refrain we heard throughout the evening.

Aside from the fact that the Panel for Educational Policy Bloomberg rubber stamps would vote up the Verizon contract there was much significance in the events today where thousands of striking Verizon workers joined with teachers and parents in a rally outside Murry Bergtraum HS followed by attending the monthly PEP meeting of the rubber stamps. Seeing them come off the Brooklyn Bridge en masse was thrilling. And what guts to strike in these times against one of the most powerful corporations. And so many workers all over the city. I ran into a whole bunch on 34th St. at 12 noon. I just cannot conceive of the UFT doing anything that could come close.

Just a few points in this post - I'll supplement later with some video I took.

1. Educating CWA members on the disastrous ed deform policies of Bloomberg
What these members of the Communications Workers of America, many of them parents of students attending NYC schools, witnessed was what we ed activists have been
witnessing for almost a decade - a corporate agenda that ignores the voices of parents and teachers - and the public at large. We couldn't have done more to raise the consciousness of a significant and influential group of people than the PEP and their increasingly slimy shill Dennis Walcott accomplished for us. Let's hope the CWA and Verizon workers remember last night when mayoral control comes up for renewal.

2. Building grassroots rank and file teacher/Verizon worker alliances
Lots of wonderful interactions between the mostly GEM/ICE/Teachers Unite people and rank and file CWA workers. This was not between union leaderships (more on that below.) GEM, TU and NYCORE reps joined picket lines over a week ago to show support.

3. The organizing/initiating role GEM played
Yes, the very idea to team the strike and the PEP Verizon vote came out of the GEM internal listserve 2 weeks ago and caught on with other groups like wildfire. There were many groups that signed on but only a few actually turned out people. Between GEM and ICE I counted at least 15-20 people, a nice showing for such relatively tiny orgs.

One thing I noticed was how stoked some of the people who started working with GEM recently were over the ability of the group to make things happen. (I haven't written about it but the high stakes testing meeting on Monday attracted quite a crowd and got an amazing amount of work done.) Sometimes I am amazed myself since my experience in ICE has been so much more think tank than action. There is some need for both I guess and the most action oriented people in ICE have been attracted to the work in GEM, which after all started out as an ICE subcommittee.

4. The UFT - almost rising to the level of being pathetic
You know I am trying my best not to bash the UFT but how can I pass after yesterday's shameful performance? Even I had been fooled when I heard they had signed on - or at least Leroy Barr sent out a letter urging people to join in. (UFT Officially Joins PEP/Verizon Aug. 17 Protest.)

By the way, soon after, New Action signed on too - but I saw only one NA person there - but now they can brag about how they took part- by the time they massage the story they will have organized the whole thing.

So Mulgrew spoke outside and he spoke well. Hr made sure to bring a photographer and a NY Teacher reporter and a few people who work at the UFT. I expected hundreds. I counted maybe 10. But worst of all, when it came time to go into the PEP and fight it out with the Bloomscum, the UFT totally disappeared. Not a one. Whereas GEM went in with a strategy and organized speaker signups for people from all the groups, there was zero UFT presence. Shouldn't someone from the leadership of the UFT have spoken at the PEP instead of just outside?

I did whatever video I could with my flip-like camera 'till I ran out of battery power. Even though I had some good news today about my broken wrist, it was a long day in the city for me and my wife has been picking me up at various subway stops so I had to leave at 7:30 just as Julie Cavanagh was raking them over the coals - I think someone else may have caught it. I'll put up some videos of first the rally outside and then the PEP itself later.

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