Thursday, May 22, 2014

UFT Contract: Roseanne McCosh, PS 8X, Urges Colleagues to Vote NO

Former Unity Caucus member slams UFT leadership and Unity.
I wrote the below and it will go into teacher mailboxes. The majority in my school are voting NO and many of them will not attend the union meetings with UFT officials to hear bullshit.  The NO campaign at PS 8 was taken up by many teachers in my school.  It was good to hear people who don't normally voice their opinions talking to others about what a raw deal this is and sending me information and reasons to vote no.  Normally I'm the key person to disseminate information but this time many others jumped on board.  I'm giving my colleagues some final considerations before Unity arrives at our school.  We will vote on the contract on Friday....   Roseanne McCosh, PS8x
Unity slugs have tried to make it seem that only MORE is against the contract and is only taking that position as a cover to attack Unity. I can say that in fact MORE very early on was analyzing the contract and some of us warned not to take an automatic NO position but to hear where people in the schools were coming from. I never expected they would screw up on the money issue and in fact believed they would come up with a winning money package even if the rest of the contract sucked and they would get a slam dunk.

Boy was I wrong. I heard from people I had not heard from in years. MORE was inundated with people who from the first word were opposed -- not MOREistas but independents.  Roseanne was one of them.
Dear UFT Members:
     The UFT is sending a representative to our school today to convince us to vote YES.  This is the job of all who work for the UFT.  No one who works for the UFT is permitted to disagree with the union president.  Our union president (Michael Mulgrew) did not allow for an open debate on the contract at the delegate assembly.  Those of you who attended our last chapter meeting heard Lori (our delegate) speak to what she has witnessed at delegate assemblies—including the one during which the DA passed this contract on to us.  Mulgrew filibustered and did not allow anyone opposed to the contract to have equal time to speak to the audience.  I’ve already given many reasons why we should vote NO.  I will leave you with some final thoughts prior to their arrival:
Fear will be instilled as they try to convince us to vote YES.  But do you want to know who’s really afraid?  The UFT Leadership is afraid.  They are afraid that those of us in the trenches will wake up and demand better when they promised NYC that they could corral us in any direction they wanted.  Maybe they can corral the majority----maybe not. Time will tell.  But I’m not interested in being a member of the majority.  I am interested in being an individual who knows when I’m being steamrolled and screwed and who stands up and says, “HELL NO!”  

However, my NO vote isn't really about my personal circumstances at all.  With or without this contract my retirement timeline remains the same and I will retire with a livable income.  I can sincerely say that my short distance to retirement means that this vote means very little to me personally.  A YES vote means my pension will be higher.  I’ll see the same retro as those of you with much longer to go. I’ll just have to wait like everyone else.  I am treated well by our current administration and I have handled difficult administrations in the past without ever bending over for anyone.  My NO vote is a vote for your future--not mine.  

  • Health Care: My NO vote is saying that I won’t accept changes to health care that will be made if this contract is approved. Until I see the health care plan to save the BILLIONS Mulgrew promised DeBlasio, I don’t want to hear that there are no givebacks.  I don’t want to HEAR anymore.  I want to SEE a written plan and know exactly how the UFT is planning on saving those billions of dollars.  (see HealthCare Savings section of  the contract which is pasted on the back of this page---BILLIONS in Savings but no details as to HOW). 
  • Stronger Union: My NO vote is about the future of a labor union that has become weaker with each passing contract.  My NO vote is my way of saying that all teachers are entitled to due process hearings before their livelihoods are taken away from them.  By selling out the ATRs we are giving up our own job security in the future.  We will be helpless to an abusive principal.
  • Playing us for fools: My NO vote is saying DON’T LIE TO US!  Ask [name redacted] from our SBST how she was lied to and was told at a UFT pension workshop that she would get 5% interest on our owed money when the fact is it’s 0%. They lied to all who attended.
  • Appropriate Compensation: My NO vote is also saying that teachers should be rewarded for their patience in waiting for delayed increases and retro.  And that reward should be the elimination of extended time.  The last time we showed patience we got February break included in our contract.  This time we get 2 more evening PT conferences and speeches about how lucky we are to have a job and that Bloomberg left the cupboards bare.  Ask the Wall Street execs how their cupboards are doing these days.  The DOW has reached new highs and the rich of NYC are doing quite well.  It is always the working class that is asked to make sacrifices.     (CONTINUED ON BACK)
  • Scare Tactics: My NO vote is saying that the UFT will not scare me into compliance.  Let NYPD and FDNY negotiate first if necessary.  They have already said they won’t accept this pattern of delays and retro on retro. The president of SBA (Sergeants Benevolent Assoc) has stated, “I think Mike Mulgrew is out of his mind for doing a deal like that.”   We will do better if we vote NO.  Don’t let the UFT convince you otherwise.  The UFT’s main goal is to not have egg on their face.  Their goal is to corral us as they promised NYC they would.  Enough with fear based decision making from a labor union leadership and membership….it’s embarrassing.   Male dominated unions are not afraid.  Why are we?

H. Healthcare Savings

a.  The UFT and the City/DOE agree the UFT will exercise its best efforts to have the MLC agree to the following:

 i. for fiscal year 2015 (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015), there shall be $400 million in savings on a city- wide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

ii.  for fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016), there shall be $700 million in savings on a citywide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

iii.  for fiscal year 2017 (July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017), there shall be $1 billion in savings on a citywide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

iv.  for fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018), there shall be $1.3 billion in savings on a citywide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

v.  for every fiscal year thereafter, the savings on a citywide basis in health care costs shall continue on a recurring basis.

vi. The parties agree that the above savings to be achieved on a Citywide basis are a material term of this agreement.

vii.  In the event the MLC does not agree to the above citywide targets, the arbitrator shall determine the UFT’s proportional share of the savings tar get and, absent an agreement by these parties, shall implement the process for the satisfaction of these savings targets.

viii.  Stabilization Fund: (1) Effective July 1, 2014, the Stabilization Fund shall convey $1 billion to the City of New York to be used in support of the pro rata funding of this agreement.
(2) Commencing on July 1, 2014, $200 million from the Stabilization Fund shall be made available per year to pay for ongoing programs (such as $65 welfare fund contribution, PICA payments, budget relief). In the event the MLC does not agree to provide the funds specified in this paragraph, the arbitrator shall determine the UFT’s proportional share of the Stabilization Fund monies required to be paid under this paragraph.

Roseanne was quite insulted when Unity slugs were leaving those comments that MORE was playing politics.
The NO campaign being run in my school is being run by teachers with no affiliation or allegiance to any caucus. We have defined our reasons for voting NO very clearly. It is a campaign against UNITY because Unity is trying to ram this shit down our throats. And rest assured the day MORE or ICE or anyone else wants to ram shit down our throats we will speak out against them as well. PS 8 is comprised of individuals who THINK and vote accordingly....and some of us may very well vote yes....but those of us voting NO have our reasons and our minds will not be changed by spin. Roseanne McCosh PS 8
Irony is that she is a former member of Unity -- and let us not give up on all of them -- she is an example that some will see the light. So I issue a call to Unity Caucus members ready to switch: MORE welcomes you. (We also welcomed New Action early this school year but they have another agenda.)


Anonymous said...

Male dominated unions are very powerful. The UFT is female dominated. Weak!!! We are viewed as sheep. The men will not roll over. The other civil service sectors are very strong, plus make dominated. The Teachrrs are weak, female driven which gets ZERO respect. Women were always treated different and always will be. There is no, and never will be equality. Men are just clearly dominant.

Anonymous said...

This woman Roseanne sounds amazing!

Mr.Hughesonline said...

Where was all this energy when the previous administration denied us what we deserved? You would think that the union were the bad guys in this all along. I get the feeling members are drinking their "Courage Juice" now that the Billionaire Bully is *out* of office. But when was *in* office, where was the fight?

I'm going to assume that Ms. McCosh is a CL at her school. If I'm right, I will go on record in saying that a CL's job is not to urge people to vote "no". To me, in situations like this, your job is to disseminate information to members, and alow them to make their own decision. I don't get the impression that's happening in this school.

And opting not to hear from UFT officials is a bad idea.

Docwash said...

The health care savings come from two places. There are economies of scale when the 152 unions of the MLC agree to use mail order for recurring prescription drugs. (We will still be able to use pharmacies for short term prescriptions.) The UFT and the city did a careful audit to remove people who should no longer be listed as dependents from members' health care plans. This saved enough money to offset the loss of the labor reserve in the city's budget.

Docwash said...

When UFT members asked how I would vote, I told them. More importantly, I posted the entire MOA prominently in two places for all to see, and I trusted in the intelligence of the members of my chapter to make an informed decision based on the available documentation. Saying "I don't believe it," or "It's all lies," is not giving evidence. Calling any UFT brother or sister a slug because you disagree with his or her stance is beneath your dignity. Regardless of caucus, who are we? UFT! Ours is the strongest local of the strongest union in the country, something of which we can all be proud.

Anonymous said...

Chapter leader's job is to lead. Exactly what she is doing. Opting not to hear from Unity is a great idea especially when someone knows who they are and what they represent. Go Roseanne.

Anonymous said...

I am not the chapter leader. I have no need for courage juice. I took on the billionaire bully as well.

My letter below was published in the Norwood News....our local neighborhood paper . I also emailed Joel Klein on many occasions challenging him on policies I disagreed with. The NY Daily News' voice of the people is another outlet I have used. Any more attacks on my character you'd like me to swat away? Why is it so difficult for you to believe that not every teacher in NYC hides under the covers quaking with fear? I owe my courage to my parents and to the practice of surviving life's hard lessons with my self respect intact. Read below...from when BloomKlein was in charge...May 2007.

School Policy Threatens Safety
I was born and raised in the Bronx. I now teach in the same neighborhood in which I grew up.
I have repeatedly emailed Chancellor Klein regarding his ineffective discipline policies in NYC public schools. Just today, a boy who threatened to bring in a gun and shoot two of his classmates was placed in another class inside our school. All Klein does is shuffle these violent kids from class to class or school to school.
When an elementary school student commits an act of violence (sexual assault, physical assault on a teacher or classmate, a threat of bringing a gun to school and killing someone) he is recommended for a suspension. While we wait for the paper pushers, who work directly under the chancellor, to schedule the suspension hearing, the violent student continues to sit in class with his victims. Sometimes he victimizes them again and again while we wait. If we are lucky, the violent student is temporarily, or sometimes permanently, sent to another school where only the principal has the right to know why.
Most teachers are too timid to question this policy. Most teachers just accept a suspended student into their class without demanding answers. And when some of us do have the courage to make a stink about such a ridiculous policy, the violent student is simply placed elsewhere – into the classroom of a teacher too afraid to speak up.
What follows is a true account of this policy in action. It is not an isolated incident. It is DOE policy and it is what we face on a regular basis.
Last year a student was suspended from another school into a classroom next to mine. The teacher was never informed as to what he had done to warrant the suspension. She expressed her concern about the safety of her 28 third graders sitting in a class with a potentially violent student. Her concerns fell on deaf ears — Region One sent him here — so he stays until Region One says otherwise. Later that day, the suspended student pushed one of her students down the stairs and kicked him. The teacher filled out the required incident report. In addition, she and I e-mailed Joel Klein. Mr. Klein responded to my email. He stated that he would direct his Youth Development staff to take "appropriate action." The violent student stayed in our school but was placed in another class where the teacher was too timid to object. A tragedy will one day exit from this revolving door policy. I hope we do not have to wait for that in order to get some media attention.
Roseanne McCosh
The writer is a teacher at PS 8.

Anonymous said...

I’d like to address the comments made by Paula Washington on May 23rd:

Having a large number of members enrolled in the UFT does not automatically equal strength. We are not the strongest local of the strongest union in the country, we are simply the largest. A union that tries to scare its members into accepting the unacceptable is not a strong union.

I also think that, like all people, Norm has the right to qualify what having dignity means to him.

Those of us who have opposed this contract have been labeled as political MORE people whose only interest is in disparaging UNITY, as people who have recently drank “courage juice” but were timid under the “Billionaire Bully”, as ill-informed or as lunatics. I find no dignity in that behavior. And the fact is none of those labels fit my character at all.

When I told my colleagues that the UFT lies to its members, I provided evidence. I directed them to speak with the SBST member in our school who was told at a UFT workshop that we were getting 5% interest on the money owed to us when the fact is we are getting 0%. When I told my colleagues that I don’t believe the UFT when they say there will be no health care givebacks I provided facts. The fact is that our contract calls for billions in savings but no written plan for how those billions will be saved.

So what do you call a union leadership that uses scare tactics, mischaracterizes people’s reasons and motives for disagreeing with them and who allows reps to lie to its members at workshops? Norm calls them slugs. I call them much worse. I’ve also labeled Mulgrew as a coward because I believe that the only reason that there was no open debate on the contract was because Mulgrew was afraid to debate.

As I have said before I am NOT the chapter leader of my school. But I once was, and who knows…I may be again before I retire. I resigned about 4 years ago and was replaced by someone I respect. But even if I was still chapter leader, I still have the right to voice my opinion--- as I always have and will. And the bottom line is if the membership in my school didn’t like how I had conducted myself, they could have voted me out each time I ran for re-election. No one ever ran against me because the majority of teachers know that although I have strongly held beliefs---some of which not all may agree with---I will have their backs when the shit hits the fan. When UNITY convinced two of my members to “take a plea” and pay a fine on a bullshit charge, I took up a collection to help them pay for some of the fine. I handed over the amount of my UFT chapter leader check that year to help pay the fine of the teacher with the higher fine and threw in some more of my personal money for good measure.

I guess it’s hard for people to believe that someone like me exists or that someone like Norm is perfectly sane and honorable. And that’s a sad state of affairs, isn’t it?

I am not the only strong NYC teacher out there. We definitely exist! BloomKlein didn’t scare me and my own damn union doesn’t scare me either. My elderly father who is riddled with every illness imaginable still tells me, “Fight the bastards. You fight them with your last dying breath.” My dignity is grounded in the fact that I have no hidden agenda or aspirations to do anything other than always speak my mind and fight for what I believe in, and to teach for a few more years and retire. And I think that’s what some people find so frustrating---how do you silence someone with nothing to gain and nothing to lose? How do you silence someone who can’t be bought off or scared off? You can’t. Accept it and move on because I am not going away and I am most certainly not alone in the fight. Roseanne McCosh, PS 8x.