Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Eterno Reports on Unity Rejection of rights for ATRs, Some history and video of the Nov 2008 Wine and Cheese ATR Rally

In the end a couple of the New Action people voted with the ATRs while the remainder of the New Action representatives and the Unity rubber stampers all voted with Barr and Ross against the ATRs having equal voting rights... James Eterno, ATRS GET PLENTY OF SUPPORT BUT NOT FROM UFT OFFICIALS, posted on ICE blog
It's hard for me to believe this report that some New Action EB members did not vote for the ATRs. Maybe James didn't see them cowering in the corners. (One of the really good guys in New Action, retiree Doug Haynes did support them.) Good I wasn't there because I would have confronted them. Well, this reaffirms the strong decision made by MORE to have nothing to do with New Action until they renounce their dirty deal with Mulgrew - which they won't. That their reps on the EB didn't support this unanimously is outrageous - word is that New Action leaders Shulman and Halabi voted with leadership. Shulman and Halabi called for liaisons in the borough offices as opposed to elected reps.

So typical of New Action - watch in the next election, where they will have Mulgrew at the top of their ticket, they will brag about how they support ATRs. Portelos was at the meeting last night -- let's see what he says about his pals in New Action refusing to support the ATRs.

MORE put up a reso last fall at the DA calling for the ATR chapter and were chastised by New Action leaders for not consulting them or doing it strategically. Charlatans have been selling alliances with New Action and promising that New Action would use its seats on the board to support ATRs - and other issues. (Maybe a reso at the Ex Bd or the DA calling on the UFT to actually support discontinued teachers instead of holding bogus rallies?)

When ATRs were created, ICE had James Eterno and Jeff Kaufman on the Ex Bd and they stood up strong against the creation of ATRs - the strongest voices opposed. Luckily, New Action did not have EB members in those years.

I know some people will be pissed at me for what I have to say below - but --
I would like to head to the AFT for an appeal. Is anybody with me?....Eterno
ATRs rally at Tweed - Nov. 2008 - it should have been at the UFT

Well, I guess going to the AFT to have Randi rule on this would make some people happy. Sorry, James, I'm not into the Einstein def of insanity -- doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Maybe having the AFT reject this will make a few political points - but to whom?

While I generally support James Eterno, I don't agree with legal action without street action to back it up. There's a lot more to fight for for ATRs than just having their own chapter. It would be a first step in asserting their rights -- but to me, how many ATRs are in a position to be willing to assert their rights?

I believe that once the charter cap is lifted and Farina starts combining more schools, there will be even more ATRs coming. Will they disappear into some vapor?

Here's my challenge to the the leaders of the ATRs. Go out and find every ATR you can and create a functioning organization. I used to hand out leaflets directed at ATRs with a meeting announcement at the DA asking the CLs to give them to the ATRs in their school. People actually showed up at some of these meetings through these leaflets. (We did this with rubber room people and called for a rally that the Unity/UFT leadership coopted.)

Show up at the UFT with a couple of hundred people and surround the building. If there are ----- whatever the number of ATRS there are --- where are they when it comes to political action? I imagine a batch showed up yesterday at the Ex Bd -- still not enough people willing to engage in this battle.

ATRs go to so many schools. Are they educating people about how the union is run? Are they making contact with people in all these schools as a way to develop a ground game for the opposition? Maybe I'm missing something, but what I hear is mostly silence, except from a few people. First create a real organization of ATRS.

Angel Gonzalez and I tried to create such an organization through GEM in 2010-11 - I kept a detailed list of ATRS and emailed them regularly. We had gone to hiring halls with leaflets and set up meetings as an organizing tactic -- Angel has a PhD in how to organize people -- it is not though legalisms or social media. It takes boots on the ground. I called a meeting and over 40 people showed up and 25 showed to a follow-up. Then some sniping at me started and I decided I was not going to get into the weeds and withdrew my organizing activities, which frankly took a hell of a lot of time.

The response from other people was almost funny. The original ATR organizers viewed our actions as a threat. And TJC tried to set up its own competing ATR group. Perfect examples of why Unity will always win.

ATRs in the past - the initial batch - seemed more militant.

In Nov. 2008, Marjorie Stamberg and John Powers organized ATRs and created an event that shook both the UFT and the DOE. The problem was that they let it die that day - like the demo was the end game. That abandonment led Angel and I to create an ICE ATR committee that turned into GEM.

Now here is some ATR power -- 6 years ago in 2 parts. Just the threat of this rally forced the UFT and DOE into some contract agreement and the UFT tried to kill this rally by holding a wine and cheese event at the UFT - and managed to lure people over there -- including the New Action people - of course -- look for some of them in the video.

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ac-Ul1m8-0 - posted Jan, 2009.

On November 24, 2008, teachers without positions, known as ATRs, held a rally at Tweed. They had forced the UFT to endorse the rally but in the interim the UFT signed an agreement with the DOE. The leadership called for an information meeting at UFT HQ, a mile away at the very same time the rally was due to start. Mass confusion. I taped the UFTHQ while David Bellel did the rally. The back story is how desperate UFT leaders were to suppress the tape I made. In fact, today at the Delegate Assembly they will pass a gag rule to try to prevent future embarrassment.
MAKE SURE TO SEE PART 2: The SLOW March Up Broadway - where Randi tried to convince me to give her my tape.

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG4xrbgiGqU - Posted Jan. 28, 2009

On November 24, 2008, teachers without positions, known as ATRs, held a rally at Tweed. They had forced the UFT to endorse the rally but in the interim the UFT signed an agreement with the DOE. The leadership called for an information meeting at UFT HQ, a mile away at the very same time the rally was due to start. Mass confusion. I taped the UFTHQ while David Bellel did the rally. The back story is how desperate UFT leaders were to suppress the tape I made. In fact, today at the Delegate Assembly they will pass a gag rule to try to prevent future embarrassment.

Why can the UFT reject these appeals for a chapter for ATRS? Because they can.

Here is James' compete report from last night's meeting.



A fairly strong contingent of Absent Teacher Reserves and our supporters were at the UFT Executive Board last night.  I was given the honor to represent the ATRs and Leave Replacement Teachers as we made the case for having a UFT Chapter with representatives of our own choosing.

Leroy Barr and lawyer Adam Ross represented the UFT and they made what all consider a case that was laughable at best and truly pathetic at worst.  They claimed that ATRs have an equal chance of winning elections at schools that some of us just got to today. In addition, when we are moved to the next school, they both said with a straight face that we can still be the Chapter Leader for the school we are just passing through this May.  The audience of ATRs and our friends just chuckled and had to be told to be quiet.

In the end a couple of the New Action people voted with the ATRs while the remainder of the New Action representatives and the Unity rubber stampers all voted with Barr and Ross against the ATRs having equal voting rights.

As one observer put it: ATRs have democratic rights on paper but not in reality.

I would like to head to the AFT for an appeal. Is anybody with me?

  Executive Board Appeal

May 4, 2015 

My name is James Eterno; I am a Temporary Leave Replacement Teacher at Middle College High School in Queens but with no permanent assignment.

I’m here tonight because there are many union members who happen to be Absent Teacher Reserves, Leave Replacement Teachers or Temporary Provisional Teachers have no chapter and therefore are being denied fundamental democratic union rights that are guaranteed in federal labor law. 

Pretend you are on a business trip to Hawaii for a month or even a little longer.  Do you think you should have a right to vote for who the governor of Hawaii should be since you happened to be there on Election Day? 

Do you think you should be eligible to run for governor of Hawaii because you happened to be in the state on Election Day? 

Both of these situations are completely ridiculous.  But this is basically the kind of chapter election system for ATRs the leadership of this union proposed and this Executive Board recently approved in the Chapter Election Guide and Bylaws for this spring’s elections. 

ATRS and Leave Replacement Teachers vote at the school we are just passing through in May even if the school has an election in June and we are no longer there. That violates the federal law. 

ATRs, Leave Replacement Teachers and Temporary Provisional Teachers are supposed to run for chapter leader or delegate from those same schools we are just passing through this May. This is absurd and also flies in the face of the federal law. 

Since the Delegate Assembly is the highest policy-making body in the union, it must be elected.  This is what the Landrum Griffin Federal Regulations say concerning eligibility to be candidates and to hold union office: 

Every member in good standing is eligible to be a candidate and to hold office subject to reasonable qualifications in the union’s constitution and bylaws that are uniformly imposed. 

Is it a reasonable qualification that if I want to serve as a delegate or chapter leader, I have to run for office in a school where I have absolutely no right to a job in that school when my term of office would begin in July? Past union policy has been that once a person is removed permanently from a school they are no longer the chapter leader, particularly after 3020a cases are settled and a person becomes an ATR.  That is why Mr. Portelos is no longer chapter leader at his school.   

Is there now a change in policy where people can serve as chapter leader if they no longer are in a school? That might help to stop vindictive principal excessing of our chapter leaders but if that is the new policy, I would like to know why Mr. Portelos is not chapter leader at his former school and why he can’t run again there 

The whole policy of us voting in schools we are just passing through makes a mockery of democracy.  Remember, federal regulations say qualifications have to be reasonable and uniformly imposed.  Clearly the regular members of a chapter have an automatic advantage over ATRs in chapter elections.  That is not reasonable and certainly not a uniformly imposed regulation. 

In the past we were always told that ATRs can’t get our own chapter because we don’t want to institutionalize and thus accept what is a temporary position.  This argument was always weak but now it is completely mistaken because the UFT embedded a whole Section 16 into the contract that concerns ATRS. We have weaker due process rights; we are compelled to go on interviews, some for jobs which don’t exist and we are forced to resign if we happen to not check our emails and miss two interviews.  Due process be damned for ATRS.  Some even can be denied interviews by the Chancellor.  (Now with out of time schools coming, a new category is being created that looks like year to year ATRs.)  We are embedded. There is even a temporary group of teachers that was recently assigned to a chapter; Peer Validators. They exist in the contract for only two years and yet they were sent to the teachers assigned chapter.  Only ATRs are constantly told no. 

ATRS/Leave Replacement and Temporary Provisional teachers have been asking for almost a decade for our own chapter with a chapter leader and delegates to deal with our unique status.  I don’t know too many executive board members who have walked in our shoes. Functional chapters such as the guidance counselors use the chapter leader in the building they are at and then can call on their own elected central guidance chapter leader and delegates when needed for unique guidance issues.  Several categories of teachers including teachers assigned and teachers of the home-bound have their own chapter leader too.  If you continue to insist the temporary nature of the position is a problem, we have a solution:  We can put in the bylaws that we will dissolve the ATR chapter if all of the temporary provisional, leave replacement and atr teachers are placed. We can even make it one of our goals. The citywide Ed Evaluator chapter was dissolved.  We too can be dissolved if some sanity returns to the Board of ed and we no longer exist.

As for this evening, without wanting to show any disrespect, I was told that Leroy Barr was chosen to make the report on our election complaint.  Leroy spoke passionately against an ATR chapter in October at the DA and he rejected my arguments in November when we met for our equal voting rights. His lack of objectivity on this subject presents a conflict of interest. 
I would like to close by asking an important question: If this body rejects our very reasonable request for fair voting rights and equal rights to serve in office for ATRS, Leave Replacement Teachers and Temporary Provisional teachers, then we will go up the ladder to the AFT who we have already contacted and then to the Department of Labor who I have spoken to and they are interested in our case. Some, not me, are going to go to PERB too.  The UFT is going to waste a large amount of time, money and effort fighting against its own members because we want to vote and serve in office in the same way as everybody else. Ten or twenty delegates and a chapter leader won’t make much of a dent in any caucus majority at the DA so why is anyone afraid of us?  We want to have the same voting rights and rights to hold office as all other UFT members. Save that money, time and effort by giving us fair democratic rights.  Create a chapter for us tonight. 


  1. Randi is completely satisfied with the EWPS situation in Newark if that is any indication of her level of concern with the ATR situation in New York City.

  2. Neither Mike nor I voted with the leadership. Your source is wrong. I note that you sadly seem quite willing to believe false reports about me.

    Jonathan Halabi
    co-chair, New Action

    1. Did you vote against the leadership? Only Doug and one other New Action person's hands were seen going up for the ATR chapter and reports say you and Mike were not for an ATR chapter but for borough reps. If you are not for the ATR chapter and speak for it and fight for it then you are with the leadership whether you voted with them or not. Shades of the 2005 contract when Mike claimed he abstained as Randi said the vote was unanimous - I was at the DA - Mike didn't object with her giving impression there was no one opposed. And we do know for sure the other New Action rep on negotiating comm voted YES.
      And I do remember that you and Mike enjoyed that wine and cheese in 2008 instead of being at the rally in front of Tweed. That was support for the leadership's undermining of the ATRs - so there is history here. I think I may have you guys enjoying that wine and cheese on the video.

  3. http://nyceducator.com/2013/03/neutered-action.html?m=1

  4. Norm-Randi supported that rally in 2008 and had the UFT behind it. Also, we are going through this internal process because we have exhaust internal remedies before going outside the unions if we choose to go that way. The Einstein insanity stuff does not hold here.

  5. Randi is working diligently to weaken tenure protections. The proliferation of the EWPS/ATR status is proof of her success. Would the special provisions for expedited firings of ATRs have been written into the UFT contract without Randi's blessing? I think not.


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