Thursday, February 4, 2016

UFT Elections/#MORE2016 - You Have the Right to Distribute

With the UFT elections at hand we want to remind people that all UFT members have the right to distribute material
in school mail boxes even if they don't work in that school and the UFT has asked that a memo be sent to all principals informing them of that fact. Now you will find that some principals don't read and you may be stopped. In other cases you may face a Unity CL who tells you you don't have the right or tells you he or she will put them in and most likely toss them away. Get CL name and serial number.

MORE has a rep on the election committee who will call the school info to Amy Arundell.

MORE has some excellent advice on how to deal with gaining entry into the schools:
  1. You have the right to place union literature in the mailboxes within your school or within any other school, as long as you don’t do it while you are on duty. You can do it before or after school, or during your lunch period.

  1. When going to other schools make sure to sign in with security (bring photo ID), go to the office where the mailboxes are, and introduce yourself to the secretary. Show the secretary, or any administrator who asks, the Department of Education memorandum which allows you to place election literature in the mailboxes. Attached Here

  1. Do not agree to leave the stack with the secretary, the UFT chapter leader, or anyone else. You have a right to put them directly in the mailboxes.

  1. Do not get into fights or arguments! Speak confidently but not aggressively. Getting into a battle will do you no good. If after you have shown everyone the Department of Education memorandum they still won’t let you leaflet, contact Kit Wainer (,). Kit will contact the UFT and the UFT will get the Department of Education to tell the principal to let you in. You will then be allowed to return on another day.
   5. The right to distribute is based on the Baizerman decision, which is still in effect, formally established the right of UFT members to distribute union   material, including caucus election materials, in mailboxes of NYC public schools on their own time. If you are distributing MORE material in school mailboxes, consider printing out this decision and having it ready in case your right to place MORE materials in mailboxes is challenged.
Tomorrow Mike Schirtzer and I hit the road to stuff mailboxes in some schools. If a Unity slug shows up to try to stop us Mike will talk him/her to death.

The Ira Goldfine files
Ira Goldfine who has archives from the 70s - the 1770s - gives us some background on the various grievances and decisions over the years. Note that our group - the Coalition of School Workers and its subsidiaries in the districts were behind all of these challenges that were won. My late pal Loretta Prisco and I did one school in the morning and she remained to watch the mailboxes to see that they weren't pulled out and was arrested for trespassing which led to NYCLU taking her case and forcing our district to agree to allow access to mailboxes, though we were sure we would wake up to find a horse's head in our beds one day.

You'll note that in no case did the UFT actually represent us but just was there as observers.

And note the mention of the NYSUT big wig Alan Lubin who preceded Andy P. as VP for spending cope money on whatever - back in the 1972 district 16 case.

Summary of the Various Teacher Mailbox Cases

District 16 Step 2 Hearing:_October 27, 1972:

This I believe was the first teacher mailbox case and it arose when Paul Baizerman and I received letters in our files for distributing the first issue of The Brooklyn Bridge in the mailboxes.

At the step 2 hearing we based our case on the UFT Contract Article X A2 which states “ that he has been treated unfairly or inequitably by reason of any act or condition which is contrary to established policy or practice…”. 

The policy that we used was the Chancellors General Circular #4 from 1962-63 which stated: “The Board of Education, at its meeting on Wednesday, August 22, 1962 has clarified the nature of its current relationship with all teacher organizations other than the duly recognized exclusive bargaining agent (United Federation of Teachers for the teacher unit). All such organizations, including the Teachers Union, now have equal rights to disseminate their views in relation to educational matters through the bulletin boards and teachers’ letter boxes, through meetings on school premises and through other authorized procedures”

The UFT  was represented at the Step 2 hearing by Alan Lubin, then District 16 UFT Rep – he played the role as an observer not a defender of our position which we argued ourselves.

The decision was totally in our favor and granted us full rights before or after school ours to distribute material in our school.

Baizerman VS. The Board of Education:

Step 2 Hearing: February 6, 1974:

Principal argues that the  UFT Chapter Chair handbook specifically states that only the UFT chapter chair and delegate in the school can use the mailboxes without the principals permission and further that Teachers Action Caucus is not a recognized Teacher Organization. Harriet although not a member of TAC was distributing a TAC leaflet.

Step 3 Hearing: May 2, 1974:

The case was heard by Irving Anker, Chancellor of the Board of Education. Harriet was represented by Eve Cary of the NYCLU and the UFT was there again to observe not defend and in fact that is stated in the decision.

Eve Cary argued that Article 2 of the Contract bars the board from discriminating against any employee participating in the  in the activities of any employee organization. She cited in this regard a court case NLRB Vs. Magnavox.

Although she mentioned the Chancellors circular which still existed at the time I always believed that the reason she didn’t base the whole case on it was that the Board could just eliminate that any time they wanted and that would leave no leg to stand on.

The case was an unequivocal victory.
Read the entire decision:

Letter from Eve Cary, NYCLU to Chancellor Anker: August 8, 1975

In this letter Eve requested that the chancellor issue a directive that the first amendment grants teachers the right without prior permission of the principals and Anker said he already granted this in the Step 3 decision but he would confer with counsel about establishing it as a constitution right. He never got back as far as I know.

District Step 2 Hearing: January 19, 1976:

Paul and I started distributing The Brooklyn Bridge at all schools in the District and of course were stopped from doing so. At the Step 2 hearing we again represented ourselves and Ron Mailman, the District Rep was again an observer. The superintendent Adolph Dembo, merely quoted from Harriet’s Step 3 decision and granted us full rights before or after school to distribute in all District 16 schools as long as we notify the principals in advance and sign in.

Chancellor Anker Circular: March 25, 1977

After a group of us took a day off during the 1977 UFT election campaign to distribute election literature in hundreds of schools all in one day, the Chancellor issued a  circular which basically said that teachers could not use personal business days to distribute literature in school mailboxes.


  1. We're going around in circles here. Few principals are going to be impressed by a barely legible photocopy of a type-written memo from the year 2001 signed by someone they never heard of. We went through all of this three years ago. You'll probably be told to sit outside until she can talk to her field atty. ( which could be *never*) or to come back on another day. Doesn't Amy Arundel ( or Le Roy Barr) have enough clout to get them to update the memo? Or is it a question of motivation?
    *2001*. The memo is from two-thousand and one.
    Paul Hogan

    1. Actually you are not correct here Paul. In 2013 I hit a hundred schools and got into 90% of them on first try and had to go back to about 3 or 4. Most principals absolutely accepted that letter. One told be I had to come back after school. When stopped I pulled out my cell phone and told them I was going to report them to the UFT which would call Tweed to contact them. Most backed off right there. There was supposed to be a memo from Farina in Prin update and a good idea might be to have a copy of that with us.
      In my experience the people who have trouble are first timers who haven't developed the lingo on how to talk to these people - key is confidence. The more people do it the better they become at it and if people give up they get nowhere. I find even activists seem intimidated by the process which is why this time I am going in with people to train them.

  2. Those memos are based on rulings still in force. I think there is some concern that if given a chance to update the memos we might find a new ruling not as strong. I think before the latest update we used to assume we could go into schools anytime instead of just elections - and I still think in many cases we can get away with it. That ruling narrowed the rights to eletions every 3 years. What Amy does is calls in the schools that say no and the DOE contacts them. I think it is if you got it don't risk losing it.

  3. Seeking discovery of Grievances/Arbvitrations regarding UFT burden to Orient.
    Seekiung review of Grievances/Arbvitrations regarding DOE to orient Teacher to the job of Teacher.


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