Wednesday, May 30, 2018

VOTE Retiree Advocate: Current UFT Retiree Chapter Election Will Add 300 Unity Caucus Members to the Delegate Assembly

Once every 3 years, in the retiree chapter elections, the slate running against Unity gets to send out a piece of lit to the roughly 60,000 retirees.

If you are a retiree and haven't returned your ballot, consider voting for our slate. I'm running on the RA/MORE/New Action slate with
a bunch of great candidates and a great platform against Unity in the current retiree elections.

The almost 60,000 member retiree chapter is a means of control over the union by Unity Caucus - they vote in general UFT elections every 3 years (next one is 2019), although a pro-rated vote, but thus guaranteeing Unity's election.

I've always considered the chapter elections more important than the general election (taking place next year) in terms of control because control is crucial of the Delegate Assembly (consisting of every CL plus at least one delegate from each school and a 60:1 ration for a 2nd delegate - meaning you need over 120 members for a 2nd delegate. And this is only teachers, since functional chapters elect their own chapter leaders and delegates -- Unity control of these functional chapters with almost 40,000 members, in addition to 60,000 retirees is another key to control).

So, just as important in Unity control is the retiree chapter election currently taking place retirees get 300 seats to the DA (this was capped at one point because currently that would allow them 600 seats, which would be a joke given that about 800 people at max attend a DA -- probably much less. Unity has problems even filling the 300 seats - and not all of them come every time -- unless there is a big voting issue and they pack the place - often holding a Unity Caucus meeting afterwards - with food. (My main attraction if I ever wanted to join Unity.)

It's funny that MORE is in the name of the slate when the retirees who have been involved also come from the ICEUFT wing of MORE, people who have been asked to leave MORE by one particular faction. Since the only retirees in MORE are also associated with ICEUFT we will see where this takes us in the future.

I must say that I've enjoyed working with the people from Retiree Advocate and New Action and my colleagues Gloria and Lisa from MORE and ICEUFT.

We had many years of conflict while NA was working with Unity so it is nice to work once again with people of our generation who have lived through decades of UFT history and have some of the same understandings we have. I'm looking forward to future endeavors even though on the whole I believe trying to organize opposition voices in the retiree chapter cannot have much of an impact in terms of control of the UFT. But since there is not much going on in terms of opposition to Unity at this point, working with compatible people politically is satisfying.
Here is the email sent out to the candidates:
Greetings Candidates

Thank you for taking a stand and running as a candidate on the Retiree Advocate/MORE/NA Slate in the UFT Retired Teachers Chapter Elections!

The ballots should be arriving in mailboxes any day now. We ask everyone to contact all the UFT Retirees that you know and encourage them to vote our entire slate. Attached is a flyer that you can send to friends, families, colleagues, anyone that might know UFT Retirees.

It’s important to send a message to the UNITY caucus to let them know that we are not content with continuing the status quo. Retiree Advocate is committed to increasing rank and file democracy in our union. It’s time for our union to fight back with gusto against the forces that are trying to destroy what’s left of the labor movement in this country. The door knocking campaign is a good start but so much more is needed:

· Stronger protections for our working sisters and brothers,

· Preservation and improvement of our medical, dental and prescription drug benefits

· Political campaigns that arise from the rank-and-file as opposed to decisions made by the AdCom

· Stronger defense of our public schools and a more active role against privatization- No More Charters!

· And so much more………….

So even before you get your ballot, start campaigning and do what you can to get out the vote for Retiree Advocate/MORE/NA.

We will be in touch after the election and hope that everyone will join the caucus.

In solidarity,

The Retiree Advocate Executive Board

Gloria Brandman
Lisa North
Peter Bronson
Gregory DeSteffano
Robert Greenberg
Mike Shulman
Norm Scott
And a piece I wrote that appears on the back of the campaign lit sent out:
Our Lifelong Work Has Been Disparaged, Degraded, Marginalized and De-Professionalized

UFT retirees spent their lives in public service working with public school children. While things in the NYC school system were never perfect, many of us left with a sense of self-respect for a job well done.

So it has been sad to watch over the past two decades as our profession has come under assault from many directions. The major blame for the failures of the system has fallen on teachers, not incompetent supervisors put in place by their supervisors, often with bad intentions to put pressure on the higher priced teachers to get them out of the system. The “bad” teacher wrap has been used against all teachers.  Recent teacher protests in right-to-work states are only the head of the spear of massive teacher dissatisfaction nationwide over the disrespect, the false measuring from invalid tests, the labeling schools as failing, and attempts to connect invalid tests to teacher ratings and compensation. Our union leadership has not done an effective job of pushing back against this onslaught.

Under Bloomberg, over 150 schools were closed down, including most of the comprehensive high schools, with teachers instead of being placed by seniority which was done before the 2005 contract, being forced into an open market that was not very welcoming to those coming from schools branded as failing. Joel Klein’s implementation of the fair school funding formula in 2008 made it almost impossible for the higher salaried UFT members to get transfer. Many were tossed into ATR pools of floating substitutes. Mayor de Blasio, our supposed friend, continued closing down schools this year after his disastrous and expensive “renewal school” project where instead of sending in resources that would actually help teachers, schools were loaded with consultants and teachers forced into often useless professional development.

In the past 15 years principals have been empowered as never before and they have the advantage of consulting with a massive amount of lawyers in DOE Legal who advise them the best ways to get rid of teachers they do not like while said teachers are often sitting there without a clue as to what is being done to them because the principals are working from a handbook while teachers are left defenseless. Teachers in NYC are subject to 4 drive-by observations a year under the despised Danielson rubric, while teachers in the rest of the state are only subject to two observations.

The job of a teacher has been deskilled through scripted instruction as attempts continue to remove qualifications needed to teach. How long before the DOE rolls trucks down the street every morning to search for people off the street to fill the classrooms for a day?

Meanwhile the charter school invasion continued, with certain parts of the city being so overloaded with charters, the very existence of local public schools are threatened.

Think of the poor people who succeeded us as being the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water.

As you read this you are probably heaving a massive sigh of relief over finally being out from under this state of affairs.

Sadly, this entire degradation of our profession has taken place under the UFT stewardship of Unity Caucus, our opponents in this Retiree Chapter election. As retirees it may seem there is not a lot we can do restore the status our profession once enjoyed. But if you elect us to the leadership of the Retired Teachers Chapter, we will not only continue to defend our interests as retired UFT members but will also engage in a rigorous defense of our former profession by using our time in the Delegate Assembly to call our leadership to account for its failures to adequately stand up to the forces trying to destroy the profession many of us loved.

Can we really call ourselves a union of professionals?

VOTE Retiree Advocate/MORE/New Action.

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