Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Solidarity for Never: UFT Leadership Out to Teach Membership a "Lesson" on OT/PT Rejection of Contract?

Our contract has not been ratified so this has left us vulnerable to outside forces.... OT/PT Ex Bd to chapter
The UFT leadership has always used scare tactics to suppress alternative voices. Now they are taking special advantage of the Janus decision to enforce loyalty oaths of sorts ---- Moi
There's a lot of meat packed into this post so let me start with the main Takeaways:
  • UFT leadership will punish OT/PT chapter for rejecting contract by delaying re-negotiations. While everyone gets their raises, they won't - maybe for a long time.
  • OT/PT chapter leader and OT/PT Chapter Ex Bd recommended ratification, at odds with rank and file which rejected contract by 66%. Seen as an instrument, as most functional chapters are, of UFT leadership.
  • OT/PTs for a Fair Contract:  Rank and File organizes to pressure leadership.
  • OP/PT chapter Ex board engaged in McCarthyism: OT/PT Ex Bd red baits Fair Contract group as being "infiltrated by outside forces" - socialists -- shades of southern segregationists blaming outside agitators for civil rights movement. Claims they are anti-union. Hint they are being "managed" by outside forces; Fair Contract group call them out at UFT Ex Bd.
  • Nurses in same bargaining unit ratified contract by 95% and then complained they weren't getting their raise despite lodging complaints about how awful their working conditions were; Asked to be separated from OT/PT;  Leadership supported separating nurses- thus further isolating OT/PTs.
  • Opposition caucuses and independents support OT/PTs in their struggle for a fair contract. Rally held outside Dec. DA. Reso raised.
  • OT/PT for Fair Contract affirm they are pro-union at UFT Ex Bd
On November 4, 2018, when contract vote outcomes were posted, I reported:
"The OT/PT, nurses unit rejected the contract. I think the leadership will try to punish them for rejecting the contract by letting a lot of time pass so they will be not get any raises. That'll learn em for saying NO."
Mulgrew sent out a letter to the chapter. A non OT/PT CL emailed me:

The more I look at Mulgrew's letter, the more furious I get. "You just screwed yourselves, but we will stand beside you. While you screw yourselves." Solidarity forever.

OTs and PTs were furious that they didn't get a fair pay increase, pedagogical status, or recognition of enough paid hours to qualify for FMLA. Apparently they went to sleep the night before the tentative agreement being assured they'd get some combination of the above things. When asked about the betrayal at the October DA, Mulgrew tepidly responded by saying something like, "Well, the DOE didn't want to talk about any of that." The attached letter, that just went out to the OT/PT & Nurses chapter, is a classic example of passive-aggressive, supportive-but-actually-not-supportive, chastisement. Very disturbing.
As always I urge people to watch what the leadership does, not what it says. The UFT leadership will make an example of OT/PTs for rejecting the contract as a lesson to the rest of the membership in the future. So they will wink about going back to the bargaining table, but won't be in any rush.

Witness this exchange as reported by Arthur in Monday's EB minutes:
Mike Schirtzer—Where are we on OT/ PT contract? Any progress?

Howie Schoor—We have reached out to labor relations on
OT/ PT. Not yet responded. Meeting with chapter on demands and changes. We will be ready when they are. No guarantee when they will come to table. We will work on it.
Sure Howie, I imagine you guys are very busy "working on it." I will add this point --- Howie said there are 300 unions ahead of them. He said it with more than a bit of a smirk.

Imagine if they come back with improvements to the rejected contract. They always sell ratification on the basis of we got the best we could.

The OT/PT Ex Bd and the chapter leader recommended ratification. Yet 2/3 didn't listen to them. How do we end up with such a disconnect? UFT leadership always tries to maintain tight controls of functional chapters. Rank and file members of the chapter have formed a group called OT/PTs for a Fair Contract, with an active closed FB page.

The chapter leaders attacked the OT/PTs for a Fair Contract with a McCarthyist attack, claiming they were infitrated by -- o my gosh - members of the socialist party -- like Bernie or OAC?

A group from the Fair Contract went to Monday's Ex bd meeting to raise the issues about the progress of contract demands.

From Arthur Goldstein's notes:
Melissa Williams—OT in district 6. Door-knocker for UFT. Working on last non-member. Concerned that union doesn’t have capacity to tolerate grassroots organizing. We got email from our Exec. Board, saying, “Our contract has not been ratified so this has left us vulnerable to outside forces.” We are concerned with issues that affect other chapters as well. We think they mean the socialist party by outside forces. We don’t want divisive rhetoric or red-baiting. We will not tolerate it. We aim for unity, staying with UFT. Anytime we hear negativity we say we’re sticking with union. We would like pay parity. Would like to use model of paid parental leave. We need a big tent, socialists, libertarians, and democrats, GOP and everyone. Hands out buttons and asks we pledge to wear them.
Great speech by Melissa, calling Unity out. They are trying to make it look like this only came from the OT/PT Ex Bd and not inspired by the classic leadership line. (I believe we were called outside agitators in the 1975 strike.)
Judith Loebl—Physical Therapist, Delegate to OT/ PT chapter. OT/ PT for fair contract member. Glad DA passed resolution in support. Still negotiating, appreciate DA’s support. Resolution puzzling because it had something about education OT/ PT to stay with union. Some have been critical out of frustration. Our group supports unionism and UFT. We are strong union members, believe in UFT, want to work with leadership and membership.
Rachel Fineson—Thanks DA for passing resolution. Loves job but has to work two others. 35 of 50 in room I was in also worked multiple jobs. What is UFT plan for renegotiating contract?
Judy has been in MORE from its earliest days. Does being in a caucus make you an outside agitator?

Here is another wrinkle. Nurses and OT/PT are in the same chapter and tied together by the vote. But nurses voted 96% in favor. When they came to an Ex Bd meeting last month to plea for getting their raises, they made a presentation about their awful working conditions using this True/False form:

Yet, they voted 95% YES. I called out asking if any of these items were fixed. Howie hesitated and then said "a few of them." I wanted a follow-up asking which ones but our guys didn't go there.

Here is Arthur's report from the Nov. 19 Ex Bd:
Mary O Connor—School nurse, Manhattan, integral part of ed., first responders, treat students daily. Responsible for health of student population. Multiple schools are in buildings. This means one nurse responsible for entire population. Can be 2,000 student caseload. Majority voted yes to contract. Part of it allows for head DOE nurse. Means they don’t have to go through DOH. They get one day for PD, Nurses should be allowed CPR one day every two years, deserve to be heard, and deserve contract now, cannot wait.

Schoor—Had meeting last week to hear their position on contract. OT/PT, staff nurses and supervisors are combined. OT/PT turned down. Nurses voted 95% yes. OT/PT much larger chapter.

Ponzela Johnson—Public health nurse in school setting. Registered nurses came back two weeks before designated time. Cybershift recently erased hours and won’t pay overtime. There are many different kinds of nurses. Physical and mental health issues have dramatically increased. Nurses teach students faculty and staff about various health symptoms and treatments. DOE staff nurses are expected to take photos of injuries. DOE staff nurses cannot leave building for 30 minute lunch break. Staff nurses perform public health duties but aren’t paid that rate. There is a nursing shortage and over 370 vacancies, 244 in public schools. Over 90% of nurses voted yes. Nurses want UFT to advocate and actively pursue contract they voted up overwhelmingly. Not sure what’s happening with OT/PT but we want to move forward.

Cynthia Bennet—CL staff nurses—More important for membership to voice opinions, Asks nurses to stand. They were clear on what we want.

Schoor—Members of chapters that approved contract want it.

Then came the debate. The only voice in the room opposed was MORE's Ashraya Gupta. I wanted to get her point up front:

Ashraya Gupta—Does this set precedent where they won’t be bargaining unit?

Schoor—They will remain one unit. We will re-examine groupings going forward. This is historical precedent. They have a commonality. Problem is as they grew bigger there became inequities. One chapter 2500, one 670, another 70. They are dwarfed by OT and PT. DOE reimbursed for OT PT and bill feds for them. This vote is for this vote only.

Gupta—Rises to speak against. Worries about union negotiation together. About solidarity with all our members. OT PT, training and ed. on par with speech teachers. Anyone getting an increase will be at cost to other members. If they’re such a large group, maybe we missed something this summer when negotiating. If we narrow down how we take care of individual members we lose something as a collective. Worries about precedent. 
Here is the rest of the debate at that Nov. 19 EB meeting where the UFT leadership reso passed.
Grier Hanson Velasquez—What do OT/ PTs want?

Schoor—Have had many meetings. Want parity with speech teachers. Would call for 21K increase in their pay. By our estimate about 75 million. We have pattern bargaining. Would be three quarters of one percent for every UFT member.

Tom [Ch ldr] —Would give us parity. Not looking for that in one contract. We get 1500 for MS. We didn’t come close. 22-27 gap of what we retire with and what others do. Glad nurses and supervisors would like to stay. Asks that they do. Was past practice and we want to continue. Gap widens with this contract.

Schoor—In 2015 OT/PT got largest raise, and in this they got 500 added to longevity. Big issue for UFT. We will move ahead. In 1995 teachers turned down contract. We had to go back and change some things.

LeRoy Barr—Thanks Tom for coming. Have been meeting a lot. Leadership met with them last Friday. Trying to figure this out. We will walk this path with you. Still committed in trying to help chapter. Met with nurses and supervisors. Unanimously wanted us to do all we could to get their portion ratified. Must request all chapters. They took a vote, and 100% said do all you can to get their yes vote ratified. Supervisors also asked for everything we could do to get their contract ratified. Bringing it to this board. We will also work with OTs and PTs. We have to be respectful of all different groups.

Tom—Thanks LeRoy and nurses.

Barr—Would like to bring motion to this body to push us forward to engage DOE to count their portion of yes vote.

Moved and seconded.

Schoor—Asks for language.

Barr—Be it resolved UFT will engage the DOE to see if we can ratify vote for individual chapters that voted to have it ratified—staff nurses and supervisors of nurses and therapists. We are in uncharted waters. OT and PT want us to honor vote. Other two chapters want something different. We have just as much obligation to them. This motion only directs us to engage and do what we can to make that happen. Asks for support.

Mike Schirtzer—We heard from Tom and nurses. Nurses want it. On the other hand, Tom said he would like chapters to remain together.

Tom—We always voted as a bloc. Should continue to tally. You’re making decision after outcome.

[Ashraya's comments came here.]

—Employer tried to hire OT and PT in municipal system. Tops out at 70. We now top out at 98. City asks why they should increase when they already can’t get municipal OT PT.

Rashad Brown
—supports. We heard from members who wanted to move forward. Who am I, as teacher, to pass my contract and speak against them passing theirs?

Schoor—calls for vote.

  Call this "solidarity for never."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just imagine if the rank and file teachers rejected this contract. We would get the exact same treatment. Unity does not care about those that they serve. Rather, Unity just wants a seat at the table with Tweed.