Friday, May 29, 2020

Why is this union (UFT) different from similar big city unions (UTLA, CTU): Commentary Update

In previous posts on the coming crisis - Parts 1 Part 2 and Part 3 I was speculating about the possible impact of massive cuts and changes in the schools next year and beyond and whether that would spark a level of reaction from the members that echo 1975. And if that happened how would the union leadership respond. I'm guessing it would follow the Shanker 1975 playbook -- give a little space if there was genuine outrage from the rank and file - as opposed from small groups like MORE and other usual suspects in the opposition - and allow steam to escape - and yes if necessary go on a pre-arranged with the city few days strike - and "win" back a few things while making the case for the city- and even do what Shanker did -- lend the city money from the pension fund. The result would be less calls for the union itself to be punished while allowing the members to take the two for one hit.

I also want to point out that the AFT national and NYS NYSUT are under the control of the same political forces as the UFT. There is a still low level political divide inside the national unions with UCORE sort of repping the left - and I will be reporting on a new entity in the national scene after I chat with one of their leaders.

One thing I forgot to point out about the differences between the UFT and the UTLA/CTU - is the latter two unions' ability to organize charter schools while the UFT has pretty much failed. I leave that for mulling over for a future post.

My last post was a corollary of sorts:

UFT Update: Which Came First - the leadership or the membership? Are teachers in LA and Chicago different than NYC?

And led to some comments on Leonie's listserve. Below her and John's comments I respond. Is the illegal strike the reason alone or even if we had the right to strike would this particular UFT leadership be willing or even capable of leading a strike similar to those in LA and Chi -- where they had a level of community support.

First from Leonie:
Norm: I’m not qualified to say if conditions are better for teachers here – I’ve seen Mulgrew argue yes.

NYC class sizes may be a bit better though not great, and there’s no publicly available reliable class size data in either LA or Chicago on this.

On the other hand, the UFT class size caps that exist are more than 50 years old, negotiated by Al Shanker and I’ve seen no real push by leadership to lower them through contract negotiations since that time.

I believe teacher salaries are higher in NYC than those other two cities, but would have to check.

But there is also a law against public employees including teachers striking in NY which doesn’t exist in Chicago or LA.

Teacher strikes are legal in 12 states and not covered in statutes or case law in three.

California is among the minority of states that do permit teachers’ strikes even though most states allow collective bargaining and wage negotiations for public school teachers.
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, as of January 2014, 35 states and the District of Columbia outlaw striking. Teacher strikes are legal in 12 states and not covered in statutes or case law in three.

Here are the states where it is illegal for teachers to strike according to this link:
From john fager
Leonie, and Hi Norm

Look at the health care benefits and the pensions. And the almost absolute job security. I don't think the Taylor Law, that forbids public employees from striking, has every resulted in teachers losing salary money. And the elections are not democratic. It is an autocracy.
My response:

John and Leonie,

The two for one penalties are very effective as a weapon that can be used not only by the city but also by the leadership to keep the members in line. The other penalties of the Taylor Law are severe attacks on the union itself - so it is a very effective double whammy,

And as Leonie points out the last time class size limits were put in was 50 years ago when the Taylor Law was enacted -- there is a connection with the fundamental loss of the right to strike with the attitude from the city that they don't have to reduce class size and would do so only at the point of a gun. This year's LA strike and to some extent the Chicago strike had a strong class size reduction component and even now don't match ours from 50 years ago --- by the way - the 67 strike was a key in the class size issue if I remember correctly.

But making strikes illegal does not stop strikes -- the first NYC strikes were illegal too as were the red state strikes.

There are fundamental differences in ideology between the leaderships of some of the other teacher movements and the UFT - as evidenced by which candidates they supported in the pres election. One of my points answers John's question - the lack of democracy (and by the way I would also question the level of true democracy in LA and Chicago if you do a deep dive) in the UFT - that in the areas where there is democracy of sorts - the elections for Chapter leaders and delegates and in the three divisions - elm, ms, hs - where retirees and non-classroom people vote -- only the high schools - with a very low vote total overall - has been 50-50 anti unity with the opposition still winning most of the time over 30 years.

My thesis in my next posting - part 4 - is that the 68 strike created an anti-teacher union mantra in liberal circles and that made any moves forward impossible in terms of taking strike action - and thus the 75 strike was a show - a lesson from the leadership to the membership that strikes are now going to be futile.

Lots to mull over.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

UFT Update: Which Came First - the leadership or the membership? Are teachers in LA and Chicago different than NYC?

I keep wondering if there is a major difference in the kinds of people who go into teaching in NYC vs Chicago and LA -- the three biggest cities. Since 2010, Chicago and then LA have elected left wing leaderships that have led strikes with the support of the overwhelming majority of members.

Here in NYC in the UFT we don't see anything even close. So is it the memberships of these cities that is different? Or is it the differences in the leadership?

In the endless back and forth we hear about the failures of the Unity Caucus leadership we hear their response: It's the members, stupid - or the stupid members.
I'm taking a short break from my posts on the 1975 crisis with Part 4 still being worked on -- I'm going back to 1968 after the weekend death of Rhody McCoy to link 68 to the failures of 75. Check them out:
People inside the UFT leadership often blame a conservative leaning centrist membership that they see as less progressive than they are and that trying to move them in a more militant direction is useless and even dangerous for them -- at one point they were resisting using Trump's name in some reso so as not to alienate the Trump backers in the UFT - of which there are surprising number - I know them on FB.

So is the leadership correct? That the teachers in NYC are not as militant or active as Chicago and LA - or is it the nature of the leadership itself that doesn't even attempt to create a more active and militant union?

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Coming Crisis to NYC Education - 1975 to 2020 - Part 3 This is not the best of times - What Will Be Won't Be

These are the worst of times, these are the even worse than WORST of times. Even Dickens would be horrified and Edgar Allen Poe would run like the dickens. [bad pun].

I can put up so many links to the ways things will go south and make 1975 look like a party, you'd spend the next month reading them. I am not just talking about layoffs, but an existential threat to most of the public school system, to the union, to salaries and maybe even pensions. Take your most horrible nightmare and double or triple it in a worst case scenario. (See links at the end of this post - if you dare.)

It's been a while since I've blogged and that is due to the amount of free time I've had. So much doing nothing that doing anything becomes work.

However, I have been busy rebuilding a fence that fell down in December. So it took me almost 5 months. As opposed to activism, you actually can see progress.
Ooops - here's my cynicism coming out.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Tributes Pour in For Blogger Chaz - Another DOE Covid Virus Loss

May 5, 2020 - The entire NYC education blogging world is saddened by the passing of Eric (Chaz the blogger) Chasanoff who we learned died earlier today, announced by his son: Many of the original NYC ed bloggers began at the same time - 2005 - I see tributes from Arthur, Jonathan and Jose Vilson has left some comments -- we all met for the first time in person at a blogger party - I think there were about 15 of us there.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

The Passing Of Chaz 1951-2020 Age 69

I am the son of Chaz and like to inform you that he passed away this afternoon from the COVID virus. My father passed in peace beside his loved ones. We are hoping to have a memorial service for him once we are able to, but for now we are going to have a small private family funeral. Thank you all for reading his blog, following him all these years, and the support you gave him. Thank you.

RIP Eric "Chaz" Chasanoff - I'm very sad to read that science teacher and blogger Eric Chasanoff has died of Covid. He was 69 years old, older than I thought. Of course that's no con...
  • Chaz - Eric Chasanoff blogged. About New York City schools. About Queens schools. About high schools. About pensions. About teaching science. About being in the A...
    4 hours ago 
    James seemed to know him best as they taught together and he fills in some of the history:
  • BLOGGER CHAZ PASSES AWAY - There is very sad news to report. Our friend, blogger and long time colleague at Jamaica High School Eric Chasanoff (Chaz) has passed away. From his blog: ... 
    I'd like to express my deepest sympathies to Eric's family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Eric and I go back many years. He was a longtime Earth Science Teacher at Jamaica High School. Not only was he a successful teacher, Eric was also a strong union activist. He stood up for what he believed in.

    We served together for a number of years on Jamaica High School's School Leadership Team. Eric was a supporter of empowering the students and the parents. On the issue of school safety, he was able to help us establish school policies that ensured a safe building while still maintaining student rights. When it came to standing up for teachers, Eric was a staunch defender of the ability of the classroom teacher to have real autonomy in his/her classroom.

    That robust defense of teachers sometimes put him in the crosshairs of the Principal who charged him unfairly. Eric was the first teacher to win a probable cause hearing. He defended himself and other falsely accused teachers brilliantly while waiting for his 3020-a hearing to take place. At that time, he became a Queens Liaison with the UFT. When his hearing came around, it was my pleasure to go and testify on his behalf.  I was able to tell the arbitrator how after Eric was pulled from Jamaica, the Earth Science Regents scores plummeted drastically. Our friend Francine Kaalund also testified about Eric's abilities in the classroom. He moved on after he won his hearing but we stayed in touch right up through the first part of 2020.

    I encouraged him with his blog and he kept pushing me to keep this one going. We would sometimes run ideas passed each other on the phone. One idea was to have a real meeting of Absent Teacher Reserves where we could listen and talk to each other as regular teachers. We wouldn't talk down to ATRs as the UFT is often accused of doing.  Eric ran that forum in Manhattan; I mostly sat and watched. The workshop he led for ATR's was nothing like an official UFT ATR meeting. Eric ran it like a good Chapter Meeting. It was really interactive. He never once told an ATR that they were lucky to have a job.

    Both the Jamaica High School family and the blogger community have suffered a big loss with Eric's passing. Rest in peace.  
And one just added from South Bronx Peter Zucker -

Chaz' final posts are below, right on target, as usual.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The DOE Must Reduce Their Administrative Costs And Not School Budgets

There is no doubt that the DOE must reduce their administrative costs but don't be surprised if the majority of cuts come from the schools and classrooms. Susan Edelman of the New York Post wrote a very insightful article that explains where the cuts should come from.  However, look for the majority of education budget cuts to come from the schools.

The latest update (Sunday) of the covid-19 count can be found below.






Friday, April 24, 2020

The DOE Has Loopholes In The Hiring Freeze

The DOE has quietly informed principals that the hiring freeze has loopholes and they can still hire Special Education, Bilingual, and shortage areas like Math and Science.  Look for principals to hire "newbies" by falsely claiming that all the hires are either certified in those fields or in the process of attaining such certification.

As for ATRs?  Look for principals to try their hardest to carve out exceptions to the hiring freeze so as not to hire an ATR for their vacancies.  Will the union leadership make sure that principals follow the rules?  Based on past performance by our union leadership I highly doubt it since they get double keeping the ATR and the "newbie" they hire.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Shades of 1975 - Part 2: The Noblest Strike of Them All, I Run for UFT Delegate and am attacked for my politics

"There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen" ---- Vladimir Lenin - Jul 15, 1916
Remember this Lenin comment if the shit hits the fan in the fall.In 1975:

Even my conservative chapter leader had become a militant and we voted for a strike despite knowing about the two for one penalizes.

And this recent piece:
America Is About to Witness the Biggest Labor Movement It’s Seen in Decades: It took 40 years and a pandemic to stir up a worker revolution that’s about to hit corporate America
I even heard Mark Cuban echo this idea on Firing Line. See video.

Since I updated Part 1 on April 10 there's a lot of chatter about cuts to education at the city and state level and possible implications, which is what this series of posts is about by looking back to the 1975 crisis and see what we can learn.

I believe the 1975 strike was the noblest of them all - we weren't striking for money but for class size and the protection of the schools in addition to the 13,000 members being laid off.

First I want to focus on the effect of drastic cuts on what is a fairly docile membership and more importantly, a docile UFT leadership no matter what the bombast - remember my mantra - watch what they do, not what they say. However, if the rank and file rises as it did in 1975, the leadership may be forced into a more radical stance but will do whatever it can to dampen the militancy and undermine any radical actions.  Let's explore some of these ideas.

Two of the three largest cities had teacher strikes last fall - is NYC next?
[I wrote about the strike in 2018: 

Nov 23, 2018 - I was on the picket line for three strikes in my first 8 years as a teachers. There have been no NYC teacher strikes since 1975.] I posted my Taylor Law fine letter.
Most people would scoff at the idea of a strike here with the anti-strike UFT leadership.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Shades of 1975 - Part 1 - The Coming Crisis for NYC Teachers and Students - the Plague is not the only problem

Note - some people told me Mulgrew referred to this piece indirectly when he pointed out at the UFT Ex Bd meeting on Monday that in 1975 teachers still got their raises -- yes they did but the 15,000 laid off did not.

Some new info came in from Bruce Markens who has the best institutional  memory going back to the early 60s. So I am updating and republishing - sorry subscribers for tossing so much email at you.

When I see complaints from teachers about the DOE, the UFT, the loss of
spring break, etc. I find them almost funny due to how shortsighted they are given the potential likelihood of a massive financial crisis to come that will affect and infect the school system, the most likely place to take the biggest hit because it has the biggest budget and therefore the most places to cut - except for the administrators and bureaucracy, of course.

The current home-learning situation will result in a learning experience for all - but especially the politicians and corporatists - especially in the Dem Party, who see a solution to the budget by continuing versions of stay at home schooling where feasible - witness one Andrew Cuomo taking advantage of the disaster - never waste a crisis. He's cutting Medicaid - I guarantee education is on the chopping block.

Of course the role the schools play in babysitting and feeding cannot be ignored, but I believe the idea will be there for use. Imagine closed schools and how many people can be laid off? But let's say all schools remain open.

No taxes coming in and enormous expenses for city and state government: deep cuts are inevitable
So how can they cut deeply and still maintain a system? Just tax the rich I hear some people say -- that will solve the problem. Here's what we know - that will never happen -- both parties protect the rich  and that was why Bernie and Warren to a lesser extent were such threats. 

What about UFT contracts? Someone commented recently - don't we have a contract preventing layoffs - a LOL moment.

Once they declare an emergency, contracts don't count. I will speculate on what schools may look like next year in Part 3.

1975 - a lesson: The UFT was much stronger then
So let's talk about what happened in 1975 when our contract was shredded when the financial crisis was declared and the finances taken over by some consortium -- Felix Rohatyn (who died not long ago and was proclaimed a hero - not to us - became the czar.)

At this time of the year in 1975 there were few signs on the horizon - even less than now. Bruce Markens called to tell me that in June '75 all 8000 regular substitutes were terminated - a warning sign. Now I do remember that --- it was clear that if you were not regularly appointed you were dead meat. Still, we thought they would be rehired. The idea of layoffs of regularly appointed teachers had never happened in memory - not even in the depression of the 1930s (I think.)

Still, when we got back in September, it was like getting hit by a brick when they announced that 13 people from our smallish elementary school were being excessed  to other schools --- you see, layoffs were based on seniority, so they were being sent to push the lowest seniority out in other schools -- my school had more experienced teachers -- but they got down to within one of me -- and I started teaching in 1967 as a regular sub for three years - though became a regular licensed in 1970 - and I remember the order of seniority in case of ties was the score on the regular teaching exam - believe it or not - and I had a good score - 85- which jumped me over a few others.

Well, the upshot was that this happened in schools all over the city and there was a storm of outrage and at a DA was called and it was packed. Shanker was up there and we in the opposition were calling for us to not give in.

Shanker claimed the 1975 strike was his biggest mistake
We knew Shanker did not want to strike - he had been so damaged by the 1968 strike personally and professionally. The Taylor Law had been amended with two for one penalties for everyone who went on strike (thanks Bruce) - and  was now going to damage us badly if we struck.

But there was a revolt from the lower UFT/Unity ranks (the only time over 60 years) - the District Reps were breaking ranks and demanding the union do something. But what could it do other than strike? And so it did -- but we in the opposition understood it was a show strike of sorts - Shanker went to jail and also declared we won't go back until we all go back -- NOT.

So the strike lasted a week and Shanker made a deal. "Only" 15,000 layoffs - and he helped bail out the city with our pension funds. You know I find it funny how people used to compare Shanker and Randi - but the Shanker of 1975 was a far cry from the militant union leader of 1967 (and his militancy of 1968 was misdirected and a long term catastrophe with demands from the liberal community for higher penalties for public worker strikes - witness the two for one penalties.) Randi once said that Shanker told her his biggest mistake was the 1975 strike - when it was really the 1968 strike that made it impossible to get the support of the public in the future, thus dooming the 1975 strike.

I remember the packed rally in front of 110 Livingston Street and the march over the Brooklyn Bridge where our opposition group - NYC School Workers - were active in calling for the strike -- even as we didn't trust Shanker to make a real stand. We struck for a week and Shanker served time in jail and then went out and made a deal that screwed us. A membership meeting was held in Madison Sq Garden and we were out there with 20,000 leaflets urging a NO vote in the agreement.

UPDATE: Bruce sent me the numbers - closer than I thought or remembered.

(In retrospect I'm not sure what I would do if it comes to this again but will explore this in Part 3. Shanker sold the agreement as only he could - that was his real genius.

A few months later in the spring of 1976 Shanker endorsed militant hawk Henry Scoop Jackson for president - Jackson who wanted a massive rise in the defense budget - Shanker chose guns over butter.

One thing is clear - we in the UFT took the brunt. I don't remember any other municipal union talking strike - divide and conquer. That's why I think when cuts come in September they will try to hit one group hard - the weakest links - and I fear that's the DOE. (Just dump all the supervisors).

The initial hit was mostly to elementary schools who were hit harder -- (again, divide and conquer). Elementary schools were the biggest supporters of Shanker - and didn't garner much respect. So it seemed to be "screw them" they won't do anything.

The biggest hit was to our preps
We lost all our cluster teachers -- maybe 6 (multiply that by the number of elementary schools) -- and were left with the librarian who covered all preps. We had been getting 5 preps but those were cut to 3 - (contract be damned) and 2 more preps were Mondays and Fridays at 2:15 when the kids went home early. A whole bunch of schools were closed. And actually we adapted surprisingly easy to the new world - in my school on the two days kids went home at 2:45, the common prep turned into wine and cheese parties.

Bruce reminded me that the first heavy hit to high schools was in February 1976. And  major hits in Sept. '76. By that time elementary schools had worked under restrictions for a year

The next year junior high and high schools were hit hard. But certain licenses were hit harder -- like high school social studies layoffs went back to the late 60s. Social studies teachers were hit real hard - some were laid off who were appointed in the late 60s. The DOE was still short in math licensed so offered special courses for laid off teachers to get a math license.

There were repercussions for over 15 years - like no real school repairs that led to enormous damage that had to be cleaned up in the late 80s and 90s.

In part 2 I will share my personal experience in my school union election in the spring of 1975 before the cuts and how the layoffs affected me and touch on issues not included here.

In Part 3 we'll explore some of the possibilities for the great crisis of 2020 and how schools may look - anyone for a 4 day week? And wait till you see what they do to tenure rights, thought he untenured are in serious danger. (Hint - why layoff cheaper teachers with less seniority?) But most importantly, will a crisis finally spark NYC teacher militancy to match that in Chicago and LA? And how will the UFT leadership come up with ways to damper this militancy? Will an opposition spring up to Unity and will MORE be the focus of that opposition?

I'm including an important late comment from my friend Gloria: learning replacing teacher centered learning. It would save enormous amounts of money. (Remember the fight we had against the "School of One" program some years back?) And true, in an emergency, contracts may not hold any power. I'm sure you can describe a horrific yet realistic vision of what education may look like post this Pandemic horror (although a 4 day school week is already in place in some school districts.) Larger classes. Fewer supplies, etc But I also think it’s important to discuss how we can work against having any of this happen. And I think we need look at the bigger picture- not just getting our union to fight for us (Ha!) or pushing the NYS congress to fully fund our education budget (as I heard yesterday on the AQE Zoom meeting about the NYS budget just passed ) by increasing taxes on the millionaires and billionaires although I do agree these are important steps to take. We need to continue building the movement that Bernie Sanders helped organize. Take local power when we can. Let’s publicize the fact that the richest country in the world actually can afford a fair, excellent public education system (as well as healthcare for all, housing, etc.) The current federal military budget is 750 B dollars; half of our taxes go to support war and militarism. Our government is giving money away by the trillions to military defense corporations like Boeing so it can keep its investors happy and continue producing weapons for war. Militarization is now accelerating at a time when most people are suffering. I’d say that now is the time to push our union to work towards these larger goals. They want to keep their power, too and so does not want the union membership to shrink. This won’t be easy. Imagine all left of center groups working together. But if we can’t do this, lets say hello to The USA of F(Fascism). 

UTLA Corona Virus Side Agreement

The Los Angeles Unified School District (“District”) and United Teachers Los Angeles (“UTLA”) agree to the terms of this Sideletter Agreement (“AGREEMENT”) regarding school closures during the 2019-2020 school year in response to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Parties recognize there is a need to close schools and move to an online/distance learning program to allow for social distancing as recommended by public health officials in order to prevent the spread of illness arising from COVID-19 during the 2019-2020 school year. It is understood by the parties that in our endeavors to implement distance learning, flexibility for all will be crucial. At this moment, we will all need to model resilience, critical and creative thinking, and empathy to ensure that students continue to grow personally and academically.
 Has the UFT negotiated something similar?
I thought you would be interested in this tentative agreement between LAUSD and UTLA. -- From a friend
This is interesting since it appears the UTLA - a more progressive and aggressive teacher union than the UFT -- LOL -- has negotiated a side agreement over the virus not long after signing a new contract last fall after a strike.
It may be meaningful or not but one thing to watch here is drastic education budget cuts with the current home schooling situation playing a role in justifying the cuts - hey, if we can do it for so many  months, why not continue during the financial crisis with less personnel.

Here are some articles:

Here’s a 4/6/20 video message from LA Superintendent Austin Beutner:



Hi, Norm!

The LA agreement was signed by all parties.

The version online replaced the one my cousin sent me which had only two of the four signatures.

I think Mulgrew and his negotiating team could learn quite a lot from how LAUSD and UTLA handled the situation.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Rocked by 30 Teacher Deaths (so far), DOE Hides Data, UFT Could Poll Chapter Leaders but doesn't - so far

There's one truth I learned in my 53 years about the DOE  -- there's a right way, a wrong way and the DOE way - and it's most often a shit-show.
DOE sent help to schools
Saying what they do is wrong is wrong - they are often worse than wrong. As for the UFT - I throw up my hands and surrender. 50 years of trying to organize teachers to fight the leadership is enough. The NY Post.

NYC DOE tight-lipped about coronavirus cases among educators

Teachers have ripped the Department of Education for not providing a public inventory of their fallen colleagues.

The FDNY, NYPD and other major city agencies have given regular updates on members with both suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases.
The UFT is relying on self-reporting from relatives and the growing tally does not always reflect new deaths....
NY Post 
Pretty outrageous that the DOE won't report teacher deaths while they do report police, fire etc. I think because they might be sued by families for keeping schools open so long. Some think the UFT could have been more proactive in pushing the DOE. They don't seem to be demanding the numbers on the deaths. James has addressed that on the ICEUFT blog:


I did a few pieces on the death of NYC teachers due to the virus and touched on the implications of de Blasio and Cuomo having kept the schools open for so long - like how many less deaths and sick if they had closed schools a week early - but also those extra three days they asked teachers to come in -- in this case the timeline looks like she could have gotten it on one of those days --

Another Teacher Dies of Corona Virus -- A disturbi...

Here is an earlier piece:  Carranzavirus: Sue Edelman, NY Post: DOE, DeB Blood on their hands - Where was UFT?

Today's NY Post has another piece:

Coronavirus rocks the NYC’s teacher’s union, source says

More than 30 members of the United Federation of Teachers — including retired staff — have been reported by family members to have died from coronavirus, a union source said.

Shellshocked kin have been contacting the organization to alert officials to the cases in increasing numbers, the source said.

While he did not specify that they died from COVID-19, UFT president Michael Mulgrew read out the names of 26 recently deceased members at a somber meeting of the union’s executive board Monday.

At least five additional coronavirus-linked deaths have been added to the UFT’s grim tally in just two days since that meeting, the union source said. The union’s membership includes both teachers and other staff.

Teachers have ripped the Department of Education for not providing a public inventory of their fallen colleagues.

The FDNY, NYPD and other major city agencies have given regular updates on members with both suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases.
The UFT is relying on self-reporting from relatives and the growing tally does not always reflect new deaths.

The organization’s ranks include teachers, guidance counselors and paraprofessionals.

A small number of UFT members who have died from coronavirus were retired but most were still on the job, the source said.

The UFT’s COVID-related death count does not include school administrators who have also fallen from the disease, including city principals and assistant principals.

The  union will soon launch a memorial website named “UFT Honors” to “celebrate the lives of UFT members, in-service or retired, who have lost their lives to the coronavirus crisis.”

Monday, April 6, 2020

Biden-Linked Firm Tests Messages to Undercut ‘Medicare for All’ - Bloomberg News

The survey, commissioned by the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, found that primary voters start off favoring the government-run health care system by a margin of 70% to 21%, but can be persuaded to oppose it. The study showed that Democrats are most swayed by the arguments that the program would impose a heavy cost on taxpayers and threaten Medicare for senior citizens....
There you go with where Biden and the people in control of the Dem Party are at - even if 70% support M4A the goal is to manipulate then into changing their minds. Whose interest does this serve? If it's not obvious to you, check the profits of those making bundles of cash out of our medical system. And Biden's insistence on attacking medicare for all  - he is not talking about the costs over the past two weeks because that looks so lame -- so he talks about Italy - and let me point out that Italy was overwhelmed due to the massive influx but it has a better health care system than we do - in fact most advanced countries do - but it was the delay by the government in Italy - not the health care system.

Fundamentally Trump and Biden support our system and Bernie does not. How many hospitals have been closed in nyc alone? There are so many private urgent care in my neighborhood all competing for profit. Bernie didn’t win enough people over but the pandemic is doing it for him. People in Italy don’t have to worry about getting medical bills while here people will. E slaughtered as hospitals try to get money out of people with no money. The irony is that hospitals are actually cutting staff in some cases. Bernie in retrospect didn’t go far enough. We need nationalizatiion of certain aspects of our health care system. The supply chain issue where China controls 90% is due to policies of Clinton bush Obama/Biden. Trump in his own asshole way challenged these ideas and got elected by exploding them. So in these times our guy Biden will be one of the main proponents of a system that has screwed us all. I will vote for him but if he wins I have no faith he can solve this. Hopefully we and our pensions survive until 2024 when we get another shot.

Also see:

Biden-Linked Firm Tests Messages to Undercut ‘Medicare for All’

Updated on

  • Candidates split on system that abolishes private insurance
  • Claims about cost seen as most effective with voters

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Europe Supports Workers in Crisis While We Fiddle (Dems too) - If Biden "Wins" He gets the boobie prize - a ravaged economy that can't be fixed

In the United States, the coronavirus has already provoked millions of layoffs. While the $2 trillion rescue package signed by President Trump sends extensive relief to American workers and businesses, France and other European Union countries are deploying a more encompassing state-led approach in the event that the epidemic takes months, rather than weeks, to contain.
“There’s a very different strategy in Europe than in the United States about how to manage this recession,” said Patrick Artus, chief economist of Paris-based Natixis Bank. “The idea is to have no layoffs or company closures, so that when the coronavirus is finally under control the economy can start right back up.”
When Germany shut down public life to halt the spread of the new coronavirus last month, Laurenz Bostedt, a freelance photographer, watched as one contract after another was canceled, until his entire expected income had disappeared.
On Tuesday, 5,000 euros, or about $5,400, landed in his bank account, just three days after he had submitted an application for immediate assistance. The citystate of Berlin had pledged on March 19 that money would be distributed quickly to self-employed people and small- business owners who were unable to cover their basic expenses.
To the shock of many Berliners, hardened by regular stacks of paperwork from the city’s bureaucracy, it was. On Thursday, just five days after the application process opened, Berlin’s government said it had already paid out more than $1.4 billion to more than 150,000 self-employed individuals or businesses with fewer than five employees.
 Here are two interesting articles from the NYT illustrating what is happening in France and in Berlin where the city government put money in peoples' pockets in DAYS. Their economies might have a chance. Ours? Zilch. Do you see big ideas like these coming from the Dems or Joe Biden? I do from Bernie Sanders but that ship has sailed and for all you Bernie bashers at some point - maybe 5 years into the depression even if Biden wins ( and what exactly does he "win"? A ravaged economy that he can't fix.

But a real question that Trump and others on the right are attacked for raising - imagine a total crash of the economy leading to civil unrest. There is a point where risks have to be taken. We can't just live this way for months. Let's get over the crest first. But schools should remain closed for the rest of the year. And a warning to the gripers over the Easter vacation: If budget crashes, imagine massive layoffs in the schools with curtailed school days - why not run online classes with masses of kids and one teacher - pay them a 10% bonus and they will do it on a dime and the UFT leadership will cheer.

France limits joblessness:

Berlin rapid aid:

Full articles below the break:

Friday, April 3, 2020

Another Teacher Dies of Corona Virus -- A disturbing timeline and possible coverup

Unlike other city agencies, including the police department, the education department has declined to say how many of its employees have died due to the coronavirus or are infected. A principal, paraprofessional, and school safety agent are among those whose deaths have been publicly reported.

Asked Wednesday about why the education department has not confirmed infection or fatality rates, schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said: “You have to keep in mind that the police and fire department are out right now serving the public.” ..... Chalbeat
And teachers aren’t?.... Leonie Haimson

“there is no mechanism” for the department to track how many teachers have tested positive.... Chalkbeat
WTF - they track everything else - too busy with the usual DOE bullshit that doesn't seem to change no matter who is in charge. Here's another beauty:
.... some educators have criticized the department for its shift in policy to no longer confirm coronavirus infections, leaving it to educators to inform each other if they are concerned the infection is spreading within their school community. 

Department officials have countered that because the coronavirus is widespread in New York City, educators were not at greater risk when reporting to school than they were elsewhere in the community.
Double wtf.

I posted the Sue Edelman piece on coverups at the DOE over teachers who were testing positive: Carranzavirus: Sue Edelman, NY Post: DOE, DeB Blood on hands.

Chalkbeat also did a piece on the Brooklyn Tech story on March 19, the last day they had to report as the teacher who died did and got sick March 26.
NYC stopped confirming coronavirus cases at schools, but teachers headed to their campuses anyway
We are the epicenter and one reason was the delay in closing things down by the mayor and the governor, especially the school system, a breeding ground.

Follow the time line here - the teacher went into PS 9K on the third day of teacher training - March 19 and went to the hospital March 26 - so did she get it on the 19th or have it and infect colleagues? And the DOE is hiding data.
A tremendous loss’: Brooklyn third grade teacher dies from coronavirus

Sandra Santos-Vizcaino
Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, taught third grade at Prospect Heights’ P.S. 9, according to the school’s website. She died Tuesday evening.

Lesson from the Seven Samurai so relevant today

I have always been a fan of The Magnificent Seven - a very long western starring Yule Brynner, Steve McQueen and so many other major stars. The
film is based on the original Kurosawa (1954) Seven Samurai which takes place in late 16th century Japan but is based on Kurosawa's vision of turning a classic American western into something very original. So 6 years later, the American version reverted to the western. Both films are worth seeing - of you have about three and a half hours. The Kurosawa version is considered by many to be one of the greatest foreign films ever and had a lot of influence. But in Japan, he was not as popular with critics as he was abroad - though not quite the Jerry Lewis of Japan.
Wednesday night TCM had a Kurosawa feast from 8PM through the middle of the night with three movies. It took me two evenings but I

There are big themes in both versions - in fact, the American version pretty much follows the original's script despite the differing cultures and being 3 centuries apart. Below are some quotes I pulled out that seem very relevant to today:
watched Samurai for the second or third time. (I still have Roshomon and Yojimbo to watch) This time I focused on the acting, especially Toshiro Mifune who is so good - and so are the others. The actors in both films match each other in many ways - even in their look. But Mifune is unique -

Kambei leader of samurai:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Bernie will take away your healthcare plans - Union Leaders (Mulgrew, Randi) Need to Answer for Opposition to Medicare for All as layoffs and loss of health care mount

As even those with good health care plans are laid off and lose
them, there is a lot to answer for opposing and even mocking Bernie Sanders' single payer ideas that would have protected all those with much loved health plans (Not). As for how he would have paid for it -- where's your God now, Moses?
Remember those much loved health care plans union leaders were defending in their attacks on Bernie? Remember the "how will you pay for that?" arguments by anti-Bernie Dems and union leaders and even some of my friends? Bernie's answer was that in his plan it doesn't make a difference where you work and if fired or laid off or if changing jobs, you still were covered. As for how we would have paid for Single payer --- Triple LOL. Joe Biden's comments about expanding Obamacare are double, triple LOL. And how about paying for Corona virus treatment? And how about the insane world of profit in the healthcare industry which Bernie attacked at every opportunity.

Now we see a cone of silence with the only words that Bernie should drop out, not that he was so correct. And in the midst of this Biden says he still would veto a Single payer bill but Bernie is expected to drop out.

And also in the midst of this are attacks on Bernie supporters who might
not rush to Biden, people forgetting that the very reason Bernie attracted so many young people is precisely because of his medicare for all plan. So fagetaboutit - Like there is no burden on Biden to move in their direction - that this is only about Trump.

As for our own union leaders who defended the current system of health care, they may think UFT members are fairly well protected in terms of health care. Well let's think of the massive budget cuts and layoffs coming in the fall and how many UFT members will lose their much loved health plans whereas they would still be covered under Bernie programs.

Hey, you anti-Bernies - you have a lot of splainin to do.

Instead of calling for Bernie to drop out you should hide your faces in shame.

Listen - I do believe Bernie's rhetoric and refusal to vary his argument and be more nimble in his responses. His self-branding himself as a democratic socialist is not even accurate. I heard Noam Chomsky call him an Eisenhower era Republican and Chomsky asked "why would you use the word "socialist" in this country  when at most you are an FDR traditional Democrat?


There’s Never Been a Better Time for Us to End Private Health Insurance Than Right Now

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Do People Bloomberg Stiffed Deserve Sympathy?

Bloomberg is so much like Trump - and stiffing people is the quintessential Trumpian action. So these people signed on under the promise they would be paid until November.
 Some affected employees, including people who had left stable jobs to work for Mr. Bloomberg, as Ms. Wood did, expressed frustration publicly, in spite of the confidentiality and non-disparagement agreements they had signed. They said they would not have accepted the work had they known its true terms.
This item in the NYT article says:
Despite the campaign’s promises of continued employment, the field organizers had signed at-will contracts, indicating they could be terminated at any point.
So they trusted a sleaze ball. And left other jobs for a guy who many of them didn't support in the first place. I know I should be sympathetic but excuse me if I'm not. Below two articles - The Hill and the NYT. Decide for yourself.

Ex-Field Organizers Sue Bloomberg Campaign, Claiming They Were Misled

Former campaign workers for Michael Bloomberg filed two proposed class-action lawsuits on Monday, arguing they and thousands of others were tricked

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Carranzavirus: Sue Edelman, NY Post: DOE, DeB Blood on their hands - Where was UFT?

One after another, sick Brooklyn Technical High School teachers called union chapter leader Nate Bonheimer last week, to tell him they’d tested positive for COVID-19. By Friday, five of them had shared the devastating news. But after being notified about each one, the city Department of Education still ordered the 6,000-student school’s 350 staffers to show up for work last week, saying the building had been cleaned... NY Post,  ‘Blood on their hands:’ Teachers say de Blasio and Carranza helped spread coronavirus
March 21, 2020 |
How far did the virus spread due to de Blasio and Caranza?

UPDATE: Read Eterno's take which goes way further than I do:


I'm very proud of Nate Bonheimer who last year took on the massive task of chapter leadership of the largest school in the city. Nate has put himself on the line publicly when it should have been the UFT doing this and protecting Nate from reprisals.

In fact Nate approached me at the March 11 UFT Del Ass and hinted at what was going on and asked me to put him in touch with Sue Edelman of the NY Post who has become the go-to reporter for teachers who have a story. In some ways Sue has replaced the UFT leadership which seems to go along with the code of silence.
“The DOE did not close the school for any of the cases,” said Bonheimer, who worries that inaction exposed others to the dreaded infection.

The city failed to follow a March 9 directive by the state Education Department that “requires an initial 24-hour closure, in order to begin an investigation to determine the contacts that the individual may have had within the school environment.”

DOE did not attempt to identify close contacts, Bonheimer said. “They did not alert the people who needed to know the most to protect themselves, their families and everyone else they came into contact with.”

One infected teacher was so torn by the secrecy he took it upon himself to personally let all his students know his condition.
Does the UFT also have blood on its hands?
I mean, why does Nate feel he has to go to the NY Post to expose a story like this? Mulgrew should have immediately demanded Tech and other schools be closed.
The information freeze started March 10, when Carranza, in an email obtained by The Post, told administrators not to alert city health officials about COVID-19 cases among students or staff.
“At the moment, there is no reason for any school to call [the Health Department] to report potential or confirmed cases,” Carranza wrote, repeating the statement later in the same email.
Carranza said DOH would get test results from labs, and school personnel should help “by keeping their phones clear.”
March 10? Wait a minute. There was a UFT Del Ass on March 11. I was upstairs watching on TV and many not have paid enough attention but did anyone here Mulgrew talk about this information freeze from the DOE? And it's not only Brooklyn Tech:
At the Grand Street campus in Williamsburg, which houses three high schools, a teacher returned from a trip to China over the February break. Despite reports of the outbreak, the teacher did not self-quarantine, but returned to teach kids in all three schools Feb. 26 through Feb. 29, a staffer said.
The teacher then became sick and stopped working. The school was not closed, and employees were not notified, insiders said.
Up to four other staffers have since become sick, they said.
The teacher did not return a message, but a relative said Friday, “He’s very ill, and so is his entire staff,” before declining to comment further.
Grand Street campus is not far from PS 147 where I taught.
Last Thursday — after Grand Street teachers worked three days in a row in the building — the principals sent a joint letter saying that “members of our school community” had self-reported positive COVID-19 tests. It did not say how many members or give other details. “Unfortunately, the DOE suspended keeping track of positive cases,” a teachers’ union official told a staffer on Tuesday. The DOE would not comment on the Grand Street or other cases.
A teachers' union anonymous official? The no guts no glory UFT which should have blasted this news and demanded the closing and told teachers to stay out for their own safety instead of whining about the Taylor Law.

Another school:
At the Jamaica High School campus, which houses three schools, Carlos Borrero, principal of the High School for Community Leadership, blasted a robocall to parents the Sunday before schools closed for students, reporting the school had “one confirmed” case and another “preliminary positive” case identified over the prior two days — while students attended. One was a teacher, Borrero said. Asked about the announcement last week, the DOE would not give details.
“The city is no longer confirming information about individual cases due to the volume, but we support any school that wants to notify their community of a self-confirmed case,” said DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot.
And another - which I heard about on FB - maybe the most outrageous of all:
At the Grace Dodge High School campus in the Bronx, a teacher self-reported a positive COVID-19 test on Thursday, March 12, staffers said. The DOE did not close the school the next day, when kids still attended before de Blasio announced that all schools would close for students starting March 16.

Teachers received a form letter from Carranza confirming a staffer had tested positive, saying the building was “disinfected.” The school was not closed while teachers worked last week.
“We asked when students and parents would get notification, and they still haven’t gotten it,” a teacher said. The DOE had no comment.

At the Bronx’s Alfred E. Smith campus which houses three high schools, teachers reported for three days of training on remote-teaching to begin next week.

“Ten minutes before the end of the last day, the union rep walked through the hall and said, ‘You’re free to leave,’” a teacher said. She asked why.
As custodians arrived in Hazmat suits, the union rep replied, “There’s coronavirus in the building.”
Hazmat suits while teachers were left in the building all day.
I'm sorry and I know there are many people at the UFT who are trying their best. But when in this article alone we have 4 schools where orders to close upon reports of positive tests were ignored, there is no escaping a failure of leadership where teachers and chapter leaders should know that their reports to the union would be made public to put pressure on the city to do the right thing. I love Sue Edelman and cheer her on but the UFT leadership should take the lead and not tail - put Sue out of business - don't worry Sue - I know they won't because covering for De Blasio and Caranza is never off the table.

The full article below:

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Tulsi Gabbard, Called Russian Asset by Hillary Clinton, back Biden - meaning Biden must be favored by Russians

Remember all those attacks on Tulsi by the Dem establishment? And remember how Tulsi sort of defended Bernie when Warren accused him of claiming a woman can't win? I was surprised when she endorsed Biden because she backed Bernie in 2016 and also seemed close to Bernie but I think Bernie distanced himself a bit from her and didn't really stand up for her when she was attacked so this is a sort of payback.

She received support from leftists and people on the right - sort of my recent theme -

Left Meets Right in Populist Movements - the fight is between the people and the elites

Here's one article from The Guardian with links to others below:
Gabbard ran as a progressive, anti-war candidate, frequently stressing her experience as a member of the Hawaii national guard. Her campaign speeches largely focused on the ills of American wars overseas, with Gabbard promising to redirect money from the military budget to social programs.
As her campaign failed to gain momentum, however, Gabbard and her supporters increasingly criticized the media for failing to provide her with enough airtime – although the congresswoman never approached double figures in national polls.
Gabbard was seen as a rising star in the Democratic party when she became a member of Congress in 2013, and was appointed a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee.
She resigned that position, however, to endorse Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and continued to chaff against her party when she met with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, in 2017, later questioning the consensus that Assad was behind a chemical attack that killed dozens of people.
Despite backing Biden over Sanders, Gabbard thanked the Vermont senator in her announcement.
“I want to extend my best wishes to my friends Bernie Sanders, his wife Jane, Nina Turner and their many supporters for the work that they’ve done,” Gabbard said. Turner is the national co-chair of Sanders’ 2020 campaign.
She continued: “I have such a great appreciation for Senator Sanders’ love for our country and the American people and his sincere desire to improve the lives of all Americans.”
Gabbard’s moves became increasingly unorthodox in recent months as she strived for exposure.
In January Gabbard sued Clinton for $50m in retaliation for Clinton suggesting the Hawaiian was a Russian asset, months after Gabbard filed a $50m lawsuit against Google for allegedly suspending her campaign’s advertising.
Ahead of the New Hampshire primary, Gabbard held a Fox News interview where she defended Donald Trump’s decision to fire the key impeachment investigation witnesses Lt Col Alexander Vindman and EU ambassador Gordon Sondland.
A day later Gabbard appeared on the conservative Fox News network with Sean Hannity, a friend and informal adviser to the president who has promoted conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the dead DNC staffer Seth Rich.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Left Meets Right in Populist Movements - the fight is between the people and the elites

Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming | Nick Hanauer--

It’s over, the fight from the right against the left. Now the fight is between the people and the elites.......Eduard Limonov, Russian Writer and Dissident, Dies at 77
I hadn't heard of this fascinating Russian, Eduard Limonov, who bounced from left to right and back and forth, which sometimes I find myself doing to my utter confusion. I do read NYT obits religiously, which are so informative about people we wouldn't necessarily know about. So at the end of the obit this quote struck me.

Exactly what I've been thinking - a sort of merging of some on the left with some on the right over key economic issues --- this wing of the left plays down the social and identity issues. It is no accident that Bernie appeals to a segment of Trump supporters - economic populism resonates with whatever we call the working class today - which is not the classic white guy doing industrial work but also a growing segment of the gig economy.

I also am a fan of the daily broadcast of the Rising web broadcast on TheTune into "Rising" weekdays, starting at 10:30 a.m. (ET). Follow us on YouTube: where lefty Krystal Ball (@krystalball) · Twitter and righty Saagar Enjeti @esaagar seem to line up with each other on so many issues. They even have a book out:

The Populist's Guide to 2020 -

They explain what is behind their politics here: (Sorry videos didn't work - check out their web site).

Now if you dig a little on Saagar, a Trump supporter, there is a lot to be disturbed about too but let's just focus on some surface stuff. I'm pretty aligned with Krystal, though some of the attacks on non-Bernie Dems go over the line. But it is a fascinating listen.

Krystal and Saagar have brought some clarity to me on why I, coming from the left, have so disliked the Dem party establishment. The traditional left dislikes the Dem party altogether and the furthest fringes mock Bernie and AOC for not being socialist enough - so we are covering wide territory.

While the Dem corporatists won this time, as the NYT piece yesterday almost gloated about - must read - and I will have a follow up on this article later --

Krystal and Saagar don't see that as lasting, especially with the acceleration by the virus - she says they are coming for them with pitchforks fairly soon. They also emphasize economics over identity - which is also where Bernie has been coming from and also explains his weakness with Blacks where identity often trumps economics - which is understandable due to the level of racism. The left hasn't found a way to blend the two effectively.

Their major target is often the Democratic corporate elites - clearly they lean toward Bernie as sort of a bridge favoring the working class.

Must watch videos where the left meets the right - a few short segments worth viewing from yesterday.

A typical assault on the Dem leadership - here for being behind Trump - Saagar claims Republicans showing more leadership protecting workers than Dems. Krystal and Saagar BLAST Pelosi for holding up cash to workers ....

Another assault on the Dem leadership from the left: Michael Brooks issues DIRE warning to Establishment Dem -- Michael Brooks describes how Republicans have managed to propose solutions better for the working class than Democrats.

Krystal is crystal clear on advice to Bernie to preserve the movement by not battling for a lost cause - she says he has the most leverage at this point by not running and organizing. 
Krystal urges Bernie to Drop Out Now as he can be more effective in leading the movement. She points to the presidency not being that much of a prize at this time...

Here they talk to Airline union president Sarah Nelson:  Flight Attendants Union President: No airline bailouts, we need worker relief

Saagar Enjeti: Celebrates the DEATH of libertarianism
An insightful piece from the Saagar on the right -- so interesting with his attack on libertarianism. Saagar Enjeti: Celebrates the DEATH of libertarianism

If you want to see a slice of politics you don't get on FOX or MSNBC - watch Rising every day -- I just listen to the audio on my phone by going to The Hill site and click on Hill TV.