Monday, August 30, 2021

Retiree Advocate/UFT Caucus joins call for United Slate for UFT elections in 2022 and joint cooperation on common issues

Retiree Advocate/UFT posted this notice calling for a united opposition in the 2022 UFT elections.  

August 30, 2021

Retiree Advocate, a caucus in the UFT, calls on all opposition caucuses and non-affiliated individuals within the UFT to come together and form a full and united slate to run against the Unity Caucus in the 2022 United Federation of Teachers union-wide elections. 
Our goal is to transform the Retired Teachers’ Chapter (RTC) into one that is democratic, powerful and responsive to the members and not simply a calling card for the UNITY leadership.
The Unity caucus leadership, in power for 60 years, has felt free to engage in actions that are detrimental to the interests of the membership.
Retiree Advocate urges further cooperation during the upcoming school year on points of common interest such as, lowering class size, fighting against changes to in-service and retiree member health care, rights of members to a healthy and safe teaching and working environment and advocating for a more democratic UFT.  
Only a credible threat from a broad based opposition that threatens Unity's hold on the union can force the UFT leadership to be more accountable to the membership. 

What is Retiree Advocate/UFT?

We are a caucus in the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). Our goal is to transform the Retired Teachers’ Chapter (RTC) into one that is democratic, powerful and responsive to the members and not simply a calling card for the UNITY leadership. To do this, our chapter must critically evaluating leadership’s policies & programs and create real alternatives that protect retirees, support working members and fight for social and economic justice for NYC’s public education school communities. We believe that the Unity caucus leadership, in power for 60 years, has felt free to engage in actions that are detrimental to the interests of the membership. Witness the recent undemocratic decision to convert our traditional Medicare coverage to a privately managed Medicare Advantage Plan. We were able to alert the membership about this deceptive action. Only a credible threat from a broad based opposition that threatens their hold on the union can force the UFT leadership including our chapter (RTC) to be more accountable to the membership moving forward. We have been running slates in UFT elections for 20 years. Our program can be viewed here-

RA-UFT Platform. This past April we received practically 30 percent of the vote, our highest ever!

We need you to join us so that we can continue to grow, achieve our goals and take control of OUR union.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Calls for remote, sickouts in Chicago and maybe NYC: What does a safe, equitable & responsive NYC school reopening look like? WBAI Talk

An excellent discussion of safe schools yesterday with Daniel hosting Kaliris and Tajh. If you missed it:

There are increasing demands for a remote option, which the de Blasio admin with the help of the NYT pro-school opening and damn the torpedoes ed reporter Eliza Shapiro doing the cheerleading. For two years in a row the DOE, with the silent complicity of the UFT, has bunged remote options as they go on a wing and a prayer schools will be normal. They won't and watch how they have to scurry to make up ground -- compare to LA and Chicago where strong unions  have an impact. I even heat talk about sickouts in NYC --- not clear if this is from parents who will keep kids hone or teachers who will come down with the ed flu.




While the UFT namby pamies, other unions are out there: 

At a news conference outside the CUNY Office of Graduate Studies in midtown Manhattan, James Davis, president of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), which represents 30,000 CUNY employees, called the the city's plan to monitor and reduce the spread of the virus on CUNY campuses "inadequate" and "contradictory."

Before listening to this I checked out Michael Osterholm's must listen weekly podcast which echoed similar themes of safety - he took the CDC to task for putting social issues like kids having to be in school over their safety. Osterholm seems to have moved from opposing a booster shot to being more willing  - especially for elderly like me -- I'm ready to line up the minute they say I can. After all, I'm a proven sheeple.

Osterholm Update: COVID-19

Episode 66: Thank You Dr. Jena

August 26, 2021

In this episode, Dr. Osterholm and host Chris Dall discuss the news of FDA granting full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, updates on booster doses and the rationale being considered, and the need for updated guidance as schools reopen.

Email your questions: (link sends e-mail)

View photos of Carl's beautiful place.


Browse the podcast and CIDRAP merchandise store!

This podcast is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts. Subscribe on YouTube!

Also worth reading is Arthur on deB: NYC Educator

Mayor de Blasio Does Own Research, Errs on Side of Convenience Rather than Caution  

It's pretty clear that commercial real estate and business interests dominate the school decision making.

There are calls for sickouts in Chicago starting tomorrow let by the union in response to the mayor. You might want to compare the CTU, the UTLA with the uft - small letters intentional.


Here is Daniel's post for the Talk Out of Schools program:

Hello, New York City public school family!

What does a safe, equitable & responsive NYC school reopening look like?

Daniel Alicea, NYC educator, will discuss it on 'Talk Out of School' with Tajh Sutton and Dr. Kaliris Salas-Ramirez, two extraordinary parent activists and advocates, in a special broadcast about the fall reopening of New York City public schools.

Catch the show today, Saturday, Aug. 28th, at 1 PM, on WBAI 99.5. FM or also listen live online at

Dr. Kaliris Salas Ramirez is an NYC public school parent who is a neuroscientist and professor for CUNY School of Medicine. She is also the president for Community Education Council 4, in Manhattan, and a steering committee member for Parents for Responsive, Equitable, and Safe Schools (PRESS).

Tajh Sutton is an NYC public school parent who is an arts educator and the program director for Teens Take Charge. She is also the president for Community Education Council 14, in Brooklyn, and a steering committee member for Parents for Responsive, Equitable and Safe Schools (PRESS).

To learn more about PRESS visit their site:

It's a can't miss event.

If you can't make it, listen to the podcast here later:

Love wins.

#protectNYC #protectNYCkids #remoteoption now #shutdownforsafety


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Missing InACTION: Is Michael Mulgrew in Witness Protection? - Last UPDATED Aug 28 3:30 PM

UPDATE: Saturday August 28 - There are rumors Mulgrew surfaced in a video somewhere -- I think it is a hologram - or a robot.
With all the swirl about school openings, Mulgrew has been invisible.  Oh, the UFT has put out some statements in his name,
This decision is not up to the union. However, while the mayor is asserting his legal authority to mandate the vaccine for city employees, by law the details of this mandate must be negotiated with the UFT and other unions, and if necessary resolved by arbitration.
Has anyone actually seen Mulgrew anywhere? Maybe he is being held against his will by anti-vaxers in Staten Island.
James at the ICE blog has been yeoman work keeping us informed on the updates on back to school/virus/mandates:

Leave it to Michael Mulgrew to at least figure out when he made a completely unforced error. In yesterday's statement, the UFT President claimed: "Our first priority is keeping our kids safe and the schools opened." He neglected to mention UFT members who pay dues and his salary. Well in the latest email, (see below), he has added the UFT members. It took him a while but at least he figured out who he is supposed to represent and included the members. That's progress, everyone.

Is Mulgrew in or out? His fears of the right wing anti-vax, anti-mask UFT members pulling their dues is palpable. Chicago and LA, the two next largest cities with strong left wing unions leading the way, have much stronger push back for safe school openings while we have Mr. Wishy Washy.

Recently Mulgrew's lack of presence at a seemingly important event was noticed:

Randi, Ed Secty Cardona and UFT second in command Leroy Barr at Bronx DOE Event -

It says something that Mulgrew wasn’t there. This is the US secretary of education and Randi .. but LeRoy was there .... Vacation? “Sorry Mr. Secretary of Ed. I’m on vaca …” no no no. Sick. Death in the family or on the outs. Those are the only reasons that make sense to me for why a Union president would not be present for a visit from a federal official.....  UFT member comment
Secretary Cardona to Join New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, AFT President Randi Weingarten & Students to Highlight Importance of Social and Emotional Learning, Vaccinations.....
U.S. Department of Education

The UFT has only changed presidents 3 times in the past 31 years and each time the new president was installed a year in advance of an election. That time frame for Unity Caucus replacing Mulgrew has past, so this speculation may be meaningless. Maybe there is a rift of sorts between Randi and Mulgrew and this is a sign. 

But they need each other since control of the AFT is based on Unity Caucus. Leroy Barr is the head of Unity ---- but from all reports Leroy and Mulgrew are two of the three men and one woman (maybe two women from the latest scuttlebutt) in the room making decisions for the UFT -- how did that Stringer endorsement work out?

Chicago an LA have required teacher vaxes while NYC has not and Mulgew has not called for it. Word is that he is bombarded by UFT right wingers and anti-vax and anti-mask people and the hierarchy fears these people more than the progressive wing.

The different responses and open bargaining of the UFT and CTU and UTLA and the outcomes are stark:

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

UFT Leaders Support Insurance Scams -- Hospitals and Insurers Didn’t Want You to See These Prices - NYT

One way to look at the costs is to compare them with rates paid by Medicare, the government program that covers older people. In general, Medicare covers 87 percent of the cost of care, according to hospital association estimates. At multiple hospitals, major health plans pay more than four times the Medicare rate for a routine colonoscopy. And for an M.R.I. scan, some are paying more than 10 times what the federal government is willing to pay. Health economists think of insurers as essentially buying in bulk, using their large membership to get better deals. Some were startled to see numerous instances in which insurers pay more than the cash rate.  .... NYT - Hospitals and Insurers Didn’t Want You to See These Prices. Here’s Why.

US ranks dead LAST in healthcare among richest nations (Video w/ Wendell Potter)

Healthcare news --

Medicare for all will be cheaper and better
Medicare for all will be cheaper and better 
Medicare for all will be cheaper and better
Medicare for all will be cheaper and better
Medicare for all will not be good for the private, profit making health care scammers.
... repeat 10 times to our union leaders who join most of the Democratic Party in opposing all forms of socialized medicine. 

As Ed Notes readers know, 250,000 NYC municipal retirees are being moved out of Medicare into a privatized insurance plan starting Jan. 1. The union and the city have been crying about health care costs and claim this will save the city 600 million. After reading the article below on how there is a conspiracy too hide prices, tell me where the savings are coming from. 

Coming next will be the contract for non-retirees next year and watch the fur fly.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Good morning -- another day of outrage at the state of the health care system and the blood suckers at all levels. I include much of the mainstream media, which has not has a whisper of this important NYT article on the scam. Wanna bet the private insurers and hospitals have heavy advertising running?

One of the puzzling things about our union, the UFT - and other unions - is the leadership support for the current corrupt health care system which is the reason we have such high healthcare costs that our union leaders are using as an excuse to cut costs by weakening public options and strengthening the private insurance grip (along with the corrupt profit making hospitals) on our health care. 

The NYT posted a Monday mind blowing report on how hospitals and insurance companies hide prices despite a bi-partisan law passed calling for transparency:

The five largest insurers — Aetna, Cigna, Humana, United and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association — all declined requests for on-the-record interviews. Cigna, Humana and Blue Cross provided statements that said they support price transparency.  The requirement to publish prices is a rare bipartisan effort: a Trump-era initiative that the Biden administration supports. But the data has been difficult to draw meaning from, especially for consumers..... The insurers’ trade association had called the rule unconstitutional and said it would “undermine competitive negotiations.” Four hospital associations jointly sued the government to block it, and appealed when they lost. They lost again, and seven months later, many hospitals are simply ignoring the requirement and posting nothing. But data from the hospitals that have complied hints at why the powerful industries wanted this information to remain hidden. It shows hospitals are charging patients wildly different amounts for the same basic services: procedures as simple as an X-ray or a pregnancy test.

Here is one example of crazy costs at the same hospital:

At the University of Mississippi Medical Center, a colonoscopy costs ...

with a Cigna plan.
with an Aetna plan.
with no insurance at all.
How is it possible that it is cheaper with no insurance at all?

People carefully weighing two plans — choosing a higher monthly cost or a larger deductible — have no idea that they may also be picking a much worse price when they later need care. Even for simple procedures, the difference can be thousands of dollars, enough to erase any potential savings. It’s not as if employers can share that information at open enrollment: They generally don’t know either.It’s not just individual patients who are in the dark,” said Martin Gaynor, a Carnegie Mellon economist who studies health pricing. “Employers are in the dark. Governments are in the dark. It’s just astonishing how deeply ignorant we are about these prices.”

Right, we are going to save money by pulling us out of Medicare?
Do you ever wonder what out unions are getting from these insurance companies for selling us out?

I think I'm due for a colonoscopy but one thing I know - I want to get it before Jan. 1. My doc is connected to NYU.

I recently had an MRI and didn't think twice about it. After Jan. 1, who knows?

At Aurora St. Luke’s in Milwaukee, an M.R.I. costs United enrollees ...

if they have United’s HMO plan.
if they have United’s PPO plan.

At Memorial Regional Hospital, in Florida, an M.R.I. costs ...

with a Cigna plan.
with a Humana plan.
with a Blue Cross plan.
with a Medicare plan.

At the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, a pregnancy test costs ...

for Blue Cross patients in Pennsylvania.
for Blue Cross HMO patients
in New Jersey.
for Blue Cross PPO patients
in New Jersey.
with no insurance at all.

Well, I don't plan on getting pregnant - because the baby would come after Jan. 1.

The NYT piece makes the point that employers are also getting screwed. Our employer is the city of New York -- they are getting screwed but don't seem to care. We know that politicians who run the city get campaign contributions from guess who?

I gave you the flavor but the entire article is a must read --- 

For those stymied by the pay wall, here it is in full below the break:

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Food Stamps (SNAP): Biden Expands Plan but for Republicans, Isn't it better for capitalism for people to be hungry?

Laura Ingraham: "What if we just cut off the unemployment? Hunger is a pretty powerful thing." 

Bar Rescue guy: "They only feed a military dog at night, because a hungry dog is an obedient dog. Well, if we are not causing people to be hungry to work..."  Bar Rescue Host and Laura Ingraham Discuss Cutting Unemployment Aid to Make Workers “Hungry” Like an “Obedient Dog”....

The above segment is amazing to watch. Ingraham brags about her mother being forced to work when she was 12. Pro child labor Laura. This right wing crew hungers for this:

So contrast this NYT piece where Biden aims to destroy capitalism by trying to increase food for hungry families.

Let's see what Republicans are saying:

Critics say that the costs are unsustainable and that the aid erodes Americans’ willingness to work. hints of the benefit increase spread last week, Republicans pushed back. Former Representative Mike Conaway, a Republican and chief author of the 2018 law, said it was written “assuming the precedent of cost-neutrality would be followed” and warned the administration against “unilateral overreach.” Before the plan was even released, two Republican legislators called for a watchdog to review it.

Opponents of a benefit increase say the program is meant to supply only part, not all, of a household’s diet, as suggested by its formal name: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. They also say the aid would last longer if the needy spent it better, citing research showing nearly 10 percent goes to sweetened drinks.

“The data on the inadequacy of the Thrifty Food Plan is pretty weak,” said Angela Rachidi of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

...others note that nothing guarantees the needy will buy healthy food. Ms. Rachidi of the American Enterprise Institute said “to the extent that SNAP contributes to poor diet,” an increase could even harm poor people’s health.

Anticipating the benefit increase last week, Republicans on Capitol Hill warned of a power grab. During the pandemic, Congress approved extraordinary, if temporary, SNAP increases, with average benefits doubling. Since those increases are now starting to expire, some Republicans see the updated plan as a backdoor effort to sustain a major welfare expansion.

The full NYT article below does a deep dive into the nitty gritty of SNAP. 

The debate over benefit adequacy turns on colliding assumptions: SNAP bills itself as supplemental, but more than a third of households receive the maximum benefit. Caseworkers have found that those households have no cash for food, so for them, aid is not supplemental.

Just take the beans story for example:

Critics [of the old plan] say multiple features of the department’s model drove such unrealistic results. The model ignored preparation time — assuming that SNAP users would buy dried beans and soak them before cooking them, which takes hours but is cheaper than buying them in cans. (Few did.)....

The update:

They also factored in time: The plan assumes that SNAP families will get 99 percent of their beans from a can. Among the other convenience foods it includes are hard-boiled eggs, prepared salsa, baby carrots, boxed macaroni and cheese and bagged salad greens.“It was a scientific, analytical process,” said Stacy Dean, a senior Agriculture Department official who oversees the program. “It wasn’t about approving a benefit increase.”

 Full article online and below:

Monday, August 16, 2021

It's about the economy, stupid: How Much Learning Loss is Legend? Reports of students feeling LESS Social pressure from NOT being in school

UPDATED August 17, 12 noon

I'm guessing that the media focus on learning loss is more about making sure schools are open so people can go to work and boost the economy rather than interest in the children ... no one talks about the learning loss of test prep - and the anxiety high stakes tests creates. Or the anxiety just getting ready for school and the often ordinariness of schools. 

When I taught there was loads of "learning loss" when I tried to make school fun for them, especially for trips. My principal tried to limit our trips yet my kids had learning gain. The kids put up with me when I tried to teach the normal stuff. I tried to lighten the anxiety levels when I could but the tests were always looming. Boy, if I had to do it all over again today, I would totally focus on making school so much fun, they would have anxiety if they missed coming. But let's face it -- as kids get older, the social net of friends and so on becomes a serious operating issue ---- and one of my biggest failures I had as a teacher when I recognized that issue and tried to interfere in not a good way and made a few what I viewed as mean girls as enemies. I learned better ways for the future - find activities to incorporate kids on the outs.

For some students - maybe more than we know -- not being in school has actually been beneficial socially. This may be true especially for wealthier students who can more easily do the work at home with some support. But we hear from poorer students that being home avoided some of the more racist issues of school for some of them. Don't forget that school to prison pipeline.

Not a lot of media have reported on the tensions of school, especially with high stakes tests creating anxiety -- and no one talks about the learning loss of test prep. 

And don't forget the anxiety. In my final years of teaching the admin expected us to create anxiety and fear of failure as "motivation" for test practice. Do you think kids at Eva's schools don't feel anxiety over batting their eyes? Listen to Leonie Haimson's WBAI show from this past Saturday on some insane rules in no excuses charters ---

A Sunday Morning CBS report indicated what they termed "surprising" reports of less anxiety.

Friday, August 13, 2021

The Battle of Pro-vs anti-Mandates Petitions comes to the UFT - Vax Resistance not just from the right crosses racial lines - Only 27 Percent of Young Black New Yorkers Are Vaccinated -

Just one kid dying from covid that is traceable to a school where contagion might have come from an unvaxed teacher will cause a firestorm that makes Greece look like an iceberg.


Daniel Alicea from Educators of NYC and others including me wrote some clear demands that the NYC Department of Education should meet before anyone returns to NYC schools. Schools need to be safe. This evening Daniel turned it into a petition. --- ICE/UFT Blog.

Countered by:

petition against vaccine mandates: NY Teachers Against Vaccine Mandates for Educators (over 17,000 signatures and rising!)

Dueling petitions inside the UFT. Check the wild west comment section on the ICE blog. The EONYC petition is hitting 700 in less than 24 hours - so if you want to see mandates head on over. a petition.

Arthur Goldstein, NYC Educator and UFT Ex Bd member, makes the case for mandated in an appearance at Bloomberg News

"It's our duty to keep our students safe.. and to keep ourselves safe ...I do not understand some of my colleagues [who are opposed]. My kids come in from other countries and when they are not vaccinated the nurse comes in and tells them they can't attend school until they are...."

The waffling UFT leadership is leaning toward mandates but fears the much more vocal anti mandate crowd. Full disclosure -- I'm working with the ICE crew and lean toward mandates but my libertarian tendencies keep popping up. But I get that Mulgrew fears taking the lead -- Randi came out for mandates but personally with the AFT most likely to take a position, especially since the NEA just did so. From what I hear, the leadership has been inundated by the organized anti-mandate crowd while the disorganized pro-mandate crowd has had little impact - so far - but seems to be rearing up.

I mean there's this:

Four Broward County Educators Lose Battle With COVID-19 In Less Than 24 Hours...

I bet they weren't vaxed. People are scared, in some ways worse then last year when there were lots of options. Now the option is a crowded classroom. 

As I said I'm torn but also pissed at the possibility of non-vaxed spreading sickness. I can afford to stay in hiding. But what about the children in school factor? The unvaxed under 12 and the over 12 students who have not chosen to get vaxed. The report of resistance in the Black community is a real problem for progressives - I have more on this further down.

Just think of a school where most teachers are vaxed but some aren't, as are many parents and almost all students are not vaxed. The vaxed teachers are fairly safe -- maybe not the older ones but still pretty safe. But what kind of environment? Do unvaxed teachers work as freely as vaxed? What about the testing for unvaxed - even if every week, what about between tests and the mingling that goes on?

Just one kid dying from covid that is traceable to a school where contagion might have come from an unvaxed teacher will cause a firestorm that makes Greece look like an iceberg.

Resistance to the vax resisters grows --back to the petition that calls for mandated vax for teachers - a list of demands - sign it here- a petition

1.  Mandated vaccinations - Anyone 12 years of age or older entering a DOE facility, including but not limited to school buildings, should possess proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The unvaccinated must not be allowed entrance in instructional spaces (unless there is a documented medical exemption).
2. Mandated masking - Everyone within the premises of a DOE facility must have a mask on at all times, except for eating at proper times. Failure to do so will result in their immediate removal.
3. Heightened COVID Testing and Tracing Protocols - Weekly random testing of at least 33% of the entire school communities. There must be baseline testing for all students and staff in September. We expect clear, strict and concise procedures in place for quarantine and closing down schools when there is a COVID outbreak. This includes a return to a school-wide 14 day quarantine based on a total threshold of 3 or more positive cases within the school community.  Baseline testing for all those returning from quarantine.
4. Strict adherence to social distancing - There must be strict adherence to at least 3 feet of social distancing at all times. Distance is subject to increase if authorities deem so.
5. Proper, Science-Based Ventilation in all DOE facilities- We demand for scientifically proven methods to control and monitor the spread of airborne diseases, including COVID, that include enhanced ventilation with outdoor air, and high efficiency filtration. Sites must be inspected and certified by a board certified industrial hygienist before anyone is allowed in the facility.
6. A Remote Option - A remote learning option for all parents/guardians that want to opt for one.
7. No Learning Loss Screenings/Diagnostics and Focus on SEL, trauma-informed supports - There will be no academic screening/diagnostic assessments for so-called deficit of learning/learning loss. Rather, we must focus resources on the social-emotional well-being of our students by funding after school programs, PSAL, counseling, social service and weekend programs.  We desire a pause in required high stakes state standardized testing until performance based alternatives are explored.
8.  Increased transparency, tracking capability and reliability in COVID-19 data reporting - We demand an updated COVID-19 city wide dashboard that is more transparent, meaningful and reliable in its data reporting of COVID-19 incident cases, hospitalizations and deaths that tracks over 90 day intervals and shows vaccination rates.
Failure to implement these demands will result in a coalition of educators and parents urging UFT members, families and students to stay out of buildings deemed unfit until they are safe for teaching and learning.

There is a racial component to the anti-vaxers, which has given some progressives pause:

 "as a Black man, he was more worried about the prospect of being stopped by the police than he was about getting Covid-19..." Politico

This is an eye-opening report from Politico, but not surprising. Over the past week a few of us were engaged in a debate on ICEUFT listserve with a black retiree who was an adamant resister. I really get where that resistance is coming from - there is massive mistrust of the medical community by Black people, often well-deserved. 

Why Only 27 Percent of Young Black New Yorkers Are Vaccinated,” by The New York Times’ Joseph Goldstein and Matthew Sedacca: “A construction site safety manager in Queens said that as a Black man, he was more worried about the prospect of being stopped by the police than he was about getting Covid-19. A graduate student in the Bronx who had not gotten vaccinated said her worst fears seemed confirmed when a vaccine that the government was directing to Black and poorer neighborhoods was briefly suspended over a small number of dangerous blood clots. And a civil rights activist in the Bronx said he grew suspicious when he heard last year that politicians were prioritizing minority neighborhoods for coronavirus vaccinations. ‘Since when does America give anything good to Black people first?’ said the activist, Hawk Newsome, a 44-year-old Black Lives Matter leader who is unvaccinated.

“All three situations reflect a trend that has become a major concern to public health experts: Young Black New Yorkers are especially reluctant to get vaccinated, even as the Delta variant is rapidly spreading among their ranks. City data shows that only 27 percent of Black New Yorkers ages 18 to 44 years are fully vaccinated, compared with 48 percent of Latino residents and 52 percent of white residents in that age group

I had a conversation with a white over 80 retired unvaxed teacher, a Trump supporter, who told me she was not getting vaxed because she didn't trust Fauci, having heard he was financially involved with the vax companies. She already had a fairly mild case of covid this past March. She doesn't seem worried. Am I over-reacting?

With my libertarian tendencies, I don't like mandates and I hate wearing a mask. I also hated to be circumcised without my permission. And it hurt like hell. Still hurts. I balance that with fear of getting sick. And those who don't get vaxed are threats to me and others. I can support their position -- but do I have a right to know? If it was Ebola and not Covid would they claim a right to privacy? I'd like to see a blinking patch in foreheads.

But in fairness, let's look at: NY Teachers For Choice

our petition against vaccine mandates: NY Teachers Against Vaccine Mandates for Educators (over 17,000 signatures and rising!)

They seem to be against forced testing. Will they now protest rules for other vax requirements or are they basing their resistance to this vax because it is so new? I can see that point but so far 150 million people make for a pretty good test. Unless in a year or so I might find unexpected outcomes from the vax -- maybe my circumcised foreskin will grow back.

Word is this group has bombarded the UFT leadership and that is a factor in the UFT leadership's waffling over mandating a vaccine. They foresee a massive dues sucking machine.

Their steering committee has a bunch of NYC teachers:

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Listen: Norm and Bruce joined Daniel on WBAI - History of the UFT - the 80s and 90s

Listen to Inside UFT Politics and History (Part 2), broadcast live on Sat : How The Nation’s Most Powerful Teachers Union Impacted NYC Public Schools from Talk Out of School in Podcasts.

It was a pleasure joining Bruce Markens on WBAI yesterday on Leonie Haimson's "Talk Out of School" program, with Daniel Alicea hosting and skillfully guiding us through an hour of UFT history covering the 3rd and 4th decades of its existence - the 80s and 90s. This was part 2 of the three part history, each covering two decades. 

In Part 1 in July Leo Casey, a high level UFT and now AFT official - he now heads the Shanker Institute -- joined Daniel and me: Listen to Inside UFT Politics and History (Part 1) : How The Nation’s Most Powerful Teachers Union Impacted NYC Public Schools from Talk Out of School in Podcasts.

Part 3 will be in September, covering the past 20 years. Despite the many changes we've seen over the 6 decades of UFT history, one thing has been constant: The absolute dominance and control by one party/caucus - Unity, a creation by one of the union founders, Albert Shanker, perhaps his most enduring legacy - creating a political structure that has seemed impregnable.

Bruce, Daniel and I covered a lot of ground, but could have spend many hours drilling down. We began with The Nation at Risk - the Ronald Reagan and neo-liberal ed deform report trashing public schools and teachers - while the impact didn't hit until the 90s and 2000s - think BloomKlein -- Shanker's support for it changed the way teacher unions were able to fight back against the deforms by enlisting the unions as partner and making way for the New Democrats - aping Republicans - like Clinton and late on Obama -- to forge ahead with policies that have often proven to be a disaster.

We spent time delving into internal UFT politics. The rise of a coalition of opposition groups to create a more serious challenge to total Unity control by beginning to win the high schools - which has pretty much continued to current times --- the MORE/NA win in 2016, for example. We talked about Michael Shulman's victory for HS VP -- on the AdCom -- the only time in UFT history that a non-Unity person was elected in 1985 and how Unity challenged his win and forced another election - Trump's Stop the Steal used Unity 85 as a model --- only to see Shulman win by over 60%. Unity changed the constitution a few years later to make all VPs elected by the entire membership - including retirees so this could never happen again.

We talked about Shanker's giving up the presidency of the UFT in 1985 and turning the union over to Sandra Feldman -- in the UFT, the successor is hand-chosen -- like a monarch of sorts. We actually had a few fond memories of Sandy, who in some ways adhered to at least some formalities of democracy in the union. But of course he overall story was suppression of opposition when they could ger away with it,

We talked about the big 13 seat opposition united state in 1991 and Bruce Markens' major victories as the only non-Unity District Rep in the 90s and how his example led to the end of district rep elections by 2002 - that was Randi, not Sandy, who actually could have done the same thing soon after Bruce's election.

A key issue in the 90s was the 1995 contract which was voted down by the membership and our experiences with Giuliani as mayor. We just had time to mention the rise of Randi Weingarten, also a hand-chosen successor, in the 90s but ran out of time before getting to the details. Maybe in Part 3 we can talk about some of the changes she broight to the UFT before leaving in 2009 for the AFT after - guess what - hand choosing her successor, Michael Mulgrew.

And of course a big part of our discussion was charter schools, which was an original idea from Shanker, and how it morphed into a dagger at the heart of teacher unions and public education -- but that issue escalates in the 21st century.

Some or the sources:

UFT: 50 Years:

The Teacher Rebellion by David Selden

Schools Against Children: The Case for Community Control

Blackboard Unions  by Marjorie Murphy

City Unions: Managing Discontent in New York City  by Mark Meir

Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy by Richard Kahlenberg


The Strike That Changed New York: Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis by Jerald E. Podair


Saturday, August 7, 2021

History of the UFT, Part 2 - The 80s and 90s -TODAY, WBAI (99.5 FM), 1PM - Norm and Bruce Join Daniel

We explore and analyze the history and political highlights of our city’s teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers,  today with part 2 of what is to be a three part series.

In July, we had Leo Casey and Norm Scott, two iconic union activists, on this show to share with us what they thought were some of the highlights of UFT history and politics for the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Today we are joined by two lifelong and beloved UFT union activists and leaders, Bruce Markens and, once again, Norm Scott, as they take us through a decade by decade overview of the significant historical and political developments within the United Federation of Teachers union and how these impacted public education of NYC schools. 

The Discussion: 

Today’s discussion: 

Inside UFT politics and history: How The Nation’s Most Powerful Teachers Union Impacted NYC Public Schools 

Part 2, today, will take us through a decade by decade overview of what our our guests perceive as the most significant events within the UFT from the 1980s to the year 200- … we’ve invited Bruce Markens and Norm Scott.  And Part 3 will likely be broadcast in September.

Nation at Risk - 83
Feldman taking over for Shanker -85
Shulman election 1985 as HSVP
District Rep election 1991
1995 contract

NY State charter school bill - 1998

Rise of Randi. 

1991 oppo wins 13 ex bd

1994 constitution change Re adcom veeps. 


Friday, August 6, 2021

The Future AFL-CIO Leader - why Randi is an unlikely choice

Richard Trumka fit the profile of a traditional union leader. He got his hands dirty as a miner before he ever gripped a podium and addressed a crowd... The Nation

One of Trumpka's most important positions was opposing the job sucking trade agreements, including the Hillary backed Pacific Trade Agreement in 2016, which Trump used to help beat her. Where was Randi on that issue? Supporting anything Hillary backed. In essence, Randi heading the AFL-CIO would be like inserting a Clinton operative - the Clintons who were fundamentally anti-union --- and if you doubt that just look at the record in Arkansas and the White House.

Sara Nelson actually worked her way up by working on the job. Randi was handed a job to buttress her rise to lead the union. Sara Nelson actually served drinks in the aisles and dealt with unruly customers. I bet Randi never had to deal with an unruly student.

Nelson has been a flight attendant with United Airlines since August, 1996.[6] Soon after beginning her career, based in Boston for United Airlines, Nelson became an activist in the Boston AFA Local. She served in a variety of roles including the elected position of Council Representative. In 2002 Nelson was selected by AFA leaders at United Airlines to serve as Communications Chair.[7]

She previously served as AFA's international vice president for a term beginning January 1, 2011. AFA-CWA represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines. [She] worked four jobs to pay off her student debt, including as a substitute teacher, waitress, linen salesperson, and temp at an insurance agency.[5]

Funny - Nelson may have as much teaching experience as Randi.

Happy Friday, August 6, 2021

I must have temporarily - or permanently - lost my mind yesterday when I speculated about Randi Weingarten replacing Richard Trumpka as head of the AFL-CIO. [AFL-CIO Trumpka Dead, Is Randi in play to succeed? Implications for AFT/UFT? Flight Attendent union leader and progressive Sara Nelson in running]

Then I watched Randi's appearance on Morning Joe yesterday and video of Trumpka, who headed the Mineworkers union. Would miners and other workers accept a teacher union head as their leader? My brainstrust convinced me I was being delusional. Just watching how Randi waffles and obfuscates and is often so cloying convinced me.

We considered Sara Nelson and as head of the Flight Attendant union with a very public face during the pandemic, she seemed more likely to be accepted. The third option is Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer and designated successor. Thus we will see the first woman to head the AFL-CIO in history -- unless a dark horse emerges.

The first ever woman elected to the position in 2009, Shuler also holds the

distinction of being the youngest officer ever to sit on the federation's Executive Council. Coming from Portland, Oregon, Shuler has been at the forefront of progressive labor initiatives like green job programs and the fight for workers' rights for many years, starting as an organizer at her local union.Prior to her election as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, Shuler was part of the Executive Leadership team of the Electrical Workers (IBEW)....Shuler first became active in union work after college. Her first job was as a union organizer for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 125, working on a campaign to organizer clerical workers at PGE.[3][5][7] She became a lobbyist for the IBEW in 1997, representing the union before the Oregon Legislature.[3][5]

OK. Shuler may be the favorite now and actually comes across as more progressive than Randi - for those doubters -- watch what Randi does, not what she says.

But here's something that makes Sara Nelson more legit and more Trumpka-like than either Randi or Shuler  -- she actually worked in the industry she represents, just like Trumpka was a real miner. 

But wait you say -- doesn't Randi claim to have worked for 6 years as a high school teacher - she mentioned her teaching on Morning Joe. We've reported many times that Randi only worked 6 months on a full schedule at Clara Barton HS, a school hand-picked for the lawyer from the UFT who had to show some in school creds in order to become UFT president. Everyone at the school knew what her future was and she was treated accordingly. That's not real world experience.

Sara Nelson actually served drinks in the aisles and dealt with unruly customers. I bet Randi never had to deal with an unruly student.

As for Shuler, she functioned as a union organizer and lobbyist, which give her some creds. And coming from the IBEW probably rates higher than the AFT, which is still not the largest teacher union. Now if Randi were heading a merged AFT/NEA with almost 4 million members, that might have bolstered her case.

But I also am thinking about the power as AFT leader of a union versus heading the AFL-CIO which is a coalition of unions with no actual power. I could also make a case that Mulgrew as head of the UFT actually has more real power than Randi as head of the AFT -- but the UFT is the tail that wags the AFT dog --- both need each other to maintain their position. 

The brainstrust also speculated as to whether Mulgrew would even be taken seriously as a potential AFT leader. I heard from my old buddies in Chicago after they won their election 11 years ago that they had developed a good working relationship with Mulgrew, though politically, the Chicago leadership was more aligned with MORE.

Here's The Nation with a Trumpka obit

Richard Trumka, 1949–2021

The labor leader practiced “true solidarity”—from his days as an anti-apartheid activist to his bold embrace of immigrant rights and Black Lives Matter.

By John Nichols

Thursday, August 5, 2021

AFL-CIO Trumpka Dead, Is Randi in play to succeed? Implications for AFT/UFT? Flight Attendent union leader and progressive Sara Nelson in running

Maybe I've been wrong on Mulgrew becoming AFT president. Imagine the scenario where Randi runs for AFL-CIO and wins (not so sure about that) and Mulgrew moves up -- Mulgrew wariness in the UFT might just make that enticing. Who would replace Mulgrew? Inside betting is on Leroy Barr. A former UFT president has been AFT president for 43 of the past 47 years.

This is a very disjointed piece based on old published and unpublished info I've been storing until the election was announced - which was in 2022. These articles are from pre-pandemic times mostly when the election was scheduled.

May 16, 2019 - Is Randi After Trumpka's Job? Would that make Mulgrew AFT President? .. Ed Notes - 

If she wants to be AFL-CIO president, she's going to have to break Trumka's kneecaps.... A source

For the record, Trunpka died of a heart attack, not knee capping, but check alibis.

Speculation has already begun. Will Randi run, as there have been indications in the past? Will Sara Nelson, a Bernie wing union leader also run? Does this set up another battle of progressives vs center/right Dems? And if Randi runs and wins who heads the AFT? Does Mulgrew follow the historic pattern since 1964 (other than 1966-74, 2006-10) where a UFT President runs the AFT? And if there is this chain reaction, who runs for president of the UFT in 2022?

Breaking News: Richard Trumka, the longtime A.F.L.-C.I.O. president and an influential voice in Democratic politics, died at 72 after having a heart attack

Under the A.F.L.-C.I.O. constitution, the federation’s current secretary-treasurer, Liz Shuler, will take over as president until its executive council can meet to elect a successor. The federation’s next presidential election was originally scheduled to take place this year, but was delayed until next year because of the pandemic.

Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, is a contender.
If it's Randi vs Sara, that's the repeat of the Biden/Bernie or any of the internal Dem Party battles.

Sept, 2020 - Jacobin: How We Can Elect Sara Nelson as President of the AFL-CIO

 The Guardian reported in July 2019 that Trumka intends to back current AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler. Many labor activists, however, hope that the militant and charismatic president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), Sara Nelson, throws her hat in — meaning that for only the second time in its history, the AFL-CIO might have a contested race for its presidency... When voting for AFL-CIO president, however, each delegate will get to cast a number of votes equal to the number of members they represent. So an international with a million members will get a million votes, split equally among the twenty delegates.

The Jacobin article, which doesn't address a Randi candidacy, has good historical analysis. 

Here's a piece from Bloomberg Law May 2019 that does:

Punching In: A Game of Thrones at the AFL-CIO (1)