Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Poison PEP - Chancellor Banks - Not Even a Competent Bullshitter, Rally Against Budget cuts - If You can call it that

I watched the recent PEP last week for hours - on and off - the Panel for Educational Policy -- PEP - which I am renaming PECS - Panel for Educational Charter Schools. They want to starve the beast to prove public schools except for a few don't work.

Goal to starve the beast - the public scbool system -- to drive the move for vouchers and other options. And it will work. Imagine a totally fragmentized and Balcanized non-union system. Once those pesky UFT salaries are out of the way, the charters won't have to compete on salary -- or even on competentce of teachers --- just drag them off the street for the schools in poor neighborhoods.

Banks made a few appearances and they were almost embarassing. He can't even lie effectively and uses phony charm to try to get over.

MORE came up big at the PEP --maybe 30 people spoke -- no one from the UFT leadership - I repeat - totally absent from a major meeting dealing with massive cuts. 

I posted the Ronnie Almonte speech and newsletter -- Ronnie gets what the political agenda is about: Starve the beast -- and show how government doesn't work.  There was a rally of sorts where MORE had more people showed than Unity. I mean this is a union of 197,000 people. Getting a few hundred out makes the union look weak. Sometimes its better to stay home.

Leonie is on the case on the budget cuts.  (And on Class size -- big event for Skinny Awards Monday night.)

$1.1 billion in unspent funds by DOE for FY 2020 and FY 2021 – making cuts to schools even more outrageous - See below; a budget presentation by the DOE dated June 21, showing unspent allocations to schools and districts of $1.1 billion from FY 2020 and FY 2021, w... 
BTW - UFT endorsed Hochul -- who obviously won big -- has not yet signed the class size bill --- And her buddy Adams doesn't want her to. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Video - Ronnie Almonte - Recently elected Ex Bd member - Riveting Speech and Article: NYC Schools Deserve Budget Boosts, Not Cuts

Adams intends to advance his party’s national crusade to privatize education and bust teachers unions. Surely his cuts will accelerate enrollment decline, providing the pretext for further cuts and reallocation of public funds to privately-run, ununionized schools.... Ronnie Almonte

Note Mulgrew and Barr watching

Ronnie was just elected to the UFT Ex Bd and he really gets the agenda of the privatizers now running NYC schools - a total echo of the 12 years of Bloomberg. They are creating a budget cut "crisis" to force the debate on lifting the charter cap for NYC. Make public schools less attractive is the goal and leave them for the people who can't find a way out. Sift off the higher academic achievers into the privatized system and use public money to pay. Instead of managing an effective system, they are looking to offload as much of the system as they can into non-unionized schools, thus weakening an already weakened UFT.

At the rally to protest budget cuts on Friday called by the UFT, MORE had an enormpus presences and Ronnie made this awesome speech - and note Mike Mulgrew and  Leroy Barr in the background either cheering him on or dreading seeing him every two weeks at Ex Bd meetings.

I think I may have met Ronnie once in person, but am looking forward to seeing more of him. You can subscribe to his new newsletter by using the link below his article.

NYC Schools Deserve Budget Boosts, Not Cuts

The Mayor and City Hall's attack on education must be met with mass resistance

NYC Schools are under attack from the Mayor and City Hall. At least $215 million, but probably closer to $1.7 billion, has been slashed from next year’s school budgets. Teachers, counselors, and other workers are learning that their positions have been cut. Next year’s short-staffed schools will struggle to meet their students’ high academic and social-emotional needs as they grapple with larger class sizes and heavier case loads. Mayor Eric Adams—who controls the schools—could fully fund the system from the Department of Education’s $5 billion of federal relief money. His refusal to do so amounts to nothing less than an assault on public education.

Adams claims he’s simply adjusting budgets to match declining enrollment. It’s a lie; he’s also reduced the dollar amount a school receives per student, so those with the same enrollment will see their funding cut. His “adjustments” are first and foremost to expectations that the DOE will use its federal cash to make long overdue improvements to learning conditions. He’s squandered the chance to answer the decades-old call to reduce class sizes to levels comparable to white, suburban districts throughout the state. It’s not ignorance or mismanagement, but strategy. Adams intends to advance his party’s national crusade to privatize education and bust teachers unions. Surely his cuts will accelerate enrollment decline, providing the pretext for further cuts and reallocation of public funds to privately-run, ununionized schools.

He can be stopped, but our resistance must be strategic. Adams and City Hall’s budget boost to the NYPD shows that their commitment is to guns and riot gear over books and counseling. The UFT’s rally at City Hall on Friday was a good start, and surely we should continue protesting, writing to our representatives, and penning open letters to our communities. But the union must plot a course for escalating tactics in the event that the cuts are not restored. Everything good from the labor movement was gained by workers acting together to disrupt business as usual, with picketts, slowdowns, and strikes. We’re a big union with tremendous power. It’s about time we leverage it.


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© 2022 Ronnie Almonte
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104

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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Dems and UFT want everyone in Privatized Medicare Advantage (MulgrewCare)- Machinist Retirees Resist, Threats to Working Member HealthCare

Our leadership is willing to sacrifice our health care needs for their own narrow political ends.
That may not be such an easy sell as: looks like Mulgrewcare might eventually be coming to active people. Only a judge stopped a healthcare plan that would have denied a choice of free plans for retirees. We called the inferior plan Mulgrewcare.--- James Eterno, ICEUFT Blog
This is not only a local but a national issue as a project of the Dem party since the Clinton days:
A Biden administration official in charge of the program has said they intend to have all the traditional Medicare beneficiaries in such for-profit programs by 2030..... Daily Kos
And the UFT/AFT/NYSUT anti progressive agenda is tied to Dem Center right corporatists where the health care industry pores millions of lobbying dollars.

Saturday, June 25, 2022
There's a lot on this plate for you to chew on. Retiree Advocate continues to work toward fighting the attempt by the city and our own beloved union to remove us from Medicare and into a higher expense MedAdv plan to save money. Someone explain how much higher expenses save money unless it comes out of services.   
June 30 will be a year since our big march and rally to protest MulgrewCare. Posts from June/July 2021:
Last week we had another rally at city hall. I've been trying to keep up with the story:
And James has an update:
  • ICEUFT Blog ACTIVE CITY WORKERS NEED TO WATCH OUT FOR UNIONS DISCUSSING HEALTHCARE SAVINGS - UFT Chapter Leader Update: Efforts begin to rein in health care costs. The Municipal Labor Committee, the umbrella group of nearly 100 municipal labor unions including the UFT, negotiates the health care benefits of all city workers. The top priority of the MLC and the UFT is to maintain high-quality, premium-free health care for all city workers even as costs increase year after year. The city, with the MLC’s support, issued a request for information on June 16 to let the health care industry know that the city is seeking a 10% decrease in health care costs without sacrificing any of its employees’ existing benefits
This cutout from the article on the Machinists resistance sums up the situation:
the Medicare direct contracting pilot program that Trump initiated where equity firms and insurance companies could come in and basically buy up clinics and medical facilities and move people over to that private system without having to really notify them or explain to Medicare recipients that they were now in a different system,” Lux told the members.....  there is about $1.6 trillion in the Medicare Trust Fund that these private equity firms and insurance companies are just waiting to get at—to make a profit 
While we know it's impossible that we will see Medicare for All nationally, there is the NY Health Act which both the UFT and DC 37 oppose. Why? One answer is they employ many people to handle our healthcare and those, often patronage, jobs would disappear. The other is that they can claim to members that the leadership has delivered health care and once that's out of their hands, what else can they deliver? Bupkus. So our leadership is willing to sacrifice our health care needs for their own narrow political ends.
It is important to connect what's happening locally with the national trend which is privatization to save money on the backs of the patients while insuring massive profits to industry. I posted a story from The Lever on how Biden is pushing privatization:
BTW - Biden has appointed a guy who wants to privatize social security too.
Reality check -- 2024 will be a disaster and will have the even more awful Rep a trifecta and a DeSantis will be a smart Trump and give us our own Viktor Orban. For me the only Dem who could have a chance is John Fetterman but given his health etc that is a dim chance. Pete or Harris? OY! We're dead.

Here are two more stories to check out: An update from the lawsuit that has stopped MulgrewCare so far and  -- this union is fighting back:

Thursday, June 23, 2022

VOTE NO on Whatever Contract Unity Negotiates/ Resist UFT Cone of Silence, Calls for Open Bargaining

We simply cannot surrender our right to share with our coworkers information that affects their livelihood. We were elected to the Executive Board to amplify the needs of our members, not to make decisions unilaterally behind their backs....
Alex Jallot and Ronnie Almonte, UFT Ex Bd High School (as of July 1, 2022)
The cone of silence descends on the UFT negotiating committee. Some UFT Ex Bd members refuse to sign the Non Disclosure Agreement. 

I believe just about all contract issues have been pre-decided by the leadership already - including what they will accept. Don't hold your breath for inflation matching raises. Any hint of preventing this farce by open bargaining has been disparaged by Unity -- you don't bargain in public.

Until you do:

Turning the Tables: Transparent, Big, and Open Bargaining ...

Feb 8, 2022from Jane McAlevey ... How unions negotiate is a strategic choice. Seldom do union members experience the actual process of collective ...

Seven Steps to Opening Up Bargaining | Labor Notes

Open- versus Closed-Door Negotiations - JSTOR

UFT will put a giant version of the cone of silence over contract meetings.




Thursday, June 23, 2022

I've been mocking the UFT/Unity leadership over its faux negotiating committee farce for years.

Saturday, August 8, 2009
UFT Contract UFT Cast of Thousands Contract Committee
I raised some questions on the then 350 member Neg Comm, now expanded to as many as can fit in the cone of silence dome.

Questions on the Negotiation Committee: How are people chosen to be on this committee? Of the 350 committee members how many are in Unity Caucus? Does secrecy mean that Unity Caucus members don’t discuss the issues brought up for discussion among themselves? Are we to believe that the only discussion that takes place among Unity Caucus members is in the committee room?

If you think top level Unity don't discuss the issues beforehand, take a walk on the bridge you just bought.

In fact, I believe just about all contract issues have been pre-decided by the leadership and their main problem is how to filter the info out to the negotiating committee and how to do it to make it look democratic. Every committee will echo the election committee with a Unity majority. I like that there are people who want to be on the neg Comm even if having to sign the NDA and also that there are people who won't sign.
We know the contract will suck and many in the opposition will call for a Vote No campaign - in fact I'm starting the campaign right now -- oh, shit, retirees don't get to vote on the contract. You working stiffs have my proxy.

Some Unity slug will stop by to comment on how dumb I am.
 I urge people to accept the reality and just call for a NO VOTE NOW.

But most people connected to United for Change who are on the committee are signing the NDA - but we do have some newly elected Ex Bd people who were added to the negotiating committee but are refusing to sign and therefore will not be on the committee -- and they came under attack by ubber Unity Hack Richard Skibbens.  But who cares?
Here is the statement by these two members of MORE:

WE believe our union's contract should be open and transparent to all members and stakeholders (see the work of Jane McAlvey). 
Under the duress of our union leadership's decision to keep talks with management confidential. I am compelled to sign today's agreement because the interests of my chapter must still be represented in these negotiations.

As newly elected Executive Board members, we have been invited to join the union’s contract negotiating committee. In a time of pandemic and budget cuts, it’s critical that we bargain for better salaries, benefits, and working conditions.

As workplace leaders, we also believe that our union’s strength depends on making decisions collectively with openness and transparency. Unfortunately, the UFT has a long practice of requiring members (who are hand-picked) to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) as a condition for serving on the negotiating committee. We oppose this policy because it prevents the membership from holding the committee accountable, puts pressure on the UFT to broker backroom deals with politicians rather than rely on the strength of the union membership, and thus undermines the union’s ability to win a strong contract. For this reason we oppose the NDA, and refuse to sign it as much as we would like to join the committee. We simply cannot surrender our right to share with our coworkers information that affects their livelihood. We were elected to the Executive Board to amplify the needs of our members, not to make decisions unilaterally behind their backs.

The upcoming negotiations with the city must be open and transparent. In this way the membership can be made aware of what’s at stake, can follow the progress of negotiations, and can be mobilized in moments where the city refuses to compromise. Our members are the union, and their activity is the source of its power. Open bargaining is the path to securing the working conditions we deserve, and the schools our students need.


Alex Jallot, Ronnie Almonte

Ex Bd meetings will be fun again next year. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Join the June 23 People’s Panel for Educational Policy!- Make your voices heard

Shades of the Bloomberg era - it's time to go back to the PEP - except they got an emergency reprieve from having to face the public in person through the July meeting -- so this is zoom only. 

I have little doubt that Adams etc are privatizers of public schools. Cut the budget deeply and create demand for the charter school cap to be lifted. The class size law? Hochul hasn't signed it yet. Adams doesn't want it. Watch the primary outcome to get a clue to see if she signs it.
Norm Scott

Calling all Parents, Students, Educators, and School Staff

Make your voices heard – In Unity There is Strength!

Join the June 23 People’s Panel for Educational Policy!

Budget Cuts? Layoffs? School Closings? Class size? Charter School Takeovers? High Stakes Testing?  Homeless Families?

Defend Our NYC Public School Communities

Whose Schools?  Our Schools!

Hosted by the Coalition to End Mayoral Control

Thursday June 23, 2022.  6:00 -7:30 PM

Register for the zoom call below.   If you wish to speak sign up  when the meeting begins

You are invited to a Zoom meeting. 

When: Jun 23, 2022 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Monday, June 20, 2022

Support Class Size Matters: "Skinny award" dinner June 27, 2022

I've been to almost every one and was a proud recipient a few years ago. There is no more consistent fighter for the public education community than Leonie Haimson.
See you there!
lso news update on city budget
Dear folks-

Class Size Matters would like to invite you to our “Skinny Award” dinner to be held Monday, June 27 at 6 PM. This our first fundraiser in three years, and especially important this year as we have something really momentous to celebrate: the passage of a new state law that will require NYC schools to lower class size to much smaller levels.

We are honoring the groups and individuals who made this happen, and thus gave us the real “Skinny” on NYC schools:

  • The Alliance for Quality Education, for leading the successful battle to provide full Foundation aid to NYC schools at last;
  • State Senator Robert Jackson and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, for introducing the original bills requiring our schools to lower class size;
  • Assembly Education Chair Michael Benedetto and NYC Senate Education Chair John Liu, for shepherding the class size bill to passage this session;
  • A special "Parent Visionary" award to Johanna Garcia, education advocate and Chief of Staff to Sen. Jackson, for her persistent and passionate advocacy over many years to achieve the goal of fully equitable class sizes for NYC children.

Wine and light food will be served!

For more information and to purchase tickets to attend either in person or remotely, please click here. If you’d like to contribute to the organization without attending, you can do so here.

2. Sadly, despite all our advocacy, briefings and testimony, and all your emails and calls, the City Council agreed to a budget deal with the Mayor that did not restore any of the $215 million cuts to school budgets for next year; a deal that will be voted on tomorrow night. It is likely that in many schools, this will force class sizes higher and/or cause the loss of critical services, and I urge you to work with your School Leadership Teams to try to ensure that your school's core teaching staff is protected as much as possible.

Clearly, Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks have no intention of obeying the will of the Legislature to require them to lower class size, and instead are thumbing their nose at them, as I say here. Which makes it even more critical that Governor Hochul to sign the class size bill as soon as possible, which will give us legal leverage to stop these cuts or at least minimize their damage.

So please, call the Governor at 518-474-8390 , and message her here. Tell her: Please sign the class size bill as soon as possible so that NYC class sizes do not increase and instead, our students are provided with the same smaller classes that kids in the rest of the state already receive. We have also posted a petition that you can sign here.

I’ll be in Albany on Thursday, and if we get enough signatures, I’ll try to deliver it personally to her and/or her staff.

Hope to see you on June 27!

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
Follow on twitter @leoniehaimson
Subscribe to the Class Size Matters newsletter for regular updates at
Subscribe to the NYC Education list serv by emailing

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Christina Gavin Defends Her Reputation Against False Claims by Unity Hierarchy and District Rep Woodruff

You have to listen to these podcasts and the recordings of the interactions between Christina Gavin and Bill Woodruff to get the full picture of what happened at a s0-called UFT District "social" event; just a week before UFT ballots went out.
(If the player doesn't work try clicking the URL.)
This is not the first time we've heard of bizarre behavior from Woodruff, but I will get into that at another time. In fact, the Unity defense of Woodruff itself constitutes bizarre behavior.
Here are some previous posts:
But let's put things into context. Christina took the lead in compiling election complaints against Unity which is the cause of the persecution of Christina by elements of the UFT leadership. (I'm not sure there's unanimity inside the leadership in this crusade against Christina.) Ok, she is relentless and willing to go to the mat for her beliefs, a much needed elements all too often missing from the usual suspects (me included) in the opposition. And make no mistake about it, Christina is not one of the usual suspects.
You really can't  make this stuff up. A must listen 2 part series by our fave podcaster, Noah Teachey exposes the entire rotten process. Note Christina's point by point take down of the UFT leadership case. She should be the lawyer for the UFT, not Beth (nicknamed Rude Beth by Christina) Norton.
In Part 2 (Ep. 46) take particular note of the actual recording of Leroy Barr and UFT attorney Beth Norton subjecting Christina to the third degree on when she eats lunch. Bizzaro-land. The Woodruff stuff is pretty funny too.
Here are Noah Teachey's notes:
 This week, Christina Gavin (school librarian, MORE UFT caucus member, and UFC candidate) makes an appearance on the show to tell us her story from the UFTwilight Zone, where the bureaucracy of a union meant to support educator-members sometimes turns on these very educators if they dare to identify the majority caucus's breeches of UFT election policy and national labor law. This is part 1, which sets the stage for the story and establishes how Christina first became known to Unity's higher-ups. Be sure to tune in next week for some pretty serious evidence of Unity deceit and the thrilling conclusion of the story. 

 Ep 46: The UFTwilight Zone pt. 2, feat. Christina Gavin

In today's episode I'm joined once again by Christina Gavin, a librarian, unionist, and self-proclaimed smart-aleck. This is part two of a two-part episode exploring the UF Twilight Zone, a land governed by a single caucus in which the line between fact and fiction is blurry at best. If you haven't heard part 1, which is episode 45 of the show, be sure to go have a listen so we're all on the same page.

>>Christina's conversation with Bill Woodruff:

>>Play "spot the contradictions" in this false complaint:

>>Read and sign an open letter to UFT leadership on Christina's behalf:

>>If you're enjoying what you're hearing, and want to hear more, check out

Woodruff apologizes to her for a half hour, saying she did nothing wrong at the UFT event and then goes on to file charges against her, along with two other Unity candidates, also on the union payroll. And the UFT gang defends him to the hilt. ====
After Burn

Note this comment by a Unity hack on one of my posts on the Christina situation.

Really, Norm, first you go on about Christian Glavin without noting that she was the person who filed the charges against Janella Hinds falsely accusing her of electioneering on union time. And now you are telling us that Unity candidates shouldn't be able to use their personal Twitter and Facebook accounts to campaign for election -- for some reason. What were you and all the UFCUFT candidates doing? Were all of your personal Twiiter and Facebook accounts that campaigned for election hijacked?

Hi Saturday Anonymous,

My name is Christina; not Christian.

If you were more informed, you might know that no “charge” was filed against Janella Hinds. An inquiry was made and a follow-up inquiry was made too, based on the fact that Mr. Cambria and Ms. Norton had at several junctures in the election provided misinformation, even when asked repeatedly.

Seven times over the course of 37 days Mr. Cambria (informed by Ms. Norton) adamantly told UFC candidates that the UFT was not a nonprofit organization, for example. They also informed representatives of all candidates & Marie Wausnock that the UFT’s Communications and Accounting departments have said that it costs $11 to send each email when asked about the cost to send an email to a portion of membership.

Asking twice was no reflection on Ms. Hinds’ character but was based solely on the repeated instances of off-the-cuff wrong answers from Mr. Cambria and Ms. Norton, as I later told Ms. Hinds myself in a phone conversation about this topic.

Indeed Ms. Norton herself stated that no complaint had been filed against Ms. Hinds, but “an inquiry that may lead to a complaint” had been sent to the UFT.

You write to Norm “you are telling us that Unity candidates shouldn't be able to use their personal Twitter and Facebook accounts to campaign for election -- **for some reason**”

UFC did not say this for **some or no reason,** as you falsely claim. On January 31, Mr. Cambria had emailed UFT employees “reminding” them that they were not permitted to use the same accounts to both communicate with members in their roles as representatives of the union and campaign for candidates/caucuses. Was this an unreasonable directive for him to give? Arguably. Was it a UFT directive given by the UFT Election Chair to UFT employees? Undeniably.

Perhaps you should spend less time making uninformed statements from behind anonymous accounts; it might help you to be less wrong in your future commentary.

My reply to the hack attack:
Obfuscation and distraction. Uft employees - people we pay out of our dues. District reps abused the process. They have power over teachers. One of them in essence threatened not to rep a teacher because of his association with me. As for the charge against Janella that was an admitted mistake, apology offered and accepted. It was unity people who claimed the mistake was racist by another black woman - and I do note the vehemence of attacks on Christina and Camille by Unity. A hint of racism at the so called angry black woman. Like the unity hack at that d 7 event who felt threatened by Christina being behind her. If Christina were white would she have felt threatened?
Look for follow-up commentary on the misbehavior of Woodruff (Arf)  and other UFT officials.