Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Impressions: UFT First Exec Board of the Year - New Blood - Both UFC and Unity

Is the UFT Ex Bd a space for bi-partisan agreement or does the very idea make you gag? I opt for the former - hold the hostility for the Delegate Assembly.

I was reminded at how adept some union officials are at making stuff look good. I mean you can come out of an Ex bd meeting thinking the UFT leadership does so much. At the next meeting someone dump a bucket of ICE on my head.

Tuesday, Sept. 13,
I jumped on the Rockaway ferry yesterday afternoon to attend the first UFT Ex Bd meeting of the school year, looking forward to seeing the 7 newly elected UFC HS candidates at their first meeting. Plus a group of other supporters of UFC. Our election complaint was on the agenda, health care has risen up again, class size may have a new law but for me the contract for class size is still king. So there was a lot on my mind and I had signed up to speak but with so much to say I decided not to say anything.
I won't go into the details of the meeting because there are 2 reports of the meeting from James Eterno and Nick Bacon:
Spring 2022 election hostilities fade but UFC Complaint still active
Yes, our complaint still has not been decided on by the UFT. Nick reports on Leroy's response:
Election Challenge: One omnibus complaint that came out in June. We responded to that one in terms of things that were repeated. The challenge is to go to the UFT, then the AFT. We asked them to go forward to the UFT. Complaints: 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, and 29 (?) – go straight to the UFT. In terms of the remaining challenges, we want reports by the next exec board meetings/ We know there is a 90 day rule, so we will work on that over the next few meetings.
So the complaint is and continues to be a bone of contention. He acknowledged they are over the 90 day time limit and invited us to go to the Dept of Labor if we want. Next move is up to UFC, which can decide to wait - or not. Either way, I am somehow up to my ears in whatever is done -- a hostage situation.
Note to the Unity idiot who can't read and compares this to Trump stop the steal --- we are opposed to using union resources and personnel to promote Unity in elections and want it to stop for future elections.
But, let me point out that Ex Bd is very different from the Delegate Assembly. Small number of people, opposition treated with some respect and allowed to raise anything and ask as many questions as they want. And there's food - decent food - I asked Leroy Barr to order beef wellington for me and he promised a turkey burger but they had a choice of Salmon or meat and I took the latter and it was delicious -- plus salad and pie. 

More congenial - generally. It's a space where you feel uncomfortable being contentious - someone pointed out that is the intent - to blunt anger and use these meetings to promote the work the Unity people are doing.

We were also informed by people in MORE that they were working with 300 early childhood coordinators and social workers who found out they were excessed in the Friday afternoon before Labor Day. (I Posted their letter of protest - More Chaos in DOE - 300 Early Childhood Coordinators and Social Workers Excessed by Adams/Banks in Last Minute Hit Job - Friday afternoon of Labor Day Weekend.) 
Pre-Meeting was almost better than the meeting
I was asked to help some of the new people to navigate the process at the Ex Bd meeting to make their case to the leadership.
The last time the oppo won in 2016, we began meeting an hour before to discuss strategy. These were open meetings and helped set the stage as people discussed questions and issues to bring up. We began to invite people to join us and to sign up for the ten minute open section where non ex bd people could speak. 

So last night we organized a pre-meeting and it was very well attended with the experienced crew from Retiree Advocate and New Action, along with the magnificent 7 and a bunch of interested people, including a woman who was excessed and had signed up to speak - along with two others. (I withdrew my name as they had more important issues to address.) So we had every caucus there - most of the components of United for Change. But we also had independents including Mike Schirtzer

Mike Schirtzer was instrumental in organizing those events as a member of the oppo and when he became estranged from MORE he was offered slots on the Unity slate in both 2019 and 2022, so he is in his third term on the board but since he never joined Unity and Leroy assured him he could be independent and work with oppo people when he agreed with them. So it was nice to have Mike join us and contribute at the pre-meeting, which is often better than the actual meeting. Mike Shulman and Greg DiStefano, former New Action Ex Bd members were there to lend their expertise.
The meeting was a good sharing experience to help the new people get their feet wet.

The actual meeting

Let me say here, Leroy and I have had some contentious times over the years but he never fails to hear me out.
Leroy welcomed the new members from Unity and UFC and made everyone feel comfortable. 
He also explained the ten minute process (you are allowed only one shot at that every 6 months - I'm asking to be on for next Monday after I heard the bull on the health care situation. The lady from the excessed group spoke very well to explain what happened and hint the union action was not satisfactory so far - the other two who signed up to speak, feeling she covered the ground, declined to speak.

Ilona Nanay asked for a response to this and Mike Sill did an extensive forensic analysis - read James and Nick for details. Most important was he offered to stay after the meeting and meet with all of them and he did -- when I left they were all at a table meeting. I don't know the outcome but here's a corollary --- MORE held a zoom last night with 400 people on this issue:

For those who missed the townhall because you were repping and on fire at the e-board. Here's the recording to the zoom. We had 415 people on, including electeds, reporters, parent leaders, program directors, admin, teachers, ICs, SWs. It was FIRE!

Passcode: ?K9A5Rd.
There was a moment of silence for Florence Fidell, a key player in union history in the para chapter. I had a lot of contact with Florence in the 1970s when I defended a para under attack and we went to a citywide para meeting at the old Lexington Hotel on E. 21St by the old UFT at 260 Park Av. S to hand out a leaflet and Florence called the cops on us for trespassing - and we weren't actually at the UFT but a hotel. Two police showed up and when we showed them the leaflet they laughed out loud and left. I felt bad she died - a true adversary from the past. She was fierce and looked at we oppo people as aliens.

At the end of the meeting my partner in crime on the election complaint, Christina Gavin, went up to Leroy asking for the ruling back on April claiming she was rude etc should be rescinded -- we were all standing around to support her. That was one of the few tense moments of the evening. If you want to read more about why Christina is upset --- let me close with ---
Here is a comment from Christina: To clarify, I want the UFT to rescind their reports claiming to have investigated and found that I “illegally used a union resource, namely a Google Group, UFT Librarians,” which report Beth Norton falsified before having Carl Cambria provide me a copy, and their report following two of their employees – Maria Lopez and William Woodruff – lying that I had harassed people in an aggressive manner. If there was some report that I had been rude, I would be thoroughly unconcerned because rudeness is objective, not a criminal offense or a violation of federal labor law, unlike harassment and illegal use of union resources. 

I could have had lobster - 

Because they didn't go into the election complaints, the meeting ended in time for me to catch the last 8:15 ferry back to Rockaway. 
On the ferry I met one of my neighbors and her friends who had come in on the 3:15 with me. They looked like they had had a party - and told me they had gone to a place called Ulysses for the Monday night lobster dinner. Hmmm -- there's an option for next Monday night's Ex Bd meeting -- we can all go to the lobster joint and skip the meeting.

No comments: