Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Unity/UFT Ends Decades of Tradition of Open ended questioning at Oct. 24 Ex Bd as Questions Attempt to hold leadership accountable

Opposition doesn't come from a naive place. We have educated opinions that differ from leadership's.... Melissa Williams, CL OT/PT Chapter at Oct. 24 UFT Ex Bd

I'm done with anything Unity does anymore. Not joining the healthcare committee. Probably gonna leave contract. Waste of my time and validates them falsely. Done giving them credibility that they aren't partisan. I'm just sad. I'm sad that unity stooped this low. I really am. I was optimistic about working together to some extent. That died today..... Comment from activist who had intentions of working with Unity

Healthcare savings are nothing but givebacks.... James Eterno

United for Change defeated Unity by 500 votes in the high schools to elect the 7 high school reps to the ex bd. There are 20 thousand high school teachers.  They deserve a voice.
Autocrats threatened with losing control, always react with suppressing democracy which actually energizes the opposition. (See Iran).

If you can't find the time to put in two hours every two weeks at an Ex bd meeting, go find something else to do. 

Links to Oct. 24 Ex Bd meeting notes from Nick and James:

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Something broke last night at the UFT Ex Bd meeting, becoming reminiscent of the divide between Republicans and Democrats. We know who the Republicans are. Fundamentally, the UFT/Unity leadership has the mentality of the Republican party - privatizing, voter suppression and anti-democratic. Mitch Mulgrew.

I heard Amy [Arundell] yelling at the top of her lungs when we brought up the length of the president’s report [at the DA] and asking who makes the agenda "it’s our TRADITION," she yelled. Last night she gutted decades of tradition By cutting the question period •limiting it.... Her oath to loyalty over principle may now mean I’ve lost all respect for her unionism......we lose all respect for your unionism when oath to caucus loyalty comes before a modicum of principle. Limiting & silencing questions by rank and file because they make you uncomfortable... Educators of NYC
I admit I was sort of surprised that Amy, who many oppo people have had respect for in the past, led the way on limiting the question period, but I guess she has to demonstrate what a loyal foot soldier she is as her star has fallen somewhat in the leadership hierarchy. 

We watch positioning in the UFT along the lines people watched the Chinese Communist Party where Xi Jinping kept his back turned while his predecessor was escorted from the room. Unity should televise their next Party Congress. Will we see Mulgrew escorted from the room the same way?

Just watch the faces of the Unity Ex Bd and see either blank stares or frustration that they actually have to put up with questions and resos from those who disagree with them. You see, in Unity you don't question. You just follow orders. So actually seeing people ask questions must cause them some culture shock.
Last night a line in the sand of sorts was drawn. I wonder if they are taking this comment from Arthur Goldstein, who has been a Unity supporter for years:
Unity is not thinking ahead. This plan is exactly why they won this year by the lowest percentage ever, and exactly why they could lose the next election... The MLC Medicare Advantage Plan
More Democracy is threat to autocrats in Unity Caucus:
If UFC ever really gets it together - which is always problematical -- the retiree vote will move further away from Unity and once the healthcare loses take full effect, the membership will move away too. If I live to see the 2025 election, it should be interesting. If I don't, keep me informed anyway by posting comments on this blog.
The standard reaction of autocracies faced with threats to their control (think Lucashencko, Putin, Xi, Mulgrew) is to double down on repression. 
Democracy issues were front and center at the EB meeting last night.

Unity puts time limits on EB question period - expect further restrictions on democracy
Last night's UFT Ex Bd meeting lasted until 8:30. Over the past 3 years when the Ex Bd was composed of 100% Unity endorsed members, meetings that began at 6PM often ended at 6:30. No wonder the Unity crowd is pissed off at the United for Change's Magnificent 7 EB members who raise questions, resos, and non-Unity endorsed viewpoints. After all, over 15k people voted for UFC.

My guess is that this is a response to the questions raised exposing the fiction of UFT healthcare policy and the embarrassment at the often lame responses. Unity doesn't react well under the heat of fire. At the Delegate Assembly they can control the fire much more effectively. There were 114 people on the zoom and probably 75 in person. As more and more UFT members start attending and zooming into the Ex Bd, Unity has to find ways to restrict dialogue.

Now that they have cut the question period to 15 minutes, watch how Unity people, who rarely ask questions, start crowding the mic with planted softball questions that will elicit long filibuster responses to chew up the time.

Coming soon: Restrictions on time for resolutions just like they do at the DA - and they will flood the time with their own resos as they do at the DA.
Earlier in the meeting, when questions came up time and again asking what the UFT was doing about issues facing members such as non-union contractors replacing union people in certain positions, we heard how it was up to everyone in the UFT to do something -- like that absolves the leadership. Mike Sill said they were raising hell with the DOE -- the membership doesn't see that hell being raised and if true they need to see it. In some unions, privatizing union jobs would lead to stronger actions than yelling at DOE (supposedly).
See below the fold for the detailed reports below from James and Nick on the questions asked that Unity doesn't want to hear. 
Unity rejects call for minority reports at the DA
Nick Bacon presented a reso calling for minority reports at the DA so people get to hear alternate sides. Why is UFC entitled to some time at the DA? Because we got over 40% of the working teacher vote and over 15,000 member votes. Those voters chose UFC and deserve to have their voices heard. Naturally, Unity turned it down.
I'm including the full reso and debate from Nick's DA report below the fold.

The question for me is how UFC people will react. Pull back and say fuck it in terms of working on the ex bd and DA and focus organizing efforts elsewhere? Or come back and figure out ways to get their views out? I know from my own experience when I came back in 1994 to the DA after a 12 year absence and faced the same frustrations, I reacted by creating Ed Notes as a way to circumvent their control of meetings. And don't you know there were times when my back was turned they grabbed copies and dumped them in the garbage. One party authoritarian systems no matter where seem to operate the same way.
I spoke on healthcare on Mulgrew fictional FAQ
Speaking of privatizing, I've used my 3.5 minutes of speaking time last night (I needed 30 minutes) to accuse the Unity Caucus/UFT leadership of supporting the privatization of the only public health care option we have - Medicare and mocked the Mulgrew FAQ claiming MedAdv is just Medicare. I pointed out that traditional Medicare is run by a public agency, staffed by unionized civil service employees and is clearly non-profit while the health care companies, (mostly likely non-union) the UFT and MLC and the city are working with are privately managed, create enormous profits with stock buybacks, high ex salaries, and high admin costs. But we know their main path to profits is reduction of services. Mulgrew, in a response to my question at the RTC meeting last week asking how this glorious MedAdv plan unique to the world allowed these companies to make a profit, said it was "through admin costs." I pointed out that Medicare has 3% admin costs while they have 15%. How is that a good way to reduce costs? I also pointed out that inflation is being driven also by 24% rises in healthcare costs. "Are you getting 24% better health care?" Finally, I compared their arguments to the charter school claims to be public schools when we know they are totally private entities except they get public money. The UFT is like the Eva Moskowitz of the health care world. Fundamentally, the UFT/Unity leadership has the mentality of the Republican party - privatizing, voter suppression and anti-democratic.

Melissa Williams, who shocked Unity by winning the Chapter leadership of the OT/PT functional chapter spoke passionately on an issue related to the last meeting. Mulgrew has pointed to the billion dollars in savings coming from keeping us from using the ER too much. As one retiree told me - the message is just die. UFT Death panels anyone?

From Nick's Notes:
Melissa Williams: Unpacking what happened here on Oct. 3, a resolution on privatizing medicare, presented by Nick Bacon. Ilona Nanay brought up a personal story about her mother dying on Medicare Advantage. Was rudely interrupted by A. Williams and then Vincent Gaglione said you have to ‘know what you are buying.’ In 2015, we voted in favor of the NY health act. You can individually be trustful of Medicare Advantage and still let the resolution go to the DA. I have a lot of ideas of why you won’t let it go to the floor. When opposition critiques democracy, this is what we have in mind – the events on Oct 3. Cutting my mic when I was speaking at a negotiation meeting. The discussion on healthcare. Making jokes such as ‘teachers love to go to the doctor’ doesn’t land well on teachers with chronic illnesses. Many of us have lost family and loved ones. Many of us have seen how broken the healthcare system is. Take care on how you emphatically vote down things that can send us into traumatic responses. We are not naïve, we have thought of these issues and come to decisions.
Leroy Barr reports on rejection of UFC election complaints
I'm to tired to address this one now. Actually, I was sick and tired of dealing with the complaint issue which has taken way too much of my time. But as I am pointing out, their reactions of not admitting to even one transgression annoys me enough to keep me going. Leroy seemed upset we were critical of them for not addressing the issue within 90 days and blamed the summer. Yes we already went to the department of labor before we got the full reports - because the time limit was running out on Oct. 6. So it was either go then or lose the opportunity.

Below are the questions asked as reported by Nick and James, the reso on giving UFC time for a minority report and the comments from educators of NYC.

Questions Period:

Ibeth Mejia: Have some questions about administrative code. Right now the code has us pay up to the HIP HMO rate. Makes sense that Medicare pays 80 percent and the other rates are 20 percent. So the plans pay nearly as much as a plan paying $400.

Joe Usatch: Retirees do not pay a premium for their healthcare benefits. They do pay for their prescription drug plan. Medicare eligible-retirees pay for Medicare Part B, that comes out of their SS checks. But they receive reimbursement from the city. I think they pay $151.30.

Ibeth Mejia: Why are the unions saying we need to change 12-126 when the HIP rate is a pretty good cap? Also the term ‘mutual agreement’ is there for negotiating.

Joe Usatch: Response missed.

Lydia Howrilka: Shelby Abrams has retired, congratulations. Priscilla Castro is now being identified as the interim para chapter chair. Why wasn’t there an election?

LeRoy: there will be an election. This is an interim acting.

Mike Schirtzer: question on behalf of my school. Not title 1. Fully staffed. In compliance. Correct number of SPED teachers, which we haven’t had since the pandemic. But no budget for per session or per diem. PTA is buying the paper. Had the same situation 5 years ago. Howy Shore (sp?) went to consultation. Our FSF has come down by 10 grand. Don’t have a single dollar for extra stuff. Where’s the money that the government gave us – we saw it last year, but was supposed to be 3 years? None of the stuff we had last year. Anything you can do or we can do for a non-title 1 school to have some extra money.

Mike Sill: City keeps talking about the cliff that we’re on if we use it to pay for people’s full time salaries since it will eventually dry up. But extracurriculars are so enriching – and yet the first thing to be cut. I would be happy to make myself available to you or anyone else listening to look at your budget and determine which budgets are the best to bring to the city to see what can be done.

Mike Schirtzer: We’re fine with opening our books. But what we do?

Mike Sill: CSA is saying exactly what the UFT is saying, which is that these budget cuts are awful.

Ronnie Almonte: Queston about data and the NY health act. Where are the so-called numbers that leadership has said that says the NY health act will be too expensive for the City? Only numbers come from the pro-charter Manhattan Institute – at least those are the only numbers I’ve seen.

Joe Usatch: Can’t speak to it, but I’ve heard discussions in MLC…

Nick Bacon: Friend called MAP and never heard back. Twice. This person went through a traumatic experience and no one was there. Kept being told he’d hear back and never did.

LeRoy Barr: (paraphrasing, I was standing): MAP is doing great, but of course we want to help the member, but please email me.

Nick Bacon: It sounds like we’re losing GHI, and people are reporting not being able to find providers as it is. They call the people listed on the website and it turns out they aren’t GHI providers. It also sounds like the plan is to cut costs further for whatever the new premium free plan(s) are. Might this get even worse?

Joe: National psych. Crisis. There aren’t enough providers there to support. Tina and her office are doing their best. Yes, when you go to the Emblem site they go to Beacon. This has been brought up at MLC – the website needs to be refreshed. It’s being discussed. Send me an email.

Raul Garcia: Tina and I have been working closely. One of the issues we have is identifying providers – Hello Hero. Hard to get counseling no matter where you are. This came up for our membership. Easy for anyone in our chapter. Tina has a connection, and you can be connected. So MAP is doing an amazing job. We have to take care of ourselves before we take care of others.

Ilona Nanay: Why were the other 3 people here to speak not called on?

LeRoy Barr: we didn’t know they were here. If people email me, I put them on a list and they. No one spoke up. That ten minutes has passed, so they can’t present anymore.

Ilona Nanay: It’s an intimidating space, maybe that’s why. Circling back to the IC coach. There are a lot of non-union contractors also working in similar jobs. How are we going to fight for our members?

Mike Sill: We saw what we saw to be a new crisis – a new development in this crisis last week. Stuff about status changing on the excess site. Never seen this before. Some sites excessed, some not. I’m confused now. Sometimes we give information, without necessarily endorsing management’s position. Resent the accusation. There was basically a paperwork error changing statuses and this was done without telling anyone. We’re still waiting for responses, but we’re still fighting to make sure you aren’t really excessed.

Lydia Howrilka: Over 50 teachers have come to me. It has also been brought to our attention that probationary teachers who have either been discontinued from probationary service or denied certification of completion of probation are being held up in getting a teaching position in a different DOE school, even if some new principal wants them.  The problem relates to lengthy delays on the part of DOE’s Office of Personnel Investigation (OPI) in conducting background investigations and issuing clearances pursuant to Chancellor’s Regulation C-105.  What will the UFT do in terms of looking into the situation and speeding up the process?

Mike Sill: When a person is discontinued and wants to get hired, if that’s all that’s there, a person can have a problem code. It sounds scary. In some cases is. But all it means is you can’t automatically go on to the Table of Organization on a school. So if they get discontinued and go to a different district or a different license area, they can still be hired. But high schools are a citywide district, so if you’re discontinued in a license area at a Manhattan high school you can’t go to a Bronx high school in the same license. Otherwise, there is an ‘acknowledgement’ protocol, where a principal acknowledges they see a problem code and want to be hired anyways. A principal will sometimes see that problem code and blame it on the system just to avoid difficult conversations. But often enough people are hired.

Amy Arundell: The union has done things – we’ve taken the calls, walked people through the process, called principals on behalf of people. Etc. I’ve done it personally as have many of me colleagues. So I understand the frustration as a parent of a public school student, this system does have a responsibility to do background checks to make sure people will be hired who should be. We have responsibilities to people who have been discontinued and students in this system.

Ilona Nanay: Hear the passion in your voices. But I’m curious about your take on non-union people coming into coach.

Mike Sill: That is of concern to us. We have seen postings that look like original IC postings and DOE has said they aren’t looking to work with e.g. CUNY. We will continue to raise debate.

Liz Perez: We are the UFT and we will do it together.

Theresa Bellow: Prekindergarden SPED teacher. Oct 24th. Have 3k and prek mixed together, and still haven’t received occupational or physical therapy. The schedules are full. Any guidance?

Mary Jo Genese: You can fill out a SPED complaint as can the parent. Parent can also email me directly.

Karen Alford: Thanks Theresa to take advocacy into her own hands. Recent article in the post that an educrat was accused of misleading on prek staffing issues. I’ll be sure to bring up your issue in my next meetings.

Question Period

Ibeth Mejia-Why do retirees pay any premiums for healthcare.

Joe Ustach: Retirees do not pay a premium for their healthcare plan. They pay but they get it reimbursed.

Second question: Why are we calling for a change in 12-126 when the 1992 agreement protects us with very strong language that says the city and MLC must AGREE on any healthcare changes?

Answer: We have to change the code to keep choice.

Lydia Howrilka: Why has there been no para chapter leader election yet?

Leroy Barr Answer: There is an IA Chapter Leader and there will be an election soon.

Mike Schirtzer: Where is the federal money going as we have no budget for extras like clubs and other extracurricular activities?

Mike Sill answers DOE says federal money will dry up. Extracurricular activities shouldn't be cut. We will look at your school's budget. Where is that federal money for things like enrichment.

Followup: What can we do? We are fine with opening up our books. What do we do with Freshmen who need transition to high schools?

Sill Answer: Money is hiding at City Hall.

Ronnie Almonte: Question about data and NY Health Act. Mulgrew concern is with the numbers. Where are those numbers? Can we see the data? FAQ links to article with pro charter Manhattan Institute. Where are the numbers that show the New York Health Act is something we shouldn't support? Where are objective numbers?

Joe Ustach from Welfare Fund answers that there were discussions at the MLC. There was questionable language in the bill. Questions about step therapies and colonoscopies. This will bankrupt NYS and put us in a financial crisis. This needs to be done on the national level. No checks and balances. He will go back and try to dig up more information.

Nick Bacon: Question on how many teachers are calling Member Assistance Program sfor help and not hearing back?

Leroy Barr answers that he wants to know who has not gotten a call back. Email Leroy but we must acknowledge the great work MAP has done. 

Followup from Nick: Given that GHI may not be the provider, is this problem going to get solved?

Joe Ustach: National crisis with psych assistance. Not enough providers in the nation to support the amount of people who need help. We have partnered with Hello Hero to meet needs. Emblem Health outsources to someone. It is being talked about, discussed, and pushed. We are triaging as we do the health benefit exploration we are doing. Conversations with Emblem about what we are speaking about. Email

Raul Garcia Social Worker Chapter Leader says there is an issue with identifying providers. We had a presentation from Hello Heros. Tina has a connection with them. They are doing an amazing job. 

Ilona Nanay: Thanks rank and filers who came out to speak. Why other members who came to speak did not speak during open mic?

Leroy Barr says he only received three emails. They could have raised their hands if they were in the house. That time has passed. They did not raise their hands when it was time.

Ilona says it is an intimidating space. What are the next steps for the early childhood instructional coaches? They are being replaced by non-union people.

Michael Sill answers that these questions were asked last Thursday. We saw a new crisis last week. They are being shown as in excess but not on other sites. There was confusion. Person wanted to see vacancies throughout the system. DOE taking snapshots of vacancies to show what is available but they used Excess Staff Selection System wrong. Why didn't they tell anybody? They should have shown us this. We wanted to send communication out. They are in excess so they shouldn't be going to the same workplace.  We still didn't hear about vacancies. This is not the year for this reorganization to go in place. Still waiting for DOE response. We will fight to see you don't end up in excess.

Lydia Howrilka: Over 50 teachers came to her were discontinued or didn't get tenured and are being held back from getting other positions. They have to go through OPI. They wait 3-4 weeks while waiting for a position. What will UFT do to move this along?

Mike Sill answers that OPI investigations and nominations. If someone is discontinued, they get a problem code which means a person can't go on automatically to a school's Table of Organization. High schools are a citywide district. Can't get hired in the same district, even if it is a new borough. Acknowledgement protocol goes in. Principal can hire someone then. Principals will sometimes see problem code and then blames system. Principals sometimes try to avoid difficult conversations.  We can move this with the DOE if principal wants to hire someone. 

Amy Arundell adds that District Reps call people and we provide openings for Excess Staff Selection Process. We help people who are discontinued. 

Ilona follows up with CUNY people coming in for coaching. What is UFT doing?

Mike Sill answers and then someone says we are all the UFT.

Pre K teacher with 3k and PreK class and no services yet for this year. If I fill out a sped complaint, am I burning bridges with the administration?

Mary Jo Genese says you or parent can file sped complaint. You can file anonymously.

Karen Alford adds something else. 


Resolution on Creating a Minority Report

Whereas, both caucuses/coalitions running slates in the 2022 UFT election (Unity and United for Change) won executive board seats in the 2022 UFT election.

Whereas, the United for Change slate received the votes of 15,092 UFT members and thus represents 34% of all voting members, including 42% of voting in-service teachers, and the majority of voting high school teachers.

Whereas, recently, UFT officers elected on the Unity slate or their delegates have given official presentations and published official union literature that give one-sided takes on issues that were major sources of contention between Unity and United for Change during the election, and which continue to be major sources of contention in debates held during executive board meetings and delegate assemblies (most notably, healthcare). 

Whereas these presentations, publications, and ‘FAQs,’ presented via official uft channels, omit the critical minority viewpoint from the opposition party, United for Change.

Whereas, it is common for democratic deliberative bodies to include space/time for seat-holding opposition parties to deliver minority reports, both orally and in written form. 

Be it resolved that, for the duration of their terms, the seat-holding members elected under United for Change be allowed to give or delegate a minority report at delegate assemblies, not to exceed 10 minutes.

Be it resolved that these 10 minutes will be taken from the period of time that the UFT president gives his report, rather than from the questions or resolutions periods.

Be it resolved, that in any official communications pertaining to issues that were contested during the election or which are still being contested along caucus lines in executive board meetings, the seat holding members of the opposition caucus will be allowed to publish a minority point of view through the same official UFT channels. 

Name missed: This is political.

Lamar Hughes: Can’t find the logic in cutting the president’s report. Director of the welfare fund also spoke. Don’t think we should vote for all.

Ilona Nanay: On democracy – this could be a mechanism where you actually hear dissenting views.

Lydia Howrilka: Rise in favor – it’s antiunion to silence people just because you disagree with their viewpoints. Let us share our opinions.

Leo Gordon: Rises in opposition. Enough adequate space to bring grievances to bring whatever questions they have. We are careful to not represent for our caucus. Our presentation on FAQs. There was a caucus that tried to bring a resolution to reduce the president’s report and it was already defeated.

Ed Calamia: Rise in favor. It has been said that this would divide the union. There are already divisions in the union. The people who voted for UFC are also members of the union. For us to work through those divisions, we have to do so in a principled way where all sides come out and actually debate. We can talk about what the delegate assemblies should be – but with presidents reports so long? Do we pass a resolution commemorating the goodness of apple pie and then go home? We have to let the opinions percolate up from the union?

Mike Schirtzer: Point of process. In terms of this resolution and even the election reports, if we don’t have the information beforehand, it’s hard to vote and decide. Can these things – written things, be sent out?

LeRoy Barr: Only need 7 signatures. Can also just be 5 (point by Shulman). We don’t want to limit the ability to send out.

Mike Sill: Stand in opposition. Let’s be real – we just had a 70+ UFC election complaint.

Rashad: calls question.

Defeated loudly.

From Educators of NYC
I heard Amy [Arundel] yelling at the top of her lungs when we brought up the length of the president’s report and asking who makes the agenda

it’s our TRADITION

Last night she gutted decades of tradition

By cutting the question period

•limiting it
Her oath to loyalty over principle may now mean I’ve lost all respect for her unionism

we lose all respect for your unionism when oath to caucus loyalty comes before a modicum of principle. Limiting & silencing questions by rank and file because they make you uncomfortable is 
 🤮 You gutted decades of “tradition” simply to assert dominance at EXBD. Sad.


Anonymous said...

"Leroy seemed upset we were critical of them for not addressing the issue within 90 days and blamed the summer."

LeRoy is ALWAYS upset when criticized and there is a lot to criticize and such has been the case for a good long while.

Bronx ATR said...

I haven’t read any of the blogs for over a year and I have to ask one thing after reading yours - are you surprised by any of this? (Quoting Arthur is profoundly ironic.) One of the many things that Unity greatly fears is the truth spoken aloud in their temple of lies and that truth spreading to the great mass of completely oblivious working teachers. Retirees will have save themselves from the UFT and thus save the UFT from itself. Fascinating reading, cheers.

ed notes online said...

You raise an important point about telling the truth and spreading it. Unity did this I think because of hybrid ex bd meetings that are open to more eyes. They can live with criticism if it’s behind closed doors. But when it leaks out they need to put a blanket on it.