Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Regressive and Passive UFT Pales Behind Aggressive and Progressive Unions: Is it the Leadership or Membership?

It's the UFT/Unity Leadership, stupid.

This is basic premise of this post and was stimulated by attending the SAG/AFTRA/AWG picket line with thousands from a variety of unions that make the UFT/Unity leadership look like ghosts.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

In the midst of thousands from active unions, seeing the sparse turnout from the UFT - they looked mostly like staffers - got me to thinking, a very dangerous thing.
The sense of militancy on that picket line was inspiring.
I started thinking of the strike fever around the nation and the contracts being won and realize there's no way our UFT leadership wanted our rank and file to witness this strike militancy.
I heard a UAW worker on a podcast recently talking about how demoralized workers were under the old leadership which bargained away their rights -- asking them to vote for bad contracts and how the new leadership has invigorated the rank and file.

United Auto Workers members voted overwhelmingly to approve a strike for their 150,000 members. If the CEOs of the Big Three auto companies―Ford, GM, and Stellantis―don’t offer fair terms, the workers will have no choice but to turn this Hot Labor Summer into a Crisp Labor Autumn.....More Perfect Union interviewed UAW workers―find out what they’re striking for, then send a message of solidarity to the CEOs of the Big Three!

The same thing in the Teamsters which voted in a new and aggressive leadership.The membership had voted down a recent contract but the leadership over ruled them. Sound familiar? Think of the overturning of the OT/PT NO vote. I wrote:

 Leadership counts:

From Detroit to Hollywood, New Union Leaders Take a Harder Line Pushed by angry members, unions representing actors, autoworkers and UPS employees are becoming increasingly assertive under new leadership.

  • New Leaders: Several prominent unions, representing groups from automobile workers to actors, are now in the hands of outspoken leaders who have taken their membership to the brink of high-stakes labor stoppages — or beyond.
  • United Auto Workers: Shawn Fain, the new U.A.W. president, has vowed to be tougher than his predecessors in contract talks with the Detroit automakers. His initial demands attach big numbers to that promise.

The UFT outspoken leader focuses on attacking our health plan, critical voices in the union, and to sell an inferior contract. 
Then I read articles about how in a little over a decade the newly elected leadership in the Chicago Teachers Union has turned what was a moribund union into the most progressive and dynamic political force in Chicago. The same with the UTLA. And then fought down nausea thinking of the 60+ year reign of our own Unity Caucus in the UFT. You know what Unity shills say to this? We still have it better. It we do it is because of the militant strikes and contracts won over 50 years ago.

LEVER WEEKLY: What’s Behind Chicago’s Great Upsurge?

 ...an insurgent socialist-led caucus, the Caucus of Rank and File Educators, had taken over the union in 2010. By 2012, the teachers’ union — then under the leadership of the late visionary Karen Lewis — had launched a strike in response to the state legislature passing a bill that curtailed teachers’ bargaining power and right to strike.

100 Days In, Brandon Johnson Is Steadily Shifting Chicago’s Political Terrain - In These Times

I followed the Chicago story since I connected with the late George Schmidt in 1999 and that union was dead in the water in 2009. Look at how things changed with the new leadership elected in 2010? In over a decade they've made up a hell of a lot of ground, and in times when teacher unions have come under massive attack.

So I make the case that only new, progressive leadership will change the UFT from a passive to an aggressive union. 


The big issue is whether such a nascent potential leadership currently exists like it did in LA and Chicago? So far I haven't seen anything comparable to CORE or the coalition in UTLA here in NYC with similar outreach. After all, this is a much bigger enchilada with 1800 schools. (George Schmidt used to tell me Chicago is roughly equivalent to Brooklyn -- in the 2010 election there were about 675 schools). Also neither city had a Unity-like machine or anything like a lock on the union that Unity has had. (In the 2010 Chicago election, there were 5 caucuses running and a runoff). Unity has set up an undemocratic fire wall that other unions don't have.

There will be no change in UFT leadership until there is a powerful counter-force to the Unity machine with deep outreach into the schools, especially elementary and middle schools. 

So far building such a force is a work in progress and progress has been very sketchy with too many caucuses doing their own organizing. The founding of the coalition, United for Change for last year's UFT election was a step forward. I don't believe any one caucus can win power in the UFT. So the UFC coalition is the only way forward and Unity will do anything to disrupt its progress, including divide and conquer. 

Unity may be passive when it comes to dealing with the DOE and principals but when it comes to threats to its power from opposing forces, Unity becomes a tiger.

So what's the verdict? Is the UFT leadership saddled with a membership -- New York's meekest as my late friend used to lament? 

Or is the rank and file saddled with a leadership that only shows militancy when its own members who challenge it?

Monday, August 21, 2023

Mulgrew/Weingarten/Unity Healthcare Lies and misinformation exposed by Daily News Op Ed and Marianne

The MLC has never bargained for or represented retirees, and surely not for me as a non-union City Council employee.... Gary Altman, lawyer for City Council for 38 years.

Monday, August 21, 2023

This Altman piece is a dagger Mulgrew's heart. But just like Trumpies back him no matter what the crimes, watch the Unity Caucus hacks stay on the gravy train and shill away for whatever crap Mulgrew makes up. What's coming next is an assault on working member healthcare to make up the money not being saved by screwing retirees. He will try to put working members against retirees -- it's the rich boomers, not UFT leadership that's screwing you.

Here's the quick skinny before you watch the videos. Mulgrew, Garrido are lying openly about the retiree healthcare issue and are exposed in this op ed by Gary Altman, who was a legal Council on the City Council for 38 years and goes back through the history of how the UFT testified more than once to the very opposite of what they are claiming now. Marianne reads the op ed below with emphasis. 

Mulgrew has been claiming the City Council can't pass bill 1099 which would offer retirees a choice of healthcare options.

Altman points to previous legislation to protect healthcare via City Council and not once was there a claim that it hurts collective bargaining. Somehow Mulgrew has been dragging the Taylor Law into this issue, claiming that by passing 1099 they violate the law. Utter bullshit.

Gary Altman

 Marianne reads the entire op ed.


Here's the link to the article, which is behind a paywall.

And here she exposes DC 37 Henry Garrido.



EONYC chimes in

🚨 This is not a drill. @dc37 and leadership is making their threat to the rank and file PLAIN. 🚨 Now that their BIG LIES are being dismantled concerning any amendments hurting collective bargaining, the talking points are more honest and bare in their threat to active city workers. And even as their actions are ruled illegal in court… There is another nuclear campaign afoot to scare members to act on lobbying city council members to not protect retiree choice of healthcare. Translation: They are saying if we can’t screw retirees … we will need to screw you, active city workers. And yet the choice is not binary for our city unions. It’s not force retirees into MAP or we will need to agree with the city to charge healthcare premiums on city workers. Henry, Michael, and Alan know this. They want to path of least resistance. And the one that preserves their welfare fund patronage system. There are various paths and solutions that help all workers and keep costs manageable. And QUALITY, PREMIUM-FREE.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Unity: Caucus of Knifing Membership in the Back - A parody of the Unity Caucus blog

Did you see this twisted, deceitful, ad hominem attack on the Unity website? It deserves an exposé showing what fucking liars and manipulators they are.  ... UFT retiree Sheila

It is such a mess Norm! I've been thinking a lot about your posts over the years since this all went down. Mulgrew refused to do anything for us and proposed the revote himself! The whole thing felt like begging for a plea deal .... Rank and file therapist no associated with opposition

Melissa Williams, Uncensored: "The game is rigged. It was rigged for two years. We are only now seeing the full force of the abuse of power in a union with one-party rule."

Melissa Williams, shares her experience as chapter leader for occupational and physical therapists under Michael Mulgrew's Unity - the partisan patronage caucus machine that controls UFT leadership.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Unity Caucus is the gift that just keeps giving. It has used its blog to engage in an assault of OT/PT Chapter leader Melissa Williams. Her is her eloquent response explaining the rational for resigning from a chapter that has been divided and undemined by the Unity leadership is below the parody.

The above comment from someone I've known since she was in high school and has never expressed political views on the UFT shows how their assault is backfiring.

Their recent post was exactly as Sheila characterized it: twisted, deceitful, fucking liars and manipulators.

Their attacks remind me of how the actions of Trump help energize the base of the Dems to vote against him. Sheila's reaction is an example. I predict that the Unity attacks on the opposition will have the same effect in future elections because the overwhelming majority of members either don't give a crap about them because they have not led and in fact have allowed working conditions to deteriorate. So their bombast calls for this type of parody - and is so easy to do. I may start a blog just to parody Unity. I will do a deep dive on Melissa's response soon. Note she is visiting family in Korea. I suggested she visit North Korea to get advice on bringing democracy to the One party Unity control of the UFT.


Unity, Caucus of Knifing OT/PT Chapter in the Back

When Unity caucus members were elected to ‘lead’ the UFT they promised to organize with an eye on the 2023 contract.

In the year that has followed the only “organizing” they’ve done is a “vote yes” campaign, with little foresight or strategy. They told people to vote yes and will turn their back on their members when the actual repercussions and consequences of the contract became apparent. Makes one wonder if these so called "leaders" were amplifying the voices of their members or driving their own Unity Caucus agenda regardless of their union members needs. 

Case in point:

60% of the OT/PT chapter voted NO on the 2023 contract, as they did in the 2018 contract, rejecting their Unity Chapter Leader's urging them to vote yes. Makes you wonder. Those who cannot lead, don't.

In the 2021 chapter election, the OT/PT voted down this misleadership and elected new leadership.

Nurses, Audiologists, and Supervisors of Nurses and Therapists demanded to be separated from the OT/PT chapter in 2018 and were promised that would be done at an Executive Board meeting in late 2018 but that was not done. They voted yes for the contract but their votes were drowned out by the no votes of the OT/PT chapter. Why were they part of the bargaining unit with the much larger OT/PT chapter in the first place and why was their request to be separated ignored then? Where was democracy for them? 

For the 2023 contract, the demands of nurses, audiologists, and supervisors of nurses and therapists found themselves still in the same bargaining unit and facing the same undemocratic process as they did in 2018. Where is the democracy and who is at fault? Clearly, those in Unity Caucus, who claim to lead but cannot do so.

In 2018, there was not a revote but a proper renegotiation of the contract with the DOE which was voted up by the OT/PT chapter in February 2019.

Yet, in 2023, the UFT leadership found an excuse not to renegotiate but instead to overturn the democratic vote of the OT/PT chapter, an unprecedented action. Where was the democracy in that?

What is the difference between 2018 and 2023? The loss of control by Unity of the chapter leadership and a two year assault on the leadership of the chapter by the Unity machine with the goal of using this revote to recapture control of the OT/PT chapter by unprecedented attacks on the current chapter leader.

Unity claims they have received over 1,500 emails from rank and file members of the OT/PT Chapter and other UFT liaisons expressing that they were sold a fake bill of goods from their chapter ‘leadership’. They claim the members of the Chapter, have asked for a revote. Unity has offered no proof other than some expressions of disgruntlement from the minority of YES voters and non-voters. Their virulent campaign will probably result in may of those who voted NO originally to refuse to honor the revote campaign by voting again, thus giving the disgruntled minority their opportunity to reverse a landslide democratic vote.

At the first sign of rough waters Mulgrew abandoned the OT/PT members and is asking them to vote again for the same contract 60% rejected just a month ago.

Seeing that their agenda was not the will of the chapter, UFT President Michael Mulgrew has thrown a tantrum and blamed chapter leader Melissa Williams, taken their renegotiation ball, and gone home by asking for a revote.

Case in point 2:

When Unity led an assault on retiree health care, with thousands of complaints from retirees being forced out of Medicare and into a privatized Medicare, first Emblem and then Aetna, Advantage plan, those pleas were not only ignored, but mocked as fake news. Yet so far a judge has supported the retirees and these nefarious plans to reduce retiree healthcare as a way to save the city money, have come to naught.

Makes one wonder – what’s more important to those in these in the leadership: the members or undermining or the interests of the leadership of our union in kowtowing to the DOE and Mayor Adams? 

Makes one wonder – is this how the leadership will handle dealing with management and the membership of our union should they be entrusted with leading it in the future? What will they do when the stakes are higher? Surely they don’t believe that it’s their way or the highway? What kind of democracy is that?

Those who can, lead.

Leadership isn’t for the fragile. 



See below the break for the Unity twisted, deceitful, ad hominem attack. I hope I exposed what fucking liars and  manipulators they are.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Is UFT a union or management? Media sides with OT/PT NO voters, Upcoming Repercussions, OT/PT Chapter Leader Resigns as do some Ex Bd members

Reporters are either members of a union or want to be members of a union and the younger ones especially are more sympathetic to labor and less to management and the astute ones who have covered this and the healthcare issue see through the UFT/Unity haze of "pretend" unionism when they function as management.
“I blame (Michael) Mulgrew for flat out saying there would be no return to negotiations, then mentioning the possibility of a “revote” encouraging the email campaign, refusing to work with our chapter leadership and negotiating committee on getting a better contract, and then using the emails that he helped to whip up to justify a do-over,” Loebel wrote. Both Loebel and Greenberg predict a “yes” vote on the contract because some may now feel a sense of hopelessness about their demands being unmet and dismissed by Mulgrew and the city. Loebel said there might also be a low turnout from those who already voted to reject the contract because many are still be on summer vacation.....AMNY
  • Despite its storied history, UFT has now solidified its current form as little more than a corporate HR department... Chad Hamilton, CH LDr and recently resigned from Unity Caucus
  • SO in other words, the beatings will continue till you do what Mulgrew wants. I say Decertify from the UFT and join NYSNA. Mulgrew has shown time and again he is NOT a leader... Marianne Pizzitola

 Both comments above left on New Action blog:

Mulgrew Overturns OT/PT ‘No’ Vote – Revote Scheduled This Month

Main takeaways below: The press turns against UFT leadership, UFT is more management than a union



Physical and occupational therapists are now on their own in seeking a better bargaining agreement, over their union president’s objections.

  Aug 8, 2023


The United Federation of Teachers is holding a revote this month on a contract for mostly occupational and physical therapists — and splitting the bargaining unit to push through a deal that they already voted down.--Daily News


The union’s plans for a revote were met with swift backlash from chapter leadership. No other unit is being directed to vote again. “I am resigning from the chapter leader position,” Chapter Leader Melissa Williams told The News. “I refuse to give one more minute of my time to an organization that would run a revote on a contract where two-thirds of therapists voted no.” “I believe in democracy and labor unionism,” she added. “This is neither.”....DN,

Wednesday, August 9, 2023
Repercussions? For every subsequent vote on contracts and elections, the losing side will gather hundreds of people to lodge complaints and use this as precedent. Watch next year's chapter elections, especially in the functional chapters. When Unity loses they will find any excuse to call for a revote, while non-Unity complaints will be ignored.
Today I'm meeting some of my Retiree Advocate colleagues not far from the UFT to enter the names of the thousands of UFT members who have returned our petition calling for a member vote before healthcare changes are made to any contract. They have been coming in my trains, planes, automobiles and carrier pigeons.
“I’ve never had a chapter with this many people who are adamantly against the decision of their executive board,” Mulgrew comment on the millions of OT/PT who want a revote on the contract.
Really? Mulgrew claims he is holding a revote on a rejected contract because he heard from a whole load of OT/PTs who where part of the minority 40% who voted YES. And he is even listening to the people who forgot to vote (they were either busy doing their hair or may not have even received a ballot). He is not listening to the 1k people who voted NO and are calling for a renegotiation. Do you think he will do the same to the, at this point, 10K UFT members who signed our petition? When we hit 20k and demand he follow the constitution and hold a referendum, watch Mulgrew turn a deaf ear. Or challenge the process. (If you haven't signed yet help us get to 20k which will be fun as we watch them scramble to challenge every signature - https://hcpetition.educators.nyc/).
So, Wow. Sympathetic media articles to OT/PT voices in The City, Chalkbeat, the Daily News and who knows where else this revote story goes? (We will do our best to spread the word). I loved this headline from Claudia Irizarry Aponte in The City last week:

School Therapists Want a Better Contract Deal. The UFT Wants Them to Give Up.

Union president Michael Mulgrew is pressing occupational and physical therapists to vote again on a deal they rejected — while some members demand new negotiations with City Hall instead.

Surrender is the operating word in UFT/Unityland.
Mulgrew promised this vote will be the final one because he knows he has so soiled the process and split the chapter (a tactic of management - as I point out below), a yes vote is assured, especially given the disgust by the over 60% original NO voters, some of whom will boycott the revote because they feel the very act of voting again is legitimizing the process.
Melissa Williams' resignation as CL may look like a Unity win - on the surface. But long-term this is a big loss for the UFT/Unity leadership. While they remove a thorn in their side and are set to recapture control of the OT/PT functional chapter, or what will be left of it, the long-term repercussions will not do Unity any good. I hear whispers of leaving the union or calls for disaffiliation from the UFT and reaching out to other unions - like the Teamsters, which also had its now defeated leadership over turn a NO contract vote and end up being replaced by a more militant leadership that gained 95% membership willingness to strike which led to an historic contract. Mulgrew and Unity mocked those who even mentioned a strike and "won" the pattern, which is a loss.
Claudia Irizarry Aponte has been the best reporter on the issue (Last week in The City and Chalkbeat: School therapists want a better contract deal. The UFT wants them to give up). From her current article in The City, published yesterday:
...two other therapist chapter executive board members, Loretta Conroy and Beth Salzman, told THE CITY they intend to resign from their leadership positions.

Williams added, referring to a law that bars public employees from going on strike, that “instead of inoculating us against fear of a prolonged fight and congratulating us about exercising the only leverage we have under the Taylor Law, a NO vote, the wheels of an unprecedented revote were already set in motion.” 

Salzman and Conroy, who said they plan to submit their resignations imminently, were skeptical of Mulgrew’s pledge to honor the results of the chapter’s do-over election, no matter what they are.

“If he’s going to honor the revote, no matter what they are, why wouldn’t he honor the original vote?” Salzman said. “He’s basically telling everybody who originally voted ‘Well, sorry, we don’t trust that you made the right decision the first time and you’re gonna have to do it again." Conroy said she is “resigning in complete disgust.”

UFT/Unity hates media exposure of their bullshit. Just Looka the headline in mainstream media Daily News - with prominent quotes from oppo voices. "UNDEMOCRATIC, HEAVY-HANDED."
Recent articles are loaded with comments from those who opposed the contract, with nary a hint of PR from the UFT. Reporters are paying attention. It looks like reporters are members of unions too and can spot the bullshit. And for a rare time, highlighting the POV of the workers, not the management of the UFT -- and make no mistake -- UFT management barely functions as a union.
Today's lesson: UFT/Unity leadership functions like management, not a union.
I was struck by this segment from Sam Seder Majority Report on Monday on how management gets to manipulate events regarding unions to stop picketing. Or to make things look like they are negotiating when they really aren't. It starts at 1:50:00 and listen until 2:04:50 for a great discussion on union and management.
Mangement wants to sow dissension -
In every labor dispute, management tries to create splits between union members. He points to unions needing to fight off attempts to split them and staying united.
So what has the UFT leadership done? It created a split in the one functional chapter that resisted, further cementing its standing as "management with a faux labor veneer."

And so much management behavior seemed so UFT/Unity. Sam shows hotel workers on strike being beaten by security guards. Does that remind you of the Tom Murphy screaming at us for holding up a small sign at an RTC meeting and calling for security who tried to push an 80-year old out of the hall?
One guy points out they are trying to turn their work into gig work. View the UFT/Management addition of the 9th "optional" period for OT/PT despite the negotiating committee telling them in advance this was not acceptable as an opening to future gig work. 
One of Sam's lessons is that leaks always come from management and reporters often don't want to offend management because they want to keep access. And he points out that an article on labor issues that doesn't present the labor side is clearly leaning to management. I know from some reporters, that UFT media people have threatened some of them with loss of access if they give critical voices in the UFT too much press. So kudos to the reporters who are listening to the voices of the OT/PTs and kudos to Melissa for her ability to get their ears and to get them to listen to her and others.

As I said earlier: Reporters are either members of a union or want to be members of a union and the younger ones especially are more sympathetic to labor and less to management and the astute ones who have covered this and the healthcare issue see through the UFT/Unity haze of "pretend" unionism when they function as management.



 Previous articles:

 Below the break is the Daily News article.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

James Eterno Recovery Fund, Sunday Night Replay of Interview James did with Daniel on WBAI, Talk out of School

Jamaica High School - James Eterno Against Closure -- Dec. 17, 2009 - 700+ Protested Against New York City's Attempt to Shut Down Jamaica High School, Queens. James Eterno, the UFT (teachers' union) Chapter Leader & member of ICE-UFT speaks to outraged crowd.


In May of 2023, James Eterno, beloved retired educator and union activist, suffered a major stroke. James is recovering and currently needs 24-hour care.

James has been a consummate fighter for his family, his union family and the City of New York.
He will prevail in this latest fight!

Please help the Eternos during this challenging time. Pray for us and donate.

Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023

The news came on a Saturday morning in early May as I was having breakfast with Arthur who had just handed me hundreds of signatures for the healthcare petition. I even told Arthur, as the phone rang with James' name, "This is James calling to bug me to have an ICE meeting." But it was Camille with the devastating news.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Dissecting UFT/UNITY's Dirty War Against Therapists and their chapter leader- Machinations re: OT/PT Contract Rejection have deeper implications

Unity/UFT will not willingly give up power even if the opposition wins an election. Recent events in the OT/PT contract vote controversy help make the point, but there's precedence in UFT history. Too much is at stake in that NYC Unity Caucus through sheer size control the state (NYSUT) and national (AFT) unions and are a core component of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party structure. A loss by Unity would be cataclysmic for certain forces way beyond the UFT. The current attack on the OT/PT chapter leadership is part of an overall plan to prevent insurgencies in the UFT from gaining a deep foothold, and part of a longstanding practice by Unity since its very foundation.

Is the UFT leadership anti-union by refusing to bargain?

Can an oppressive union leadership that refuses to bargain be viewed as anti-union? Well, when UFT/Unity refuses to bargain and calls for a revote on a contract that was voted down overwhelmingly, what else can you call it? I saw connections between the Starbucks fairly successful campaign to stamp out the fledgling union before it takes root as I read in an article in the NYT.
By attacking the non-Unity leadership of the chapter, Unity wants to stamp out the roots of a fledgling movement in the functional chapters where the NO vote in some units (paras for instance) was higher than ever. Signs of erosion in the functionals are an existential threat to Unity control of the UFT.

When stories sympathetic to Unity opponents hit the press, panic sets in at UFTHQ. Claudia's article appeared in The City and Chalkbeat. A few excerpts.

Concerns about salary gaps between therapists and teachers are a major source of contention, according to chapter leaders and rank-and-file members who spoke with THE CITY. The gap is considerable: by January, a therapist with a master’s degree and 10 years of experience would earn $17,463 less annually than a teacher with the same credentials and experience, Chalkbeat reported, citing UFT documents. 

“We are trying to get the city and DOE to come back to the bargaining table,” he asserted in the letter even as he highlighted demands from members for an immediate revote. 

That position puts him at odds with the therapists’ leadership: By a vote of 5-1 with one abstention last week, their executive board decided against a revote.

In a meeting with the therapists’ chapter on Wednesday afternoon, Mulgrew made repeated attempts to persuade members to give up on pursuing a stronger contract and to persuade them to join in a revote, claiming he had heard from 1,200 members who had demanded a new tally. Melissa Williams, the therapists’ chapter leader, asked Mulgrew for guidance on where and how the union’s constitution lays out rules for revotes.

Mulgrew also urged members to give up on trying to get a better deal. “The city isn’t interested in getting back to the bargaining table right now,” he said, noting that other legal maneuvers could potentially take years. “I can’t express this clear enough to all of you. We don’t have an avenue to get back to the bargaining table right now.”

Rank-and-file workers and union activists who spoke with THE CITY, however, said that union leadership should not entertain the prospect of a revote, but press on in trying to strike a better bargain with Adams.

Pursuing a revote of a certified election, Williams said, “calls into question the integrity of the entire process.

“I just feel bad for the people who took the time to vote,” she said in an interview with THE CITY. “I trusted that this vote had integrity, now I see that it’s wrong. It feels like a moral injury, to be honest.”

A revote without fresh contract talks was never entertained as an option after the chapter rejected the agreement in 2018, three chapter members and two union activists told THE CITY.

One reason for the standoff now with Mulgrew, activists say, is that the union’s constitution does not lay out a procedure for renegotiating rejected contracts. 

“The chapter voted, and the chapter voted pretty much 2-to-1 against the contract, and to go to a revote sort of negates that process,” said chapter member and DOE physical therapist Chris Griffin, who noted she’s “not a huge ‘no’ advocate.” 

Discussion of a revote “undermines that process, which was done according to established rules,” she added.

“His job is to negotiate on our behalf, not to justify the city’s stance. So I feel like he’s using that to scare us into voting yes.”

Daniel Alicea, a teacher and UFT activist, told THE CITY that the union’s leadership should convene a constitutional convention that clearly lays out a renegotiation process for rejected contracts so that “things aren’t done arbitrarily and haphazardly.”

“If we acquiesce here, this can happen in local chapter elections, it can happen in our next general election — that if they’re not happy with the result, they will find some other means.”

Friday, Aug. 4, 2023

When the OT/PT situation broke out in the press in a favorable way for the chapter leadership, it must have sent shivers down the spines of UFT/Unity leadership. And Chalkbeat reprinted, so it got double coverage. Unity can live with the blogs even if they annoy them. But reaching the media with a headline like School therapists want a better contract deal. The UFT wants them to give up is a hit and very bad PR. When a union repeatedly behaves like management, it is a hit. Remember the recent Hoffa regime in the Teamsters reversed a NO vote and eventually lost control of the union to a more militant group which last week won an historical contract. The lesson? Unity must go.

Some of my pals, more recent to the opposition, think the UFT leadership/Unity Caucus' dirty war against the elected leadership of the UFT therapist's chapter (occupational and physical - OT/PT) opened a new chapter in the Unity Caucus war against democracy in the UFT. In some ways this is true and opens the gates to call for a revote on a regular basis. Like if we got hundreds of the 25% of the teachers who voted NO on the last contract or those who never voted or who didn't even get a ballot called for a revote, would Mulgrew listen? You don't have to answer that.

I have the signatures of thousands of UFT members calling for a referendum on health care changes --- do you think Mulgrew would hear those voices? Again, you don't have to answer, but if you haven't signed yet, UFT MEMBERS FOR PREMIUM-FREE QUALITY HEALTHCARE.
To me and other long-haulers, the undemocratic actions of the Unity power block are of no surprise. Here is some historical analysis.
As an over 50 year opponent of Unity, I view their reaction to the OT/PT contract rejection as a pattern of response we see in almost all oppressive regimes, from the national to the club level. The desire to hold onto power at all costs requires a strong response to any real and perceived threat. The obsession with holding onto power in autocratic institutions often borders on paranoia. Unity Caucus/UFT, in control of the UFT since its inception, has been a model for the mantra of "hold onto power at all costs." 

Unity rarely loses, but when they do...
Now, Unity doesn't lose on levels above school chapter leaders very often, but when they do they try to coopt their opponents and if that doesn't work, try to undermine them and if a real threat, they engage in open warfare. Let me repeat, co-optation is their first move and often works. Note there are former oppo people in Unity, many with union jobs. I recently chronicled a few incidents from the past (Unity History of Trying to Cheat a Vote), including the call for a new election when the New Action Coalition's Mike Shulman shocked them by winning the high school VP election in 1985. After 15K in legal fees, Shulman gave in and agreed to a re-vote - and won by a bigger margin. How much fun would it be to see that happen if the hold an OT/PT re-vote? 
More pertinent was how they treated Shulman when he won the revote many months later by isolating him and focusing on making sure he would not win the next election and then by changing the rules to allow all UFT members, not just high school, to vote for VPs.
Another case was the repeated victory for Manhattan HS District Rep in the 90s for a decade by Bruce Markens, a known critic of Unity. I spoke to Bruce the other day and he talked about how he spent a decade as Dist Rep in isolation with even people who liked and respected him, fearing retribution from the leadership. 
One story: When I became CL in 1994 I went to the weekend training and hung out with Bruce and another guy who we met who had just been elected, defeating a Unity Caucus heavy hitter. The three of us had a great time. Years later he told me the story that he had hopes of getting into Unity and never realized Bruce and I were personna non-grata and he was being observed.  He said his hanging with us that weekend delayed his getting into Unity by years, till he proved his loyalty. 
But Norm, Unity has not protested when they continuously lose the 7 high school exec bd seats, some Unity hack will maintain. The reason is that 7 out of 100 Ex bd is an annoyance, but not an existential threat to their control, though if you read through the reports on Ed Notes, ICE and New Action, you can see a level of escalating attacks, especially on Nick Bacon based on the fear and loathing inside Unity toward a defector.

When Shulman won one of the 12 officers positions in Adcom, THAT was a threat. What a current  trigger would be, aside from the oppo winning the entire election, I can't say. If the oppo won all three divisions - elem, ms, hs - it would still only have 23 out of 100 EB seats. There are less than 70k teachers (19k HS, 12K MS, 36k elem) There are 60 thousand retirees in the RTC functional chapter and another roughly 50K in the other functional chapters, with about 27k in the para unit. Thus, the overall teacher vote is a minority. So even if Unity lost that vote, they could still control the union through the retiree, para and other functional votes. 
So maybe you are seeing why even the loss of a relatively small (3K) OT/PT functional chapter becomes a threat. OT/PT for a Fair Contract group that leads the chapter has been associated with the oppo United for Change. Unity wants them stamped out - in case their revolt spreads to other functional units.
The retiree and functional (non-teacher) chapter vote
Winning the retiree vote would be an existential threat because the winner gets 300 delegates and that would change the balance of power in the DA.  But Retiree Advocate has never gotten more than 30% of the vote. Can it close the gap and even win in next year's chapter elections? With the healthcare issue roiling the waters, it is not impossible. I can imagine the geniuses at Unity working on a plan of action for that election. Would they even allow RA to have a chance to win? Look for all sorts of shenanigans to come, including figuring out some way to break up the 60K retiree unit in a way to give them continued control. How they do that I can't imagine. But RA better be vigilant. 

The retiree chapter is lumped into the functional chapters. The other existential threat to Unity is losing control of crucial functional chapters, like the other big one, the paras. In a recent by-election to replace officers who retired, Unity pulled a bunch of stuff, including refusing to reveal details of the outcome. I wrote about the election in April:  Corruption @UFT in Para Election: Full-time patronnage jobs -- Unity is more interested in Unity than its membership.
Assault on Melissa Williams is part of a long-term plan
So view the assault on Melissa  in the context of the above. In the 2021 chapter election, Melissa Williams defeated the Unity Caucus chapter leader who had urged a YES vote on the 2018 contract. The chapter rebuffed him by a 2/3 NO vote. It was the first time a functional chapter in the UFT elected a majority of non-Unity on the exec bd. By her very election, Melissa had become a threat, unless she could be co-opted into Unity, which if you spend 5 minutes with Melissa, you know is impossible. Unity knew it too, so they went with their pattern: View her as the enemy and do whatever possible to undermine her and make sure she would not win the next election.
Unity put Middle School VP Rich Mantel as overseer of Melissa, who was forced to operate under restrictions (see Shulman case above). I saw some comments by Unity hacks that all functional chapters are under the same restrictions. But I'd bet none of the Unity CLs were in the same position as Melissa was. Again, think Shulman and Markens as models. It was clear from the very beginning of Melissa's term in office (I was hearing stories back in Sept. 2021) that the goal of Unity was to recapture the chapter and make Melissa's job more difficult.

When it came time for contract negotiations, naturally there was a committee of OT/PT people involved. - supposedly.  A major demand was for parity of pay or some progress in that direction. I don't believe the leadership had any intent on filling this demand, even if they paid lip service to it.
The dreaded 9th period

One thing Melissa and the chapter exec bd made clear was that the demands by the DOE to add a non-forced 9th period to the day was taboo because it would allow the DOE to cut costs by not having to hire enough people, overwork them and allow principals to pressure younger, less secure therapists into doing the extra work.

To demonstrate how much bullshit the so-called "democratic" negotiation committees were, Melissa didn't find out about the 9th period until the June 13 emergency meetings a few hours after the announcement of the contract.
I had to meet Melissa outside 52 Broadway at around 2:30 and she was still in shock after finding out about the 9th period a short while before. UFT/Unity leaders had totally ignored a key demand of the chapter and went along with the DOE 9th period demand, almost in spite. This was the emergency negotiating committee meeting, which was followed by the emergency Ex Bd meeting at 3, followed by the emergency DA meeting at 4. Nick Bacon was attacked viciously by Unity hacks for daring to ask to actually read the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and was called a liar by Mulgrew when Nick insisted it wasn't online yet (it wasn't).

On the overall contract, Unity engaged in misinformation, scare tactics and threats in a VOTE YES campaign, which worked for teachers and other units - except for the therapists, who again rejected the contract by a big margin. Imagine the shock. Now Unity had to do the work and go back to the bargaining table like they did in 2018. Or did they? They had a problem.
They had to prove that the NO vote was a mistake. If they went back to the table and got even a few crumbs of a better contract as they did in 2018, it would counter their threats. [What Happened in 2018 When they Rejected the contract? Leaders negotiated a new one but in 2023 calling for a Revote].

So the plan was not to go back to the table and blame the city. Of course normal unions would call the city out for not negotiating. But we are not in a normal union. In the UFT, when the leadership loses a vote and sees a way to undermine a non-Unity chapter leader, even if it takes destroying the chapter as a unit, there is another way:  Incite those who voted YES along with the other 3 members of an ill-conceived bargaining unit that included 41 supervisors of the therapists, all of whom voted YES, to call for a revote by blaming Melissa for "misleading" them. And oh, the whining from those who didn't vote - they were probably doing their hair.

Now we saw one vicious attack full of half truths and lies coming out of the anonymous Unity Caucus blob: No is Not Enough – OT/PTs Deserve Real Leadership .

I even used their graphic. (When's the threat coming from their lawyers Stroock and Stroock?)

Mulgrew claimed:

“I’ve never had a chapter with this many people who are adamantly against the decision of their executive board,” Mulgrew comment on the millions of OT/PT who want a revote on the contract.

This comment was laugh out loud. 

Mulgrew hasn't listened to the thousands of retirees who protested their removal from Medicare into Mulgrewcare. 

We have almost 10K sigs calling for a referendum on health care changes to our contract. We need another 10 K to at least get to the stage of demanding a vote, which of course the leadership will content. So much for listening to members.

When they are facing a threat to their hold on power, they will take things to the extreme. Observers of Unity think this revote campaign may have put them over the edge. I noticed over the weekend one prominent member of Unity has already quit the caucus. And don't forget, Nick Bacon, a prominent voice in the opposition also quit Unity two years ago over the issue of democracy. And though never in the caucus, Daniel Alicea, another prominent oppo, did support them in 2019. Whereas Unity often co-opt oppo people, we are seeing somewhat of a reversal as even retiree Unity people have been telling us they will not revote Unity. This came in to RA the other day:
Retirees are really angry,  I saw this in the UFT retiree classes that I took this past spring. People who I would never expect to badmouth Mulgrew and his crew and the undemocratic way the leadership (Unity) has been operating, were absolutely furious and clear about who was responsible for the mess we were in.
Unity and Chinese Communist Party run neck and neck for longest tenure
I've watched Unity Caucus operate for over 50 years and have witnessed a steady erosion of democracy, including increasing restrictions and manipulations of the delegate assembly, exec bd, and contracts - how they are negotiated, how they are voted on, and how we can observe vote counts. Over the decades I've seen their attempts to go after chapter leaders or delegates at schools who they felt were having an impact at the DA (me included back in the 70s). See how every oppressive governing body anywhere in the world functions at real and perceived threats. Being in power since the early 60s makes them one of the longest running power blocks in current history, second to the Chinese Communist Party which came to power in 1949. But even in China, we've seen more churn than in Unity over the decades (4 UFT presidents since 1964). China even had a form of term limits for the leadership, until the current leader, who must have been jealous of the way Unity has kept control over 60 years. 

Would-be oppressors around the world should come to 52 Broadway to learn how to maintain control.

Some further reading

Nick compares the recent nurses' victory in breaking the pattern with the OT/PT demands for parity with pedagogues: A Union Finally Beats the Pattern. Plus a few more of his recent posts at New Action.

A few comments:
“Why did I vote in the first place if my vote won’t count because some people are upset with the results? I will never vote again if they are allowed to overturn an election.
This is ridiculous! This was certified by arbitration.” ...OT/PT therapist
While Mulgrew readily admits to his fiduciary responsibility to represent the OT/PT bargaining unit, likely due to his legal need to do so, he conveys in every other respect that he has no intention of getting the job done.... Nick Bacon, HS Ex Bd, UFC/NewAction

Dangerous precedent set: Is it time for the 25% teachers who voted NO on the teacher contract to demand a revote due to rushed vote, botched mailings, schools whose lost votes were never counted - (known oppo schools "lost" in the mail?), Unity propaganda campaign with misinformation on contract, etc.?

Important Support needed for OTPT For A FAIR Contract - UFC

Unity History of Trying to Cheat a Vote, Mulgrew to OT/PTs: "Everyone loooooves democracy until I don't get my way?" - EONYC 

In the 1985 UFT election, New Action Coalition of 3 caucuses (TAC, New Directions, Coalition of School Workers) high school candidate Michael Shulman won the election over Unity George Altomare who had occupied that position since the inception of the UFT by getting the majority of high school teacher votes. (At that time in UFT divisional VP elections only the teachers in that division voted, not the entire membership). Unity protested the election and called for a revote over some trivial matter and forced NAC into a court case that ultimately cost them $15,000. As the costs mounted, NAC relented and agreed to a revote - note the comparison to what Unity is trying to do with the PT/OT - it's part of their playbook).

The good news was that Shulman won by a much bigger margin. The bad news is that Unity had refused to let him take office as the elected HS rep for 6 months or more, held ADCOM meetings without him and we can just imagine the other crap to undermine him and thus he never had the opportunity to fully engage in the job. (Similar stuff has been done to the OT/PT CL). Then he narrowly lost the next election. 
The even more bad news: Unity decided to never let this situation arise again and in 1994 changed the constitution to in effect disenfranchise the high school (and other divisions) by taking their right to chose their VP away by alllowing the entire UFT, including retirees, to vote for their VPs. Consider the 2016 and 2022 UFT elections where James Eterno and Jonathan Halabi respectively got more votes for VP out of the high schools than Janella Hinds, who occupies the position.

To remind you attacks on opposition are not new, here is James Eterno -  June 2007 - ICE Blog, and the comments where I share my bleak view of the UFT and its future - 16 years ago:

For the last two months, we have arrived at Delegate Assembly meetings and received Unity Caucus literature attacking ICE. What's going on here? The election results were counted in March. Why the non stop smear campaign?... - Memo to Unity Caucus: