Thursday, October 26, 2023

Amy-Gate - Mejia Speech, Winners (Ibeth Mejia) and Losers (Mulgrew and Unity hacks) at UFT Oct. 23 Ex bd

We must stick to the union principles of solidarity, honesty, open democratic discussion, and service to the students of this city. Let our union lead in embracing differences of opinion and mending relationships among our members and the communities we serve. ... Amy Arundell was instrumental in helping us with trying to resolve the issue of micromanagement in our school (Aviation HS). Unfortunately, she is no longer working with us which has left us members feeling; as if we are being let down by our Union. As a result, I am here to remind the Union leadership that the fight for respect, trust, professionalism, and teacher autonomy is raging on, therefore, it is up to the UFT’s leadership to help the members of the rank and file who are feeling the brunt of the abuse in our school, to get the support their need from the UFT... Ibeth Mejia, CL Aviation HS, UFT Ex Bd member at Oct. 23 UFT Ex bd
Mulgrew responded in his president’s report with a monologue I would frankly characterize as despicable. While customarily vague, the president specified in no uncertain terms that he thought supporters of Amy Arundell’s reinstatement were actually doing the work of those who want to destroy the union – a claim so ridiculous and divisive that it led to audible gasps... Nick's Notes

Aviation HS teachers organize:


Thursday, October 26, 2023

I'm heading down to DC tomorrow for the NPE conference where we will see heavyweights in the battle for public ed like Ravitch, Bowman, and even Randi. And today is the first retiree chapter meeting at 52 at 1PM. Retiree Advocate will be there. And then I hear Mulgrew will be at a district meeting in Brooklyn where he can freely attack his critics as being terrorists. Some protesters may even show up. Not me - I'm going to stay in Manhattan and eat me some rice pudding.

If you missed my previous story on AmyGate: 

There was much ado about something at Monday's Executive Board UFT meeting, loaded with issues that bear further examination, which I will attempt in upcoming blog posts. Highlights were the Mulgrew speech accusing internal critics of practically being anti-union right wing terrorists and LeRoy Barr's attempt to cool the waters with a heartfelt speech. But I would ask LeRoy if he wants more unity (we know he wants more UNITY) give the other views in the UFT some space at the Delegate Assembly as a start. Ironically, it is Unity and the other views who show the most consistent interest in the union and we have that in common. Give them some space.

Nick has the NAC on the meeting with detailed notes and analysis, a must read.

Aviation HS CL and UFC Ex Bd member Ibeth Mejia was a star at with a dynamic speech she gave under the district reports section of the meeting. After Mulgrew's diatribe, she gently asked him to stay for the district reports but he said he had another meeting, only to be seen scurrying out of the alley next to 52 by Arthur and Jonathan. I was joking about what Randi would have done in the same situation. She would have stopped to chat for 20 minutes and maybe take them to coffee. That's her political skills. Looking forward to seeing her this weekend.

Ibeth had a lot to say and the ten minute opening period she knew would be broken up by numerous speakers and the question period time did not fit, so she chose the district report time to make her speech. We handed out hard copies as she spoke in defense of Amy Arundell but she took things beyond Amy's situation.

Ibeth has worked over the years with James and Camille Eterno (the king and queen of UFT dissidents, both having run against Mulgrew) for a long time before she became CL of Aviation HS. When the UFT wouldn't or couldn't help out with issues that arose in previous schools, James came to the rescue.

I know that James' incapacitation has hurt Ibeth deeply and she visits James once a week. Soon after becoming CL she filed a major grievance over 6th period pay where the DOE has been getting away with underpaying teachers for decades, while the UFT did nothing about it. James helped out. Ibeth won the grievance. James and I reported the story.

The DOE claimed the UFT was basically permitting the DOE to ignore the Contract for over 20 years which made the grievance completely untimely now since the UFT never challenged the Department of Education's policy of improperly paying coverage pay rather than the higher sixth-period rate. The DOE reasoned that the they had established a policy that the Union had accepted..

The UFT/Unity leadership in a nutshell.
Ibeth led the school recently into a rally/protest with tee-shirts supporting each other (see above). The UFT barely reported the story. 
At first I was surprised Ibeth was speaking up for Amy as their relationship had not always been great -- I even noticed a heated exchange after an Ex Bd meeting early this year, but they smoothed things out.

Ibeth had asked for Amy to be allowed to work with Aviation on these important issues even while she was in limbo and was turned down by UFT leaders.
Here is Ibeth's entire speech - interrupted by LeRoy Barr at one point - Nick has the entire exchange in his notes.

I rise as chapter leader at Aviation High School and as an elected representative of the high school teachers in New York City on the UFT Executive Committee. 
As you know, this union has often been at the center of this country’s political controversies. We can take pride in the fact that all the great issues of the day come right into our classrooms and our job is to deal with them with our humanism and compassion. We should also not forget a dark period in our union's history of blacklists and loyalty oaths. 
Therefore, let us not govern ourselves by the passions of today but with our wisdom and integrity. 
We do not ignore, nor do we exclude. We teach. 
Therefore, we must stick to the union principles of solidarity, honesty, open democratic discussion, and service to the students of this city. Let our union lead in embracing differences of opinion and mending relationships among our members and the communities we serve. 
As President of this union, I think you will be supported in that endeavor. I also want to say that we are one UFT; and what affects our members at Aviation H.S. affects us across the NYC public schools. 
Amy Arundell was instrumental in helping us with trying to resolve the issue of micromanagement in our school. Unfortunately, she is no longer working with us which has left us members feeling; as if we are being let down by our Union. As a result, I am here to remind the Union leadership that the fight for respect, trust, professionalism, and teacher autonomy is raging on, therefore, it is up to the UFT’s leadership to help the members of the rank and file who are feeling the brunt of the abuse in our school, to get the support their need from the UFT. 
Over the past few weeks there has been much discussion among UFT members as to how to respond to these events. Therefore we have decided to present the matter to this body . 
Let me state that this issue goes beyond Amy. There are 3 big issues that need to be addressed. 
The first is freedom of speech within our union. I have spoken to high school history teachers who have expressed the worry that if minority views are suppressed within the teachers’ union, where does the classroom teacher stand when discussing controversial topics. 
The second is union democracy. Although procedurally, the UFT President may re-assign an appointed official, it shouldn’t happen without consultation of this body, nor without the consultation of the elected chapter leaders with whom the borough president works. 
The third issue is the changes that we are trying to initiate on the related problems of micromanagement, supervisory intimidation, workload, teacher evaluation and student assessment systems that work for neither teacher nor student. These are not caucus issues. It is something we all have a stake in. 
At Aviation, we were hoping, with our chapter solidarity, and working with the district rep and the borough president, that on the issue of micromanagement, we could set in motion a process that would improve teaching and learning. We would like to know what happens with that important struggle after this reassignment
Look for some live blogging from the NPE conference over the weekend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Important information: November is the month to change health plans plus a wealth of Medicare Health Information from Julie Woodward

Healthcare has been on the minds of all UFTers recently with changes coming to working members and with the recent victories of retirees to hold onto their traditional medicare along with the DOE coverage of 20% with seniorcare.

This is a message from Julie Woodward, a former middle school chapter leader and one of the founders of ICE/UFT caucus. Working with Julie in ICE was a pleasure as she was often meticulous in her efforts. Julie retired years ago and became an expert on health care coverage for Medicare eligible seniors and has developed workshops to assist seniors in making health insurance decisions. With November being the opportunity to change plans she asked me to share this message with links to workshops she runs for seniors plus a wide range of information in general.

November’s the month when retirees can change their current city plan to another one (find the forms you need on the Office of Labor Relations (OLR) website here), but I don’t expect anyone is going to swap GHI Sr Care for one of the other ones, like Emblem’s HIP VIP HMO. Clearly most people are really afraid of those prior authorizations in the advantage plans, plus the provider networks. As it happens, I have to change plans this year myself, because of the cost of a single drug. 

But Medicare has other quirky things in it that are truly confounding, like what falls under Part, B, D, or what is not covered at all. There’s all kinds of rules for things. Here is a short list of examples. There are many more.
  • when you can get into a rehab facility, 
  • how skilled nursing works at home, 
  • acupuncture restrictions, 
  • opt-out vs. non-participating doctors, 
  • which parts of Medicare cover different aspects of chemo or diabetes, 
  • how hospice works, and so forth.
So I asked Norm if he’d tell people about Demystifying Medicare, a comprehensive and, believe it or not, upbeat workshop I’ve been doing for almost a decade many times a year all around Westchester. So much of what I cover is useful in understanding how our retiree City plans work. Of course ours are negotiated plans, but they're structurally so similar to what’s available in the open market, that sometimes its just good to take a deeper dive into what’s going on out there. And it keeps changing each year, as the industry gets more aggressive and shareholders in these companies want more of the pie. 

For many years the group I’m involved with has steeped themselves in this stuff and make it our responsibility to help people navigate the system. We were originally trained by the by the Medicare Rights Center in NYC and are now in partnership with the Westchester Library System and the county’s Office of Sr Programs and Services. We’re all HIICAP-certified, unaffiliated counselors, and our presentations and individual counseling (in-person or through a hotline) are all free. 

Demystifying Medicare has also been online since the first year of COVID, when the live events were cancelled.  People can listen to segments at home while they follow a .pdf with pictures of all the old-school displays I use in the in-person programs. (No PowerPoints, I hate those.) There are also links for handouts and a list of all scheduled in-person workshops.  

Contact information for Julie or free individual counseling certified by NY State:


Monday, October 23, 2023

Unity Caucus and Amy-Gate -Reasons for Arundell removal as UFT Queens Borough Rep

When you're a Unity You're a Unity all the way From your first cigarette To your last dyin' day.... Opening line from my newly created Unity Caucus theme song

Unity Caucus is an enemy, but not all Unity Caucus members are enemies


Monday, Oct. 23, 2023

A major story in the UFT has been the recent removal of Queens borough rep Amy Arundell, popular with Queens chapter leaders and some rank and file, and even within Unity. There have been petitions going around in her favor calling for due process for her, and even a few Unity people have offered support for Amy. Also a lot of misinformation, some spread by anonymous anti-Amy forces in Unity. Claims she did stuff at the DA last week are not true -- she may have said some things at the rehearsal for the DA before the meeting. Yes, darlings, Mulgrew has to hold a rehearsal for a meeting. There has been some longer term friction between Amy and Mulgrew, as I chronicle below.

Some think AmyGate will cause a deep split in Unity. We hear there is a level of anti-Mulgrew sentiment due to his leadership style, but a revolt? You will see further down my treatise on how Unity operates like any totalitarian regime to keep control.

The story floating around: the reason for her removal is that she retweeted some tweets sympathetic to Palestinians. 

I don't think that is the real reason, and that all you have to do is look at the pro-Amy reaction from all ends - internal, oppo and rank and file - for the real reason: her widespread popularity and the contrast to so many other in UFT staff positions, from middle management (District Reps) and up. But if it was something she said, a number of Jews who are pro-Israel back her. I hear she called for the UFT reso to be more fair to both sides. She also did a bunch of tweets and someone told me she was called out on similar tweets the last time there was friction in Gaza. 

I've also seen that Amy, based on her public posts, may be an Irish nationalist and looks at things from the perspective of the brutal British occupation of Ireland. Not a bad point and as a history nerd and a liberal Jew who sees Israeli brutalism under a semi-fascist leadership, I get it.

I think removing Amy from real contact with regular people is the goal and she will probably be buried in a desk job at a good salary - if she accepts that. But if she takes an active part in pro-Amy protests --- well that may be a different story. She would have to go- and then she becomes an outside instead of an inside threat if she should begin to work with the opposition.

At today's Oct. 23 UFT Ex Bd, there may be an organized response in favor of Amy by some - shocking - Unity people, maybe even some from a middle level. Or maybe not --- assume there is a leadership attempt to stop or dampen it down. 

I'm giving up a free dinner for volunteers at the elegant Palm house at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden today to go to this meeting so LeRoy better come up with a meal for the ages.

MORE caucus has called for people to come out to show support for Amy. Is this focus on Amy or the perception she was sympathetic to Palestinians? Call it a draw.

There is genuine support for Amy from people she has assisted. People who have been helped.

Some current and former oppo chapter leader constituents like former ex bd Arthur Goldstein and current Ex Bd member Ibeth Mejia - 

Here are a few of Arthur's posts:

"It’s been a remarkable week for UFT Unity. In addition to the ongoing shitshow of their massive health care sellout (coming soon to rank and file near you), they’ve added what I’m going to call Amygate. In fairness, Amy Arundell is not an elected official. However, by following the virtually unprecedented technique of actually doing her job, she’s earned a lot of loyalty and faith from those of us who do the nuts and bolts of union work."

Going beyond the Amy story and into a deeper analysis of how the UFT works - or doesn't work.

A just released new prototype video podcast from Arthur and Jonathan Halabi about Amy's work, a must watch two-parter and pro-Amy but also a deep analysis of what's going wrong at the UFT/Unity operation. And how Amy's removal is endemic to an tottering empire.

Arthur and me talk

Part 1 goes into the work Amy has done:  

In part 2 they talk about Amy as a true blue Unity supporter, even pushing bad policy - like healthcare. But contrast her as one who serves members, in contrast to Unity hacks who only push their line and do little else. So it's an honest assessment. And they do a segment on the middle east issue - smart and informative.

I'm so looking forward to this type of smart talk, so missing from the UFT - even from the opposition. I've talked about doing something like this for years with some union pals, so glad to see it done.

Both Arthur and Jonathan, newly retired, have joined Retiree Advocate in its campaign to win the retired chapter election this spring.

Other views, not all favorable to Amy

There has been a battle of sorts on the ICE listserve between some oppo people who feel Amy should be supported by the oppo and others who feel a Unity is a Unity all the way. If James were able to, I'm not sure where he'd stand as he has been critical of her in the past, but I think he would stand against Unity tyranny. Camille too - we just spoke.

One retired Queens chapter leader said:

Amy did and does not forget the caucus she chose and the one to which she continues to belong. With the todo being made by the Queens chapter leaders and beyond why would Mulgrew reinstate her? Mulgrew has not changed his mind or actions regarding what he has done to retirees and continues to do to active rank and file members. 

Does anyone think that oppo people supporting Amy actually helps her with the paranoid Unity leadership? But if the goal is organizing opposition to Mulgrew, this is a hot button topic and may impact the 2025 UFT elections - if the oppo can get it together. 

Some think a broad Unity internal revolution will be sparked by AmyGate. I think not - When You're Unity, You're Unity all the way.....

Let me repeat why I don't believe Amy was removed because of her comments on Israel or Palestine: The Mulgrew team using that as an excuse to remove someone who was way more popular with members than Mulgrew. 

Totalitarian regimes have a paranoid fear of palace coups. And there are a number of Unity staffers licking their chops to be her permanent replacement (Middle School VP Rich Mantel is the temp). Some Unity whisperers are calling them back stabbers. Borough reps are amongst the highest paid UFT staffers with over 200K a year.

Based on my own pure speculation and analysis of the leadership dynamic (I am, after all, a 53 year expert on Unity Caucus), Amy was perceived as an internal threat by some in the leadership. There's a backstory to this going back years but I'm not going there until I get some confirmation from Unity sources.But here are a few instances:

Calling for due process for Amy even though she is an at will employee 

There is no union for UFT employees. Why? Because Shanker set it up that way. The real genius of Al Shanker. (When people in Chicago took over they were saddled with sludge from the old guard and called me to ask how Shanker did it.)

I have an idea - let's start a drive to unionize UFT staff - We can call the union Unity Hacks United - UHU.

Leadership has the right to move people around and has done so all the time, borough reps in particular. 

Seriously, there is a case to make for calling for UFT staff to be unionized not only to protect them but to protect the membership in a sense from having their advocates removed for, well, being their advocates.

This is not the first time. Debbie Poulos was removed as Brooklyn rep in July 2016 because she was supposedly too aggressive in battling principals, violating some possible hands off agreement between the UFT and CSA. Ed Notes broke the story on the eve of the July 2016 AFT convention.

Ironically, just a few days before, Debbie was hanging out with oppo people at an event in Washington and even put on a MORE shirt as a joke. I joked that she was at risk. The kiss of death.

Debbie has landed on her feet at 52 and is considered a go to person by insiders and outsiders. Will Amy face the same "fate"?

More background of possible longer term friction: 

Amy was moved from 52 Broadway into the Queens office c. 2016 or 17 which we (oppo) viewed as a way to get her out of HQ  at the time where she was very visible. That was my take, which may be wrong.

A too aggressive woman for Mulgrew to handle? She was saddled with the Queens staff - some viewed the Queen boro office pre-Amy as the worst in the city - so maybe she was sent in to clean up the mess, as Howie Schoor was once moved from Brooklyn boro head (Debbie's predecessor and mentor) to clean up the mess at the Bronx office. And he supposedly did.

Amy showed more aggression on fighting closing schools and opposing charters and some mixed results on fighting abusive principals. She got involved in getting rid of the Forest Hills principal after some pressure from below. But give her credit for responding. My big argument with Amy over the years was her claim the union will respond when the staff organizes and I said the union must get involved more deeply in weakly organized schools.

And I hear some of the former dead wood in that office came somewhat to life under her. I was especially impressed by her battle to keep two Rockaway schools open, one of them Daniel Alicea's school and he was quite appreciative and even supported Unity in the 2019 election, partly due to the work Amy did. Let's say relations were not quite as good when Daniel went over to the oppo. I was at rallies at the schools and Amy brought out the Queens staff to show support.

She was more knowledgeable and aggressive as borough rep than others and that may have created pressure on them and they may not be happy being compared unfavorably to Amy by rank and file. Possibly Knives were out for her beyond Mulgrew. I'm thinking of one particular Borough which shall remain nameless. But that's just speculation on my part.

Amy was removed as UFT election chair for the 2022 elections

Things went very smoothly when I worked with Amy when she was in charge of UFT elections in 2013, 16 and she also handled the 2019 -- she was so totally open to requests for information and the observation process at vote counts was much more open that it's become.

But for the 2022 election Manhattan Borough president Carl Cambria was put in charge and no one knows why that was taken away from Amy - unless she didn't want to do it any more. But we viewed this removal as a slight from Mulgrew.

There has been some sense that the top level leadership is 3 men in a room and there has possibly been some resentment by some woman and maybe that seeped out.

So, there is some pre-history of friction between Mulgrew and Amy and some proof to my thesis that her comments on the middle east were just an excuse to remove her. But

Amy is a loyal Unity soldier, but also willing to speak her mind

In reality, this is paranoia and Amy is not a real threat, as she has shown intense loyalty to the leadership with especially harsh comments directed at the opposition, both on social media and in person at Ex Bd meetings over the past few years (see some of Nick's reports for details), even fraying some personal relationships she had with some oppo people. I know I was pissed. But is it possible she has been viewed as being too cozy with some people in the oppo? As you will see below, too much contact with opposition can prove to be fatal. But her contact was part of her job. Maybe pulling her back into 52 will allow them to keep an eye on her. 

Knowing Amy, I suspect she's willing to call bullshit internally when she sees it and that may have grated.

Now, I am not a suspect in being too close to Amy, though we did hug at the labor day parade --- oh, shit, maybe it's my fault.

But I have no personal relationship with Amy and have never spoken to her outside of union business and occasional chiding each other, but she's been my go to person when I need to help someone. I do like her personally and have had arguments with her and she is sharp and not easy to argue with. "Smart and efficient" are the words often used to describe her. Would the oppo love to have someone with her skills on their side? No worries, it won't happen if she is placed in another position. But if dismissed -- well, who knows? Some oppo don't care for her but I'd welcome her. I'd bet she could make the same effective arguments for our side. I know some people are dreaming of a fusion election ticket of ex-Unity with UFC. Dream on. No one is giving up their Unity gravy train gig unless forced to.

The mechanisms of internal Unity control, modeled on totalitarian parties.

Someone will accuse me of red-baiting, but Unity controls are modeled on the leftist political factions the early leaders of the UFT were involved in --- they morphed from anti-Stalin Trotskyists to straight out anti-communists, but they learned how factions in control manage to keep control -- an often faux democratic centralism where a supposed democratic process leads to a vote and everyone comes on board to support the majority - a vote often rigged from the top faction. Unity operates under a mock internal democratic system. Think Stalinism. Except for the executions - though I think of bringing a food taster to ex bd.

They use isolation or outright purges and an internal spy network. In 50 years of work in the oppo, I came in contact with many factions and saw how these groups operate. The word Independent in ICE means "not under the control of an outside party." ICE was founded on the principal of the anti-Unity. No controls at all.

Totalitarian regimes hold onto power not only by suppressing and controlling outside opposition - UFT top-down structure and control of the DA, but also by establishing mechanisms to prevent internal rogue elements from organizing and building opposition - making sure there is no coup by purging potential opponents or striking fear into them.

Unity Caucus falls into this category. Unity may be a failure in many areas, but in managing itself internally and controlling the membership and the opposition (even buying some off with jobs), their over 60 year reign is proof of their success in keeping revolts down.

There is no Unity democracy internally - orders are handed down from the top. Like who will be running for adcom- Unity rank and file don't get to vote. They are told what the slate will be.

An elected staffer (when there were elections for Dist rep) who was non-Unity and a leading voice for opposition over decades and viewed by leadership as an enemy, told me this story. 

He became friendly with a top level NY Teacher reporter, who wrote about the history of the UFT (Class Struggles). Jack used to slip money for Ed Notes to my friend. They went to lunch and as they were leaving the restaurant, a UFT/Unity hack staffer who had been close to Shanker (very close I heard) was walking by and saw them. Jack said, "this will be going into my file." He assured my friend they keep such files. I may be mistaken but I think there was a follow up and he actually got to see his file and sure enough there was a note about him being seen with my friend -- but don't hold me to it. 

I have a bunch of other stories about people running to tattle on each other if they suspect too much contact with a perceived enemy. I believe Jim Callahan was fired because a former oppo person who wangled a job from Randi at the NY Teacher started bad mouthing him as being a leaker to Ed Notes - he even took some copies of Ed Notes to leadership and claimed Jim had said similar stuff to him.

Unity is also very clever in identifying people in the opposition who might be vulnerable to lobbying and they often assign a compatible person to woo them and over the years have had some success in weaning people into Unity who were formerly sympathetic if not active with opposition.

I could detect when people who I had been friendly with who usually greeted me warmly, even with hugs, and even distributed Ed Notes, suddenly started ghosting me by walking right by my at DAs and barely nodding or looking away. They didn't want to be seen even saying hello to me.

Let me close with this:

Too much contact with opposition can prove to be fatal.


AFTERBURN: The Ed Notes Scoop on Debbie Poulos removal

 ed notes broke this story and there was outrage from Unity people who worked there and leaked it to me. Debbie was supposedly too aggressive in going after abusive principals - the UFT the former UFT president Sandy Feldman hinted at that after I made a reso at the DA in 1997 to take away principal tenure to weaken their power. Debbie has landed on her feet and has been one of the key people at 52 in helping teachers. Amy may end up in a similar position. I'd ask people who support Amy and are in other boroughs to demand their reps do similar work as Amy or get someone in who will. That will shake the Unity tree. And let me point out that free speech has not existed for Unity Caucus in 60 years. In the 60s people who spoke out against the Vietnam war were punished, so this is nothing new.

Sunday, July 17, 2016
Mulgrew Removes Brooklyn Borough Rep Debbie Poulos - Was She too aggressive on certain abusive principals?
"Mulgrew may think Poulos doesn't have the right temperament for the job," a Unity source told me. "She doesn't kiss ass enough."
Night of the long knives at the UFT
Sunday, July 17, 2016
A central office UFT Unity source contacted Ed Notes with an unconfirmed rumor that UFT President Michael Mulgrew was removing popular Brooklyn Borough Rep Debbie Poulos. Poulos will be given another position in the UFT. The announcement is due to be made sometime tomorrow to the Brooklyn reps at the AFT convention in Minneapolis. Mulgrew often uses the occasion of AFT conventions to make these type of staff changes. It wouldn't shock me to see other changes coming.
Poulos had a good working relationship with members of the opposition in MORE who worked in Brooklyn and a bunch of us hung out with her last Friday at the SOS march in Washington - she even took a photo with us wearing MORE shirts. "This won't get you into trouble," I joked. She laughed.
But that has nothing to do with this change. Behind the scenes Debbie has been known to be more aggressive than other UFT officials in hassling certain abusive principals. She supposedly had a top-10 hit list of principals. She played a role in the John Dewey story with the removal of principal Kathleen Irvin, sending in special reps to assist chapter leader Michael Solo in his battle. Michael left MORE and joined Unity Caucus because he was so appreciative of the help.
Debbie was a chapter leader early in her career under an abusive principal and full well knows the score. I put up a reso in the late 90s calling got more protection for chapter leaders due to the situation Debbie was in. Unity Caucus turned it down overwhelmingly.
There is speculation that Poulos had stepped on some toes in the UFT hierarchy who have especially close relationships with officials in the Farina's DOE administration who are unhappy with UFT officials who are considered too aggressive. There are rumored names of those in the UFT hierarchy who had it in for Debbie but at this point that info is not confirmed - Unity slugs are welcome to speculate in the comments section.
Mulgrew, not wanting to endanger his seat at the DOE table, may be sending a message to those few reps who stand up for teachers too rigorously. When I checked with another source in Unity I was told they might try to turn the Brooklyn office into another Queens borough office which is considered by some to be the worst - or equal to the Bronx -
I know my old pal Howie Shoor will take exception to that but he is no longer Bronx borough rep, being replaced by Mary Atkinson who at one time was an Ed Notes distributor. Howie has moved up to 2nd in command as UFT Secretary. Howie was Debbie's guide and mentor and I wonder how he feels about this.
Debbie Poulos is popular with the Brooklyn reps who feel she has their backs. I don't know all details but I've never considered the people I know in the Brooklyn office of being especially aggressive. But I am not plugged in to that info.
We'll report from the convention if we hear anything more.
If we find tomorrow that none of the above is true I will have to find a nice Minneapolis hat to eat.
Some of the comments on the story were not positive to Debbie and some were - similar to what we read about Amy - you can't satisfy everyone. By the way - the story was true - and Arthur Goldstein and I roomed together at the AFT convention and hung out with Jonathan Halabi. It was too damn hot - 100 degrees and we actually had lunch with Paul Egan who was also disappeared from the UFT -- holy cow, we are the kiss of death. Next time I see a Unity person I like I'm walking on by. My memory is not what it was but I think Debbie told me she had an abusive principal as chapter leader and I made a reso at the DA c. 1999 defending her and other chapter leaders - which was turned down by Unity. I also did extensive reporting on that convention - remember July 2016 and we did not expect Hillary to lose. Check the Ed Notes archives from that month if you want to know more. And Arthur and Jonathan did some great reporting too.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

The Rain in Spain Never Fell on the Plain - Did I miss anything while I was gone?

Saturday, October 21, 2023

We returned Friday from a tour of northern Spain, our first travel since fall 2018 when we toured Croatia. We had the best two weeks of weather ever and missed the rain in NYC. We were hoping to bring back some of that nice weather - maybe tomorrow. We traveled with Insight Tours for the second time. There were a batch of Aussies, Filipinos, Canadians and some Americans, so it was a very international tour.

I won't bore you with too many details other than to say we landed in Madrid a day before the tour began to peruse that city for the first time and loved what we saw in the 3 days we were there. Then we headed north to a variety of places along the north coast of Spain, which I had visited briefly only once before on trip sponsored by my then boss at the DOE to establish a robotics partnership with a middle school in Queens and in a small town. That was in mid-January I think 2005, so it was pretty chilly then.

The tour guide told is this was wet and chilly season for northern Spain but we were high(temps) and dry -- we ended up in Barcelona where it was also expected to rain but never did. This was a return to Barcelona after 20 years and we loved it more than ever and stayed an extra 3 days. 

From the vantage point of a tourist, Spain seems to work. Clean, efficient, seeming to be flourishing on so many levels, I can see living there if things get iffy here. Barcelona especially. But I think I'd have to go beyond the two Spanish words I know.

A few pics from the top site in Barcelona -- Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, 150 years under construction. I love anything Gaudi -- check out his work.

We went to Parc Guell too. 

I have hundreds of photos, many of my wife and I eating and drinking.








Did I miss anything while I was gone? I heard something about AmyGate in the UFT. Hmmm, sounds intriguing. Maybe I'll weigh in later. My UFT chat pals did a pretty good job of keeping me informed. I did miss a few ex bd and Retiree Advocate meetings, so my UFT updates are a bit rusty. A good thing, maybe? But darn, missing those Ex bd dinners while forced to eat paella was a chore.


Thursday, October 5, 2023

Beating up on UFT/Unity Leadership - Let Us Count the Ways

September was a lazy month for the Ed Notes blog. Only 3 posts. What else is there to say? But my problem has really been that I have so much to say on so many issues, I end up getting tangled up. And then there are all the daily podcasts that occupy so much of my time. So, sometimes, silence is golden. 

October will also be a sparse month as I've got things to do and places to see. 

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Silence has also been golden for the UFT/Unity leadership. With the wild storm on Friday and the incompetent reaction of the Banks and Adams administration (As NYC flooded, a botched shelter-in-place order added confusion at schools - Chalkbeat), there has been no word of criticism from our glorious leaders. But that is part of the pattern when it comes to Mayor Adams, their partner in crime in trying to reduce the healthcare of retirees and coming soon - working UFT members. I've said it time and again - the UFT leadership acts more like a boss than a union.

I know it's unfair to Mulgrew to compare him to UAW's Shawn Fain - but, just sayin'.  

Fain plays offense. 

Mulgrew doesn't even play defense. 

He plays for the other team.The NYT has a major story on Fain today.

Shawn Fain’s disdain for the “billionaire class” informs his showdown with Detroit’s automakers. Now he must prove that his hard-core tactics pay off.

Before Mr. Fain took over in March, the U.A.W. leadership did not so much scorn the billionaires as strive to emulate them.  Mr. Fain defeated the incumbent by the thinnest of margins. That might have given another candidate an incentive to keep a low profile, secure an adequate contract and declare victory.Not this fellow. He is playing a very high-stakes game.

Mulgrew, Randi and the Unity faithful don't want to eat the rich. They want to rub elbows with the rich. 

And for those of you who think if Unity Caucus replaces Mulgrew things will be all hunky dory, don't hold your breath. Playing ball with the boss is embedded in their DNA for over 50 years, after the initial decade of UFT militancy in the 60s.

Arthur has two dynamic pieces out back to back:

Mulgrew's Caucus Cheats, Lies, and Disrespects Us: Patronage above all else, including your health

UFT bosses, like Mulgrew and people at every level of his UFT Unity caucus, are also a one-issue group. Their issue is retaining power by any means whatsoever, and their most precious possession is the patronage mill they run. If you’ve ever called UFT and got bad info, if you’ve ever gone to a retirement consult and gotten the old song and dance, you know firsthand that UFT hirees are selected for loyalty rather than talent.

Arthur goes after the Unity patronage machine. I can't tell you how many children of Unity members are on the UFT payroll. Arthur points to the welfare fund. I would add the Teacher Centers, a prime patronage arena. I've always maintained Unity would live with 60 in a class but would fight like hell to save teacher centers. At one point BloomKlein hinted at going after them, which scared the hell out of Unity. Unity has used union jobs to buy off opposition voices for decades. They are super competent at attempts to undermine critical voices. But if they can't buy them they work to suppress their voices.

He follows up with this gem:

The UFT Delegate Assembly Is a Scripted Event: The bosses go to "DA Prep" every month to plot it out.

If the DA is supposed to be the highest decision making body, why is there so little time set aside for resolutions and debate? Why is the President’s Report the only part not time limited? Why is it allowed to be used as a filibustering technique to preclude that which UFT Unity bosses wish to avoid discussing?

Why? Because going back to Arthur's first article, do whatever has to be done to hold on to power. And don't think that if the oppo ever gets close, they won't resort to trying to steal the election.

So, Yes Virginia, Unity rehearses the DA. At one point in the UFT history, the Shanker years, they followed procedures because Shanker was so confident, but with Randi I began to see more and more manipulation and controls - she didn't want any surprises she couldn't handle. With Mulgrew in charge since 2009 it's gotten even worse. They now use backdoor lobbying on social media to get critics banned. 

The use of paid staff to dominate the DA has become endemic. Oppos people at the DA should call a point of order - full disclosure -- before you speak identify if you are on the payroll.  

Arthur has some ideas on reforming the DA. Like limiting the presidential filibuster. It will never happen. The only way to reform the DA is to elect enough chapter leaders and delegates that oppose Unity. And I'd bet that if that happened they would find a way to change the rules to hold onto power, which is the prime directive.

Just think of Unity as just another democracy-in-name-only- totalitarian regime.



Nick has a report on Monday's Ex Bd meeting and a piece on the lack of UFT responsse to Friday's floods.

Do As I Say – Not as I do: UFT Executive Board Meeting Minutes, 10-2-2023

Educators of NYC

 We need to actively start pressuring the City to do the right thing – to not put our lives at risk when climate events strike.

It won’t be easy. Our union has given up most of its power outside of traditional bargaining subjects—and climate emergency is certainly not a traditional bargaining subject.

In the end, we’ll need to regain a capacity to strike if we want to have any power, and that will be difficult with a union leadership who mocks and heckles members for having the audacity to utter the words ‘strike readiness.’ But we’ve reached the point where our lives will be at risk if we don’t start mobilizing. In that context, I hope even Unity will recognize the need to do things differently, though I won’t hold my breath.