Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Time to End it and Adams' incompetence may be a magic bullet: Mayor attacks on NYSED Mayoral control report

“Research indicates that there is no conclusive relationship between school governance structures and student achievement,” the report reads. It added that there was no substantial evidence that mayoral control reduces educational inequities.
Tuesday, April 10

Even before Bloomberg did his hostile takeover of the NYC school system in 2002, I was taking positions opposing it and the UFT support and lack of opposition to the coming disaster. I knew about mayoral control from George Schmidt in Chicago and kept warning Randi and the UFT repeatedly in Ed Notes. When we founded ICE in late 2003, opposition to mayoral control was one of the unifying points. No other opposition caucus took a position as I remember. It was about that time when I met Leonie Haimson from Class Size Matters who also took a position against MC and has continued to do so since then. Here is her recent post on her listserve.
GET STUFF DONE - POORLY

Adams and other mayors love MC because it gives them a massive field for patronage. You know in the good old days of so-called community control there was also plenty of patronage but at the local level. Often people in the community. I'd still take that over handing control of an entire school system to any one person. As for the UFT, they want some tweaking, though the Adams admin level of control has even pushed Mulgrew to take a stronger stance. Here are Leonie's comments.


Mayor attacks on NYSED Mayoral control report

News links:

https://gothamist.com/news/state-report-points-to-reforming-mayoral-control-of-nyc-schools

He attacked CUNY School of Law’s involvement in the report and hinted that he believed the school was biased against him. He referenced an episode last year when CUNY Law graduates turned their backs on him while he delivered a commencement speech. He also said the education department made a mistake by not delving more deeply into school governance models and student achievement data.

But the report did in fact compare models of school governance.

“Research indicates that there is no conclusive relationship between school governance structures and student achievement,” the report reads. It added that there was no substantial evidence that mayoral control reduces educational inequities.

https://x.com/bern_hogan/status/1777736090612289921Today,

@NYCMayor

continued on CUNY: "You know, 'let's turn our backs on Eric Adams. Let's talk about how great or how bad America is.' And the keynote speaker was from Yemen, when she would not even be on the stage and speak in the country. I'm not comfortable with that.”

He had already criticized the report last week before it had been released on the same grounds: https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/politics/2024/04/03/mayoral-control-extension-in-final-state-budget-unlikely--lawmakers-say

See also:

https://www.nydailynews.com/2024/04/09/key-report-on-mayoral-control-of-nyc-public-schools-finds-parents-teachers-feel-shut-out-adams-albany/
 
 

Friday, April 5, 2024

Teacher Retiree System (TRS) Pension Election - Why You Should Care and Vote for Ben

Friday, April 5, 2024
 

Teacher Pension Election - Why You Should Care

by Norm Scott

There is an upcoming election for one of the three teacher trustees of our pension system (TRS) where working TRS members will have the chance to choose between the two candidates who are running (retirees can't vote). The election will be held in the schools on May 8, 2024.


Why should you care? 

Because the health and longevity of your pension relies on three teacher trustees along with two mayoral appointees, the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) president, and the NYC Comptroller overseeing all our investments. These seven officials are supposed to ensure that our pension is sound and investments are thriving far into the future.


Over the past decades, all trustees, most without a degree in finance or economics or any relevant private sector investment experience, have acted under the instructions of the UFT/Unity Caucus leadership and fundamentally continue to rubber stamp the decisions made by Wall Street investors who earn significant fees that are not always transparent. They are pressured to vote as a bloc and not to ask questions of the TRS investors. 


Now we have the chance to vote for Brooklyn Tech Advanced Placement math teacher Ben Morgenroth in the TRS election on May 8. He brings with him actual classroom experience with degrees in mathematics and economics, along with private sector financial and investment experience. He will ask informed questions to those tasked with securing our pensions and will act independently of the dictums of Michael Mulgrew — who has been at the helm as our healthcare and pension benefits have diminished. 


Morgenroth’s membership on the Board will ensure we have the professional and knowledgeable oversight we need to protect our pensions.


Note: Candidates need one thousand signatures to get on the ballot and the petitioning will be wrapping up in a week. You can still get signatures at your school by downloading the petition here. Make sure to sign off at the bottom to certify the signature.

 

 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

ICE Endorses in TRS, Retiree and Para elections at March 26 Zoom Meeting

Repost from ICE blog:

ICE met on a zoom and discussed current major trends in the UFT:

Three current elections pose a threat to Unity Caucus absolute control of the UFT (except for the 7 hs EB seats.)
 
TRS election
Ben Morgenroth, who is running against the Unity candidate for one of the 3 TRS pension positions, discussed the election process (complicated), his petition campaign (going very well) and a campaign in the schools, where elections take place on May 8. The attendees endorsed Ben's campaign. There was some surprise at the response from so many schools on the petition returns. Unity has been forced to engage in an election for the first time in decades and put out a leaflet for their candidate at the March 20 DA. Ben reports that their candidate wants to come to his school to campaign and get signatures. She seems to be a UFT employee and can go to schools to campaign.
 
Going back to the process involved in the DOE running this election, with principals in charge in each school - and process is law - there is a potential nightmare in this being run correctly. There are supposed to be 3 tellers in each school and voting must be on May 8. The Unity machine has a major advantage in the number of chapter leaders that can "manage" to influence the process. Expect some ramifications, with some schools violating the law by not even holding a vote.

Retiree Chapter Election
RA Chapter Leader candidate Bennett Fisher (Unity has not yet announced his opponent) was present and reviewed the LOL RTC March 19 meeting where it was clear that Unity was so worried about this election they have a new initiative to organize the 7,000 retired paras as a way to troll for votes. Bennett reports we have the full slate of 300 candidates for the DA which includes 10 officers and 15 Exec Bd. Petitioning is easy and complete. One glitch came up was the Unity demand we only use UFT ID numbers when we had been following the tradition of giving people a choice of last 4 soc sec or file numbers. That led to some anger at changing the rules at the last minute and a scramble to touch base with the candidates who had not used the UFT ID number. RA decided not to waste time in protest and just get as many numbers as they can. They expect some flexibility if we miss a few due to people traveling, etc. If Unity tries to knock people off the ballot due to the number, then expect a big protest - possibly an election complaint to PERB.
 
Para Chapter Election and petition for a fair wage
Daniel Alicea, who has been working with a group of paras challenging the Unity machine in the para election, was present to give a report. He described the reso put in front of the Ex Bd on. March 18 and how Unity "supported" it by gutting it by removing the final reso which called for a plan for collective bargaining, with Unity arguing we don't bargain in public (despite the success of other teacher unions that used public bargaining to win big gains for paras).

See Nick Bacon's report on New Action blog:
And Ed Notes: 
Daniel reported on the DA two days later on how the Unity para chapter leader actually raised the gutted reso, making it look like theirs. Daniel made an amendment restoring most of the gutted portion but removed the call for open bargaining. Unity voices muddled the debate and the reso was defeated. 

Nick reported on the meeting:
Daniel also reported on the potential para slate under the banner of UFT Paras For A Fair Contract - website: https://www.fixparapay.org/
 
Unity changed the rules for the para election by making it slate voting and requiring at least 7 to be a slate. In last year's special election 5 opposing Unity candidates ran as individuals and won 2 seats. Paras know that if they run they may face pressure from Unity so putting together a slate is going to be a process.

A petition has been circulating and the response has been excellent with hundreds of paras signing and some of them are offering to join the slate.  Sign the petition.

There are 25,000 paras and they garner almost 300 delegates to the DA, so if Unity lost in both the Retiree and Para elections, there would be major changes at the DA and Unity control of the union in the 2025 general election would be in danger.

You can read more on the issue:

The Next Step: UFT Paras for A Fair Contract launches campaign for A LIVING WAGE and FAIR CONTRACT; seeking paras to run on its election slate

The next ICE meeting will be in person on Wednesday April 24 during the break. Email normsco@gmail.com if interested in attending.


Submitted by Norm Scott

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Sign Paras for Fair Contract Petition, UFT/Unity on Para Fair Wage Reso: Paras Make Enough Compared to Others

I'm still recovering from yesterday's Retired teacher chapter meeting and will report on it when I fully recover. Most of the meeting was about how after 50 years, Unity is paying attention to paras with a big election coming up. The Unity machine put on a full court press on how much they care about para retirees and set up a special support unit with a hot line, patting themselves on the back after ignoring para retirees for 50 years. I wonder if that hotline goes through the outsourced Salesforce crap that UFT members calling the UFT have to face?
Former UFT Spec Ed VP Carmen Alvarez led the band yesterday. It was she who had begged at a Jan. 2023 city council hearing to allow her to keep her Medicare by offering the choice to spend almost $200 a month extra for the same Senior Plan we get for free. I confronted her at that hearing, saying, "What about para retirees who could not afford to pay and would have to stick with the MedAdv?

The best line of the day: 

  • UFT TRS member and Treasurer Tom Brown talking about tweaking Tier 6: At least they enjoy a death benefit. 
  • Arthur Goldstein calls out: NO ONE ENJOYS A DEATH BENEFIT.

Now you have an idea how the day went.

So this will focus on some para issues but first go straight to this link and sign the petition to

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

I'm ready to head down to the DA to get signatures for Ben Morgenroth in the TRS election. I can't believe how well this campaign is going - I get the mail returns. I'm just catching up on the para news from Monday's night's exec Bd meeting - I thought I heard para reps saying that our paras do so well compared to others down south and upstate NY. She didn't mention some big wins for paras in other cities that make Unity efforts look puny.

Check out Nick's Notes:

I posted on Monday morning an analysis of how Unity views total control of the para chapter as a crucial element in maintaining their over 60 year control of the UFT. Worries about the outcome of the Retiree chapter election after alienating so many members of the Medicare issue is a factor in solidifying para support.

One recent Unity tactic is to offer paras a fire sale on joining Unity plus lots of free food and drink events - 

Just as the Monday eve Exec Bd meeting got started I posted this reso calling for a fair wage for paras.

A "no-brainer," as Nick Bacon said in his intro last night. Some of us had speculated on how Unity would react, from outright opposition to tabling. They came up with amending by removing the last resolve, the only portion with some teeth.

Resolved; that the UFT develop a comprehensive bargaining plan, with a clear timeline and objectives, for achieving a living wage for paraprofessionals, including equitable longevity raises, injury paid leave parity, and chapter 683 and ESY (Extended School Year) pay parity, ensuring they are compensated fairly for their crucial role in education.

Call to Action: Fix Para Pay, Now! Sign the petition.

It’s time to fight for a living wage, a fair contract, and respect for NYC paraprofessionals. - By Migda Rodriguez, Marie Wausnock and Daniel Alicea

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Today: Calling UFT Retirees - Join Retiree Advocate at chapter meeting at 1PM, followed by gathering at White Horse Tavern


Are we nearing the end of Tom Murphy's reign as chapter leader? Possible successor, former UFT VP Carmen Alvarez, will be a mainline speaker today - I will report later on the lousy bagels served at RTC meetings which beer I drank at the tavern.

The March meeting of the UFT Retiree chapter is today at one. I will be joining the RA crew in the back lobby of 52 at noon. Unity will try to exert maximum control of this meeting. We expect (hope) new people will be there to raise issues - if they allow it. Expect lots of filibustering to stall. One reason Murphy may be out is his bull in China shop approach. 

I wonder at how effective Carmen might be and whether Mulgrew trusts her to be able to handle it. There isn't a lot of talent at the top, especially among retirees in Unity. We heard rumors they had problems and may still be having problems getting people to agree to run as delegates, with some flatly turning down the opportunity. Some even may be running with RA. In contrast, we have been oversubscribed and don't have room for all the people who volunteered to run.

 Here is today's leaflet.


 

Monday, March 18, 2024

UFT Paras for A Fair Contract - Resolution for A Living Wage and Fair Contract

I posted about the para chapter election earlier where an alt slate to Unity called UFT Paras for A Fair Contract is being formed.


Unity Changes Rules for Para Election without the consent of the para chapter, EXBD AND DA

Here is a reso for the March 18 UFT Exec Bd and the March 20 DA - which Unity will try to make sure does not see the light of day. I will update it with outcomes of the Ex Bd later.

It’s time we fight for our paras in a meaningful and sustained effort. Both co-writers along with several others will be forming a slate for the upcoming para chapter election called ‘UFT Paras for A Fair Contract’.

Their program leads with a living wage for NYC paras, along with major improvements to their pay structures and contractual benefits and protections.

We believe this reso is timely and it also is something the AFT has endorsed with recent proposed legislation.

In addition, to bringing it to the EXBD, we will bring it to the floor of the DA.

You can find it here also:

Resolution to Meaningfully Support New York City Paraprofessionals’ Fight for a Living Wage and Fair Contract

co-written by: 

Migda Rodriguez, Second Vice-Chair of UFT Paraprofessional Chapter and para; Marie Wausnock, para; and Daniel Alicea, special education teacher 

Whereas, UFT paraprofessionals/para-educators play an essential and invaluable role in our school communities by providing accessible, quality educational and support services to all of our schoolchildren;

Whereas, New York City public schools are experiencing hundreds of para vacancies that may result in thousands of New York City school children not receiving federally mandated IEP services due to shortages of full-time, qualified paras; and

Whereas, our New York City public school paras are struggling to earn a living wage in our city and often have to work multiple jobs to survive; and

Whereas, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and National Education Association (NEA), alongside dozens of other labor and education organizations have endorsed the November 2023 Senate resolution called  The Paraprofessionals and Education Support Staff Bill of Rights, which calls for fairer pay, better benefits, workplace safety, job security, and increased access to training that will give these jobs and the educators who do them the respect they deserve; and

Whereas, the AFT and NEA have also endorsed the January of 2024 Senate and House of Representatives legislation called the Preparing and Retaining All (PARA) Educators Act, that would establish a grant program to help schools recruit, train, and retain paraeducators by funding pipeline and credentialing programs, high-quality professional development, and higher wages; therefore be it

Resolved; that the UFT shall support and educate its members about the significant implications of The Paraprofessionals and Education Support Staff Bill of Rights and the Preparing and Retaining All (PARA) Educators Act, emphasizing the potential benefits for paraprofessionals; and be it further

Resolved; that the UFT develop a comprehensive bargaining plan, with a clear timeline and objectives, for achieving a living wage for paraprofessionals, including equitable longevity raises, injury paid leave parity, and chapter 683 and ESY pay parity, ensuring they are compensated fairly for their crucial role in education.

——————————

Signed by: Ronnie Almonte; Nick Bacon; Edward Calamia; Alex Jallot; Ibeth Mejia; Luli Rodriguez; Ilona Nanay; Michael Schirtzer

Other supporters - Michael Shulman, Bobby Greenberg, Norm Scott, Education Notes.

 

 

Unity Changes Rules for Para Election without the consent of the para chapter, EXBD AND DA, UFT Paras for A Fair Contract

I've always believed that the chapter elections every three years are more important than the regular UFT elections (next one is spring 2025). These chapter elections in the schools and in the functionals are about to heat up.

A group of paras are getting together to run in the election under the banner of UFT Paras for A Fair Contract.

I reported on Thursday (Mar. 14) about picking up petitions for the retiree chapter election:

Retired Teacher Chapter Election - Opening Day for Petitions - And Retiree Advocate will be signing for the 300 candidates on the slate

The para election petitions were out on the counter. The para chapter has 28k members and is second to the retiree chapter 70K member and crucial for Unity to maintain control of the UFT. With the possibility of the control of RCT slipping, tightening up the para chapter is major for them. If they lose control there, the end for Unity would be on the horizon. The opposition has not done a good job in reaching out to paras. Hopefully that is changing. But Unity, while showing incompetence in servicing the members, is very competent in finding ways to keep control. And they changed an important rule in the para chapter after facing a dissident group a year ago in a special election, the first time that has happened.

Below, note the change in the para chapter election rules between 2023 and this year by the addition of slate voting to the chapter with at least 7 required to be a slate. Until now, only the retiree chapter had slate voting. All other functional chapters do not have slate voting. Not the secretaries or the social workers, for instance. 

This is a naked attempt to keep total control of the para chapter after Unity lost 2 out of 5 seats in last year's special election. The dissident group actually recruited 7 candidates but Unity gave one a job and "talked" another into not running. Thus the new requirement of having to run 7 people to be listed as a slate on the ballot is significant.

Unity worries about delegate assembly are a factor in the decision as there are about 300 delegate positions at stake and by forcing people to run on a slate it prevents any oppo para voices from becoming delegates. Also worries that in case Retiree Advocate should win their election, they would elect 300 delegates.

There are rumors floating around that Unity may try to separate out para retirees from the Retirees and form a separate chapter. 

Note that paras do not make a living wage in the UFT. Look for my follow-up post later tonight on some questions at tonight's Ex Bd on this issue.

This move reinforces the dictum that Unity operates under a prime directive: Hold on to total power at all costs. Servicing the members is not a factor.



 EONYC posted:

The @UFT para chapter constitution reads: 

ARTICLE IX. Nominations and Elections Nominations and elections of all officers, other Executive Board members and representatives shall be held in accordance with the provisions of Robert's Rules of Order, except as otherwise specifically provided by this constitution or under its bylaws. 

This election change was made without the consent of the para chapter, EXBD AND DA. 

 It is illegal. Educators of NYC@educatorsofnyc Mar 14 @UFTUnity patronage entourage continue to make up rules as they go — a la carte. After, losing 2 para seats in last year’s para chapter election… they simply changed decades of rules for this upcoming chapter election.


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

To get the full story, we need to go back a year ago when 2 paras not approved by Unity got elected in a special election. Now facing the full-scale election this spring, Unity has created a barrier by forcing slate voting in a para election for the first time.

We learned that when the names of people running a year ago, some in Unity, were revealed, Unity gave one of them a full-time job and forced another to withdraw, thus leaving the group with 5 instead of 7 people running.

NOTE: The new rules chose the "arbitrary" number of 7 to constitute being listed as a slate on the ballot.

In some of his final posts on the ICE blog, in April 2023 James Eterno reported on a special para election:

Unity Caucus, the UFT's ruling political party for over sixty years, is facing a challenge in the interim Paraprofessional Chapter Election from people who appear to be independent but also had some Unity supporters. 

MEET THE CHALLENGERS TO UNITY IN THE PARAPROFESSIONAL CHAPTER ELECTION

 And he also posted this on April 15, 2023

UNITY CAMPAIGNS IMPROPERLY IN PARA ELECTION;

I also reported on the election on the same day:

Maria a para running posted this:

This is from Marie Para showing Unity cheating at an official UFT event. The video is on Facebook.

Spotlight on Truth 

You can’t say you didn’t….cause ‘ya did!! Lets look at the video tape!

Let’s pay attention to the rules of the UFT.  Let’s be clear on a few things….the UFT is our union, Unity is a caucus within the union.  Just as there other caucus’, such as MORE, ICE and SOLIDARITY.  Unity has been the controlling caucus within the union.  Whenever there is a function that the UFT pays for, NO caucus can campaign at these events.  If they did allow this, all candidates should be given the same space, time, and expense of campaigning on the UFT’s dime…or should that be on YOUR UNION DUES.

Now let’s pay attention to the timeline.  January 26, 2023 the UFT held the BRONX SRP at 4PM at the Bronx Borough Office….(this was a UFT paid event), yet the Unity Candidates were there campaigning BEFORE THE OFFICIAL ELECTION PROCESS WAS ANNOUNCED. 

The nomination petitions weren’t even ready until February 16, 2023.  There was no official announcement of when this special election was going to be…..so why were the Unity Candidates already being introduced as candidates and what position they were running for? And how did only Unity know about the election ahead of the official announcement?  And again, no caucus is allowed to campaign at UFT paid events!!!

This is obviously and attempt to gain an unfair advantage over other candidates.  If Unity has no regard to adhere to the rules and regulations in this election process, which would ensure a fair and transparent election, what can you expect from them if elected?

Ultimately, you want leaders that know and respect the rules and regulations governing this election process.

Unity played it very cagey with the results of the election.

Ed Notes May 30, 2023

UFT Election Officials Refuse to Reveal Para Election Numbers

Rumors that oppo in para election won two out of 5 positions up for grabs. The para chapter is the second largest (28k)after retirees in the UFT. Try to imagine how a general election (in 2025) would look of both of these chapters were close. Unity will pull out all stops, especially in the 2024 chapter elections. Watch those numbers (if they are honest) for signs of breakage in the Unity front.

When people used to claim Unity cheats in elections I always responded they don't have to steal an election - until elections get close and contentious. Then it's Katy bar the door. I firmly believe that if UFC ever won, Unity would pull a Trump and refuse to leave. 

There's a breaking story on the recent UFT para chapter election to replace leaders who have retired or left for the next year until the regular 2024 chapter elections with hints of Unity playing games and a refusal by UFT election officials to release voting counts. Educators of NYC has the preliminary story

The dissidents actually did win 2 seats and that set off shock waves in Unity, which has exerted dictatorial control over the chapter since its inception. How these 2 have been treated since that election is a story in itself -- see how the OT/PT chapter leaders were treated when they won - the attacks on them escalated until Unity regained control of the chapter.

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

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Retired Teacher Chapter Election - Opening Day for Petitions - And Retiree Advocate will be signing for the 300 candidates on the slate

March 14, 2024


Today is Pi Day (π) - where we celebrate the circumference of the circle being a little over 3 times its diameter. Today is also the first day we can pick up petitions, opening day for the upcoming titanic battle between Retiree Advocate (RA) and Unity Caucus for the soul of the almost 70 thousand member UFT retiree chapter. In recent elections, Unity didn't get 3.14 times the vote RA got -- it was a 70/30 split and we hope that when ballots are tallied on June 14, that gap will be eliminated. 

So today I and a few RA colleagues will be at 52 Broadway to pick up the blank petitions and begin the chore of filling out the headings for the 10 officer, 15 exec bd and 300 candidates for delegate assembly. Do you think that having 300 delegates critical of Unity in the DA, even if old codgers like me, will make a difference? Many of the candidates are old war horses from battles over the past 50 years and we will make a difference because we are not only here to stand up for the interests of retirees only but for the working members of the UFT too -- building alliances with the rank and file.

I'm about to head out, so I will leave you with a few things to read by Arthur:

If You Support Real Unionism, Support NYC Retirees

They are fighting for our rights, AGAINST our corrupt union bosses.

 

All Hail King Michael the First

Answerable only to Mayor Eric Adams.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees Stands in Solidarity with DC37 Retirees: Press Conference and Rally in Protest to AFSCME Takeover

“[AFSCME] seems to be pulling at strings, to be honest,” Pizzitola says. “I think they're going to make any accusation that they can make to see whatever sticks.” The DC37 Retirees Association decided to pause its regularly occurring contributions to the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees for several months before ultimately deciding to resume them once again a month before AFSCME swooped in, suspended the officers, and changed the locks.


 
Tuesday, March 5
Sorry I won't be here to make the rally and presser. Going to Philly Flower Show. Today Retiree Advocate organizers were outside 52 Bwy handing out leaflets to 50, 60, 70 year UFT member retirees being honored with a luncheon. I was eligible as a 56 year member but somehow my invitation was lost. If I'm still here I will go next year when I turn 80 and be honored by the new retiree regime after we win the chapter election this May.
 
In case you missed it, there was a hostile takeover of the DC 37 Retiree Association, using a bogus reason when the real reason was that they have been contributing to the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees which has led the court battles to counter the city/union attempt to undermine our current medicare situation.

 Now, this is interesting - having a national take over a local - Randi and the AFT have done that a couple of times that Ed Notes covered.

 
A question I've been asked: What it Retiree Advocate were to actually win the chapter election. Would Unity resort to drastic moves to prevent us from taking over?  I can imagine them creating some irregularities and calling for a new election. Or make it extremely difficult for RA to run the chapter by tossing all kinds of roadblock in their way and then look for any transgression they can create and go to AFT asking for a trusteeship.

Well, back to the rally:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees Stands in Solidarity with DC37 Retirees for A Press Conference and Rally in Protest to AFSCME

Manhattan, NY, March 5, 2024 Outraged by the hostile takeover of the DC37 Retirees Association, the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees stands in unwavering solidarity with our fellow retirees.

For years, we've fought tirelessly to defend traditional Medicare, only to face betrayal from those who once swore to fight for us. Now, the DC37 Retirees, despite belonging to a supposedly powerful union with a long history of leadership, face draconian punishment for simply advocating for the exact cause we champion.

Their supposed leaders, failing their fundamental duty, offered no support or guidance before seizing control of the DC37 Retirees Association. This outrageous double standard becomes even more egregious when considering other union groups with similar issues faced no such consequences.

This betrayal goes beyond the takeover itself. In June of last year, a powerful AFSCME official, Ann Widger, threatened the DC37 Retirees Association for daring to support our legal fight to protect traditional Medicare. Her message: continued donations would result in receivership. Following through on her threat, the hostile takeover occurred when donations resumed.

Unions, once beacons of dissent, now stifle these very voices and threaten those fighting for their fundamental rights.

We are the backbone of the labor force who demand a swift return to the core values of unions: protecting workers and retirees, not silencing them.

This attack on retirees trying to protect their earned Medicare benefits is shameful. AFSCME, once a champion for Medicare alongside Dr. Martin Luther King and President Johnson, now allows its largest district council to force retirees into a privatized, for-profit plan that weakens their access to doctors, denies care, is rejected by many of our healthcare providers, and puts seniors’ lives at risk.

We thought we were UNION!

PRESS CONFERENCE

Join us on Wednesday, March 6th at 11 AM at 75 Maiden Lane as we fight for justice, our healthcare future, and the soul of the union movement!

 ###

Contact:

Marianne Pizzitola

President

NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees

Marianne Pizzitola

President

NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees

And

FDNY EMS Retirees Association

Friday, March 1, 2024

RTC Chapter election in the media: In the New York City teachers union, anger over a plan to privatize retiree health care could send a longshot campaign over the edge.

If it’s successful in this year’s election, Retiree Advocate has its sights set on a bigger target: the overall UFT elections next year, when the long-serving president, Michael Mulgrew, and the other leadership members will be up for reelection. “If we won this election, it would give a shot in the arm to the opposition and make people look at next year’s general election as winnable,” said Scott, the Retiree Advocate spokesperson.... NY Focus

People stand in front of a New York City newsstand holding a sign that says "Retiree Advocate/UFT Protecting Retirees Supporting Working Members Fighting for Public Education"

 Retiree Advocate members rally in New York City on February 16. | Norm Scott

This is an excellent article in NY Focus by Sam Mellins, one of the best local reporters. I spoke to him for almost a half hour and he asked all the right and probing questions, sometimes twice.


Retired Teachers Seek Union Shakeup to Dodge Medicare Advantage

In the New York City teachers union, anger over a plan to privatize retiree health care could send a longshot campaign over the edge.

Sam Mellins   ·   February 26, 2024

 https://nysfocus.com/2024/02/26/medicare-advantage-uft-retiree-advocate

A group of dissident retired public school teachers is seeking to take over part of the New York City teachers union in an upcoming election — and they hope to galvanize opposition over a proposed change to retirees’ health care and turn it into votes this June.

Retirees fear that the proposed change — a shift from public Medicare to private Medicare Advantage plans — could leave them with higher costs and fewer benefits. It’s been a major source of controversy since New York Focus broke the news of the proposal nearly three years ago. Though the plan has been on ice since last year, when a court sided with retirees who sued to block it, it still looms large as the city pursues an appeal.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

PROTECT YOUR PENSION-UPCOMING TRS ELECTION - Ben Morgenroth For Teacher-Member Trustee of NYC TRS Board

Ben is the most qualified candidate for trustee on the NYC Teacher Retirement System pension board. Help him get on the ballot. Vote for him on Wed, May 8, 2024.

Thursday, February 29 - and happy birthday to all you youngsters.

I have a post ready to go explaining the background of how this election has come to be with current TRS board member David Kazansky being replaced/or leaving willingly for a position with the AFT willingly -- choose your poison. Unity endorsed his replacement at the Feb. 5 EB and Feb. 7 DA.

Elections are held in the schools on May 8 and are run by the DOE - with principals in charge. Only working members may vote (no retirees). There will be a major effort to make sure they are properly held. The last time over 1/3 of the schools didn't even hold an election.

There's a so-called election every year for one of the rotating members of TRS -all Unity) and I and others have talked about one day running someone against the Unity candidate to break their monopoly on the position. Or at the very least to be able to raise questions about the role they play or should be playing.

If Kazansky was still running there would likely not have been an alt. candidate- there hasn't been an election in decades. Kazansky was pretty well respected as being responsive and knowledgeable. In fact a good friend who recently suffered a death in the family of a UFT member had some questions and I gave him David's email and he responded with satisfactory answers just last week. 

Some people seemed pissed off at what seemed to be yet another power move by the UFT leadership.

Did Unity, under the leadership of Michael Mulgrew, once again shoot itself in the foot. (See Amy-Gate)?

A question asked on the ICE-mail listserv:

How does the election of this single (sole, one) candidate change things for all TRS members, active and retired? Will this candidate be running things going forward or will he just be one in a group? Please explain the drastic difference electing this single candidate will make.

Responses:

An interesting question. This is one of three teacher members. Then there is the comptroller- Brad Landers and an appointee from the mayors office. Having a person on the board as qualified as Ben would benefit every member. They oversee the investments and allocations of billions dollars in funds. He can ask the right questions, make inquiries and convince the other board members to vote one or another. We want someone with a financial and academic  background that  Ben has to oversee the consultants working for TRS, he’s a classroom teacher who will have our best interests at heart.

My reply: To me the most important thing is Ben is not controlled by Unity and slave to decisions by the leadership. Can he change things? Probably not much but he can reveal things that are going on that Unity keeps under cover.

First, Ben needs 1000 signatures to get on the ballot and Unity went into quick panic mode to get theirs. So if you are in a school, follow the instructions below and get Ben some signatures.

My own experience with Ben goes back a few years when he approached me outside the DA when we held a healthcare rally and he began to attend Ex bd meetings with us. He has become an expert on the sad state of Tier 6 people and their pension systems and having a strong advocate like Ben in an official position would be benefit the 54% of current UFT working members who are shockingly in Tier 6.

Ben Morgenroth For Teacher-Member Trustee of NYC TRS Board

Ben is the most qualified candidate for trustee on the NYC Teacher Retirement System pension board. Help him get on the ballot. Vote for him on Wed, May 8, 2024.

https://thewire.educators.nyc/p/ben-morgenroth-for-teacher-member

Let’s get Ben on the ballot

Help get fellow NYC public schools teacher, Ben Morgenroth, on the ballot for the May NYC TRS board election as part of the three teacher trustees who oversee the more than $100 billion in our pension fund.

This trustee position is the second to change hands in two years. We need qualified trustees with a solid financial background, like Ben’s, to keep our pensions safe, secure and stable.

We need to put the best qualified candidate on the ballot and Ben is the most qualified candidate.

Ben teaches AP Calculus and Algebra II at Brooklyn Technical High School and has served as a passionate teacher in the New York City public schools for the past decade. He also serves as an adjunct lecturer in Mathematics at Hunter College, City University of New York. He is a life-long New Yorker and a graduate of New York City public schools. He comes from a family of educators; he and three members of his immediate family are all TRS members.

Ben holds a BA in Applied Math-Economics from Brown University and a MA in Applied Mathematics from Hunter College.

Prior to teaching, Ben served as a business technology consultant and hedge fund risk analyst, helping to manage $3 billion in client investments.

He is the only candidate with a strong investment background who can be trusted to keep our pension stable, solvent, and ensure that it continues to grow.

Ben is an independent-thinking, union-proud, classroom educator who will serve the best interests of all NYC educators. He will fight to fix Tier 6 so all members have a fair pension and have the option to retire at 55 with the same contributions that Tier 4 members have.

He needs 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Please help by circulating his nomination petition (link and QR code below). Any active in-service TRS member may sign the petition, including teachers, counselors, school staff, administrators and active CUNY employees who are members of TRS.

Please circulate this petition in your school to all NYC TRS members.

Please return signed petitions as quickly as possible. We are hoping to collect all signatures in the next 15 school days.

Download & Print Ballot Petition

If you have questions, concerns or comments, contact the Committee to Elect Benjamin Morgenroth at ben4trs@gmail.com


Vote For Ben - Election Day, Wed May 8, 2024

When asking people to sign the petition ballot, please remind and urge them to vote for Ben Morgenroth on May 8, 2024 - Election Day.

We will share more details about these NYC DOE run elections in the coming days and weeks.


Editor’s note:

Only someone with a strong investment background can be trusted to keep our pension stable, solvent and can skillfully manage it so that it continues to grow. Ben’s classroom and financial experience and expertise makes him inarguably the best qualified candidate for teacher trustee of TRS.

Mulgrew’s establishment Unity caucus candidate for this election has served as a pension specialist/union staffer, but is far removed from being in the classroom full-time.

And while this staffer may be helpful in a one-on-one consultation about your service record and your future payouts, managing a multi-billion dollar pension fund is not remotely the same responsibility or job description. In the same way that an oil change/car service specialist by no means makes one uniquely qualified to be an auto engineer, or to serve on the board of Ford or Tesla.

Mulgrew’s trustee candidates are selectively chosen to be merely rubber-stamps for his agenda and often are years removed from our classroom perspectives and issues.

We also know that Mulgrew’s track record has only proven to bring about the erosion of our pension and health benefits. Under his watch, we have been burdened by state’s establishment of Tier 6 and his plan to “fix it” lacks specifics, vision and strength.

Ben’s top priorities for managing our pension plan:

  1. Ensure financial stability and fund solvency to secure financial futures for retirees.

  2. Aggressively and judiciously pursue investments that maximize returns while minimizing risk.

  3. Hold webinars and workshops in schools to ensure members understand our pension, including benefits, investment, and retirement options.

  4. Improve pension and disability benefits for members of all tiers.

  5. Restore the 8.25% TDA rate (received by everyone except UFT members).

  6. Restore retirement age to 55 for Tier 6 members.

  7. Reduce pension contributions for all tiers and end pension contributions after 10 years of service.

  8. Improve pension flexibility for members who change careers or relocate, including pension credit for teachers entering from other school systems.

  9. Improve Final Average Salary calculation for pension benefits that better reflect real earnings.

  10. Update COLA law for benefit increases that keep pace with inflation.

  11. Offer swifter movement of funds between TDA investment options (reduce time lag to one day from the present one to four months).

 
ONLY ACTIVE TRS MEMBERS MAY SIGN
INCLUDING ADMIN/CSA

Help get fellow NYC teacher, Ben Morgenroth, on the ballot for the May election for one of the three  teacher trustees who oversee the more than $100 billion in our pension fund. This trustee position is the second to change hands in two years. 

We need qualified trustees with a solid financial background like Ben’s to keep our pensions safe and stable. We need to put the best qualified candidate on the ballot and Ben is the most qualified candidate.


Ben needs 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Please help by circulating his nomination petition (link and QR code below). Any in-service TRS member may sign the petition, including teachers, counselors, school staff, administrators and active CUNY employees who are members of TRS.


Ben is an AP Calculus teacher at Brooklyn Tech. He holds a BA in Applied Math-Economics from Brown University, a MA in Applied Mathematics from Hunter College, and has private sector hedge fund experience. He is the only candidate with a strong investment background who can be trusted to keep our pension stable, solvent, and ensure that it continues to grow.


Ben is an independent-thinking, union-proud, classroom educator who will serve the best interests of NYC educators. He will fight to fix Tier 6 so all members have a fair pension and have the option to retire at 55 with the same contributions that Tier 4 members have.


Please circulate this petition in your school to all TRS members.


Please return signed petitions as quickly as possible. We are hoping to collect all signatures in the next 10 days.


When asking people to sign, please remind them that we hope we can count on their vote for Morgenroth on May 8, 2024 - Election Day


www.tinyurl.com/ben4trs