Tuesday, April 30, 2024

May 8, Vote for Ben to End Unity Monopoly of Pension Reps, Join Election TOWN HALL - Thursday May 2, 5:30 PM

...most of those leaders are hired staffers, who, through a Tammany-like patronage system, are selected and kept primarily based on their loyalty to top brass. If UFT’s officers had something to show for this – raises that met inflation, healthcare that wasn’t deteriorating and on the verge of collapse, or a pension system that wasn’t profoundly unequal for union members, that would be one thing. Instead, we have a record of losing, at least where everyday members are concerned. (Union officials who play ball, it turns out, are doing just fine.)... New Action

...if Ben wins, watch the UFT/Unity gang complain and call for a redo.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024
In case you hadn't noticed, there is an historic election for one of the three Teacher Retirement System (TRS) reps for the first time in almost 40 years as Ben Morgenroth challenges the total Unity Caucus control over how decisions about our pensions are made. 

Elections will be in the schools on May 8, run by the incompetent DOE. I'd bet many schools don't even hold an election, a violation of the law that will be ignored - if the Unity candidate wins -- but if Ben wins, watch the UFT/Unity gang complain and call for a redo.
There will be a town hall this Thursday, May 2 to discuss the election. The Unity candidate has been invited to show up, but don't hold your breath. If Ben wins, Unity will still have the two other reps and thus still a majority rule. So even if you are a Unity supporter, a vote for Ben offers some range of conversations instead of Mulgrew dictating decisions. Frankly, I no longer trust the decision making at the top, which seems to operate like a bug business and has ties to certain companies that might affect decision making on our pensions. We want some independent thinking even if only one voice who would open up what goes on there to more scrutiny. 
Ben has helped lead the battle for changing Tier 6 and would use his voice if elected to advocate for change.

UFT Ex Bd HS rep Nick Bacon posted on the New Action site:

On May 8, YOU decide who represents UFT Members on the pension board. I hope you choose Ben. 


Monday, April 29, 2024

Rtc meeting notes: Murphy Runs, Mulgrew Misinformation

I've been pretty lazy and am way behind in blogging. It's been over a week since I posted on the Retiree Chapter meeting. I finished my video duties at Rockaway Theatre at the Saturday night (April 20) and Sunday matinee of Urinetown and attended the cast party which ran into the evening with the actors, despite a grueling 12 shows over 3 weekends, had more than enough energy to perform late in the evening. With 27 people coming for Passover the next evening I had to get home. Luckily, I did most of my chores already, so had time Monday morning to work with the set construction crew to take down the set. Amazingly, we had an empty stage by 10:30 and we began to build the new set for Cat on the Hot Tin Roof.

Passover went pretty well - we had one and two and 4 and 9 year olds - and one old 79 year old -  until there was a political explosion as we were eating the Festive Meal, which suddenly wasn't so festive. I won't go any further. 
Sunday (yesterday) morning I took an acting class at the Rockaway Theatre Company which was loaded with great actors - and me - maybe I will get insights into the poor acting of our UFT leadership.

Monday April 29, 2024
It's almost May -- the older I get the faster time passes. Coming soon: Labor Day.
On the morning of the Retiree chapter meeting (Apr 16, I posited: Expect The Usual Fiasco. I followed with a review of the non-Mulgrew part of the meeting: Retiree Advocate (RA) Shows Some Muscle at UFT Retiree Meeting: Mulgrew, Tier 6, Paras and Happy Retirees.
And don't miss: Friday Night Video Update - Marianne interviews RA Candidates Fischer, Brandman, Greenberg. Very impressive people running for RTC Officers and Exec Bd. People have commented on how sensible they seem, a relief to some who expect people in the opposition to be calling for radical changes. If you call running a democratic chapter radical.

I squirmed during Mulgrew's usual MedAdv bullshit at the April 16 RTC meeting. The distortions, misinformation and outright lies made me want to be uncivil and I called out a few times. What I want is a few minutes of rebuttal time, not being forced by Unity catcalls to "ask my question."
Mulgew is selling his Aetna plan as the best MedAdv plan in history because it is unique and even asks how we can oppose it if it doesn't exist? With even the NYT constantly taking down MedAdv as a scam, Mulgrew is telling us his genius had found a magic bullet. 
More like magical thinking.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Friday Night Video Update - Marianne interviews RA Candidates Fischer, Brandman, Greenberg

Excellent video, Marianne. It's good to see and hear the Retiree Advocate position. Personally, I was pleased to see that Bennett, Bobby, and Gloria are middle of the road people, not extremist and dug in to tear up everything that has been accomplished over the decades. Nor do they appear to be authoritarian 'my way or the highway' types. What we don't need is a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" scenario at this stage of the game. I'm all in on wanting to get rid of Murphy and restoring some sanity back into the RTC ballgame. Thank you for all you do.... comment

This comment nailed what the RA campaign is all about. Empowering retirees to take control of their own chapter and possibly change the UFT forever. Unity still has a big block of loyal followers who when told to jump, they try, but usually get as far as up on their toes. Maybe we see some slippage of their core vote but I don't expect all that much. Thus we need to make up the difference from the 40 thousand retirees who didn't vote last time.



Saturday, April 20, 2024

Retiree Advocate (RA) Shows Some Muscle at UFT Retiree Meeting: Mulgrew, Tier 6, Paras and Happy Retirees

UFT's Tom Brown kept declaring how happy UFT retirees are. I maintain it is Retiree Advocate retirees who are the happiest because we know we are figthing the machine that wants to change our healthcare and enjoying the battle. To me, the Unity crowd does not look all that happy. Maybe a bit depressed over the possibility RA can win the chapter election and their gigs at the UFT.

Check out the updated Retiree Advocate web site: https://www.retireeadvocate.org/

Saturday, April 20
Being ordered around by a 70 something and an 18 year old.
I'm taking a few minutes off from my wife ordering me around to prep for the 30 people coming for Passover on Monday night. The young cousins bring pot and that's the only time each year I take a few puffs. I start the seder stoned and then tune out. 
I'm also on 4 days of video duty (Thursday, Friday, Saturday night and Sunday matinee) at the Rockaway Theatre Company for these final weekend of the spectacular Urinetown 
which  saw for the 5th time last night - with two more to go.
I'm not a spectator for this weekend as I get to follow directions from an 18 year old college freshman film student who is one impressive young lady. I love learning from teenagers. And by the way, let me say that media has been trashing today's youngsters while the theater loving teens and young 20s I meet and work with are amazing. (Our stage manager is 21 and our sound guy about the same age.) My message to parents: Get your depressed child into a theater program.
Last Tuesday, the morning of the Retiree chapter meeting, I posited: Expect The Usual Fiasco, but I actually had fun - before and after the meeting. During, not so much. This post is about the before and after and a bit about during. I'll post the Mulgrew part later, but if you can't wait, here is Arthur's meeting report from remote.
A bit over 200 were there in person --- a usual crew of Unity loyalists who shun us when we try to hand them a leaflet, but it seems about half the people are not. There were over 4k on line. There was some noise when people pushed back against Mulgrew. It resonates with the online crowd to hear some pushback.  
Our Retiree Advocate crew showed up before the meeting to hand out our main leaflet - check it out here - along with RA buttons and did so with verve and enthusiasm. Bennett was called upon to ask Mulgrew a question and a few other voices were raised, but let me not get ahead of myself. I view these meetings as organizing efforts to grow the retiree oppo base and we inch forward.

 Many people put on our buttons and signed up for our emails. We always meet some new people at these meetings
and we find very receptive people. 
We also handed out the notice we were having a meetup after the meeting at a local bar, where we ended up with almost 20 people. Only a little over 200 attended the in person, so that is not too shabby - and others told us they would have come but had some priors. Over the past year at the RCT meetings we have added people and lots were wearing our buttons. Some joined us at White Horse Tavern afterward for food and refreshments. Unfortunately I was due for a blood test for my newly discovered diabetes the next morning and had to avoid the beer.
Here's our chapter leader candidate Bennett Fischer saying a few words. I can't say enough about how capable Bennett is in almost any arena he takes on. I have enormous confidence in him -- but also our 10 officer and 15 chapter exec bd (I am the only one I have no confidence in) candidates. Plus the other 275 delegate assembly candidates who we are having a zoom with tomorrow night. If we win, it will be a new chapter in the history of the UFT.
The biggest Unity crew I've ever seen at an RA meeting also handed out a leaflet. I felt bad for them having to hand out a leaflet on how great a leader Tom Murphy is and they looked depressed doing so. 
Our organizing efforts have forced Unity to put out their own leaflet where found out for sure Tom Murphy is really running, and they actually had 5 people distributing, including former HSVP John Soldini and retired para rep Shelvy Young Abrams. But RA has about a dozen doing the work, a sign that if we win we will have an activist chapter driven by members.
Unity Caucus with Murphy leaflet.



The leaflet was LOL at points -- word was out that there were some people contending to replace him but he threw a bit of a fit and Mulgrew supported him. It's the king who decided in monarchies. Murphy's 75K retiree consultant  NYSUT gig might be threatened.
 Arthur has a few words on the Murphy leaflet:
The notion that Murphy is an independent thinker is absurd on its face. Clearly, the Unity notion of serving the union means fawning over Michael Mulgrew and stroking his fragile ego. (In fairness, Murphy is quite good at that.)...Murphy is a “guardian of civility.” Let’s first address the fact that it’s not true at all. Murphy shows blatant contempt for opinions that vary from Michael Mulgrew’s. He refuses to let passionate members speak at meetings. Then he marvels that members shout at him. (Why do people raise their voices when Tom doesn’t allow them to speak? Go figure. It’s a great mystery.)

The Tom Murphy/ UFT Unity Campaign: Hubris, Insinuation, Misdirection and Lies


Murphy is running a platform of civility -- don't dare call out during our meetings and if you have a postage sized sign he will be uncivil. Remember this?

Paras on agenda

Retired Para Chapter chair Shelvy Young Abrams is being handed a big role in the Unity RTC unit -- to try to organize and mobilize the 7k para retirees into a force of resistance to the growing influence of Retiree Advocate and she has a chance since few retired paras have gravitated to the opposition. The whys are worth examining -- maybe at an ICE meeting.

Tier 6 -Suddenly (I'm Tier 1 - I say, Smirking)

Aside from the Mulgrew appearance, which I will address in the follow-up to this report, we heard from UFT Treasurer and TRS pension rep Tom Brown, always an entertaining speaker, listed decades of UFT/Unity achievements and continuously pointed out how UFT retirees are the happiest people in the world. I almost broke out into song:
Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let's sing a song of cheer againHappy days are here again
Brown was followed by current Unity TRS candidate Christina McGrath - Unity has had to put out leaflets for her to counter our campaign for Ben Morgenroth. Before Ben was a candidate, he was pushing the UFT to do more to change Tier 6 --- and he has made Tier 6 reform a major part of his campaign. So of course Unity, which has done barely anything on Tier 6 for a dozen years, suddenly wakes up and McGrath was chosen to make a presentation on the changes they are asking for. 
RA's Bobby Greenberg asked a seemingly innocent question. I'll paraphrase:
It's nice to hear how many great things we've done over the decades. Congratulations. So if we've done so well, and everyone should be in Tier 1 but we'll take Tier 4. How did we go from Tier 1 to Tier 6? Or even Tier 4 to Tier 6? 
How uncivil of Bobby to dare bring up such a major failure of COPE and UFT Leadership which sat on its hands in 2012 when Tier 6 was foisted on us. Leadership realized that Ben and New Action had seized on the fact that 55% of UFT members are Tier 6 and that is a major campaign issue Unity is trying to get out from under. Ooopsie.
  •   fumfering" --> "A Yiddish word meaning to "mumble", most often used to mean to be evasive; can also mean to putter aimlessly or to waste time."
I won't even waste your time with their lame response.

The Unity crowd was not only caught flat-footed in 2012 but actually told their people it wasn't all that bad. Now that 55% of UFT members are in Tier 6, and people like Ben Morgenroth are raising it time and again, they see the political danger, so they are putting on a campaign to make people believe they are fighting for them.

Daniel, in a brilliant feat of investigative reporting, lays waste to them with this post on The Wire. Here is a segment.

Mulgrew, and his Unity Political Machine, did nothing to STOP Tier 6.

They rolled over when it was proposed in 2011. And when finally enacted in 2012. Now, we are left to pick up the pieces. Struggling to glue back and fix the damage they allowed to happen.

... we are in the struggle of our lives to try to FIX Tier 6 because more than 10 years ago he did nothing to STOP TIER 6.

Lost in Mulgrew’s trademark verbal acrobatics and rhetoric about trying to FIX Tier 6, along with his snail’s pace, piecemeal lobbying campaign, is the fact that he dropped the ball. We’re here because he failed to organize us to use our collective union power to STOP the agenda to deplete our pension benefits. 

We were NOT caught off guard. Bloomberg and Cuomo telegraphed their Tier 6 intentions. It wasn’t a surprise. It was a long time coming

For the ten months before its passage in April of 2012, there were no organized UFT rallies. No large scale, coordinated lobbying campaign coming out of 52 Broadway. Not even a single UFT resolution was passed against it by the executive board or delegate assembly during the year before Tier 6 was enacted. Next to nothing in Mulgrew’s web communiques to members before — and only after the legislature passed the new pension reform.

There was no major UFT-centered action, mobilization or pushback whatsoever to STOP TIER 6 — which still threatens the financial futures of a generation of educators today and has led to a mass exodus within our profession. 

You’ll find little to nothing in the mainstream press archives containing any public remarks by Mulgrew against Tier 6 prior to its passage. No prominent mentions about it on our union website during this time. He skirted his fiduciary duties and let Dick Ianuzzi and Anthony Pallotta of NYSUT be the primary mouthpieces to speak out against the proposal while the UFT communicated little about a ‘Stop Tier 6’ fight. All while it posed an existential threat to our UFT union family

In fact, in early 2012, when Mulgrew shared his annual January testimony to Albany’s legislature about the proposed budget, Mulgrew only dedicated a small fraction of his time to say he only had “strong reservations” about the “idea that we need a new pension tier.“ 

Strong reservations about the idea? That’s it? 

That’s it. Mulgrew shrugged.

Unity insiders have confided, in hindsight, that they believed Mulgrew when he told them behind closed doors that the defined pension benefits were in jeopardy. They say there was a sense of inevitability about the looming draconian changes and so they maintained a business as usual posture.

Perhaps Mulgrew miscalculated that if Albany gave Bloomberg what he wanted, Bloomberg would finally negotiate contracts with the city’s unions once again? If so, the gamble failed miserably as Bloomberg left office while the city’s labor contracts, including ours, remained expired.

Even in more recent years, we’ve heard folks like UFT treasurer and TRS teacher-member Trustee, Tom Brown, continue to downplay the severity of the Tier 6 giveback, as evident in a 2022 executive board meeting where “Brown and other Unity-elected members made the argument that Tier 6 was essentially fine, better than what (the mostly non-unionized) rest of the country has, and that improvements are being made anyways.”

Brown went on to falsely claim that “Tier 6ers don’t have ‘less net compensation’ than Tier 4ers.”

After Tier 6 passed in April of 2012, Mulgrew, to his credit, refused to receive an award with Bloomberg and Cuomo at a SOMOS gala, shortly after. Something about the optics of attending a party and being really mad.

Daniel follows in the footsteps of the great James Eterno, who in March 2012 nailed the Unity leadership on Tier 6 with this post on ICE:

 James pretty much said what Daniel says a dozen years later:
No spin from NYSUT or Leo Casey or President Mulgrew on the legislation to stick anyone hired in April or thereafter with a Tier VI pension...No spin from NYSUT or Leo Casey or President Mulgrew on the legislation to stick anyone hired in April or thereafter with a Tier VI pension...What about those COPE contributions?  We don't seem to have much influence with the legislature these days.

For those yet to be hired, the legislature and governor wiped away virtually all of the pension gains we made over the last thirty years.  A new teacher or new state employee will have to work until they are sixty three to receive a full pension which will only be 55% of final average salary according to what I read.  Final average salary has been increased from the average of the last five years of employment instead of three.

I remember when I started working and all of the people who were on Tier I told those of us who were on Tier IV how horrible our pension was.  Now we will have to face the Tier VI people and tell them they are in it for the real long haul if they want to make teaching a career. It is the same for other civil servants across New York State.
It struck me that in 2012 James talks about those who were about to be hired. Now over half are in Tier 6 and have been hired since then - think of the massive turnover in a dozen years.

I'll get to the follow-up on the Mulgrew part of the meeting, the following day's DA whee Unity rejected reform of the dental plan.

Great news for the next RTC meeting on May 21: Randi will be there. Oh, the joy!

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Expect The Usual Fiasco- Today 1-3 - UFT Retiree chapter meeting followed by Retiree Advocate Meetup at Local Bar

 Another fun meeting today. I'll report on the fun day tonight but if you are around join us after the meeting at 3 at the bar White Horse Tavern for eats and drinks.

 Here's our handout which will be included when the ballot goes out  



Question period at yesterday’s exec bd meeting. Exec board member, Ronnie Almonte asks: Welfare fund – our investment was 200 million a few years ago, now 600 million, but benefits haven’t increased. I’ve had the same experience as the open mic speaker. Joe Usatch: I will investigate. Investigate? Translation of paid bureaucrat: You’re being SHUNNED!


UFT Bits - Backdoor (sellout) deal on mayoral control?

Always watch what the UFT does, not what it says -- Fiddling with the PEP Will NOT do it  --- The wisdom of Norm

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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

This recent Ed Notes headline was too optimistic. The absolute incompetence of the Adams/Banks school administration apparently will not be enough to kill mayoral control. And the UFT, a key player, will whine about how bad they are but will not do anything to make it better for its members.
I've always maintained that the UFT/Unity crowd will never let Mayoral control lapse no matter their rhetoric about how bad the school system has been run over the past two decades. They don't really care how bad mayors perform - they care about their own power and the ability to negotiate with one administration rather then disperse power into the hands of groups they feel they cannot control, which they perceive as a threat to their hegemony -- that includes dispersing power to rank and file teachers at the school level. UFT/Unity doesn't want to empower their own members -- they want to control the members.
So, in recent months we heard Mulgrew criticize mayoral control and ask for changes - which I call tweaks, rather than a distribution of power. Then Monday we hear there is a deal of sorts where Adams would keep control if he would implement the class size law he has refused to implement so far.

This reminds me of those vigilantes who hold your computers ransom until you pay.

There can only be a deal if the UFT is somehow involved and watch them declare victory.

From the Chalkbeat article:
For months, lawmakers have argued the future of the city’s polarizing school governance structure should be determined outside of the budget process. But during last-minute negotiations on the two-weeks-late budget, the possibility of extending mayoral control reentered discussions.
Leonie speaks: no backdoor deal on mayoral control!

Last week the State Education Department released an excellent report, summarizing the public testimony at the borough hearings and in writing on Mayoral control, and analyzing our NYC school governance system compared to others across the country. The report contained recommendations about how the system should be changed, by giving more voice to parents and other stakeholders, revamping the composition of the Panel for Educational Policy, and establishing a Commission to propose more fundamental changes.

Then this afternoon, there was a lot of chatter on Twitter and elsewhere that a deal was imminent to give Adams two more years of mayoral control in the budget, in exchange for some minor tweaks and concessions (?) on class size. Yet soon after, Governor Hochul held a press conference and said no deal on Mayoral control has yet been finalized.

So it's urgent: please send a message to your Legislators tonight; urge them to provide more checks and balances, transparency and parent voice in the running of our schools - because twenty years of Mayoral control has NOT worked for NYC students. If you're not convinced, check out our point by point rebuttal of DOE talking points put out over the weekend; and an explanation of how the system has failed in terms of real accountability here.

But please send an email to your legislators tonight -- before its too late.

And share this message with others who care.

thanks, Leonie

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

 Another news report:

Mayoral control of NYC schools is back from the dead in state budget talks, key lawmaker says - Gothamist


State lawmakers are discussing a possible short-term extension of mayoral control of New York City's school system, though it would come with significant strings attached, according to a key lawmaker in Albany.

State Sen. John Liu, a Queens Democrat who chairs the New York City education committee of the State Senate, confirmed on Monday that mayoral control is back on the table in ongoing discussions on New York's next budget. Mayoral control is currently due to expire at the end of June, despite Mayor Eric Adams' opposition to it lapsing.

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently raised the issue again in budget talks, two weeks after legislative leaders all but declared it dead as part of the state's spending plan, Liu told Gothamist. But he suggested that, if lawmakers agree to extend mayoral control of the city's schools, it would come with a mechanism to ensure the Adams administration complies with looming class-size restrictions, which state lawmakers approved the last time they extended mayoral control in 2022.

“The mayor wants accountability, and so we’re looking for ways to make him accountable,” Liu said. “The governor has brought up mayoral control in the negotiations, and we're looking at the issue.”

Adams and his schools chancellor David Banks have strongly advocated for an extension, arguing they should remain in charge of the city's schools because it’s the best way for them to be held accountable and impose order on the nation’s largest school system. But many educators and parents have called for change, saying the mayor is too far removed from the day-to-day reality of schools.

Hochul included a four-year extension of mayoral control in her $233 billion state budget proposal in January. But legislative leaders signaled by early April that it hadn’t been a serious part of budget negotiations.

Adams’ administration still kept pushing the issue, with Banks traveling to the state Capitol earlier this month to urge lawmakers to consider putting it in the spending plan. “We think we’ve done a great job in rebuilding trust with our families and our communities, and we’ve been delivering real results,” Banks said in Albany on April 2.

Asked a day later whether mayoral control would be in a final budget agreement, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat from Yonkers, flatly said “no.”

Now, Liu says any possible extension would include "substantial guarantees" for the city to follow through on the mandates of the state class-size law, a major goal of the United Federation of Teachers union and many New York City parents. Democratic lawmakers are expected to discuss the issue behind closed doors on Monday afternoon.

The law requires a significant reduction of class sizes in the city’s public schools over time. Adams argues the city cannot make those changes without more funding from the state.

When the law is fully implemented, kindergarten through third-grade classes will be capped at 20 students, fourth- through eighth-grade classes will be capped at 23 students, and high-school classes will be capped at 25 students. The city’s Independent Budget Office has estimated that almost 18,000 teachers would need to be hired to meet the mandate, at a cost of up to $1.9 billion per year.

New York City would also have to identify more space for the smaller classrooms. Reducing class sizes is generally popular with parents, but some say they worry about increased competition for certain schools and programs.

The latest talks on another extension of mayoral control come days after the state Education Department released a lengthy review recommending possible reforms. Legislators required the review as part of the 2022 extension of mayoral control, which was for two years.

The nearly 300-page report called for more opportunities for input from families and educators and stronger checks and balances around mayoral control. It noted that New York City currently gives the mayor more power over education than any other school district in the country.

Under that system, the mayor selects the schools chancellor and appoints a majority of members to the Panel for Educational Policy, an oversight board that votes on school-related contracts and other matters. The non-mayoral members are elected by parent councils or appointed by borough presidents, and some of them have said they feel powerless because the mayor appoints most of the panel.

The state Education Department's report did not ultimately offer clear recommendations on the fate of mayoral control. Instead, it called for a commission to further study the issue.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Albany continue to negotiate the finer points of the broader state budget, which is expected to total $235 billion once approved. It was due before the start of the state’s fiscal year on April 1, but the Gov. Hochul has struggled to reach consensus with lawmakers on a final deal. Lawmakers have approved four short-term budget extenders to keep the state’s payroll running.

As of Friday, the governor and legislative leaders were closing in on an agreement on the hotly contested issue of housing policy. If a housing deal is reached, that could clear the major remaining hurdle to a final budget. But tenant and landlord advocates aren’t pleased with the emerging deal.

The state Senate and Assembly’s Democratic majorities are expected to hold closed-door conferences on the final remaining issues on Monday afternoon and evening.


Saturday, April 13, 2024

UFT's 3 Consequential Elections: Petitions are in and the Game is On

Saturday, April 13, 2024

The UFT holds spring chapter elections every 3 years and 2024 may turn out to be one of the more consequential elections in its over 6 decade history. 

I've always maintained that chapter elections every 3 years are more important than the officer/exec bd elections which also take place every three years, a year later than the chapter elections (spring 2025). Chapter elections can be precursors of possible weaknesses in the Unity machine. I always have hope that we will see some changes, hope that is often unfulfilled. But there are always glimmers. 

Over the past few days, petitions were turned in for 3 consequential elections taking place in the UFT: TRS, Retirees and Paras, each one with some level of future consequences for the union. But together they represent a serious challenge to the 6 decade Unity Caucus hegemony. 

TRS Election

I've been covering the unexpected election in the Teacher Retirement System, the first in 40 years, with the challenge mounted by Ben Morgenroth to the Unity candidate.  I receive the mailed petitions and they came in from schools and people I've never heard of, evidence of surprising grass roots support. The campaign committee met the other day to review the petitions before handing them in and in a short campaign there were over 1600. We needed a thousand.

There are lots of reasons to support Ben's campaign - which I elucidated the other day: Teacher Retiree System (TRS) Pension Election - Why You Should Care and Vote for Ben.

What I didn't mention was the energy and enthusiasm coming from Ben himself and how he has galvanized an election that 6 weeks ago he wasn't aware existed. I've known Ben for a few years and he has made his bones on his fantastic analysis of the horrors of Tier 6 and has placed it front and center and has spurred the leadership out of its lethargy to try to make a few modest changes to undercut the threat to them given that 55% of the members are in Tier 6. Unity will try to take credit - despite the fact they put up no opposition when Cuomo instituted Tier 6 in 2012 with Bloomberg's support. I'm guessing in their thinking they were trading off the pensions of future members in exchange for a hoped contract. 

Read James Eterno comments from 2012: 

See the Tier 6 slides prepared by Ben.

Let's face reality. The incompetent DOE is running the elections in the schools and there is no institutional memory of how to even run an election and Unity has loads of chapter leaders in the schools. But the outcome will offer an insight to how strong that Unity machine is. Leadership is very much perturbed that they even have to bother campaigning. Since we rotate the 3 pension reps every 3 years, there is an election held every year. I hope there is someone running to challenge the Unity reps every time. Make them defend their turf on every field.

Remember, retirees don't vote in this election. Someone left a comment on Ed Notes asking how functional chapters will vote in this election on May 8 and here was the response to Ben:

We have not finalized the election process yet – we are likely going through qualified members directly rather than principals to avoid the issues that you’ve mentioned below. We do not have an obligation to have the final process in place until early May – when it is finalized, we will share.
Oy! This will go well.

A tale of the two largest functional chapter elections totaling almost 100,000 UFT members

Retiree Chapter election: A win for RA over Unity would be bigger than last week's earthquake - 7.0 on union political Richter Scale
RA turned in a full slate of 300 candidates, the first time we were able to do this. Ballots go out on May 10 and we have a leaflet included, which I will share in a few days. We are handing it out at the chapter meeting this Tuesday. And party at the White Horse Tavern after.

Three years ago Retiree Advocate ran against Unity in the Unity dominated retired teacher chapter, which with its 60-70 thousand members, helps decide the general UFT election. The health care changes, which leadership tried to keep undercover before the election, had just been exposed, but too late for us to campaign on that issue. Still, we received 30% of the vote, doubling from the year before. In the general election two years ago, 27,000 retirees voted out of 52,000 votes -- that is enormous and the UFC slate received the same 30% a year after the Medicare Advantage scandal broke, a disappointment.

Can we make up the difference this time? Unity seems worried that we have a chance to win this time, which would cause cataclysmic changes in the UFT and offer an opportunity to actually topple Unity and Mulgrew in the 2025 general election - if the opposition manages to get itself together - a big IF. 
Can we close the 70-30% gap? There seems to be a bit of apprehension in the halls of Unity, and even rumors Tom Murphy may be dumped as CL. I speculated about Carmen Alvarez replacing him last month when she gave a long presentation at the March RTC meeting. (Unity has not announced its candidates as of this date, but the betting is on Murphy because Mulgrew values fealty over competence). Carmen spoke mostly about paras, which is interesting. There were rumors lasts summer that Unity was so worried about the RTC election it considered removing paras from the RTC into its own retiree chapter but that clearly hasn't happened - yet. Instead they are moving to turn the 7000 retired paras into a force for themselves by gathering their contact info and all of a sudden taking an interest in them and pushing to organize working paras in the chapter election to counter the impact of a loss in the retiree election. (See para election story below). Arthur has a great report on the March meeting:
Can we win and do we have to?
Assume a Unity loyalty vote of 16-18 thousand but add some erosion we hear from some people. Assume gains for RA over the last few years from their losses but also from new voters. Still a big gap. UFT pundits believe that even if RA doesn't win, closing the gap into a 55-45 range is still a game changer because it opens up the possibility of making up the difference in the general election a year later. Smelling a possible opposition win would shed some Unity supporters who don't want to be on a losing side.

The wild card here is Marianne Pizzatola and her massive outreach to retirees. The Chief did a big story on her the other day.
She has the outreach to mobilize UFT retirees who had not voted before, which is crucial.

UFT Paras for A Fair Contract

Fix Para Pay Now - The Para chapter election: Say What? 
An election in the para chapter? Holy Cow. Well there was one last year with 5 candidates opposing the Unity gang and two were elected. I had a report on the election: Contentious UFT Para Chapter Election - Does Unity... and some updated info here.
So Unity for the first time instituted slate voting for the para chapter, pointing to the fact that this election is almost as major for Unity as the retiree election, with 27K paras in the system. If Fix Para Pay Now slate carves out a substantial vote, that can be another major threat to Unity in the 2025 general election. 
There's a petition - the Fix Para Pay petition - going around and signed by thousands of paras -- will they be a force in this election?

Arthur has some background: Those Wacky UFT Bosses and Their Zany Antics

Let’s go to another issue—[Unity's] abysmal treatment of paraprofessionals. For one thing, Unity thinks paraprofessionals are too stupid to select their own representatives. That’s why elected members of the Unity Patronage Cult have offices and jobs. That’s why Migda Rodriguez, an elected non-Unity member, is working full-time as a paraprofessional, with no office, no time off, no UFT job, and not even a UFT email. How stupid does UFT Unity think paraprofessionals are? Last week, they butchered a resolution at Executive Board. Paraprofessionals should demand change, but not “meaningfully.” They doubled down at the Delegate Assembly, saying paras already have it pretty good, and shouldn’t bother negotiating for a living wage. However, Unity has not totally neglected the paras. Last weekend, they gave them a fancy party. And their Unity leader has now given them a handbook. Who needs a living wage when you have a party and a handbook?

More from Arthur: Paraprofessionals Need a Raise, Not a Tip

Migda has a newsletter. Read it here.

Unity is on the attack and trying to recruit 300 paras to run on their slate. We hear they are not having an easy time of it.

To summarize:

If the outcomes don't go Unity's way -- like taking a big bite out of their majority, these 3 concurrent elections represent a threat to Unity and would encourage a united opposition in 2025. If not, it may be time for some golf.



It's hard to judge where things are going at the 1800 or so schools where the chapter leader and at least one delegate from each school will be elected and can influence the delegate assembly, which is packed with Unity delegates and staffers and an big influx of delegates representing the functional chapters like retirees and paras. The caucuses are doing training for chapter leaders and delegates who want to run. But they have always done trainings and even brag about how many of their people are elected. But I go to the DA every month and the number of oppo people are very slim, though even these few can have an impact. 

And for a bonus:

Junket City

How Unity spends our dues from April Adcom:

 Motion:      To send 9 members to the National Association of School Nurses Conference on June 28-July 1, 2024 in Chicago, IL at a cost of $2,568 per person. (9x2568= 23,112)
Motion:       To send 1 member to the Early Educators Leadership Conference on October 16-19, 2024 in Washington, DC, at a cost of $3,030. (3,030)

Motion:       To send 3 members to the National Art Education Association National Convention on April 4-7, 2024 in Minneapolis, MN at a cost of $1,982 per person. (3x1,982 = 5,946)
Motion:       To send 5 members to the Coalition of Labor Union Women National Executive Board and 50th Anniversary Gala on May 8-11, 2024 in Niagara Falls at a cost of $1,461 per person. (5x1,461 = 7,305)
Motion:       To send 4 members to the IEL-National Community Schools and Family Engagement Conference on May 29-31, 2024, in Atlanta, GA at a cost of $2,595 per person. (4x2595= 10,380)

total = $49,773

And this:

 Motion: To authorize up to 50 retirees to participate in the 2024 AFT Convention and retiree activities associated with the Convention.
 Let's Estimate the cost -- plane fair, hotel, meals --- let's call it 2 grand per x 50 --- $100,000.

And Jonathan reports:

UFT Welfare Fund nest egg – bigger than most nests

Do you smell the rot?

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.
Join #TalkOutofSchool, Sun 4/14 at 7 PM on

99.5 FM. I chat w/ Kaliris Salas-Ramirez & Leonie Haimson abt the newly released NYSED report on mayoral control of . We discuss findings, recommendations & impact.  wbai.org
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.

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:


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.



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: