Archive for September, 2013

We should support Tish James for Public Advocate

New Action has not discussed an endorsement for Public Advocate. Michael Shulman sent the following personal appeal to our Executive Board:

September 25, 2013

Dear New Action,

Most of you know me from my 40+ years as a union activist and as a co-chair of New Action/UFT. In the recent citywide elections, many of us put our efforts behind one or another candidate with the hopes of electingsomeone who would put an end to the failed legacy of Michael Bloomberg.

One election our union, the UFT did not make an endorsement for was the office of Public Advocate. Among other things, I have been working and supporting the candidacy of Letitia James for Public Advocate.

As you probably saw, the NY Times says there will be a very small turnout of 100,000 to 150,000 and that if all the unions that have endorsed Tish turn out their own members she will win. I believe the UFT stayed out of this race because both candidates are fairly progressive. “Tish” is endorsed by 1199, 32BJ,TWU 100, DC 37 and a number of smaller unions. Squadron is not endorsed by any unions.

At a candidates debate before the Sept. 10 primary, Tish took the positionthat public workers should receive retroactive pay. Squadron said it woulddepend on whether the city had enough money.

I have never known a candidate more committed to the interests of working people – poor and middle class – racially oppressed or white – and so capable a fighter.

And she is incorruptible in standing up to the 1% in behalf of the 99%.Recently, you could see her at demonstrations to save our libraries and our hospitals, and in the City Council as a leading fighter for the legislation to end racial profiling in stop and frisk, for sick leave, and for the legislation she led in sponsoring to protect tenants’ well-being from landlord violations of living conditions.

If elected, Tish James will be the only woman, the only person of color in a city of over 6 million people of color, and the only African American elected to office city-wide. Your help by voting for her on election day can help make up for her lack of money from the big-monied interests.

I am writing to urge you to join me in a big final push for Letitia James on October 1. Your vote really does count!

In solidarity,

Michael Shulman

Advertisements

Welcome Back, Chapter Leaders

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2013 Citywide Chapter Leaders Meeting).
For a printable version click: NA/UFT Leaflet 2013 September

Welcome! New Action welcomes you to the Citywide Chapter Leader meeting.

New Action/UFT is one of several caucuses (political parties) in the United Federation of Teachers. There are differences between the caucuses. But we believe that whatever differences there are, that the external enemies of our union and the threat to the members outweighs our differences.  Today we see that, as our entire union faces the challenge of the new teacher evaluation system.

We work with our leadership, yet remain independent and critical of the leadership when warranted. To that end, we have worked with Michael Mulgrew and Unity Caucus in a bipartisan relationship that we believe benefits the membership. New Action chairs Michael Shulman and Jonathan Halabi, and eight additional New Action supporters, give voice to members’ concerns on the UFT Executive Board.

ABUSIVE ADMINISTRATORS

We sincerely hope you are in one of the many schools with collaborative principals. That relationship makes for a healthy work environment and benefits staff and students. Too many principals, however, are not collaborative, and many are downright abusive. We need to modify the behavior of all abusive and troublesome administrators.

Particularly troubling are principals who target UFT chapter leaders. We need to prioritize standing up for Chapter Leaders – they are our members’ first line of defense!

Organizing a response requires a strong chapter. Chapters that regularly meet and discuss issues of importance are chapters that are in a better position to mobilize.

CONTRACT

We have been working without a contract, or rather, under an expired contract, for 47 months. On Halloween it will be a full four years. The settlement of our contract is long overdue. The hold up? Bloomberg and his demands for unreasonable concessions, or for breaking the pattern and trying to pay us less.

But there will be a change in City Hall come January 1. We look forward to a contract, before this year is out:

  • with RETROACTIVE PAY – for EVERYONE – including recent retirees.
  • with NO GIVE BACKS
  • with 4% and 4% for the first two years (2009-10 and 2010-11)
  • and that allows us to work under a CURRENT, UNEXPIRED CONTRACT

NYC Elections

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2013 Citywide Chapter Leaders Meeting).
For a printable version click: NA/UFT Leaflet 2013 September

ELECTIONS

A few days ago New Yorkers massively repudiated Bloomberg’s legacy. New Action would have supported De Blasio, Liu or Thompson. And these anti-Bloomberg candidates won the overwhelming majority of votes. Now we need to secure victory in the general election.

After twelve years of Michael Bloomberg, Joel Klein, and then after Bloomberg won his third term Cathie Black and Dennis Walcott, students, teachers, parents, communities all look forward to a new day.

We expect things to change. We expect a new attitude at the Department of Education. We expect an up to date contract. And we need a chancellor who is an educator – and who is student/parent/teacher friendly.

Teacher Evaluation

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2013 Citywide Chapter Leaders Meeting).
For a printable version click: NA/UFT Leaflet 2013 September

TEACHER EVALUATION

New Action opposed the adoption of this new teacher evaluation system every step of the way. It weakens tenure and introduces rating teachers on students standardized test scores. We advocate changing or repealing the state law.

Already chapters are seeing disagreements between the DoE and the UFT about how the system should work. This was not ready for 2013 implementation.

But today the system is here. We are immediately faced with complexities: school-based committees have already chosen local measures (MOSL). Members must choose which observation model soon. There will be artifacts, discussions. At the September 9 UFT Executive Board, Regina Gori, Exec Board member and Chapter Leader at the Brooklyn New School, asked what recommendations we can make to members for the choices they are facing. The answer directed them to the “Quick Start Guide” for information, but the leadership is not willing to make recommendations, indicating this is a personal choice.

Our members come to Chapter Leaders seeking advice. They do so because the CLs often have greater knowledge or insight. Likewise CLs approach our union’s leadership. It is unseemly to deny advice to chapter leaders. This should change, now.

With good information, Chapter Leaders can lead informed chapter discussions. And discussion of issues that matter, including teacher evaluation, helps build stronger chapters.