Archive for March, 2022

Executive Board Meeting Minutes, 3/28/2022 – Election Complaints

A. Routine Items

1. Approval of the Minutes (March 19) – All minutes (eboard and adcom) passed unanimously

Announcements: Negotiating committee will be starting at 4:30 on Wednesday, all in person, giving time for people to come from the outer boroughs. Next eboard is March, next DA is April 18th. The DA in May is now May 25th, which is not the original date.

1. Report from Districts

Rashad Brown, executive board at large, had legal plan meeting with great attendance.

Janella Hinds: Hosting 2 events next week, Tuesday April 5th, Academic High School meeting, 4:30-5:45, followed by the academic high schools award ceremony, including education, union, community, and solidarity awards. Last year’s winners will also be exited. That’s Friday, April 8th.

(Name Missed): First books event just occurred, where 12,000 books were given to many different schools in Chinatown. Lots of support.

2. President’s Report : Michael Mulgrew: Apologizes for being late, but says he’s been on meetings in Albany. Says budget, a lot of it was taken up by Buffalo Bills Stadium. Tier 6 reform discussions will be occurring all week. April 4th is now the final date of the budget, strange. Congratulate nurse chapter, settled with Northwell last Friday at 4:00 AM. Able to get contract settled and they did a great job. Thanks all involved. Now, all private sector nurse contracts are back in place. At least a year before we have to deal with another issue. On April 14th, prep is going on for Listen up – the number of teachers we have is so many that we are going to have to expand. The idea is for education leaders and policy experts to listen to teachers for what is going on and needed right now. We knew, we have a whole bunch of educators who want to do that kind of work.

Chapter leader hub goes live on Friday. Will continue to field test it to make sure all goes well, but it’s a big deal, and we’re hoping that everything goes well. It is that time of the year. We don’t have the calendar yet from the DOE, and I’m frustrated, because we need to start planning for next year now, and the DOE is taking quite a bit of time on the superintendent process, so we’ll see how that goes. Besides that, we have the NYSUT RA, and thanks all going for doing that work. It’s really tight and it’s nonstop for two days, sitting in chairs and making sure we’re representing our local in the state-wide piece. Apologizes, but has to leave.

Thanks everyone for a phenomenal chapter leader weekend. Talks about great energy and optimism, great to see how great it was. It was a well run weekend, so thanks everyone. Be well, bye.

Reports from Districts reconvenes:

Rich Mantell: April 9th is the Middle School conference in person, no remote option. Some of the classes are STEM classroom, Google Earth, CTE partnerships, loan forgiveness, morale, socio-emotional health (yoga). See you there.

Mary Vaccaro: CTLE workshops, everyone is calling. We’ve added a lot of them. Anyone on the waitlist, we’ll let you know, especially for our Apple workshops, cap being lifted to 450. In addition there are ELL credits associated if that applies to you. April 6th, Goldie Haun workshop will have workshop on SEL, free one year subscription. Many schools invited to attend. Anyone who wants to attend from eboard, we’ll get an invite out to your.

Karen Alford: Had elementary school workshops last week, was great to be back in person. Had an elementary school town hall with about 500 people online, who asked questions and heard the reports.

Tom Murphy: April 11th is next meeting for retired chapter. Will now be a regular mail letter for retirees, including for retirees who don’t have email.

C. Special Order of Business: Election Complaints

Background from LeRoy Barr: alleged misuse of union resources in election, Christina Gavin is a UFC member. We are going to review her complaint and take steps. In other instances, we have found that some Unity Caucus actions are fine, with response to use of personal accounts by UFT employee on social media. Every 3 years, we have elections. The 2022 election committee has reps from each slate, Unity and UFC (doesn’t mention how many in each). Email was sent by Christina with respect to use of media. UFT gathered more information, after which Christina amended her complaint and added additional evidence. With regard to official UFT accounts, no caucus business, email should be sent out…..with use of officer headshots from website, we say that Unity should pay a reasonable market rate for use of the photos. But recommend dismissal of the rest of the complaint.

Complaint that UFT employees use personal accounts for both UFT and caucus business, but some of these activities are not electioneering. Nothing wrong with sharing UFT information. Allegations of union employees using personal accounts to ‘electioneer’ on social media. Since personal, this is not illegal. There are also accounts that official UFT accounts should not be used for caucus purposes, and these accounts should cease being used ASAP. Some accounts are used for non-UFT purposes or caucus purposes, but this is fine. Uses of UFT and archival photos for caucus purposes, which showed caucus logos on republished UFT footage. Under LMRDA, the union is not required to stop communications to regular UFT. While it’s true that LMRDA is against using union funds for electioneering, this is not true when there is equal access. For instance, there can be a candidates forum or post in newspaper. Since anyone could have downloaded the video in Queens, anyone else could have done that, not just Unity Caucus. The same is true of the photo from the labor archives.

Use of headshots from the Unity website and campaign materials. Unity used headshots that were paid for by UFT funds. This has been ruled that one campaign’s use of photos from the website does not violate election law, because those photos are not UFT property but officer property. Still, Unity Caucus should pay a reasonable market rate for use of the headshots. President Mulgrew’s letter in support of Debra Penny for TRS Board. The allegation that Mulgrew’s praise of Debra Penny, incumbent candidate for Treasurer, and asking for signatures from all chapter leaders. The 3 teacher members serve 3 year terms, and it’s Debra Penny’s turn for an election. The DA voted overwhelmingly in support. Only after this resolution did Michael Mulgrew send the letter in support. The DOL has found this regular work of the union to be permissable during officer election season. The letter didn’t endorse Penny for UFT Treasurer, so the complaint is denied. The letter is fine.

Union representatives were found to enter different schools during UFT work hours and distributed flyers. Winnie Thompson sent caucus business from her UFT account. This matter has been addressed. And another DR allegedly dropped off caucus pamphlets to a CL in the parking lot. The other DRs deny the evidence, but they should be reminded not to do it.

Michael Sill: Only members of the eboard may debate, but Christina Gavin will be given an opportunity to speak for 3 minutes.

Christina Gavin: Our union has been in existence since 1960. The DOL has regulations, set in 1959, for election guidelines. Our union should be upholding federal labor laws. These labor laws underline the fiber of our union, but we see repeated violations. Mr. Barr and Ms. Norton take exemption and want to interpret regulations and Carl Cambria’s reminder to interpret guidelines in another way. It’s my right to appeal that. Unity Caucus has violated labor law as well as Carl Cambria’s email to them that explicitly reminded on much of what was discussed above. Cambria later said he was amending his original email. But, when you write a rule, that is what you need to be bound by. I look forward to seeing what AFT will say of this matter.

Michael Sill: Do we accept the report? No debate. Motion passes unanimously.

Barr: Ballots on April 8th. Reminds everyone to vote. Motion to adjourn.

The Mulgrew Show and the Unity Laugh Track

I’m livid. Absolutely livid. I’m sitting in my hotel room in Tarrytown after a full day at the chapter leader weekend. I’m typing this on a phone, because I didn’t think I’d need to bring my laptop to blog.

Why am I livid? I was prepared for a little bit of electioneering when I got here. So when Anthony Harmon repeatedly talked about Michael Mulgrew as if he was a saint and made sure to drop multiple lines of the unity slogan “doing the work,” just after thousands of teachers received unity flyers in the mail, I jotted it down, but that’s not why I’m mad.

I’m mad, because I just saw how low the Unity led UFT is willing to go to silence members who they perceive as even remotely critical. When Mulgrew got up to give his overly long presidential address, Jane Rubio immediately got in line so that she would have a chance to ask a question. At the last event, she also got in line very early, but Michael Mulgrew filibustered his answers to the other questions and Jane never got a chance to speak. This time he couldn’t get away with that, because she was right there in front of the first mic, and had been standing for over a half an hour for the chance to speak.

When she got her chance, Jane asked a reasonable question, and in a completely reasonable way without reference to any caucus or the election. She simply asked why the president’s reports were so long at the delegate assemblies, citing the fact that only 1.5 resolutions have been passed a month since December of 2020, and noting that if the president spoke for less than an hour, maybe we could get to that business. Immediately, staffers and unity members began to shout her down. Then they cut the mic. There were audible attacks made on Jane and chants of “UFT,” as if Jane, a first-year chapter leader from the Bronx, who was donating her time to learn more about the contract so that she could better help her members, wasn’t even a member of the union that she does so much work to represent.

Eventually the mic went back on. Mulgrew responded that delegate assemblies are part debate but also part president’s report. He claimed that during a pandemic president reports simply have to be longer. Then he scolded that if we want to get political, there are shenanigans at the DA, implying that UFC, who spoke for a total of maybe 5 minutes at the DA, mostly to try and extend the meeting so that there could be debate, was the real problem. The problem, in other words, is that we won’t shut up completely and let Unity talk at us.

Keep in mind that in events like this, a significant percentage of the room is staff. There are district reps, officers, chapter delegates, and other staffers who are positioned both in clusters of UFT employees and also interspersed at tables with teachers. So after Michael Mulgrew spoke, responding to the woman he had just silenced, who his staff had literally cut the mic of so that she would stop making a point that didn’t paint him as god’s gift to teachers, the room erupted in applause. Now this is a chapter leader weekend. Most of the chapter leaders here are chapter leaders for the first time. They aren’t members of a caucus. Like me, when I was a first year chapter leader, they likely have no idea that every single person with a UFT job in this room must be a member of Michael Mulgrew’s caucus. And that’s why this is a campaign event. Because Unity Caucus can attack a female chapter leader who simply wants to know why no resolutions are ever discussed at the DA, put on the Unity laugh track after Mulgrew speaks, and make independents think if the majority of room is clapping, I guess I should too.

If Michael Mulgrew is going to turn dues-funded events like this into tyrannical displays of his one party caucus, the least he could do is agree to a debate with Camille Eterno, so our union can see the other side. But there’s only room for one person in the Michael Mulgrew show, and that’s Michael Mulgrew (and his Unity laugh track).

Filibusters and Fabrications- Thoughts on the March, 2022 Delegate Assembly

The March DA was December all over again, as Mulgrew avoided giving any space to members of United for Change by using every tactic under the sun to silence us, and really all non-Unity members of the Delegate Assembly.

  1. Abnormally Long President’s Report: Mulgrew’s report dragged on for over an hour and left virtually no time for official business. He even invited some speakers to make the report particularly long, a tactic he uses when he really wants to filibuster. That presentation, full of glitches, was about an online system for chapter leaders that could have just as easily been an email. (Keep in mind, most delegates at the DA are not even Chapter Leaders…they’re delegates). It’s worth mentioning that one of the presenters was Unity Caucus’s Maggie Joyce, who Mulgrew suspiciously called on in the last DA too, even as he couldn’t manage to allow a single UFC delegate to speak in either of the last two DAs. Watching the talk, one couldn’t help being reminded of the December DA, when Mulgrew called on a staffer to give a time-share like presentation about how good Mulgrewcare was. Mulgrewcare, of course, was later scrapped after UFC’s own Retiree Advocate (working with some other groups) exposed it for the fraud that it was and won in court. And, despite a pretty interesting question period, with speakers making critical points about things like abusive administration, undelivered vacation days, and delayed payment to OT/PT, Mulgrew’s answers left much to be desired, though he spent tons of time answering them (to avoid taking other questions).
  2. Making up rules: When Camille Eterno tried to make a minor parliamentary inquiry about a mistake on last month’s minutes regarding what she had said then, she was ruled out of order and not allowed to speak. The reason? Mulgrew claimed that parliamentary inquiries can’t be made during the President’s Report. Of course, the Delegate Assembly is deliberative–and as such uses Robert’s Rules. Searching as we have, we’ve found no place in Robert’s Rules specifying Mulgrew’s rules. That leads me to think he may have, you know, made it up, so that he could silence Camille. It’s worth noting that Mulgrew erroneously accused Camille of electioneering, even though she mentioned nothing about the election or about caucuses. Ibeth Mejia, who I’m running with for High School Executive Board, tried to use a point of order to advocate for them to take Camille’s point, stating that it was absurd for Mulgrew to interrupt her with a simple request about the minutes, but was also shouted down.
  3. Not Calling on UFC Members (Redux): We at United for Change are used to not being called on by Mulgrew at this point. Indeed, we haven’t been called on for a new motion since November, and to this day I think I was only called on to read our resolution on healthcare back then because Mulgrew still thought I was with Unity Caucus. This time, when many UFC delegates were amongst the first to shoot their hands up, Mulgrew waited and palpably searched the audience for Thomas Conavoy, so that he could read the inherently uncontroversial resolution on recognizing Diwali. Another non-UFC person was called on after, and this was the last person recognized by Mulgrew. Earlier in the DA, Daniel Alicea asked a point of parliamentary inquiry about needing to rotate between those for and against given motions, and Mulgrew answered that when there is a debate they do have such a procedure, which of course begs the question: why was that procedure so conspicuously not followed in February, when a debate followed Camille Eterno’s motion to appeal the chair. Of course, that ‘debate’ consisted of Mulgrew recognizing the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary, and another Executive Board member, all of whom of course agreed with Mulgrew. Indeed, in that debate, not a single person was called on who disagreed. Not a single person was called on from United for Change.
  4. Not allowing the meeting to be extended: Mulgrew talked for so long during this DA that there was no way we were going to get to any resolution on this month’s agenda. He also prevented UFC from raising an important resolution on mayoral control, as well as another resolution on Tier 6 (which, ironically Unity was also prepared to present a similar motion on…if only Mulgrew hadn’t run out the clock). Peter Lamphere tried to make a motion to extend the time, but was ruled out of order for technical reasons. Mulgrew claimed there was too much important business to conduct right after the meeting, because the UFT members of the RA were meeting right at 6:00. I made a point of order, because I hold the invite, and it clearly says 6:30. He claimed that 30 minutes was needed to prepare the room. So I stuck around after the automatic adjournment at 6:00. When I left at 6:20, the chairs were exactly where they left them. There was no need to end at 6:00 PM, but I think we all knew that. (And by the way, Mulgrew, if you know in advance that you ‘need’ to adjourn at 6:00 PM, why not make your President’s report a little shorter in the first place so there’s no need to make a motion to extend)?


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