Archive for the 'Chapter Leaders' Category

Janus – It Takes a Fight to Win

This year the UFT and membership may face the most difficult year in our history with the adverse U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Janus case. We are convinced Chapter Leaders and activists in our schools will rise to the occasion and support our union by convincing every member to pay union dues. New Action is committed to make that happen.

But much more needs to be done to make this a reality. While the union has made considerable efforts to inform members about the benefits they derive from being members (specifically their efforts to set up committees in each school; sending activists to go door to door knocking, and using the NY Teacher to publicize the importance of the union to its members) they have missed the boat in key areas. UFT members want and need a more pro-active, militant response from our union. There is no simple solution but New Action offers a few for your consideration:

COMBAT ABUSIVE ADMINISTRATORS – Principals who harass our members and single out chapter leaders are a persistent problem in too many schools. The union needs to go after these abusers and let the membership know we will not tolerate this behavior. We have helped some members find support by appealing to the leadership at the UFT Executive Board. But members are too often rebuffed before they get there. The union, at every level, needs to take on abusive administrators.

INVOLVE MEMBERS IN A REAL CONTRACT FIGHT – The secret negotiations must end. Members should be involved any contract fight. What are the issues? We must ask school chapters to meet and hear reports on any progress! We must have them engaged in a real struggle.

UPHOLD THE CONTRACT – Principals are doing an end run around the contract. The union needs to consistently show it is there for us, has our backs. Too many administrators ignore our rights on programming, class size, professional assignments, etc. These should be challenged aggressively, individually and collectively. We must restore the right to grieve letters to the file.

ADDRESS THE PROBLEMATIC EVALUATION SYSTEM – Members have the right to challenge technical problems in APPR, but not the AP’s mistakes. And we know that administrators are often wrong – members need the right to challenge supervisory judgment. The number of observations is unnecessarily high: teachers who are year after year satisfactory need not be observed more than twice a year. But fundamentally the problem is deeper – ratings based on student test-scores are arbitrary and unfair. We need to repeal the State Law that established this.

END PATRONAGE – Hundreds are given part time union jobs based on membership in Unity Caucus. All they have in common is the agreement, when there is a vote, not to make up their own mind but to vote as Unity tells them. This system undermines members’ confidence in our union.

EMPOWER LOCAL LEADERS – Chapter Leaders (CLs) are volunteers. They are directly elected by their members. They should be the backbone of our union. But their representatives, the District Reps (DRs), are appointed by the President. They are responsive to 52 Broadway first, and issue directives to CLs. We should return to a system where DRs are accountable to CLs; we should return to the long-established practice of direct election of DRs by Chapter Leaders.

(from the September 2018 New Action Chapter Leaders Meeting flyer )

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Paul Feingold, teacher, leader, activist, 1945 – 2017

Dear Friends,

We lost a true trade union giant. Our dear friend and colleague, Paul Feingold, passed away this past weekend. Paul was a great rank and file chapter leader at John Jay HS, a long-time New Action supporter, and a fighter for social and economic justice. In 1986, when I was Academic High School Vice President of the UFT, Paul was finally recognized with a Trachtenberg award. Along with Jack Sexton, Paul was given a token of union appreciation for their years of dedication to the UFT membership. I could go on but those who knew Paul know what a great human being and visionary he was.
The struggle continues and Paul will be there with us.
In solidarity,
Michael Shulman

New Action/UFT and MORE: Support Chapter Leader and School under attack

New Action Caucus / UFT and MORE Caucus, and our representatives on the UFT Executive Board wrote to the Unity Caucus controlled leadership of the UFT, asking for real demonstrations of support for an embattled Chapter Leader (Marilyn Martinez, Central Park East 1, facing trumped up 3020a charges) and an embattled school (JHS 145, District 7, threatened with closure at the PEP, in service to Moskowitz).

 Shamefully, the leadership chose not to come to the Chapter Leader’s 3020a hearing. We hope they do better with the PEP in support of JHS 145, but if they do not, you can still attend: Wednesday March 22, 6PM, HS for Fashion Industries, W24th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

March 9, 2017

Dear President Mulgrew, Vice Presidents Alford, Hinds, and Mantell and Assistant Secretary Barr:

As you know, our union, and the labor movement as a whole, is under major threat by the anti-labor initiatives promised by the Trump administration, as well as by the inevitable return of a case like last year’s Friedrichs to the Supreme Court.

In such an environment, it is crucial that the rank and file members of our union see that the UFT is at the front lines fighting to defend members publicly at every available opportunity.

There are two important opportunities to do so in the coming days that our union leadership must act on.

First, the Chapter Leader of Central Park East I, Marilyn Martinez, is facing 3020A charges which are clearly retaliatory from the abusive principal Monika Garg.  Fifty parents and UFT members attended the first two days of hearings last week.  We ask that you or Elementary Vice President Karen Alford attend the final day of the hearing this Friday, March 10 in order to send a clear message to the DOE, the arbitrator, and UFT rank and filers that the UFT supports this chapter leader. We further ask you to offer the assistance of the UFT press office in publicizing this defense.  We further ask that you intervene personally with the chancellor around this case. If we do not defend our chapter leaders publicly and strongly, we may soon not have a union to defend at all.

Second, JHS 145 in the Bronx is facing a closure vote at the Panel for Educational Policy meeting on Wednesday March 22nd. The largely immigrant school community has mobilized to oppose the closing. As unionists committed to defending public education, we must join our voices with those of parents, students and teachers in opposition to this proposed closure. The Delegate Assembly scheduled for that day should adjourn early to allow Delegates, Chapter Leaders and the union leadership to attend the nearby PEP Meeting en masse.

In Solidarity,

UFT Executive Board members high school division

KJ Ahluwalia, Arthur Goldstein, Ashraya Gupta, Jonathan Halabi, Marcus McArthur, David Rosen, Mike Schirtzer

Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE caucus UFT)

New Action Caucus / UFT

Defend Chapter Leaders

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the March 2016 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2016 March 

Chapter Leaders are on the front line in our schools. Members vote for them, know them, rely on them. When principals go after the chapter leader, they are sending a message to every member “No one is safe.” The union needs to step to the defense of any and every chapter leader under attack. If you are a chapter leader in this situation, contact your DR, your Borough Rep. And if you are not getting the help you need, contact us.

Overmanaged, Underappreciated, Stonewalled and Harassed

New Action/UFT congratulates the schools and Chapter Leaders working with collaborative, member friendly principals. Unfortunately, Chancellor Farina’s call to principals to work collaboratively with their staff is not being followed at many schools. At the January 2016 Delegate Assembly a Chapter Leader asked UFT President Mulgrew how we should deal with non-collaborative principals who respond to concerns with the phrase “I’ll have to check with Legal.” The principal inevitably responds by saying “No.” The response? Raise the concern through the District Rep to the Superintendent.

Since September 2015, New Action has received reports that some principals have:

  • Mandated detailed lesson plans with “multiple points of entry”
  • Done “drive-by” “check list” observations
  • Mandated curriculum maps from teachers to be done on their own time
  • Refused to give the Galaxy budget to Chapter Leaders
  • Targeted older teachers
  • Refused to sign off on professional development if it exceeded 50 hours
  • Refused to give Highly Effective ratings to anyone who is “not collaborative” (doesn’t agree to everything the principal wants)
  • Refused to hire subs, claiming no money

Why do Mulgrew/Unity refuse to forcefully address these issues? Why do we hear these complaints from our members over and over again? We need a UFT leadership that doesn’t bury its head in the sand, but rather acts directly to stop these demoralizing practices.

Discontinued Probationers

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June June 2015 Leaflet Front

This year New Action/UFT members have been meeting with discontinued probationers, UFT officials, and representatives of Chancellor Farina to discuss unfairly discontinued probationers. We made some progress: under Klein, these teachers could apply to work under another license or in another district, but when a principal offered them a position, the DoE would start a lengthy investigation – most schools hired someone else. These investigations now take a day or two; some probationers get new positions.

But there is a much larger problem – abusive and incompetent administrators. New Action/UFT has been in the forefront of this fight. Where a principal has repeatedly shown questionable judgment, it is in our mutual interest, the DoE and the UFT to challenge that judgment. This is not happening.

When an administrator is abusive – and there are too many absuive principals and APs out there – part of that behavior included bullying new teachers. We need to have the offenders’ bahavior corrected, or need to have the offenders removed. Reviving the “PINI” – Principals In Need of Improvement campaign would be a good first step. Unfortunately, there has not been progress on this front.

Congratulations, after a long year

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June June 2015 Leaflet Front

Congratulations to Reelected and Newly Elected Chapter Leaders!

What a big responsibility! Chapter Leaders are the backbone of our union. Take a deep breath, recharge over the summer, and let’s work together to build a stronger union and a better school system next year!

A long 2014 – 2015

This was Year 2 of the new evaluation system. In December Merryl Tisch recommended horrible changes – Cuomo took them, and tried to force them through the State budget. We tried to stop some, but he got his way on too much. We will see more changes to the evaluation system coming soon.

This year the opt-out movement became a union issue in New York State. NYSUT took a strong stance. The Delegate Assembly rejected a strong resolution, but eventually adopted an opt-out stance.

Year Two of the de Blasio and Fariña administration continued to produce friendliness at the top, but without positive change reaching the schools. We need to let them know we expect better for 2015 – 2016.