Archive for the 'New York' 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 )

The UFT Opposes Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address Proposals – Now we Need a Real Fight!

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

In mid-­‐‑January 2015 New Action spelled out the dangers in Gov. Cuomo’s blueprint for educators:

• Raising the charter school cap
• Extending the time to get tenure to 5 years
• Two ineffectives and you’re out –eliminating due process
• Merit pay
• Raising standardized tests to 50%
• Putting “failing” schools into receivership –

ending collective bargaining agreements

The union has not and will not blast NYS School Chancellor Meryl Tisch for being the “architect” of this plan. Back in December, Tisch wrote a 20 page letter, laying out the proposals above. Tisch prior to this, threatened to close 94 NYC “failing” schools.

The UFT’s Unity leadership proposed a social media campaign, but realized quickly and correctly that such a campaign alone would not cut it. Now the question is what kind of a campaign will we/they engage in? Forums on February 12 and the call for every chapter to meet is a good start.

When we were battling Bloomberg, the union established a “War Room.” Isn’t a War Room needed now? Include rank and file members, independents, and members of our various caucuses.

For our part, New Action will support every anti-­‐‑Cuomo action the UFT leadership puts forward. But we are concerned about mobilization, and we are concerned about half-­‐‑measures

This fight will take a full mobilization of the entire membership to be successful. It needs to be coordinated from the school level, the district level and from the top leadership. We call on the delegates and chapter leaders to support our call for real membership mobilizations including, but not limited to:

  • Get out in front of our schools (informational picketing)
  • District rallies
  • Unite with nearby schools and plan actions
  • Call our legislators (friendly and unfriendly)

• Organize Solidarity days (including ‘color days’ – black seems appropriate)

• Demonstrate at the Governor’s office in NYC • Unite with parents in the fight
• Unite with our allies in labor

To mobilize our members, we need to be engaging in meaningful fights. In districts that have been riddled with charter schools, members are opposed to lifting the cap, but would be energized if the fight were against charters, not just the cap. Teachers don’t want evaluations to be based 50% on test scores, but would be far more motivated to act if we were fighting against using test scores in evaluation, period. And none of us wants five years of probation, but by combining the push against Cuomo’s proposal with a campaign to end the DoE’s arbitrary, unfair, and capricious extensions of probation, we would be reaching out to members who might otherwise feel isolated.

Support the I Refuse Resolution

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

 

New Action supports putting the I Refuse Resolution on this afternoon’s agenda. To be clear, the “I Refuse” speaks to supporting parents who opt their children out of State testing. It does not speak to teachers refusing to do any part of their jobs. Additionally, New Action supports widely distributing the NYSUT “Opt Out of State Tests Fact Sheet” to educate members and parents about rights and consequences vis a vis state testing.


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Content of signed articles and comments represents the opinions of their authors. The views expressed in signed articles are not necessarily the views of New Action/UFT.
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