Posts Tagged 'MORE Caucus'

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

NEW ACTION AND MORE SWEEP ALL SEVEN HIGH SCHOOL EXECUTIVE BOARD SEATS

MORE-New Action Election logo idea 2 (5) (2)NEW ACTION AND MORE SWEEP ALL SEVEN HIGH SCHOOL EXECUTIVE BOARD SEATS

The announcement on May 27, 2016 that Jia Lee, New Action/MORE presidential candidate won 21% of the citywide vote was a terrific victory, especially since this was her first run for the position. Michael Mulgrew won with a total of 76%. While a solid victory for Unity Caucus it is interesting to note that in the last UFT election (2013) he received 84% and in 2010 his vote totaled 91%.

Clearly, the fact that Mulgrew was not cross endorsed by New Action, as he was in 2013 and 2010 was a big factor in his decreased vote as President. The total vote for Mulgrew was 39,175 and for Jia it was 10,743

Our major goal in this election was to win the high school division. We did!

Several significant factors characterized this election:

  • New Action/MORE won all seven high school seats by 2,292 to 2,077. Our candidates: Kuljit Ahluwalia, David Garcia-Rosen, Arthur Goldstein, Ashraya Gupta, Jonathan Halabi, Marcus McArthur, Michael Schirtzer will meet as they begin to serve as executive board members. This victory continues the legacy of New Action’s role in the high schools, Beginning in the mid 1980’s, New Action dominated the high school division. After 1985 when Michael Shulman won the Academic HS Vice Presidency, New Action has either won or played the determining role in high school elections. Only after Unity Caucus rammed through UFT constitutional changes did Unity win the HS Vice Presidency. Divisions no longer elect their VP’s – instead all officers are elected by the membership at large, thus guaranteeing no division can elect their own representative.
  • This election cycle, it was New Action/MORE that won the high schools. It could not have been done if the caucuses ran separately. The combined strength of New Action and MORE not only secured the high schools but increased our vote totals in all divisions. For the two caucuses, this was the first attempt to turn the direction of the union around. Our major joint campaign literature- featuring Jia Lee and the New Action/MORE program- was distributed to 60,000 UFT members. In addition, New Action and MORE put out tens of thousands of additional pieces of election material to the schools. In future elections, an increased focus on the intermediate and middle schools may turn that division to New Action and MORE.
  • Literally, hundreds of Chapter Leaders agreed to distribute New Action/MORE literature in their schools. We were very successful in having our members and supporters in the schools get out literature not only in their own schools but to surrounding schools. New Action played a major role in having our retiree members distribute in over 300 schools.
  • The total vote went up considerably from the previous election. In 2013 only 18% of in-service members voted. The three caucuses—New Action, MORE, and Unity made a larger vote turnout a priority. This was also accomplished. In 2013 the total vote was approximately 42,000. This election the number was 52,000.

New Action and MORE have a real challenge going forward. The UFT led by Unity Caucus has ignored so many issues facing our members. We have an obligation to put forward our program on behalf of the entire membership. Our election commitment was to activate and mobilize UFT members for a better contract in 2018. Immediately, we have to protect members and Chapter Leaders from abusive administrators. We are committed to opposing the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers. We must demand the permanent placement of ATR’s and putting a stop to the practice of arbitrary and capricious discontinuance of probationary members. We will continue to support the Opt-Out movement. We must fight for real union democracy. We do not have any confidence that Unity Caucus has these issues as their priority. Most importantly, we must foster membership involvement at the school level. UFT members must know and feel their union has “their backs.”

Did you get fooled into voting for higher co-pays?

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

Co-pays are jumping: Emergency Room visits – up from $50 to $150. Urgent Care – from $15 to $50. MRIs from $15 to $50. Specialists – from $15/$20 to $30. Blood Work and Physical Therapy from $15 to $20. Copays for visits to primary care physicians stay at $15.

How could this happen? Believe it or not, we voted for it. In the last contract, Unity put in health care “savings” provisions. But despite repeated inquiries, they never told us what those “savings” would be. Now we know what the “savings” are for this year. But brace yourselves – the contract does not agree to just one year, but FOUR YEARS of “savings.”

A better leadership would have shared this crucial information with the members WHEN WE WERE voting, not two years later.

A better leadership would be fighting to IMPROVE coverage, not making deals to make it cost extra.

We want and need parental leave, not higher co-pays. Vote MORE/New Action.

Delink testing from evaluation!

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

Race to the Top (RttT) pushed states to adopt teacher evaluation schemes that included student standardized test scores as part of teacher evaluation. Bad idea.

Obama’s new Education Law (ESSA), signed three months ago, drops this onerous requirement. So now is the time to fix this horrible mistake in New York State law, right?

Not so fast. The UFT’s current Unity leadership said: “We need to be cautious,” as they prevented the Executive Board from voting to lobby for change to NY State law.

AFT Connecticut and the Connecticut Education Association joined forces to change that state’s RttT law. Legislation left committee last week – the teachers’ unions got that done.

We have a joint resolution with MORE today to do that same sort of productive lobbying in New York. Please vote yes to allow this important discussion to come to the floor.

(Note – Even though many delegates voted to discuss this resolution, Unity Caucus managed to block discussion by about 70-30. Unity members are not permitted to think for themselves, but are required to raise their cards in unison.)

Why I can no longer support Mulgrew / Unity

By Gregory Di Stefano 33 year teacher, 46 year  UFT member

The last decade has seen a serious deterioration of UFT members’ rights such as: not being able to grieve unfair observations, inaccurate letters in the file, abuse by some incompetent and corrupt principals, the unfair treatment of probationary teachers, etc. Why has this happened? Over 10 years ago a change was made by the Unity /UFT leadership to have District Reps appointed by the President instead of being elected by the Chapter Leaders in the schools, our previous practice. Mike Mulgrew has appointed only District Reps belonging to Unity. The effect of this has been to silence the voices of the teachers in the schools. District Reps are no longer accountable to the teachers and take their orders from Mike Mulgrew even if the effect is to put teachers at risk. As we go forward we need a strong Union that is more democratic, not less, and truly represents the needs of the members.

UFT elections are being held this spring. In the last election three years ago only 18% of the active membership voted. You can make a difference. Please consider joining the New Action/MORE UFT slate to return our Union to the members

New Action explains: We can no longer run with Mulgrew/Unity

Since the early 1980’s, New Action/UFT was the main opposition to Unity Caucus. In 1985, New Action leader, Michael Shulman, won the UFT High School Vice-Presidency, and served until 1987. New Action continued in opposition until early 2004. Perhaps our greatest achievement was making pay parity the number one issue.

The Bipartisan Years

In the Fall of 2002, the UFT came under siege by the Bloomberg administration. The attack by Bloomberg was part of the “education reformers” full- scale assault on teachers and their unions. In NYC, this followed years of attacks by the Giulliani administration (remember his threat to “blow up” the Board of Education). Recognizing the greater threat to our union and the “blame the teachers” atmosphere pervading the country and NYC, New Action decided to form a bipartisan relationship with then UFT President Randi Weingarten.

New Action/UFT had five basic demands before entering into this new relationship:

  1. Unity must establish an Organizing Committee composed of Unity, New Action members and independents to go into schools to build stronger chapters.
  2. Unity had to agree to establish a bipartisan Action Committee to build for actions in defense of members and to organize campaigns against the wave of anti-union policies on the local and national level.
  3. Unity agreed to establish an Economic and Social Justice Committee.
  4. New Action secured a promise by President Weingarten to investigate undemocratic internal union issues.
  5. Unity agreed to cross-endorse 8 New Action seats on the UFT Executive Board where we could bring up resolutions in defense of educators. In exchange, New Action endorsed Randi Weingarten for UFT President.

We, at all times, remained independent and willing to criticize the UFT leadership. The committees were established. However, Weingarten reneged on her promise on union democracy. But New Action continued the relationship.

There were many accomplishments during those years.

  • New Action and Unity teams of retirees (the Organizing Committee) helped Chapter Leaders and staff in over 230 schools.
  • Establishment of the PINI (Principals in Need of Improvement) program which exposed abusive administrators and listed 41 steps to get rid of them.
  • The establishment of a UFT Social and Economic Justice Committee led to support for the NYS Dream Act, defense of the Puerto Rican Teachers Union, union action addressing the “disappearing teachers of color” and most recently, a powerful move to combat climate change: the divestment of pension funds from fossil fuels.
  • Resolutions brought up by New Action at the UFT Exec Board including the Campaign to Defeat Bush for President that sent scores of UFT members into battleground states, an end to Stop and Frisk, which led to a powerful march, etc.

Bipartisanship Falls Apart

  • UFT leaders, going back to Weingarten, refused to send bipartisan Organizing Teams into schools where they were needed unless DR’s requested them. Mulgrew/Unity refused to mandate Organizing Teams be sent into schools where new chapter leaders needed assistance.
  • In 2010, Mulgrew/Unity agreed to President Obama’s Race to the Top that tied teacher ratings to standardized tests. New Action/UFT immediately opposed that decision. In fact, since we distributed a leaflet “A Train Wreck Waiting to Happen” New Action has issued 14 pieces attacking Race to the Top.
  • In 2014, Mulgrew/Unity ended the Principals in Need of Improvement program.
  • In April 2015, The UFT Executive Board tabled a New Action Resolution to restore the selection of UFT District Reps back to an election by Chapter Leaders.
  • In the spring of 2015, President Mulgrew and Unity Caucus decided to end the successful Organizing Committee.

There were an increasing number of other areas of disagreement including Mulgrew/Unity‘s failures to place ATR’s based on seniority, to repair the grievance machinery, to mobilize educators at the schools, and to protect unjustly fired probationers.

Why MORE?

In late summer, 2015, New Action decided to form an alliance with MORE because our policy positions were similar. Like New Action, MORE had taken principled positions against standardized tests and tying teacher rating decisions to those tests. Both caucuses supported the Opt –Out movement. Like New Action, MORE supports mobilizing the membership to fight for improvements on contractual rights and working conditions. And like New Action, MORE embraces social justice issues.

In the upcoming UFT citywide elections held this spring 2016, New Action urges UFT members to help take back our union and run with New Action. We urge all members, in service and retiree, to vote the New Action/MORE slate for a leadership that will fight for all members’ rights.

Join the MORE/New Action Campaign:

Combat Abusive Administrators

End “Drive By” and “Test Score” Teacher Evaluation

Protect ATRs and Probationers

Fight for Union Democracy

Let’s start mobilizing for the next contract

Support Jia Lee, Opt Out Leader, for UFT President

MORE-New Action Election logo idea 2 (5) (2)

To join the campaign, or to to distribute New Action literature, or to join New Action:

e-mail:  new.action.uft@gmail.com   –   or write:  PO Box 180574 North Richmond Hill, NY 11418