Posts Tagged 'Unity 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

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Where we agree, where we disagree

From New Action’s May 2016 Leaflet

Where We Agree

We agree that 200 lawyers at Tweed is about 200 too many. But we need leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that the current funding formula for schools makes no sense, that principals are forced to discriminate against experienced teachers, that schools, kids, teachers all get hurt. But we need leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that abusive and incompetent administrators are a problem. But we need leadership that restores and expands the Principals In Need of Improvement Program, resurrects the highly successful Organizing Committee, and targets principals who go after our members, leadership that brings the abusers to Fariña, sits down, and gets them out.

We agree that arbitrary extensions of probation are unfair. But we need a leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that parents have a right to opt their children out of tests. But we need leadership that actively informs parents of this right.

Where We Disagree

We disagree with a leadership that insists that student test scores be part of our evaluation.

We disagree with a leadership that is in love with the Common Core. We disagree with one-size-fits all in math, and we can’t believe that teachers are being stopped from teaching whole books and are limited to chapters or excerpts.

We disagree with creating separate, unequal “rights” for members in excess.

And we disagree with jobs and promotions being given out based on obedience to a caucus instead of merit.

Vote MORE/New Action

Combat Abusive Administrators – Return to Fair Funding! – Get rid of the Lawyers! – Protect Probationers

Protect ATRs – Fight for Union Democracy – End “Drive By” and “Test Score” Teacher Evaluation

Support Jia Lee, Opt Out Leader, for UFT President

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.)

Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave

Last April New Action proposed that UFT members should be entitled to paid parental leave. UFT members are often shocked to learn that all they receive upon having a child is six weeks of UNPAID maternity leave. Eight months later de Blasio may be helping this to happen. But why did our union not raise this issue?

At the January 11 UFT Executive Board meeting New Action co-chair Michael Shulman asked if we could send a maternity leave resolution to the NYSUT RA. Unity’s response was that it was not up to us to make that decision for other locals.

New Action disagrees. We can take a stand for fairness and equity and decency. We need to change from the current system to one where UFT members receive paid parental leave. But we should encourage other locals to take this step as well.

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

Get Test Scores Out of Teacher Evaluation

New Action urges: no test scores in teacher evaluation. Unity responds by not letting members vote.

At the January 11, 2016 UFT Executive Board meeting, New Action urged opposition to the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, and urged that we use the four year moratorium to lobby for a change in New York State Education Law to remove student test scores from teacher evaluation in New York State.

A Unity leader moved to table, and it was in fact tabled, on a caucus-line vote.

The difference is that we asked to take a stand against using tests to rate teachers, but Michael Mulgrew and Unity only want to delay using the tests, claiming against all evidence that it will be possible, four years down the road, to fairly rate teachers based on test scores. They want a pause (they have it), but they still favor rating teachers based on tests.

New Action continues to oppose rating teachers based on tests.

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.