Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. I'm reporting on last week's ex bd (Sept. 11) and other events around that weekend. I didn't go to yesterday's meeting because my wife offered me a better meal. But given my reporting on UAW and other strikes. [It's a Militant ...
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"Ed Notes Online" - 5 new articles

  1. A week late - First UFT Exec Bd Meeting Echos Labor Day Parade Lovefest - UFT Endorses Candidate Supporting Retirees on Healthcare
  2. It's a Militant Union World - Except for a Certain Teacher Union
  3. How UFT/Unity is More Management than Union as it Succeeds in Changing NO to YES on OT/PT Contract Vote
  4. Regressive and Passive UFT Pales Behind Aggressive and Progressive Unions: Is it the Leadership or Membership?
  5. Mulgrew/Weingarten/Unity Healthcare Lies and misinformation exposed by Daily News Op Ed and Marianne
  6. More Recent Articles

A week late - First UFT Exec Bd Meeting Echos Labor Day Parade Lovefest - UFT Endorses Candidate Supporting Retirees on Healthcare

Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023

I'm reporting on last week's ex bd (Sept. 11) and other events around that weekend. 

I didn't go to yesterday's meeting because my wife offered me a better meal. But given my reporting on UAW and other strikes

here is Nick@NAC reporting on the Sept. 18 meeting re UAW:
There was a resolution on the UAW Strike. I didn’t speak on it, as I of course support my fellow unionists and had already spoken enough. But, there was a certain irony to voting to endorse another union’s strike for 40% wage increases over 4 years when Unity Caucus spoke out against gaining our own right to strike, and later mercilessly heckled opposition members for suggesting we ourselves should be strike ready. The DC37 pattern that UFT conceded to without a fight, remember was just 16.37% over 5.5 years. To put this in perspective UAW was offered 21% initially over 4 years – that’s more than we got in our final deal. We heckled our own members for asking for a strike over a smaller wage increase than the offer UAW is rightly striking over. I support the UAW, and also support the UFT being able to strike. UFT leadership supports the UAW, but not our own right to strike. The contradiction should speak for itself.
Nick's full report is here.

And then Nick raised the issue of the required 50-minute parental engagement in the new and rushed to a vote with misleading info by the leadership contract. I won't get into the weeds of that but it seems to me if a 100 people complain, they can demand a revote on the contract as the leadership demonstrated in the OT/PT situation. [How UFT/Unity is More Management than Union as it Succeeds in Changing NO to YES on OT/PT Contract Vote].

Apparently the love-fest I describe re last week's meeting didn't last. Love is fleeting.

In this week old report, let's visit my Sept. 9-11 weekend:

It began on Friday afternoon at an event sponsored by NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees for the city council campaign for Susan  Zhuang who won her Dem primary with 60% of the vote. She is supporting the 1099 bill - which is interesting because at the Sept. 11 Ex bd the UFT also endorsed her. Verrrrry interesting. (More on the debate at the EB later.) A few pics I shot:

This was a basement in Bensonhurst and it was packed with over 100 people from many unions and from all over the city. That's the skill of Marianne Pizzitola. As one UFT retiree in Florida emailed me: "Marianne seems to be making some headway for support of our bill.   She certainly has Mulgrew on the run." She certainly does.

Watch her must-see video on the faux collective bargaining argument by UFT leaders on bill 1099 where she punches massive holes in their position --https://youtu.be/4aGwRbxJtnI?si=X3dYOCVAIvX9txee - people are sending this video to city council reps who haven't signed on to 1099 claiming it takes away collective bargaining - are you listening Lincoln Restler?

I ran into some people who worked in my old district 14 - Unity people. They are moving to Florida permanently and offered to help out in the RTC election campaign this spring. We need Unity deserters to win.

On Saturday, I went to the Labor Day parade and hung out with Retiree Advocates

as we marched with the UFT. Others marched with Marianne's group who left earlier with DC 37 and made their own noise uptown. We decided to stick with the UFT for the day. And lookee at this photo with Daniel and his girls with Randi and NYSUT pres with Shulman and Arthur.

Michael Shulman, Daniel Alicea, Randi, NYSUT Pres Melissa Person, Arthur Goldstein

I got some pats and hugs even from some Unity people on Saturday. Lucky they don't read Ed Notes. I spent Saturday hanging out with Arthur and Daniel, who came with his two little girls in a stroller. Arthur and Daniel, 2 giants in the UFT, were meeting in person for the first time. Unity people seemed happy to see Arthur. No real blow back over his recent castigation of the leadership. Read his latest, which reinforces my contention that our own union leaders are anti-union. [Regressive and Passive UFT Pales Behind Aggressive and Progressive Unions: Is it the Leadership or Membership?]

Our anti-Union Leadership

It needs changing.

Arthur's conclusion: 

We can no longer afford a leadership that works for our adversary. We can lead or follow. The first step, if we’re going to lead, is to elect leaders willing to do so. 

Maybe Arthur's turning on the leadership has made them antsy for yesterday's EB. But at least for one week there was a great spirit of unity by Unity and UFC at the Ex Bd meeting on Sept. 11. 

Nick@NAC had the skinny

There were even some friendly looks at Nick by Unity. And independent former MORE Mike Schirtzer even sat at the same table with MORE Ex Bd reps, a promising sign that peace may be coming to Ukraine. 

Even I got a few smiles. I guess they didn't notice my tee-shirt supporting the OT/PT crew. No mention at all by either side about the recent re-vote on the formerly rejected contract. For now, the entire mess looks like a dead issue, though I would have raised the issue of re-voting when leadership doesn't like the result as a dangerous precedent.

Even the chef was generous, allowing us to to mix our general tso chicken with a bit of beef. And oh, the carrot cake.

I sat at the increasingly crowded New Action table with a few ICEers. (With James Eterno's illness, ICE is in sort of limbo.)

Everyone seemed happy.
Compare and contrast Nick's reports from Sept. 11 and Sept. 18. A definite change in the atmosphere.

So here was the interesting angle in Nick's report on the endorsement Susan Zhuang for City Council

Liz Perez (UFT Bklyn Boro Rep) – Resolution: to Endorse Susan Zhuang.Liz Perez: motivates, will advocate for labor and education – act in the best interest of members – City Council District 43.

Ronnie Almonte: Rises against. I live in this district, Sunset Park. Spoke to need to stand with asylum speakers. I live 2 blocks from the rec center hosting over 100 asylum speakers. There were two protests there – one a republican, and one Susan Zhuang, and I think she pitted against asylum speakers ‘we don’t know who they are, may be a risk to the student.’ I expect people may say no litmus test, but this is a disgusting. Rise against. (See here for an example).

Liz Perez: Susan Zhuang is herself an immigrant, services a community of immigrant. I still think we should endorse her, and I’ll definitely follow up about this comment.

Passes with some nays from the High School Executive Board.

I agree with Ronnie - I heard Zhuang make some iffy comments about immigrants on Sept. 9 to the point I raised the issue with her - and she didn't respond. She complained that she waited in line to come here, like these people are illegal - actually they are legal asylum seekers -- like 40% from Venezuela and 30% from Cuba --both nation's under severe US sanctions. Like that doesn't have an impact? And her husband is a doctor - I wonder on what line they waited on. But I still back her because she backs us on healthcare.

Following up on the immigrant issue, read Nick's report to get the full picture as on Sept. 11 he made a reso on immigrants which Mike Sill amended to remove the criticisms of Mayor Adams. https://newaction.org/2023/09/11/budget-cuts-migrants-and-air-conditioners-uft-executive-board-meeting-9-11-2023/

 There was also a reso on air conditioning, which was tabled by Unity to work on the language - again removing crit of Adams, the UFT's pal on screwing us on healthcare.

Not surprising. The real lovefest is between Unity and the Mayor.


After burn: Some comments from readers on my post: Regressive and Passive UFT Pales Behind Aggressive and Progressive Unions: Is it the Leadership or Membership? ":

Blogger Bronx ATR said...

I believe the indifference is actively cultivated by the Uft. This seems to be a pervasive mindset that it’s not anyone’s job to do anything involving union activities - other than those directly work for the union. I’ve heard that phrase like this more than once - you guys have enough to do teach your classes and dealing with kids. Let us deal with the union stuff; that’s what you pay us for.’ A lot of folks eagerly embrace that mindset; those who want to get involved may be initially ignored and then if they don’t go away, they run for office. If they are too outspoken and too involved, they often take on the animus of management and often have been left out to dry by the Uft. It directly benefits the Uft to have an indifferent and blissfully ignorant membership. Other than retirees, that’s what they have.

Anonymous Michael Fiorillo said...

Unity is the last of the urban political machines, and its patronage apparatus is one of many barriers to an effective opposition. With the stick of its loyalty oath enforcing caucus discipline, and the carrot of union jobs (and double pensions for officers!) for compliant and ambitious Chapter Leaders, the incentives for passivity and conformity are formidable, and they continue to work.

Albert Shanker, whose organizational genius is behind much of Unity's power, was a fundamentalist Cold Warrior, who cut his political teeth opposing Communists (who had an organic presence in the schools at the time) in the teacher's union and elsewhere. The irony is that Unity Caucus, with its CP-like democratic centralism, has become just as sclerotic and brittle (and subject to rapid collapse?) as the old Soviet Union Al Shanker spent his life fighting.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023 at 9:59:00 AM EDT



It's a Militant Union World - Except for a Certain Teacher Union

Continuing my series on How UFT/Unity is More Like Management than Union 

Today's assignment:

Compare and Contrast: UAW Shawn Fein and UFT Michael Mulgrew as union leaders.

Key point: Fain pushes back against tenets of crony capitalism while Mulgrew supports shifting public money into the hands of corporate giants. And you will never hear Mulgrew talk about where the real money is in this city by attacking real estate interests and calling for them to pay their fair share. Why is a subject for future analysis. Hint: Militancy is no longer in the Unity DNA - except when it comes to attacking the opposition.

Friday, Sept. 15, 2023

I got off the ferry shuttle bus near my house yesterday with another guy who was wearing a union tee-shirt. I asked him if he was coming from the rally I had attended and he said hell yes. I asked what union and he is a Teamster out to support other workers. He lives a block from me. Nice to see union spirit in a 75% Republican neighborhood. 

I woke up today to a chill in the air. And a UAW strike. Today we are heading up to Westchester to meet up with Harris Lirtzman for a tour of Untermeyer Gardens. But I needed to get these points out before I go.

I'm postponing my blog post on the first UFT Ex Bd meeting of the year on Monday and last Saturday's Labor Day parade due to the breaking stories of the UAW and ongoing SAG/AFTRA and Writers strikes. 

A bunch of Retiree Advocates attended the big rally and picket lines on East 19 St and Broadway yesterday. 

The militant union movement in the nation is intense - and how this makes UFTers who just voted up a contract with a 3% raise and little else, feel - well not having access to schools - I wonder if anyone is even thinking about the comparisons. We saw no one from the UFT staff there - 52 is just a short subway ride away -- but if they did show it would be only for a photo op.

My thoughts go to how our UFT leadership lines up with the Mayor on healthcare issues while Republicans and Democrats come together to protect us from being forced into Medicare Advantage schemes. And note that the Teamsters and UAW fight to reverse givebacks, including ending multi-tier systems while the UFT seems fine with a 6-Tier pension system. In fact they gave a report at Monday's Ex Bd that the largest group working is in Tier 6 (only 7 Tier 1 left working). 

Tier 6 - another UFT death panel.

Note this breaking news --- Right and left unite to protect Medicare in Congress and Adams (and probably Mulgrew) go ballistic.

Mulgrew and crew calls these attacks on collective bargaining - you know - their version of collective bargaining that takes stuff away. How interesting that Mayor Adams picked up on the Mulgrew theme to argue the same thing against this bill.

Wow -- Adams is so concerned about worker rights.

BREAKING NEWS - UFT and City agree to share talking points.

But let me turn to the UAW and their leadership which makes the kinds of connections to the big issues unions need to make, especially in the face of mass media anti-union bias. 

Imagine if we had a UFT leadership that functions in a similar manner - the UFT was such a union - the last time in the early-mid 60s when the basis of our current contracts were set up.

When media tries to blame the UAW for striking and causing car prices to rise, Shawn Fain responds by pointing out car prices rose 30% before a strike as has exec compensation and billions in stock buybacks. These reports have begun to slip into mainstream media which is being forced to report the UAW side.

Remember the UFT/Unity attacks on strike talk?UAW has amassed an $825 million strike fund

And don't forget the Biden factor:

"Politico reports that the administration sees Fain as a "as a less establishment-oriented labor leader" and a wild card who is not looking for an off-ramp. Biden aides worry the UAW strike "could alter perceptions of the president as a champion of organized labor." 

With the UFT/AFT tied at the hip to corporate Dems, this is another difference from the UAW which has not endorsed Biden.

The alt media sources I follow have done a great job.

Yesterday, Krystal Ball on Breaking Points did a good segment starting an hour into the show where she points out the enormous give backs in the 2008 crisis: pensions, a two-tier system of pay, salary, etc. They want them back.



My favorite media is The Majority Report and here is a segment with Emma:

-- https://www.youtube.com/live/EnsitCyMXX0?si=qER1mRGRnHIrlb91&t=623

Another segment with Shawn:


And another fave alt media - The Lever

UAW Fights Back Against Corporate Media


New At 6:30: Anti-Union Propaganda

NBC Nightly News’ coverage of the potential auto worker strike centers consumerism over human welfare — and fails to disclose its potential conflict of interest.

Knowing how to report on labor action is as much about what not to do as it is about what to do. A good place to start when establishing how not to report on strikes or potential strikes is a recent segment on NBC Nightly News, aired to an average six million viewers, that checked off pretty much every anti-labor trope in the book — including failing to disclose the news network’s relationship with one of the major employers covered in the report. 


Let’s begin with the segment title and framing: “United Auto Workers union strike expected next week, potentially increasing car prices.” Nightly News anchor Lester Holt leads the report by telling the audience, “It’s likely that more than 100,000 United Auto Workers could go on strike by the end of next week as contract negotiations have slowed, and that could mean car prices will soar even higher.”

From the outset, the viewer is oriented to see only how a strike can hurt them and their personal bottom line — and how fault for that lies with the potential strike, not the corporations refusing to negotiate with United Auto Workers (UAW) in good faith. It’s established right away that the strike is coming after the September 14 contract deadline, it’s bad, and it’s bad because it’s going to cost you, the viewer, money.

Humans and human welfare is not centered in the report, consumption is. The headline isn’t “United Auto Workers union strike expected next week, potentially raising wages for workers.” Holt doesn’t introduce the segment by saying, “More than 100,000 united auto workers could go on strike by the end of next week as contract negotiations have slowed, and that could mean increased labor leverage for workers to secure higher pay.” 

The potential work stoppage is presented as an inconvenience that will eat at the viewer’s pocketbook, and it’s designed, like the rest of the report, to diminish public support for unions. There is no upside, no class conflict, no interviews with regular workers — just mindless destruction of “the economy” and “higher prices” for the viewer.

After a three-second clip of UAW President Shawn Fain explaining how the “Big Three” — General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Stellantis North America, which owns Chrysler — had ignored the union’s demands (they have since responded), we get a section on those demands that’s stripped of context and implies that the union’s wage demands are greedy. 

Viewers get a throw-away line about Big Three’s “record profits” but no sense of what those profits have been: Ford, General Motors and Stellantis made a combined $21 billion in profits in just the first six months of this year. According to the UAW, they’ve earned a quarter trillion dollars in profit since 2013. 

Automakers have reported such large profits over the past few years in part due to a pandemic-era production slowdown, which allowed them to raise prices to all-new levels.

The host then offers a non sequitur about how UAW workers are already paid $10 to $20 more an hour than non-union workers at Tesla and Toyota. Even if we believe this is true (no source is cited), the obvious implication is that these demands are out of whack with the industry norm. 

This finding should inspire our reporter to ask why Tesla and Toyota workers are so underpaid relative to their unionized counterparts. Instead, it’s used to undercut unionized workers’ demands that they share in the handsome profits of their employers. These profits, it’s worth nothing, have been heavily subsidized by the federal government’s recent Inflation Reduction Act, which could provide, in just one example, up to $5.5 billion in tax breaks to General Motors.

We then hear from small business owners whose companies will be impacted by the strike. With an understanding that multimillionaire CEOs of the Big Three wouldn’t make for sympathetic victims, NBC’s Tom Costello interviews a car dealership owner. 

“In Ogden, Utah, Jake Talbot at Young Ford [car dealership] warns [the strike] could send car prices higher,” Costello tells us. Talbot then adds the classic ticking-time-bomb sales pitch, telling us, “If you’re going to buy a car in the next few months. It’s probably not a bad idea to do it now.”

Costello then plays a brief clip from Todd Olson, the CEO of Twin City Die Castings, which supplies parts for the automakers, who threatens to lay off some of his workers if UAW workers exercise their right to withhold labor. 

It’s all doom and gloom. No sense of any upside if the strike successfully pressures management to increase pay, improve healthcare, and give workers more time with their family. 

It should be noted that NBCUniversal has a modest conflict of interest, in that it has a business partnership with General Motors — which, like other car companies, is a giant advertiser. The entertainment conglomerate announced last September that GM became “the first brand to utilize NBCUnified to access NBCUniversal’s expansive network of consumer touchpoints across movies, entertainment, news, sports, ecommerce, subscriptions, theme parks, and more with [its] media agency partner.” 

It’s impossible to know whether or how much this relationship would impact the editorial line in this specific Nightly News broadcast, but it’s useful context when we see one-sided coverage. 

It’s also worth highlighting NBCUniversal’s own recent anti-labor activities: In July, the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA actors’ union filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board against NBCUniversal, accusing the company of illegally blocking a picket area by obstructing a public sidewalk. 

A similarly shoddy NBC Nightly News report from two weeks ago engaged in many of the same or related tropes. 

Holt also kicks off this report by telling viewers how the strike will cost them money — but this time, there’s a twist: It’s going to hurt the environment. 

“The United Auto Workers [is] voting to authorize a strike in the weeks ahead,” he says. “Jesse Kirsch now with what it all means if you’re in the market for a new car and how it could put a bump in the road for electric vehicles, too.”

After a token four-second clip from UAW president Shawn Fain, we pivot to industry talking points. CNBC reporter Phil Le Beau comes out and asserts, without evidence or skepticism, that “for the Big Three, they need those profits in order to fund the development of electric vehicles.” 

Ah, see, the Big Three are making obscene profits — not for their own benefit, but to reinvest in saving Mother Nature. Le Beau doesn’t mention that Ford, according to the UAW, has paid out $5 billion to shareholders in dividends this year alone, up $2 billion since last year. Le Beau doesn’t offer any evidence that a significant percentage of profits are funding infrastructure investments in electric cars — it’s just a vibe.  

Le Beau tells the viewer it takes fewer people to build an electric car than it does a combustion engine (though some research suggests it may actually take more net labor hours), implying that the UAW’s demands are out of touch. 

NBC’s Jesse Kirsch then raises the stakes again, telling us how much a strike would harm any viewer looking to buy a new car. 

“When UAW’s contracts expire mid-September,” Kirsch laments, “roughly 150,000 workers could strike nationwide, slamming the brakes on production. Not ideal if you’re looking for a new car.” 

Kirsch then turns to John Crane, the owner of several luxury car dealerships in Illinois, to further menace the viewer. In the event of a strike, Crane tells us, “nearly every [car] will get tougher to find as time goes on.” 

What would the strike mean for the worker? And worker power? What would it mean for both Big Three workers and the upward pressure on wages for all American workers in the event that a strike leads to meaningful concessions for workers? It’s not clear, because NBC Nightly News has zero interest in interviewing any actual workers, only wealthy car dealers, and part suppliers, and echoes the talking points of Detroit C-suiters. 

This kind of coverage is not only reflexively unfair to workers, it also misses a huge opportunity to cover one of the most fascinating labor stories of our time. 

Fain, a reform-oriented president won the leadership of the union in March, at a time when rank-and-file reform movements are gaining steam — and real power — across the labor movement. The UAW’s rise or fall has huge implications for the labor movement: UAW consolidated its power with the famed 1936-37 sit-down strikes at General Motors, but has been recently beset with corruption — one of the catalysts for Fain’s rise. 

The joint expiration of Big Three workers’ contracts is a tremendous opportunity for this union to display collective power, and win real gains, at a time when union enthusiasm is soaring, but density is low. With the spotlight on him, Fain is talking about big ideas, like a 32-hour work week with no pay reduction, and a just transition for electric vehicle workers (contrary to claims that he rejects environmentalism). 

The UAW is making big demands: an end to wage and benefit tiers based on hiring date, the right to strike when the company tries to close a plant, cost-of-living adjustments, and much more. Workers have been practicing picketing, using chants like, “Record profits equal record contracts!” 

As with the UPS contract fight, their success has major implications for whether unions are able to build successful campaigns in other shops, such as Amazon and electric vehicle plants getting massive subsidies from the Biden administration.

Bosses know that public support is overwhelmingly on the side of the workers. A recent Gallup poll found that 75 percent of Americans side with the United Auto Workers in their negotiations.

But where unions have the numbers, management has a well-funded PR team, with ready-made talking points about greedy union workers shutting down the economy, wanting to cut hours, and preventing Ma and Pa America from getting a cheap car quickly. 

Reporters should push back against these pat cliches, and seek to find deeper context about the potential upside to workers that a strike like this could bring, rather than constantly beating the drum about how it will jack up prices and wreck “the economy.”


How UFT/Unity is More Management than Union as it Succeeds in Changing NO to YES on OT/PT Contract Vote

When we lose we re-do... Unity Caucus mantra
The evidence keeps mounting. The UFT is more an agent of the employer than a union. Ie - See healthcare
A major difference between the UFT 60s-early 70s and now? The leadership and staff were battle hardened strike vets while the current crew have spent their time managing the membership to tamp down militancy. The role of the Unity machine is to manage the membership and lower expectations, not to defend their interests. The story of the re-vote on the OT/PT contract is a perfect example.
...since collectively bargaining away our healthcare is so important to UFT leadership, there’s a certain irony to AAA certification of the OT/PT revote...Nick@NAC
Wednesday, Sept. 6

There were cheering crowds by Unity Caucus hacks in Mudville, as the mighty OT/PT chapter was struck out - for now, a Pyrrhic victory for Unity which will come back to bite them. The lesson for critics of Unity is to mock and boycott the bogus negotiating committees with their cone of silence in the future as the sham they am, and question the entire voting process on contracts and even on UFT elections. There will be much more scrutiny of ballots in the future - observers should camp out at the AAA offices.

When our UFT President communicated to membership that he wouldn’t be able to do the job of collectively ‘re-bargaining’ in a timely manner, Unity orchestrated a divisive and undemocratic re-vote campaign to avoid going back to the negotiating table...Nick@NAC
UFT Organizing Model

High school teachers have voted against Unity for most of the past 4 decades, yet are saddled with the Unity HS VP since the 1990s and might start calling for going back to the old pre-1960 days of the militant High School Teachers Association, which with the recent death of a UFT founder George Altomare, reminds us of his role in bringing HSTA into the UFT fold through a merger in 1960. There would be  no UFT if not for that merger. The history is interesting. Altomare was forced to retire when Shulman defeated him for HSVP in 1985, a cataclysmic event in Unity history and setting the pattern of "When we lose we re-do." (See Jonathan's dissection of the high school division.)

Highly paid 6 figure UFT staffers making double the pay of many therapists trolled and mocked the OT/PT leader and when challenged resorted to ghost twitter accounts. 

Imagine if these highly paid staffers actually spent their time defending teacher rights.

Unions and strikes are so popular right now that in every labor dispute a clear and overwhelming percentage of the American people side with workers, not the bosses. And that’s just the beginning..... Internet comment

But our leaders live in the UFT/Unity universe, so the summer/fall of strikes is a myth to them.

After voting down the onerous 9th period the DOE so wanted, as a way to increase therapist work loads and save money in not hiring more people, the Unity machinations will leave them stuck with this provision. The OT/PT negotiating committee had categorically maintained they were opposed to the 9th period but were blindsided by the top leadership just an hour before having to vote, a major reason the chapter voted NO by 60% the first time. 

So what was the UFT response? Attack the leadership of OT/PT and incite the membership to do the same and declare openly they will refuse to go back to the bargaining table.

Instead of giving therapist income equality to other UFT members, the UFT/Unity "solution" is to extend their work time. UAW - autoworkers demand a 4 day workweek without reducing pay. I love their leader Shawn Fain saying billionaires do not have a right to exist. Can you imagine Mulgrew or Randi saying they when they actually cultivate billionaires and help buck up a privatized neo-liberalist capitalism.

We know the Unity history over decades when they lose what they deem as important votes.

My Aug. 29th post pointing to the backward looking UFT/Unity machine in comparison to the enormously energetic current union movements, got some attention, with over 11 thousand views on the day after publication (it was linked by daily must read Naked Capitalism) and 2k daily views since then.

I concluded with: 

Unity may be passive when it comes to dealing with the DOE and principals but when it comes to threats to its power from opposing forces, Unity becomes a tiger.

So what's the verdict? Is the UFT leadership saddled with a membership -- New York's meekest as my late friend used to lament? 

Or is the rank and file saddled with a leadership that only shows militancy when its own members who challenge it?

The re-vote of the OT/PT contract was an apt enforcement of the points I made. Some reactions I've seen.

“The next step should have been to go back to the bargaining table. It was a fair and certified vote. It was not close. It was not compromised in any way.” - Alison Loebel Bertoni. ... Why Are School Therapists in NYC Revoting on a ‘Nothing’ Contract? - Work Bites -

Nick at NAC:  The truth is that the UFT hasn’t seriously engaged in ‘collective bargaining’ for decades. Instead, they’ve engaged in ‘concessionary bargaining,’ accepting the bulk of what our employer demands .... UFT leadership claims to be in an existential fight for collective bargaining. But when they have the chance to bargain collectively, do they? A Farewell to Collective Bargaining? New Action

More Nick: 89% of just over 2k voted yes. Under the circumstance of being told voting no was pointless by their own union president, I’m not surprised. If your own bargaining agent conveys that all renegotiating will do is make things take longer, leaving out the part that pattern bargaining ensures retro pay, a lot of union members are understandably going to go for the safe option (i.e. the City’s first offer).

MORE PERFECT UNION:  Unions and strikes are so popular right now that in every labor dispute a clear and overwhelming percentage of the American people side with workers, not the bosses. And that’s just the beginning

TeeganBurke: Yet in NYC, thanks to the inability to strike because of the Taylor Law & the underhanded dealings of@UFTUnity, NYC teachers were presented with a contract that gave them a 3% raise. Far below cost of living. Not a word from @AFTunion or its self serving president@rweingarten

And for reference, from way back then when 60% voted NO:

The original whys for the NO vote still exist. What has changed is the success of the Unity spirit of hopelessness.

This bears repeating: in essence the UFT/Unity leadership has killed the battle for equal pay, while saddling the OT/PT with the "optional" 9th period which allows the city to save money by overworking the members. Think Amazon, railway workers and the neo-liberal 40 year war to reduce the work force. UFT leadership is a partner in that effort when it should be a resister. But we long-time Unity watchers expect nothing less.

We need a third vote for the rubber match

But, Oh the machinations behind the re-vote of the rejected contract. Below are the numbers for this version of the vote. In my book it is a tie. First vote had 60% NO and second vote had 60% Yes. We need a rubber match. And I noted that since the chapter has about 3,000 members, about one thousand didn't vote in either vote. One of the arguments used by Unity was to give the non-voters a chance to vote. How unfair. The non-voters need a third shot at the apple. Just do it again.

What next for OT/PT For a Fair Contract? Keep an eye on the upcoming chapter election.

Melissa Williams and other Ex Bd members' resignation has created a debate inside the general opposition movement. Some urged her to hang on. I stand with her decision to resign. The Unity machine battered her from the day she took over as CL two years ago. Here is a link to her resignation letter.

Melissa Williams, Uncensored: "The game is rigged. It was rigged for two years. We are only now seeing the full force of the abuse of power in a union with one-party rule."

I will highlight one section from Melissa to illustrate the level of leadership response:

After all the many months of work our OT/PT Executive Board did gathering data for the UFT Grievance Department, the UFT Grievance Department failed to pursue the Transfer List 2022 issue, the recovery pay  arbitration, or substantively address the months of non-payment some therapists experience  coming off of parental leave. The success we had addressing the SEED Payment issues this year  is because we showed up at Panel of Educational Policy meetings, Citywide Council of Special Education meetings, and leveraged our relationships with parent leaders.

All of that was achieved outside of the union power structure. 

Chapter leaders are often, unless with ties to Unity (and not even them in some cases), on their own.

Imagine if Retiree Advocate actually got more votes than Unity in this year's chapter election? 

When we lose we re-do.



Wouldn't it have been easier for the leadership to call up their buddies at the DOE and ask for a favor? "Let's claim we "bargained" and change a few minor issues in the contract - even just some wording -- and resubmit it to the membership as a "new" contract." But they chose to go on a much more risky path.
They had a lesson to teach the over a thousand who voted NO in OT/PT, but the general membership: That a NO vote on any contract is futile since we won't bother to honor it. Leadership was sort of trapped by the overwhelming 60% rejection. They couldn't use a minor irregularity excuse to call for a revote. But they did use the 1000 non-voters. Imagine if in the 2022 general UFT election we had the masses of the 70 thousand non-voters to bombard the leadership with requests for a re-vote. And we know many people who never got a ballot. And OT/PTs had more time to vote than other voters. 

Someone sent me a link to an Ed Notes post I wrote 3 years ago with some pertinent comments on what I saw then as a bogus strike talk by UFT leaders. 

I have believed for 45 years the UFT will never strike. I still haven't been proven wrong. I have doubted there would be a strike due to the political nature of the leadership which has been anti-strike for 45 years and has conditioned the membership to fear Taylor Law penalties and is seemingly trying to switch horses in mid-stream -- mixed messages for sure. James reported earlier at ICEUFT - DAILY NEWS REPORTS CITY AND UFT ARE TALKING which has good, bad and ugly aspects since we don't know what kind of backroom deals are being made. The strike talk is most likely only a show as Mulgrew sends out mixed messages. Could they pull off a strike or are the powers that be laughing themselves silly over the very idea?

I wrote this Nov. 2018-  Memories of 1975

I firmly believe there can be no major gains without a credible strike threat. But I don't believe we will see that here in NYC unless there are catastrophic cuts -- like a severe depression and attempts to cut current salaries.... there are people in the UFT today who are saying the leadership should get the membership strike ready because the West Virginia and other red state strike are an example that UFT members might be ready to follow. The Taylor Law penalties is one reason why that won't happen here until NYC teachers are eating dog food like teachers in the red states.

In contrast to the UFT attempts to demoralize not only the OT/PT chapter, but to teach the entire membership a lesson. I've been pointing to the new militancy by major unions. Take these comments from new UAW leader Shawn Fein and how these leaders have emboldened



The press seems to have been sympathetic to the OT/PT. Melissa did a great job in dealing with the press, which led to Unity hacks attacking her - how dare she talk to the press? Only UFT shills have that right.

The UFT/Unity machine doesn't care what the opposition says, but they do care when mainstream press covers. The word "undemocratic" even with quotes in the headline of this DN article? Agata  at 52 Broadway.


 Here is the full text without links.

A chapter of school therapists that was directed to revote on a tentative contract agreement has approved the deal amid criticism the process was anti-democratic.

The contract between the United Federation of Teachers and the city was ratified by 89% of the more than 2,000 occupational and physical therapists who cast ballots, according to the tally of the revote by the independent American Arbitration Association.

“I want to thank the [occupational and physical therapists] who participated in the union meetings this summer to discuss your contract,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in an email Wednesday to members. “The challenge we faced helped build a stronger union.”

Earlier this summer, the bargaining unit that included occupational and physical therapists as well as other professional groupings turned down the agreement. More than two-thirds of therapists who cast ballots rejected the deal, with many citing pay concerns. Others in the unit, including nurses and audiologists, voted it through, the initial tally showed.

Rather than go back to the negotiating table, the UFT split the therapists from the rest of their bargaining unit and directed them to revote. No other members had to vote again.

Mulgrew in announcing the revote cited an “outpouring of opinion” on all sides of the arguments. The UFT received just under 1,500 emails from members in the bargaining unit asking for a revote, according to a spokeswoman for the union.

But the directive was met with swift backlash from chapter leadership, prompting the resignation of three chapter executive board members, including chapter leader Melissa Williams.

Ballots were mailed on Tuesday, Aug. 8, and due on Tuesday, according to the UFT. They were counted on Wednesday.

Roughly 450 more ballots were returned in the second vote than during the initial round, according to figures reviewed by The News. The number of votes against the deal dwindled the second time around from 1,074 to 229, a memo from the UFT showed Thursday.

The initial vote to reject the contract was the second time in a row that therapists turned down the first offer from the city. In 2018, union reps went back into negotiations with city labor officials — a step that many therapists who voted no expected to happen again.

Vice chair of physical therapists Aideen Kwan Dela Cruz told The News she was relieved to no longer be labeled as a “troublemaker,” but saddened to miss out on pay parity and respect.

“I understand why people ratified this contract as they do not see how they can change the union leadership’s stance on not supporting our chapter’s demands,” she said. “It is disheartening that we pay union dues to a union who sides with the employer and not the paying members.”

The new contract boosts pay 17.58% to 20.42% compounded over the five years of the agreement according to the UFT. It dates back retroactively to last September, and comes with retroactive payments and a $3,000 ratification bonus.


Regressive and Passive UFT Pales Behind Aggressive and Progressive Unions: Is it the Leadership or Membership?

It's the UFT/Unity Leadership, stupid.

This is basic premise of this post and was stimulated by attending the SAG/AFTRA/AWG picket line with thousands from a variety of unions that make the UFT/Unity leadership look like ghosts.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

In the midst of thousands from active unions, seeing the sparse turnout from the UFT - they looked mostly like staffers - got me to thinking, a very dangerous thing.
The sense of militancy on that picket line was inspiring.
I started thinking of the strike fever around the nation and the contracts being won and realize there's no way our UFT leadership wanted our rank and file to witness this strike militancy.
I heard a UAW worker on a podcast recently talking about how demoralized workers were under the old leadership which bargained away their rights -- asking them to vote for bad contracts and how the new leadership has invigorated the rank and file.

United Auto Workers members voted overwhelmingly to approve a strike for their 150,000 members. If the CEOs of the Big Three auto companies―Ford, GM, and Stellantis―don’t offer fair terms, the workers will have no choice but to turn this Hot Labor Summer into a Crisp Labor Autumn.....More Perfect Union interviewed UAW workers―find out what they’re striking for, then send a message of solidarity to the CEOs of the Big Three!
The same thing in the Teamsters which voted in a new and aggressive leadership.The membership had voted down a recent contract but the leadership over ruled them. Sound familiar? Think of the overturning of the OT/PT NO vote. I wrote:

 Leadership counts:

From Detroit to Hollywood, New Union Leaders Take a Harder Line Pushed by angry members, unions representing actors, autoworkers and UPS employees are becoming increasingly assertive under new leadership.

  • New Leaders: Several prominent unions, representing groups from automobile workers to actors, are now in the hands of outspoken leaders who have taken their membership to the brink of high-stakes labor stoppages — or beyond.
  • United Auto Workers: Shawn Fain, the new U.A.W. president, has vowed to be tougher than his predecessors in contract talks with the Detroit automakers. His initial demands attach big numbers to that promise.
The UFT outspoken leader focuses on attacking our health plan, critical voices in the union, and to sell an inferior contract. 
Then I read articles about how in a little over a decade the newly elected leadership in the Chicago Teachers Union has turned what was a moribund union into the most progressive and dynamic political force in Chicago. The same with the UTLA. And then fought down nausea thinking of the 60+ year reign of our own Unity Caucus in the UFT. You know what Unity shills say to this? We still have it better. It we do it is because of the militant strikes and contracts won over 50 years ago.

LEVER WEEKLY: What’s Behind Chicago’s Great Upsurge?

 ...an insurgent socialist-led caucus, the Caucus of Rank and File Educators, had taken over the union in 2010. By 2012, the teachers’ union — then under the leadership of the late visionary Karen Lewis — had launched a strike in response to the state legislature passing a bill that curtailed teachers’ bargaining power and right to strike.

100 Days In, Brandon Johnson Is Steadily Shifting Chicago’s Political Terrain - In These Times

I followed the Chicago story since I connected with the late George Schmidt in 1999 and that union was dead in the water in 2009. Look at how things changed with the new leadership elected in 2010? In over a decade they've made up a hell of a lot of ground, and in times when teacher unions have come under massive attack.

So I make the case that only new, progressive leadership will change the UFT from a passive to an aggressive union. 


The big issue is whether such a nascent potential leadership currently exists like it did in LA and Chicago? So far I haven't seen anything comparable to CORE or the coalition in UTLA here in NYC with similar outreach. After all, this is a much bigger enchilada with 1800 schools. (George Schmidt used to tell me Chicago is roughly equivalent to Brooklyn -- in the 2010 election there were about 675 schools). Also neither city had a Unity-like machine or anything like a lock on the union that Unity has had. (In the 2010 Chicago election, there were 5 caucuses running and a runoff). Unity has set up an undemocratic fire wall that other unions don't have.

There will be no change in UFT leadership until there is a powerful counter-force to the Unity machine with deep outreach into the schools, especially elementary and middle schools. 

So far building such a force is a work in progress and progress has been very sketchy with too many caucuses doing their own organizing. The founding of the coalition, United for Change for last year's UFT election was a step forward. I don't believe any one caucus can win power in the UFT. So the UFC coalition is the only way forward and Unity will do anything to disrupt its progress, including divide and conquer. 

Unity may be passive when it comes to dealing with the DOE and principals but when it comes to threats to its power from opposing forces, Unity becomes a tiger.

So what's the verdict? Is the UFT leadership saddled with a membership -- New York's meekest as my late friend used to lament? 

Or is the rank and file saddled with a leadership that only shows militancy when its own members who challenge it?


Mulgrew/Weingarten/Unity Healthcare Lies and misinformation exposed by Daily News Op Ed and Marianne

The MLC has never bargained for or represented retirees, and surely not for me as a non-union City Council employee.... Gary Altman, lawyer for City Council for 38 years.

Monday, August 21, 2023

This Altman piece is a dagger Mulgrew's heart. But just like Trumpies back him no matter what the crimes, watch the Unity Caucus hacks stay on the gravy train and shill away for whatever crap Mulgrew makes up. What's coming next is an assault on working member healthcare to make up the money not being saved by screwing retirees. He will try to put working members against retirees -- it's the rich boomers, not UFT leadership that's screwing you.

Here's the quick skinny before you watch the videos. Mulgrew, Garrido are lying openly about the retiree healthcare issue and are exposed in this op ed by Gary Altman, who was a legal Council on the City Council for 38 years and goes back through the history of how the UFT testified more than once to the very opposite of what they are claiming now. Marianne reads the op ed below with emphasis. 

Mulgrew has been claiming the City Council can't pass bill 1099 which would offer retirees a choice of healthcare options.

Altman points to previous legislation to protect healthcare via City Council and not once was there a claim that it hurts collective bargaining. Somehow Mulgrew has been dragging the Taylor Law into this issue, claiming that by passing 1099 they violate the law. Utter bullshit.

Gary Altman

 Marianne reads the entire op ed.


Here's the link to the article, which is behind a paywall.

And here she exposes DC 37 Henry Garrido.




EONYC chimes in

🚨 This is not a drill. @dc37 and leadership is making their threat to the rank and file PLAIN. 🚨 Now that their BIG LIES are being dismantled concerning any amendments hurting collective bargaining, the talking points are more honest and bare in their threat to active city workers. And even as their actions are ruled illegal in court… There is another nuclear campaign afoot to scare members to act on lobbying city council members to not protect retiree choice of healthcare. Translation: They are saying if we can’t screw retirees … we will need to screw you, active city workers. And yet the choice is not binary for our city unions. It’s not force retirees into MAP or we will need to agree with the city to charge healthcare premiums on city workers. Henry, Michael, and Alan know this. They want to path of least resistance. And the one that preserves their welfare fund patronage system. There are various paths and solutions that help all workers and keep costs manageable. And QUALITY, PREMIUM-FREE.

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