Monday, May 30, 2016

What's Next for MORE/New Action?

So the elections are over. MORE/New Action scored a victory by winning the high school seats and Mulgrew and and Unity used their machine and our money to once again monopolize their power. Now what?

Some takeaways:

MORE/New Action has shown what can happen when there is cooperation between two caucuses.

Now that MORE/New Action will be there twice a month for exec board meetings no longer will things be done in secret and Unity now must explain, justify, and go on the record for it's actions.

With over 10k people voting for MORE/New Action there can now be true open executive board meetings twice a month. (Much more food will need to be ordered!)

MORE/New Action has laid a great foundation for the 2018 chapter elections as well as the 2019 UFT elections.

MORE/New Action can now show it is a force to be reckoned with.

The members of the high school exec board are above reproach and will work in an ethical and moral manner.

But as always there is work to be done.

During April vacation I handed out MORE/New Action fliers at two 6-8 Math scoring sites. I stood outside during their lunch and was able to engage the members. This beats just stuffing fliers in mailboxes. The personal touch is always the best.

There is still too much ignorance an apathy out there, particularly with the younger, fresher members. One member told me she voted, but when I asked for whom she said, "Oh, I checked Unity." Why I asked. "Because we just got the raise." Yeah, so did I, $89 a check.

Or you get "I like my CL," or "I don't want to get involved." Stuff like that. That is what we are fighting against.

Or here was one of my favorites from last week. A teacher told me she voted for Unity and when I explained the what Unity hasn't done she told me, "Yeah you are right, but sometimes you get to go with whom you know." Geez!

Worse, who, unless you have been active, knows Unity or MORE/New Action? There should be, not just ads in NY Teacher, but with the ballots should come a page explaining who is who.

This is not a time to relax for MORE/New Action. It is a time to continue to persevere and to build the brand. We have the foot in the door and a stool at the bar. MORE/New Action has a lot to be proud of and let's bask in it but know we have a lot of work ahead. It can be done.

My two cents. MORE/New Action should keep a "shadow union" and be there ready to answer back and to fight back when it disagrees with the path of the UFT.

Oh. One more thing. No more voting from retirees!!!

One suggestion for the future exec board meetings.. Would it be too much to ask for a omelette station as well as a carving station?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The UFT Needs to Speak Against the Termination of All Paid Fire Fighters in Port Chester NY (READ WHY!)

There is a great disturbance in the public service employees force. And it's emanating from Port Chester NY.

Earlier this month in the next town over from me, Port Chester NY, the village board  wishing to reduce an $800k budget gap laid off the 8 professional fire fighters that service the village and left the protection of the village to about 300 less trained volunteers. Mayor Dennis Pilla is a voting member of the board as well as the catalyst in this thuggery. This also negated the agreement the village had with neighboring Rye Brook in which Port Chester supplied one paid overnight fire fighter (Rye Brook has had it's issues with firefighters in the past. In the 90's they privatized and went with a publicly traded company for fire protection, Rural-Metro. It was a disaster).

There is talk that the village board did this because the paid fire fighters filed a labor complaint claiming the volunteers mishandled a house fire in March.

Port Chester can afford these fire fighters. The village population is almost 30k, but is almost 60% Hispanic. The Justice Department had to get involved several years ago because no Hispanics were being elected nor nominated to run for the village board.

Twenty years ago, heck even 15 years ago the only reason to go to Port Chester was if you were drinking in Connecticut in which closing time for bars was 2 AM and you wanted to continue drinking until 4 AM. Today, restaurants dot Main St left and right, the resurgent Capitol Theater is becoming a stop for the likes of Jackson Brown and Ringo Starr and there has been much waterfront development along the Byram River. 

A dad of a son my son has played baseball with just retired from the Port Chester Fire Department. He is lucky. He has a pension. For now.

The professional fire fighters of Port Chester are in same boat us teachers public service employees being blamed for the incompetence of politicians. Ironically, Rye Brook is where the Westchester Hilton is in which the UFT holds all it's "retreats." Wouldn't Mulgrew not want to worry about fire protection? In fact the closest house to the Hilton is in Port Chester, not Rye Brook (The Rye Brook fire house is near Westchester County Airport).

And guess what the Journal News reported today? Three Democrat board members who were elected in March have been removed because they;
 "failed to sign legal paperwork following this year's election wins."
This is another attack on public service employees. Port Chester is yet another municipality that can't keep it's finances in order and decides that the scapegoats must be it's public service employees and the the public it's victims.

Each and every time I get into a conversation with a sanitation worker, a parks workers, a cop, a fire fighter, etc... and share that I am a teacher and what is happening to us I tell them that they are next. Well guess what? The professional fire fighters of Port Chester have been the next ones nailed.

Our union, it's leaders, the caucus that runs the UFT has been silent. It has paid thousands to the Westchester Hilton for years to have it's retreats as well has paying hotel tax to the Village of Rye Brook (Rye Brook and Port Chester are both in the Town of Rye...not to be confused with the City of Rye)

We here at SBSB are calling for the UFT to immediately cease doing any business with the Westchester Hilton and any other businesses within the Town of Rye and the villages of Rye Brook and Port Chester until the eight professional fire fighters have their jobs restored as well as the appropriate back pay.

I have run into some really good people at the UFT in the last several months. This does not negate me from my support of MORE/New Action. But sometimes a word of support can go a long way.

God forbid if someone were to die due to inadequate fire protection. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

UFT Solidarity: Introduces the Straw Man

One thing that keeps me going is my somewhat belief in God. I go back and forth quite a bit. I have never been an atheist, but I have been, or at least have had, a foot in the agnostic camp at times.

I have in the past dabbled with Mormonism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Christian Science, and I think once, Christianity. I even considered Judaism an ethnicity and not a religion and would claim that my religion is eclectic. A little from column A, column B, and so on.

My wife, who is much more attuned to God and spirituality than I, during my 3020-a would tell me that God will see what is right and put me in my right place. It kind of worked, but the logical side of me had a tough time with that kind of belief at times.

But I believe that when all is said and done with this election that MORE/New Action did all they can do to be in the right place at the right time when the results are announced to be in the place that MORE should be.

Now I am not saying that there is some type of deity behind MORE/New Action rather I am pointing out the Humanistic wind blowing into the sails of MORE /New Action how everyone associated with MORE/New Action as comported themselves throughout this vigorous campaigning to have a union that works for the stake holders instead of the other way around. Win, lose, or partial win, MORE/New Action has ever tried to intimidate or use subterfuge.

The following has been sitting on the desk of The Crack Team for about a week. We have had many discussions, workshops, all night benders on whether or not to share this. After many a ballot tonight (54 to be exact!) we finally got a majority to approve the sharing of our find (Click if you need to enlarge).

The above is an email that UFT Solidarity presidential candidate sent to Scott Boswell, the American Arbitration Association's Director of Elections, last week in effect a poor attempt at intimidation and an even a poorer attempt to start looking for, as well as blaming, scapegoats if and when Francesco Portelos is not elected UFT president as he has so vociferously has promised.

Let's give Portelos the benefit of the doubt for a moment and believe he is not trying to find a Straw Man for his failure, OK? Just my sending this email, just the intimidating tone in the email, is at best rude, but at worst, extremely unethical.

But this is par for the course with Portelos. Intimidation and bullying is all he knows. Think about it, we do want someone as UFT president that fights for the teachers, for the students, and for the communities. But do we want someone whose first inclination is to burn bridges right out of the chute? God forbid if that happens. It'll be another 3 years of nothing and spinning our wheels.

But there is something more happening here and The Crack Team is aware of other Straw Man methods that the followers of Portelos are using. When one fails as a leader, find a scapegoat.

Portelos has put whatever it is of his reputation on the line with these elections and he is now flailing for excuses at what is coming down the pike. What better why to divert attention from his what he did not do than find somewhere else to shine the light?

Fortunately, there has been chattering that the Straw Man will not work with a growing number at UFT Solidarity save the truly indoctrinated.

What we need at the UFT is level headed thinkers that are have the emotional maturity to be in charge. We can't replace what we have with the same thing.

Think about it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

MORE Cool Stuff MORE Has Done

Wow! It has been some time since I last posted. Three weeks in fact. Almost a month since an
original posting by yours truly.

I had scored the ELA exams for two weeks in April and was too beat to blog when I came home and the little free time I had was devoted to doing whatever I couldn't do during the week. Plus, baseball season has begun and my son, soon to be 15, is on three teams for the spring. That involves constant juggling of schedules and schlepping him to games and practices.

So it has come to my attention that there is the typical whining that MORE doesn't look out for teachers who are facing discontinuance or have been discontinued.

We know that is bullocks. See, MORE does help, does fight for teachers. But just because it does not wear what it does on their sleeves doesn't mean MORE is not at the forefront of the fight.

Let me share a story.

About 2 1/2 years ago, just about the time I got sent to the Rubber Room, a received an email from a minor, yet well known, NYC celebrity. He shared with me that his brother, who happened to be in his mid-60's and a career changer, was being harassed and threatened with termination if he did not resign. Now mind you, this is in September 2013, this teacher whom I shall refer to has Bob had only a few weeks on the job.

Bob was put into the wrong setting with the wrong classes and the wrong kids.  He was was hired to teach math, (Tripline/Algebra) but forced to teach science as well (Molecular Genetics). Apparently, on Friday the class was out of sorts and he went to lesson plan B instead of what he was planning on teaching. Sadly, the principal walked in on this and saw the difficulty he was having. At the end of the day she asked for him to resign or face an evaluation/observation that can result in his termination and loss of certification.

Having not been a chapter leader I sought out those from MORE who have experience. Peter Lamphere (Who is running for executive board at-large) rode in on his white horse. And flowing hair. But I digress.

Peter told Bob that under no circumstances should he resign immediately. This will ruin his chances of ever being re-hired by the DOE. Peter's response, and if memory serves, was the principal must give a teacher that is to be discontinued 30 days notice and in the meantime seek another position within the DOE.

Based on Peter's advice, the principal wrote a "mildly" positive letter of reference and Bob was able to transfer out to a school where he has thrived. Thanks to Peter Lamphere, Bob has a job.

Now, Bob would not have had a job if he took the advice of someone who chimed in upon reading his plight on the MORE listserv. This person, who shall remain nameless, shared....

 "He should call her bluff and wait for post observation. Then ask principal "can you model a lesson for me?"

Call her bluff? Ask for a model lesson. This coming from a teacher several weeks on the job? If Bob took that advice he would be selling pencils in Staples.

But again, I digress.

Not once has Peter gone around "bragging" what he did to help Bob. In fact, IMHO, it is just par for the course for Peter.

This is what you get with MORE. You get a level of knowledge and maturity in handling a situation. A sense that whomever you are dealing with is looking for a solution not from a micro perspective but the macro perspective that it should be.

MORE doesn't just want to put Bactine on the DOE boo-boo. It wants to get to the root of the boo-boo and make sure it is cured, not treated.

When you get your ballots in the mail, be sure to check of the box for the MORE/New Action slate. You need no worry about going through pages and pages to vote.