Monday, November 26, 2018

Is the MORE Caucus About to Defraud Members of the UFT?

Imagine if you will that the MORE Caucus (Movement of Rank and File Educators) has a baseball team. The team is down by a run, bottom of the ninth, no out, and a runner on third. The opposing team is so inept they are not even playing the infield in. A fly ball, a safety squeeze, a ground ball to the right side of the infield, almost anything will get that run home to tie the game. Heck, a dinger will win it. What would the MORE Caucus do?

In all probability refuse to send the next batter, or any batters up. This will necessitate a forfeit and the MORE Caucus will lose the game. Clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Crack Team was sent what appears to be the MORE's 2019 UFT election strategy. Not only does it follow the above scenario but worse. It is perpetrating a serious fraud among the rank and file. Read (click on image to enlarge)...

Some highlights of the fraud...

We did not want to exhaust ourselves in an election campaign to eke out as many votes as possible for the dubious goal of winning some seats on the UFT Executive Board. Instead, we want to organize, reach out and expand the caucus.

Why run then? Why give people false hope that the MORE Caucus finally gives a damn about the rank and file when all the MORE Caucus wishes to do is toe expand the brand? This can be done without giving the rank and file false hope. Want to expand the brand. Sit the election out and in the meantime expand the brand. Again, this is nothing other than the MORE Caucus putting themselves over others. 

If we agree at our next meeting that trying to capture the high school seats on the Executive Board should not be our priority, that frees us to run in a variety of different ways and to better use of the campaign to further the kinds of organizing we all want to do. First, it could make petitioning easier. 

So if it is not a priority to win HS exec seats why run? Why waste time of so many. Why waste the time and energy of those who sign the petitions? Why waste the money of those who give? Wait a minute. Will the MORE Caucus share with those that give money their real intentions? If not, is that not fraud? 

In 2016 we ran a joint slate with 300 candidates, including candidates for all 100 seats on the Executive Board. That meant we had to get petitions filled out for 300 people, many of whom were unwilling to help with petitioning themselves. 

Yeah, you know who put in the grunt work? Thanks to the trade unionists those petitions were filled out. Guess those who were unwilling for to busy supporting something tpotally irrelevant to the rank and file of the DOE or shopping for artisanal mayo in Brooklyn.

However, if we are not targeting particular seats, we could choose to run a much smaller slate (maybe 45-50) candidates for the officer and “at-large” seats on the executive board. Any UFT member can sign those petitions or run for those spots so it is much easier to get that petitioning done.

There you go. Yeah, go for the at large seats in which there is ZERO CHANCE of winning. God forbid if one has to take time from an ISO activity to do something for teachers. 

Second, once the petitioning is over, if our goal isn’t to win particular seats, we can campaign however we want.

Face palm. Why does this remind me of tee ball when my son was 4 1/2 and everyone got a trophy or the Wall of Gaylord

What we won’t have to do is figure out how to blanket every high school in the city with leaflets. That is the part that is exhausting and spreads us very thin.

Or find someone (a trade unionist) to stay in the South Bronx late and blanket practically every school in District 7.

Yes, there will be menial labor involved. Petitioning involves some tedious record-keeping and planning. 

Menial? Hard work? Isn't that the opposite of what we try to teach our offspring? That no work is menial. That we grow from tedium. 

Ya know, it is about sales. Selling yourself and selling what you believe in. Look like the MORE Caucus can't do neither. 

But frankly, I think we’ll be better off for the future if a few members from the younger generation get trained in how to do it. And somebody will have to represent us on the UFT election committee. But, usually, that isn’t much work.

Seriously, I can go down to the chimp house at the Bronx Zoo and train the chimps in about 5 minutes. The work is not hard, it is the dedication. And yes, it is difficult to be dedicated to something when you have lived a life of white privilege, gone to the best private high schools, gone to top notch universities and mummsy and dada, as well as Jeeves are shelling out for your apartment in Brooklyn. 

How can anyone trust the MORE Caucus now? How can anyone see any leadership qualities? The MORE Caucus is about to pull off the biggest con on the members of the UFT ever.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Francesco Portelos Puts Foot in Mouth Yet Again

Oh geez, it's coming up to that time. The UFT elections. Here we go again.

ICE has been meeting contemplating whether or not to run in the upcoming UFT elections. Recently members of Solidarity have reached out to us hoping to form a joint slate. Most of us, including myself, were amiable to this.

At one meeting, speaking only for myself, I took the position that for any "joint slate" to move forward that Portelos cannot be involved at all, though I left room open for something for him running downslate. Even him politicking for the election did not sit well for me. But I was open. One pre-condition was for Portelos to actually show up at an ICE meeting and eat crow, mend fences, and be a mensch. But curiously, each meeting in which we were told he will be there something always came up for him at the last minute.

But the more things change the more the stay the same.

Here we go again with alternative facts and whining. I'm not well informed about Portelos' accusation about Shulman to comment. I do know that Portelos did creepily show up at his house in 2016 to whine about not getting his way. But Mike, remember this. New York State has the Castle Doctrine. But I digress. As for the second paragraph, it will be revisited later on in this post.

But bashing Arthur Goldstein? Come on. I have had my disagreements with Arthur. But to accuse him of wanting to be a Unity hack, come on.

If there is an offer for Arthur to join with Unity for HS executive board, it's fine by me and if he doesn't want to, again, it is fine by me. In fact, I hope if he is offered he takes them up on it. With Arthur on exec board I am sure he'll keep Unity's feet to the fire and teachers will continue to have a voice. Portelos, Arthur has something you want. Actually two things you want and will never have, Being on the exec board and integrity.

And being a hypocrite. Portelos, come with me down memory lane (click here).

"You miss the point. Unity is laughing at the Portelos spectacle - they know he is nuts but are happy to be using him to divide the opposition. They even brag privately how Solidarity is doing their work for them - and they also spill the beans that Portelos was asking Unity for a job and when he didn't get it he figured he could win favor by creating a caucus that could prevent MORE from winning executive board seats. Is that what the meeting with Randi was about? Play the tape."
No onto the second paragraph and this little whine from Portelos...

It is you. It is always about you. That's the way you want it. Yes, we heard the right things. "Portelos is not involved," "Portelos is too busy," "Yada, yada, yada..." But face facts. You are the face and heartbeat of Solidarity. And you love it. But even if it is not true this is the perception others have. Remember, there is no such thing as reality only perception. 

I spoke to a revered member of NA a while back. Under no circumstances will this person work with Solidarity as long as you are involved. There are many who share the same thoughts at MORE and several with ICE. Are you noticing a pattern? 

Portelos, if you truly, truly care about the welfare of teachers everywhere perhaps it is time you fall on your sword? Divest yourself of Solidarity. Ride off into the sunset and let those who are not seeking fame and glory take the reins. You have some good people at Solidarity, it's time to set them free. You are the one holding back Solidarity.

Is this about you, or is it about the teachers? 

Monday, November 12, 2018

UFT President Mulgrew Gets $8,250 in US Open Tickets for Free

Dang. Our venerable UFT Presidenté Mike Mulgrew was in the Post yesterday. It seems that he has accepted...
...two tickets worth a total of $1,250 in 2012, and two tickets worth $1,300 in 2013. In 2014, he received $2,700 in tickets. In 2015 and 2016, he got tickets worth $1,500 each year.
That's a total of (Hang on The Crack Team is crunching the numbers.) $8,250. Who did he get these tickets from? According to the New York Post these tickets were obtained through.
a that firm represents the UFT and other city unions in litigation. In 2017, it collected $2.9 million in legal fees from the UFT...Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, the firm that collected $15.5 million in fees from the UFT in that time.

Yes, I get it. The UFT needs a law firm to do whatever it does. Virginia LoPreto, while probably less costly, can't do everything herself. I also understand that a business wishes to reward clients and throws them tickets. My dad had a business for years, and he would get tickets for his clients as well. It's the price of doing business.

But running a union, especially the UFT where time and time again it's leaders come across as tone deaf to the masses this is bad optics. James Eterno as quoted on the Post article as saying...
“It doesn’t pass the smell test. Your average teacher isn’t getting these kinds of perks — and nor should our union leaders.”
No, it doesn't James. Yes, Mulgrew can do this, but should he? That is the bigger question.

Just as out to lunch is Stoock partner Charles Moerdler who said he was unaware of the ticket exchange and went on to say...
“We have season tickets to a whole variety of sporting events, and we give them to clients who ask for them.”
So Uncle Mike asked for US Open tickets? Why? I used to the men's finals every year when  when I was a kid. I had to sit through a 5 1/2 hour match between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in 1980 (I think).

Sorry Norm, no raffle for winter coats. Technically, myself and every single UFT member are clients of Stroock. I am putting my request for tickets to Mr Moerdler. Other UFT members should do the same. Let's see if he comes through.

In order of preference this is my wish list I will present (I will accept two tickets please.).

Super Bowl LIII (I will find my own way to Atlanta.)

Opening Night (Can you believe? Game is scheduled at 6:35!) for Yankees April 1. If game is moved to the afternoon please disregard. And no substituting with Opening Day Mets tickets. I only watch Major League baseball. 

Giants vs Cowboys last game of 2018 and possible Eli's last game as a Giant. 

Any home Rangers game or a Devil's game. 

The 2020 US Open (golf) at Winged Foot. Final round. Mickelson might finally atone for his 2006 disaster.

2019 Masters.

Knicks or Nets home game. 

Islanders, only at the Coliseum. 

Oh, if Rush somehow starts touring again, Rush moves to top of the line.

If Mr Moerdler is kind enough to give me four tickets, I will take two UFT along with myself and my son. Beers on me. 

With Janus looming over the UFT and all public sector unions like the sword of Damocles the optics of our union leaders must improve.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The NYCDOE Has Stolen Retro Monies From Me and Other Teachers

I've Been laying low. Having to deal with Dr Evil and Mini-Me.

So, what's new? Tell you what's new from me. The DOE stole money from me, and it seems others as well. Not once but twice.

My son had saved up money to buy a car over the last six months. I promised him that I would kick in some cash towards the purchase but it would have to wait until the retro came in. When it came in, it was a real kick to the groin...

RESTR SETTL PR is probably "restructured settlement". But what is the PR?

Yeah, I am out $727.33. Why? A bit of a backstory first. I was under suspension when my the retro was dispersed. Last year when I got my first retro almost everyone else was getting there second retro check. As I was told, the checks are divided by 1/8, 1/7, and so on, or something like that. Anyway, the amount I received last year was equivalent to if it had been my second (Like everyone else) retro check. The amount I was blessed with this year is equivalent to what I would receive (which should have been my first) in 2015, which would have been less than last year's check. Therefore, last year I received more than I should have. So due to some bookkeeping method I am out over seven hundred dollars.

But if I received in the proper ordinal order...1st, 2nd, and so on, I never should have been out these monies. But looking at it with my non-mathematician mind, shouldn't the checks have the same total amount in whatever order they were dispersed? This seems like it is straight out of Abbott and Costello.

And guess what? I am not the only one this has happened to! I have heard from many teachers that feel that they have been robbed and want their money back. Like now!

My question is how do I, or those in the same predicament as I know that the numbers, or rather, the math is correct with what we are owed? Or for that matter what anyone is owed? Why has there not been something on the payroll portal a clear and concise accounting for each teacher, how much total money they are owed and the amount of each year's payout? This would solve so many problems and help teachers to plan accordingly.

Though the UFT has been quite helpful to me and has been on top of it, I've been cautioned that though I might get the seven hundred dollars back there is a chance that I might have it again deducted down the road.

That is why I filed a payroll grievance and hopefully I will not only get my money back but if and when it goes to arbitration it can be ruled that there will be no further deductions. Not to mention the hope, there will be accountability on the decision and the logic behind why I lost this money but a full accounting on how my retro is decided.

Fortunately, my son has a car. But not to soon after we had purchased the car, we learned that he needs a passenger side axle along with an inner tied rod.

The parts won't cost me much. I delivered auto parts during my suspension and can by the parts at the same price the garages pay (The mark up is obscene!). As for the labor, I know some good street mechanics in the Bronx and have a garage in White Plains that'll do the job for $200 (Gustavo's on Ferris Ave in White Plains---Shameless plug!).

"Not to worry," I told my son, "this can be fixed for on November 1 I shall be receiving yet another blessing from the DOE, my retro per session check."

"Oh blessed be Mayor de Blasio and Mike Mulgrew," my son said whilst smiling.

November 1 came. So did November 2. November 3. November 4. Nothing, nothing, and more nothing.

For some reason my per session retro is "not showing in the system." Why did this happen? No one knows. However, there is good news. I have been added to the list "of people who need to be paid." Let's see here. The definition of people is...
plural : human beings making up a group or assembly or linked by a common interest
The main takeaway from this definition is that people is plural. So ipso facto many a person (meaning many people) has yet to receive their retro per session.

I even called per session pay roll on Thursday. Iouldn't get an answer. What a surprise.

This is really from the files of "You Can't Make This Shit Up!" I'm out over $800. I am sure there are those that are worse off. But there is no transparency. No communication. No nothing.  

But UFT members have been in the dark since 2014 when this contract was ratified and we were told it will take until 2020 (And myself and others in 2021) to be made financially whole again. I want my money.  Maybe I will have it in time for Hanukkah. In 2020.