By Arthur Goldstein

Announcements

Mulgrew welcomes us to final DA school year. Discusses PD survey and large response. Says 61% have curriculum. 67% aligned with PD. Little support for ESL teachers. Special education marginally better. Insufficient CTLE PD. 72% have PD committee, up from 50. PD committee, 66% has meaningful input. 12% say superintendent determines PD.

President’s Report

speaks of VA shooting. Says we cannot accept hate at any time, as rationale for violence.

National—believes Senate will pass a version of health care. Says we will not have an issue in NY because we have great Senators, but perhaps they will pass something as they leave for July 4th holiday. Negotiations at night in secrecy. Says person occupying White House now calls House bill mean, but says Senate bill is full of heart and passion.

Betsy DeVos—says he thinks she should be on TV every day. Let her talk. This would be a great campaign. Let people see what Sec. of Ed. stands for. Once again, she keeps saying it’s up to state whether they want to recognize civil rights. It’s actually illegal, and he hopes people recognize.

Janus fast tracked. We assume US will become Right to Work country, and we think it may happen early 2018.

State—Mayoral control—introduced bill for charter accountability and transparency. Press only wants to talk about mayoral control. Mulgrew would trade nothing for mayoral control. Says he doesn’t support this version of mayoral control, but supports mayoral control. Says 40 school boards preclude great education and proper funding.

Heastie says every year there are “self-governing” issues all over the state. They are all passed by Assembly, which supports local control of local governments. When they ask what we are doing Mulgrew said this is a bunch of crap, because we’re the only county that doesn’t get our local control issues. Rest of state works by different set of rules, has to pay price for what it wants. No longer about mayoral control, but rather precedent that NYC has to pay for its local control issues.

Speaker has said he is now not passing any other local issues. If mayoral control sunsets, next May it will go back to school boards. This will be big fight. Doesn’t matter what version of mayoral control because it appears nothing will get done. If they don’t respect NYC autonomy, Assembly won’t respect other local autonomy. If we don’t get something done there will be 40 school board elections and charters will also be active.

Our position is NYC should be treated as all other municipalities.

Regents—We will go from three to two days of testing in grades 3-8. Consultants lost. Pushed back on standards. Board of Regents directs education, and wants work done on ELLs, preK, and special ed. It is a lot of work, due to our advocacy.

City

CTLE—will be summer training. DOE now approved vendor, but not doing it yet. We’re doing a summer training, will increase number of instructors. Also for paras.

One more day to enroll for catastrophic insurance. Over 8,000 enrolled. Recommended by Welfare Fund.

DOE diversity plan—happy it’s recognized, but plan will not be very helpful. We will have further discussion.

ATR severance packag
e—we have contractual provision, we are always trying to negotiate and have got it done. Have sent out to ATRs. Believe it should be quite helpful. 900 eligible of 1100. Not easy, DOE didn’t want to do it. Believes there will be significant changes in this pool by this time next year. Severance is not pensionable, but if you retire you still get retro.

Mulgrew suggests we all have a party with beer. Is greeted with great enthusiasm, but no one follows up.

Decided not to focus on pursuing skirmishes school to school, and rather to look at systemwide improvements.  We will continue individual fights but we want to picket superintendents. We agree with the mayor that schools should strive for supportive, respectful and safe environments. We need to hold supes responsible for doing jobs with principals. City not doing job.

We have anecdotal evidence but at this time of year we have data, had conversations with field staff. Picked one superintendency in Brooklyn. Supe contracted UFT borough rep, had horrible meeting. Lack of info between supe and team. At next meeting borough rep got everything she asked for. Supe acted differently as chancellor was in room. Data was irrefutable. Created team with chapter leaders to meet as advisory committee.

Tenure decisions come this year. What is criteria? Is it about whether supe likes principal or not? Have said there was evidence of that and will move forward. Said supe behavior has clearly been modified and we have ways of fixing things if they move back. We can always picket again, but we want to first implement agreement. High schools there no longer mandated to use balanced literacy.

We had data and an irrefutable case. This gave us ability to make change. We used DOE data. They denied it and we told them it was their own. We hope to move everything this way next year.

Year Roundup—Says it started election day. Was a wake up. Doesn’t know if we would’ve accomplished our goals but election day showed we are now at forefront of fighting for public ed. Not perceived but real threat. Says it’s time to get over depression. Everyone here figured it out and started moving. Participated in women’s march. We then got introduced to Betsy DeVos, made inroads in her hearing. Most well-known Sec. of Ed. in US. We will continue to battle with her.

DeVos budget horrendous. Showed at state level what we were facing. We brought in folks from Michigan, who presented to legislature of NYS. Budget showed protection of public ed. NYS said this is what you do with public ed.

We introduced chapter advocacy program, and pushed paperwork process. We had 313 complaints. 93% were resolved in our favor. Whoever used it knows no principal wants supe to know what happens in their school. Those resolved centrally were not good for those below. Thanks Debbie Poulos.

APPR complaints successful.
Teachers got 4.5% increase in May.

Constitutional Convention vote coming next year.

City Council budget
—presented to them on teacher’s choice. Asked for 20 million, and got 20.1 million.  Number should be in excess of $200 per person.

Community learning schools—results are off the charts. We got 2 mil from state and 1.5 from City Council. Proves solving poverty means coming to UFT.

15 PLC schools. Changed culture, trained everyone. Custodians, cafe staff, everyone comes. Changing culture reduces suspensions.

Next year Constitutional Convention, Janus. Will see what comes from feds. Student achievement and grad rate higher than ever.  We want city and state to protect us and allow us to thrive, and we have achieved our goals. We will still have fights. We will still have to modify behavior of those in middle management.

Staff Director’s Report—LeRoy Barr—

Endorses beer idea. Thanks counselors. Eid recognized, schools closed June 26. Reminds us to set up committees, complete SBOs. Mentions catastrophic insurance. Mentions Hometown Heroes, collaborative event to commemorate educators. Asks for nominations. Says you can nominate principal if you have great working relationship. Wishes happy summer to all.

Mulgrew—Says MLC had to figure out health care savings. Says there was a lot of debate here. Says things we utilize most will drop in price. Says we are only work force that doesn’t pay for health care and we have officially reached our requirement. 5:28

Questions—

CL—Just got excessed with four others there for over 16 years. Last year, principal said was drop in enrollment. Has dropped by half. Had thought they were safe. Excessed because of salary increase from raises, said principal. Says her budget office told her she had to max out every classroom and everyone else had to go. At some point in future, can we achieve goal of lowering class size? Can we put lowering class size back on table?

Mulgrew—already on table. We want and tell NYC we have to lower class sizes. That principal told you that means I have to hear from superintendent what she thinks of that. We will look at budget and find things that need to be cut.  Class size piece always front and center. We have this some places because of gentrification. We have to deal with this. Lots of teachers are embracing mobility. If we are going to have drastic changes, major drop in population, we may need a different system for mobility. Other districts exploding. May have to look at more flexible transfers.

CL—Praises Mulgrew. Summative conferences happening, but many teachers haven’t gotten all observations. What is recourse if principal didn’t do job and rating not good?

Mulgrew—Have to document. Next year is first year of matrix. Matrix is our friend. Waiting to see results. If you haven’t had required number of observations, you have to document it. This is why committees are mandated. 60% of schools in one superintendency didn’t do required applications. CL should report to DRs.

CL—If Janus goes as we expect, what happens to benefits, grievances, will I check list when people ask for help?

Mulgrew—Depends a lot on decisions. What you get in benefits from Welfare Fund is more than you get in dues. What if benefits are withheld? Will depend on SCOTUS.

Q—Many staff members receiving D, not happy. What is their right, what is UFT doing to help?

Mulgrew—District 3 has precious superintendent. We are pulling data. Want to see what else is going on in school, in this district. One member has developing because he couldn’t service ELL kids in his care, but his class had so many different levels it would meet educational neglect level. Asking principal and supe what they are doing.

Motions

James Eterno—Resolution for vote on ATR agreement, meetings and votes for ATRs. Reads, cannot motivate as it is for this month.

Voted down.

Endorsements—Paul Egan—various city council candidates.

Passes.

Jonathan Halabi—New Action—Given what happened in November, people have been strategizing on preventing Trump agenda. We need to be at forefront locally. One candidate, Fernando Cabrera, doesn’t share our values on hate. Key funding from far right orgs. They know who’s most open to those suggestions. On charters, not clear, open to funding things we’d oppose. Open to funding private schools. Boasts he is social conservative, and district is conservative. Worst is he is a homophobe. Believes, preaches, and came back from Uganda, praised jailing gays and lesbians. Not good enough when we know what is in his heart. We know there is real danger of hate, not because he voted wrong, but because he is not with us.

Marjorie Stamberg—When endorsements come up, we have to stop thinking in terms of individuals and think in terms of class. Democrats can’t fight Trump. We need union movement.

Eliu Lara—Disagrees with Jonathan, says he’s not homophobe. Says he spent 18 years as counselor. Says he approves.

Halabi—Point of order—asks for separate vote on Cabrera.

Mulgrew—denies.

Questions called.

Resolution passed.

Contingency Resolution—Paul Egan—Asks for Exec. Board to endorse during summer.

Passed.

Solidarity with AMPR—Evelyn de Jesus—Puerto Rico suffering. Hedge funds want money. Board wants to get paid first, worry about island later. Says AMPR, sole bargaining unit, has reached out for support. Asks for support.

Peter Lamphere—Moves to amend—asks to insert FMPR. Evelyn correct AMPR bargaining agent. Is more than one agent. FMPR led strike, and is reason PR doesn’t have charters. Entire leadership was fired. DA voted in solidarity with them, would like to extend this solidarity.

LeRoy Barr—Rises in support of resolution, against amendment. Says we support all workers. PR under devastation, and all need our support. We have only endorsed this group because they came to us via AFT. National level comes via AFT. This group worked with AFT and disaffiliated. Group does not have right to bargain for PR teachers right now. We’re gonna fight on behalf of injustice. Asking we do not allow res to be amended by something that violates our own process. Let them go back to AFT and get approval.

Question called.

Amendment fails.

Resolution passes.

FMPR Presentation

June 16, 2017 — Leave a comment

Here is the powerpoint the FMPR officers presented at our forum

Contact them here

https://www.facebook.com/federaciondemaestrosdepuertorico/

https://fmprblog.wordpress.com/

Wednesday June 14th, 2017

Dark Horse Pub

17 Murray St – downtown NYC

Down the block from City Hall

6pm meet and mingle

6:30 discussion

Our Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico panel:

Mercedes Martinez the President of FMPR, is a ESL teacher with a bachelor’s degree in general arts from the Social Sciences Faculty and a bachelor’s in ESL.  she has 39 graduate credits in ESL. A teacher in the DOE since 2007 and immediately joined the FMPR.  Participated in all the strikes, protests and activities in our union.  Mercedes created a bond and organized parents throughout the years in defense of public education, fighting against school closures.  She mobilized teachers, against labor injustices committed by the DOE and has prevailed through many struggles.

Edwin Morales, Vice President of FMPR, has a bachelors degree in Economy from the University of Puerto Rico and is currently finishing his master’s degree.  He joined the DOE in 2009 as a Math teacher, and the FMPR the same year.  He was the representative from our Area II, which includes 7 cities in our country.  He has led fights against school closures in San Lorenzo and prevailed.  Edwin  has been involved in all of our struggles in defense of public education.  He led the boycott with other teachers in his school against standardized testing where 65% of the total of the students participated in the opt out movement.

Ana Guzman is the current Secretary-Treasurer of the FMPR.  She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology, and a master’s degree in ESL.  She joined the DOE in 2002 and the FMPR in 2004.  She has occupied different rank and file positions in our union, as secretary of the Local Union of Carolina. Ana participated actively in all of our strikes, protests, and activities and has led a massive boycott of the standardized tests in her High School, for two years, where the participation of the students in all subjects evaluated has been under 45%.  This has been possible due to her work with parents and students, explaining to them why we oppose to such tests.

Moderated by Mike Schirtzer-  Social Studies teacher and UFT delegate from Goldstein HS in Brooklyn. He has been in MORE since it’s founding, elected to the  first steering committee, and organized the struggle to protect our immigrant youth in front of Chancellor Farina. He also led the fight against the last contract ; holding forums, organizing protests, and writing widely circulated articles. Mike helped form the high school committee of MORE which resulted in  winning the high school division of the UFT. MORE/New Action now has 7 seats on the UFT Executive Board, with Mike being one of the elected representatives.

Were banks to blame for the Great Recession? Should middle school students be required to identify words like nefarious or reprehensible? MORE’s Francesca Gomes seems to think so and, last week, the New York Post noticed.

Francesca assigned students a handout with a word bank (a technique, by the way,  that is just good teaching practice). One portion read “Banks are often run by ______________ people who look for ways to hurt the most financially vulnerable people in the country.” It seem like the choices remaining were “nefarious” and “reprehensible”.

We suppose that would lead students to conclude that the banks’ actions were “nefarious” and “reprehensible”. But we also suppose that the banks’ actions in 2008 were, well nefarious and even reprehensible.

Senator Bernie Sanders seem to think the same thing, saying once “greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street”.  Former US attorney Preet Bharara agrees. In 2015, the Post reported Bharara’s position that criminal activity on Wall Street caused 2008 meltdown. (They did so in an article they published entitled Criminal activity’ on Wall Street caused 2008 meltdown: Preet”).

Continue Reading…

EXECUTIVE BOARD REPORT (Updated)

Our correspondent Mike Schirtzer is sending us information from tonight’s Executive Board.

President Michael Mulgrew reported that Teacher’s Choice would be going up next year.

Arthur Goldstein asked a question on why there won’t be a vote on the new ATR Agreement. Secretary Howie Schoor answered that there is no obligation for the Union to take a vote on the agreement.

Amy Arundell said that ATR’s who take the severance package will get the lump sum payments through 2020 if they retire but will not get them if they resign.

One of the teacher members of the retirement board says the UFT pension people are ready for individual consultations.

Here is the MORE-New Action resolution in support of the elected bodies of the UFT and ATRs themselves voting on the new ATR agreement:

 Whereas the UFT Constitution states in ARTICLE V EXECUTIVE BOARD-SECTION 6.  that “The Executive Board shall direct the affairs of this organization”

 
Whereas ARTICE VII DELEGATE ASSEMBLY- SECTION 6 states “The Delegate Assembly shall have the power to legislate all matters”  and has repeatedly been referred to as “the highest decision making body of our union” by President Michael Mulgrew
 
Whereas UFT members under the title “ATR” do not have a chapter of their own, nor a chapter leader or delegate 
 
Whereas an agreement regarding  the status of ATRs was bargained and signed by representatives from the UFT and City of New York without the formation of a committee to do so, nor a vote by this executive board or the DA
 
Resolved that there will be meetings in the five  boroughs for ATRS to discuss and vote on any agreement regarding their status
 
Be it further resolved that the UFT DA and Executive Board will discuss and vote on any agreement in accordance with the UFT Constitution  and consistent with our union’s democratic process 
 
Mike Schirtzer from MORE motivated this resolution. He said it was about process more than anything and the Movement of Rank and File Educators stands for democratizing the UFT. Mike said process is important and one of the ways to engage members when our union is under threat with the Janus Supreme Court case possibly ending automatic dues checkoff is to have people vote. This may be a good deal and it isn’t really about the deal, it is about having something that impacts ATR’s being voted on by the people impacted. ATRs need to be consulted.Democratic process is crucial to saving our union.

Mike also noted that the Unity majority voted against every resolution that came from the MORE caucus all year. Every one of them. If MORE said the sky is blue, Unity would say it is green!

The Unity response to Mike boils down to the fact that they talk to the ATRs all the time and they are excited by this deal because it gives them opportunity to make their own decisions.

The Unity majority overwhelmingly rejected democracy and voted down the resolution. The MORE-NEW ACTION High School Reps all voted to support the resolution. Unfortunately, our reps were outnumbered about 90-5 at the meeting.

UFT: Union UnProud, as Ex Bd says NYET to Votes on ATRs

It could have been so simple for the leadership to support the MORE resolution – see below – or even parts of it —- but NOOOOOO! As Mike Schirtzer said in his excellent motivating speech, if we had a reso saying the sky was blue, Unity would vote against it and say the sky is green. (Stuart Kaplan would ask for an explanation on what is a sky. — semi-inside joke.)

Arthur Goldstein began the festivities with this question, as reported on his blog:

Arthur Goldstein–MORE–Given the near certainty of impending US Supreme Court decisions it seems a good idea for our union to expand, rather than abridge fundamental democracy.
In 2011, there was an ATR agreement voted on by the Executive Board and the DA. In 2014, there was an ATR agreement that was part of the UFT Contract, and of course we voted on that too. This year, we have an ATR agreement that was not voted on by the DA, or any rank and file, let alone ATRs. Clearly there is precedent for us to vote on ATR agreements. Why was that precedent not followed this year?

Howie Schoor sang the no-bla-di, no-bla-day song in response:
Schoor—No obligation for us to have a vote on ATR agreements. I see there is a resolution and we can debate that.

And so they did debate.

MORE’s Schirtzer gave them every chance on the ATR agreement (THE ATR AGREEMENT NEGOTIATED IN SECRET) to make it appear the UFT has even a sliver of democracy in a passionate speech on a reso calling for the UFT leadership to hold votes in the Ex Bd and the Delegate Assembly.

All they had to do was say “Yes” to a vote at the EB and at next week’s DA, both dominated by Unity Caucus — and they would have the veneer of democracy. But not even that,

Keep in mind this quote from Mulgrew, who spent 8 minutes at the meeting:

By next year we will be right to work state and nation. 

He should have added — but we won’t do anything to make our members feel there is a reasonable process for people to particpate.

Mike pleaded the case, not on the merits or demerits of the ATR agreement, but on the issue of how a union, under the gun of Janus and a soon to exodus thousands of members, should operate to try show these people there are reasons to save the union. Go consult the ATRs and respond to inquiries before heading into what could be a stressful summer, at borough meetings.

Arthur took some good notes on Mike’s speech:

Unions are under attack Public schools under attack. We have to involve members. As a union and exec. board we have responsibility to follow democratic process. We the UFT need to consult with people whose lives will be affected. 

Amy Arundel, who I usually respect, came up with a la-di-da — “we hold borough info sessions in September” — a nice “screw you” to people who have anxiety over the coming agreement. She announced that UFT offices would be available for individual ATRs to come in. The leadership seems to fear holding any gathering where ATRS might congregate and start trashing the UFT leaders.

James Eterno, blogging from home as Mike sent him reports, had the instant ICE report on the essence of Mike’s speech practically before he gave it.

This may be a good deal and it isn’t really about the deal, it is about having something that impacts ATR’s being voted on by the people impacted. ATRs need to be consulted.Democratic process is crucial to saving our union.

My feeling is that in the future, Leroy Barr or anyone in Unity, should speak against any MORE reso before they see it.

As I saw Stuart Kaplan and other Unities head to the mics to oppose the MORE reso, I whispered to Arthur — you are about to get a gold mine of dumb and dumber comments to fill your blog. Arthur’s notes has the essence of what they all said, but let’s give Kaplan, sometimes known as the village idiot — TVI — some space:

Stuart Kaplan—Spoke to two ATRs today. Were excited about opportunity to decide. Is an opportunity. We deserve to give ATRs that opportunity. No one would deny ATR the decision. Many demonized in media. We don’t negotiate for some. We negotiate for all.

I leave it to you to try to make sense of it.

New Action’s Jonathan Halabi, who didn’t support the reso, gave some praise to the leadership’s intentions:

Jonathan HalabiNew Action—Wants to recognize positive comments. I know that we as union stay in contact with ATRs. There is no assumption of anything but good faith. I believe agreement is good, but I haven’t seen it.

I don’t give them credit for good intentions. Mulgrew pretty much said it — the UFT and the DOE want the ATR issue to go away — and the only way is to go back to a time where if you are excessed you get placed into an available slot, even if someone has to get bumped. The UFT was a partner in creating ATRs in the 2005 contract – and they should be reminded of that at every opportunity.

And Priscilla Castro—had her proud Unity moment as she spoke for the first time this year: calls question.

Gregg Lundahl, who is a designated and dedicated Unity “call the question” geek, seemed crushed as the meeting adjourned. But the UFT needs to diversify the crew that calls the question. Think of the many creative ways to say “call the question” to cut off debate.
Arthur has last night’s UFT Executive Board funny pages in full:

NYC Educator  

James Eterno’s report:

Please join FMPR President Mercedes Martinez in conversation with MORE. Pres. Martinez will discuss the issues facing the island, with a focus on the attack against public education and labor unions. Puerto Rico is having austerity forced upon them by the US government with mass school closures, lay-offs, and new anti-union, anti-student policies.
Dark Horse Pub
17 Murray St
Downtown NYC near City Hall
There is a UFT Delegates Assembly from 4-6pm. Delegates and Chapter leaders can walk over with the MORE contingent immediately following the DA. Others are welcome to go directly to Dark Horse pub for dinner and/or drinks. Discussion will begin at 6:30pm
Meet downstairs.
RSVP here

The UFT’s final Executive Board meeting will be this Monday June 5th. Join our MORE High School representatives 5pm for our pre-meeting and 6pm board meeting at 52 Broadway NYC
read our last report here

Our End Of Year Party is also downstairs at Dark Horse Pub and promises to be a great event!
All year we’ve been fighting for better working and learning conditions and a more democratic union. We have supported the Opt-Out Movement and fought against the Charters. We won the High School Executive Board seats, organized forums, attended PEPs, and marched at rallies. And we were honored to work with CPE1 in their momentous struggle to save their school and are joyful in their victory.

So please party with MORE on June 22!  There will be singing, raffles, a silent auction, food for sale and a cash bar.
Share this invite widely with your entire community
RSVP here

By Arthur Goldstein
Minutes of meeting can be found here
There were both good and bad moments last Monday. My favorite was when CPE teachers presented Howard Schoor with their t-shirt. I asked him to wear it and indeed he did. He spent the rest of the evening with a green CPE 1 shirt over his shirt and tie. This was an indisputable victory, and of course it merited celebration.

Another bright spot was Janella Hinds, who told us she was meeting with DOE to bring back Regents grading to high schools. Visiting other schools has been disastrous for lots of my members, and our administration, among others, has tried scheduling midterms exams and even classes during January Regents week, with miserable results. It’s ridiculous that the Board of Regents doesn’t trust us to grade our students, something we do all the time. It’s even more ridiculous that the city doesn’t trust us to grade students in our buildings, and spends millions that could be used to reduce class sizes to pay us for what used to be part of our job.

I’m afraid I was less enthusiastic when Schoor suggested that Michael Mulgrew was solely responsible for the CPE 1 victory. I don’t mean to diminish Mulgrew’s role in this. He may have worked a lot for it. But it’s outrageous to ignore the contributions of CPE 1 faculty, parents and community. They came together, stayed together no matter what, reached out for help everywhere and anywhere they could, and didn’t give up when the odds were against them. I also have to say that we in the high school exec. board supported them in every way we could.

This notwithstanding, it’s not really good policy to attach all success to one single person. Was Mulgrew solely responsible for the atrocity of Moskowitz moving in to JHS 145? I’d argue no, he wasn’t. But if you’re going to singlehandedly take responsibility for success, you also have to shoulder defeat. We are union. Theoretically, at least, we stand together as one. We share responsibility both in success and failure. The Unity MO, taking 100% credit for success and zero responsibility for failure, is preposterous and unsustainable. We rise and fall together, that’s the most fundamental concept of union, and that’s why we need to work together for our common goals.

Sadly, that’s not how leadership sees things. The next major item on our agenda was a resolution to support our struggling brother and sister teachers in Puerto Rico. Of course I support that idea, along with our entire high school exec. board. I spoke in favor of it. But I didn’t feel qualified to do so until I did a little research. I asked my friend Aixa Rodriguez what I could say and she put me in touch with Mercedes Martinez, President of the Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico. The situation sounded pretty dire. Based on what she told me. here’s what I said:

If we’re gonna be public school proud it means standing up not only for ourselves, but also for our friends and neighbors.  I spoke to Mercedes Martinez, President of the Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico, who tells me another few hundred schools are to be closed to raise millions of dollars to pay the criminal loan sharks who’ve purchased the debt. Tens of thousands of teachers are facing pension loss, and also furloughs which will mean immediate cuts in salary. In Puerto Rico, vulture capitalists have converted human misery into a financial bonanza.

Puerto Rican teachers face criminalization of protests and years of jail time if they strike. In fact it’s likely they will do just that, and they need our support. Allowing this in Puerto Rico is tantamount to allowing it everywhere. It behooves us to do everything in our power to stop it dead right there. I urge support.

Mike Schirtzer then said we ought to add FMPR to the resolution, and also add “collective action” to our support of collective bargaining. Evidently, though, there is a history with this union. FMPR broke off from the AFT, and are therefore unattached to our parent organization. The question then becomes does that mean we can’t support them? When Mike told me about this early in the evening I tried to imagine on what grounds they would oppose it. I couldn’t come up with anything.

But I didn’t have to wait long to find out, because LeRoy Barr stood up and said we had to clear these things with the AFT. I don’t really know what that entails, but the fact that this union had specifically pulled out of AFT indicated to me that chances were somewhere south of excellent.

What really shocked me, though, was when a Unity Executive Board member got up in front of God and everybody and asked what collective action was. I mean, collective means together, and action means to do something. I was in Lawrence last week, picketing with teachers from various unions, including UFT. That’s collective action. As Mike Schirtzer said, the various strikes in which UFT participated were collective action. In fact, the UFT theme these days, Public School Proud, is also collective action. Our Immigration Forum was collective action. Opt-out is collective action. Electing Christine Pellegrino to the NY State Assembly is collective action. In fact, having the union meeting itself is collective action.

Everything we do as a union is collective action, yet this particular handpicked Unity Executive Board member was entirely unfamiliar with that concept. Perhaps a better question would be what do we do that is not collective action. For my money, one example is having one person make all the decisions, going along with them without question, and hoping like hell to keep that after school gig answering phones or whatever the hell you do, and therefore shutting your mouth when it’s high time to speak.

With the specter of “right to work” hanging over the United States of America, we’ve got a lot of work to do, and we need all the friends we can get. Maybe, instead of dwelling on our political squabbles, we should look to expand collective action and solidarity with all our brother and sister unionists, including FMPR. This is particularly true when their cause is our cause. Otherwise, I don’t know how we’re gonna weather Donald Trump and his band of faux-patriotic alt-right slimeballs gleefully trying to lead us on some coal-powered airplane back to the nineteenth century.