Archives For May 2013

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Wednesday June 12 Fair Contract For All Rally at City Hall NYC 4-6pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/123585811176249/

Let’s show this mayor and the next one that we are ready to take to the streets for a fair contract. For over four years UFT has been without a contract, meanwhile pensions for new members have eroded, an evaluation system that will take learning time away from our students will be imposed on us, and hundreds of schools have been closed while educators are excessed. The time is now to have OUR voices heard. join with the UFT and municipal union workers from around NYC to protest in front of city hall. All city unions are without a contract, we were asked to sacrifice, we did, now give our city workers the wages we deserve.

MORE will be there, will you? Look for us in our red MORE shirts and follow us on Twitter.com/morecaucusnyc for live updates

Contract Committee 6/19

Wednesday 6/19  6:15 (DA may end a little early or late, for those not attending DA please reserve back room)
Blarney Stone
11 Trinity Place (1 block west of UFT) NYC
Post-DA
Agenda
1. Conract Committee will host a date at the annual “Summer Series” forum at 138 ludlow St
(specific topics, guests, coordinator)
 2. New APPR and the current contract
 3. update on statements about contract
 4. New issues and plans

Summer Series

MORE will host our 2nd annual Summer Series featuring forums, special guests, and discussion on public education and union issues. Topics and presenters to be announced soon! Save the dates:

Local 138  at 138 Ludlow St (between Rivington St & Stanton St)  NYC

http://www.yelp.com/biz/local-138-new-york

Happy Hour Specials

Thursdays 4-7pm

July 11

July 25

August  8

August 22

The International Dreamers Scholarship Fund

By Rosie Frascella

MORE  Planning Committee member

Many people in and around MORE ask, what is a social justice union and what exactly does it do?

I teach at the International High School at Prospect Heights, which is a school designed to support recent immigrant arrivals adjust to school and life in New York City.  As an 11th grade English teacher and adviser, much of my time is spent attempting to convince students that college could be a reality for them.  Unfortunately, I watch many students receive internships, acceptance to college programs, summer jobs, and scholarships while their undocumented counterparts are told they cannot apply.

It is heartbreaking to watch students internalize the unfair reality that they do not have the same rights or opportunities as their peers and the only justification we can give is that we live in an unjust world.  As social justice organizers we cannot sit around and feel powerless when faced with an unfair world but instead channel our rage into action by empowering each other with a sense purpose.

Over the past month, my coworkers and school allies formed a social justice union within our school to fight for a common cause by starting a scholarship fund to help our undocumented students go to college.  Through the unity we build we were able to problem solve ways to address the needs of our undocumented students, one of our most vulnerable populations.

Our school community has never been so united as the school staff, community allies, and loved ones have been meeting after work and on weekends to make our dream a reality.  This is the work of a social justice union, a group of educators and community members coming together to address inequality and believing in the power of one another to create change.  Many New York City teachers do not see our union as a vehicle for change and it is critical that we continue to lead by example and re-imagine the potential of collective action.

Please join our efforts to raise $40,000 by June 1st in order to send at least one undocumented student from our graduating class to college in September.  Please give anything you can. Your donations will be the difference between a young dreamer going to college or not. If you were lucky enough to have the opportunity to pursue your dreams, pay it forward today.

Donate now to The International Dreamers Scholarship Fund, by going to the North Star Fund web-site, and designating the International Dreamers Scholarship Fund as the recipient of your gift.

The International Dreamers Scholarship Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity administered by the North Star Fund.

http://dreamersfund.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheInternationalDreamersFund

Raun J. Rasmussen, Executive Director

Joseph S. Genova, Chair, Board of Directors

Legal Services NYC

 

Dear Mr. Rasmussen:

The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the Social Justice

Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers, stands with the members

of Legal Services Staff Association (LSSA), our brothers and sisters

of UAW Local 2320, who were forced to strike on May 15th for the first

time in nearly 20 years.  We urge the management of Legal Services NYC

to immediately negotiate a fair contract with its staff, so they can

return to the work they hold dear of providing critical legal

protections to New York’s low-income families, many of whom are our

fellow school workers, students and their families.

We stand with the LSSA as colleagues in providing vital services to

New York’s working families. Just as we fight for our members’

professional dignity and respect, we support the LSSNY workers’ stand

for dignity and respect. Just as we insist on a better educational

environment for ourselves and for the students whose lives we touch,

we want to ensure the LSSA have the resources and support they need

to continue to be the best advocates possible.

We support the strikers’ fight for their rights to family sustaining

wages and benefits.  The current offer demands significant,

financially unnecessary cuts to health care coverage and retirement

benefits, and freezes salaries at current levels, despite a steadily

rising cost of living in New York.

MORE strongly urges you to avoid a prolonged strike by offering your

staff a contract that reflects the value they bring to your

organization and to the ongoing fight to protect New York’s most

vulnerable workers.  We stand in solidarity with our union brothers and sisters in

their struggle.

 

We have, in the past, noted how New York City has moved to fired almost five times the amount of teachers that the rest of New York State has combined. In addition, we have highlighted how the city has spent the majority of $32.8 million (of state money)  on hearing officer fees alone to do so. For too long have we seen our colleagues removed from their duties, shamed in the press, abused in the workplace and silenced by a process that serves only to keep them silent. Today, we share the story of one of those teachers and declare our support of her reinstatement to full duties as soon as possible. 

Last March, the case of Christine Rubino was argued in front of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court. The judges’  unanimous decision, released just last week, revealed what real educators had been saying all along: A teacher with a spotless service record for fifteen years should not be fired for making one inappropriate comment on her Facebook account.

Christine Rubino had been fired (and humiliated in the press) after making one single dumb remark on Facebook several years ago. She sued to get her job back in the NYS Supreme Court and she won. The judge sent Rubino’s case back to the original hearing officer for a more lenient decision. The hearing officer then issued her a two-year suspension without pay.  She appealed that suspension, because she felt it was too harsh (so do we)  in front of the same judge who had overturned her original termination. She lost that appeal.

The department however, appealed the original decision reversing her termination to the New York State Appellate Court.   The argument made by the department was that the judge, the one who had ruled in Rubino’s favor the first time (the one who had sent the case back to the hearing officer), but ruled against her the second time had erred with her first decision and that Rubino should, in fact, be fired. The justices did not agree.

Anyone who’s familiar with Christine Rubino’s case understands it for what it is: A classic story of an employer playing the blame and shame game for keeps and an employee, also playing for keeps, who just won’t give up. Wherever you are in this scenario, whatever side you’re on, you have to admit that the case of Christine Rubino is at once breathtaking, captivating and terrifying to behold.

For us, it is unacceptable.

A large part of the attack on teachers is that too much of our lives, both  in and out of the classroom, is held to a level of scrutiny that is intolerable. This scrutiny has but one goal in mind: To create a climate of fear and intimidation among New York City’s  teachers. And teachers’ lives are destroyed as this goal is pursued. The toxic environment results from this fear fear creates is just what these people want and it leads good, proven teachers like Ms. Rubino, to be fired.

Not only teachers, but all workers should have the right to privacy outside of their jobs. This privacy was not afforded to Christine Rubino. If it had been, she would not have been investigated in the first place.   All workers should have the right to due process that is fair and appropriate to the accusation or act. While New York State’s termination process for educators, called 3020-a, provides a due process path, it leaves many infractions undefined, allowing our district, New York City, to pervert the process into a game which serves to publicly humiliate any teacher who, even once, steps the least bit out of line. Teaches, and all workers, deserve a disciplinary process that is fair and provides for support and development of employees rather than immediately turning to the harshest of penalties that can be dealt.

Let us be clear: What she said was a poor choice and a lapse in judgment. But she never had once had an incident of unprofessional conduct before this act in fifteen years of teaching. This one isolated incident does not identify Ms. Rubino as a teacher. Her fifteen years teaching countless students, however, does. That is why the Movement of Rank of File Educators is standing firmly behind her and will be alongside of her through the conclusion of this ordeal.

Regardless of what side of this fence you’re on you should know that it didn’t have to be as complex or as involved or as strange or complicated a story as it wound up being. This one act, written by a woman who had never been in trouble her whole career, generated no less than one formal disciplinary hearing, two hearing officer decisions, two Supreme Court decisions, one Appellate Court decision (possibly another), and very probably, one decision from the highest court in New York State: The Court of Appeals. Department lawyers have made their career on Rubino’s case. Judges and hearing officers have been able to book long vacations with the money they’ve earned hearing and deciding her professional fate. At one time, newspaper reporters and editors considered her’s the ‘go to’ story during a slow news week and many interested parties have spent many a difficult hour wondering where the proper precedent of her case, sure to effect teachers across the entire state, should be set.

All for one comment, made on one day in June.

Pundits take note: This is how the nation’s largest school district treats its good teachers. It humiliates them in the press. It moves to fire them, then fights tooth and nail to make sure they stay fired.

But also note that they will no longer be facing this shame and abuse alone.

We urge the department to accept the decision of the court and let Ms. Rubino go back to work. Ms. Rubino has won her case at the appellate level with a unanimous opinion and the Court of Appeals is extremely unlikely to even agree to hear a department appeal, much less overturn the decision. Any further action by the department would be a waste of time, energy and our taxpayer money -money that could be spent teaching children.  Efforts to keep her fired should be dropped and she return to her to the classroom where she belongs.

We further call upon our brothers and sisters who lead the union to step up to the plate and work out a final resolution with the department -one that includes Ms. Rubino’s return to duty next month, at the conclusion of her suspension . We are not concerned with arguments as to whether leadership is weak or unwilling  to protect teachers like Rubino.  In fact,  given the current political climate, we certainly know that it is no small task.  But when we hear of the stories of other teachers, like Francesco Portelos, and Harris Lirtzman,  we conclude that there is a need strengthen, not weaken, collective bargaining protections for teachers in general, and for Ms. Rubino in particular,  so that one inappropriate comment, made from home, (after a fifteen year spotless record of public service) does not immediately lead to termination.

 

TMLOGO.NORTHLAND

 

 

Our friends at Labor Notes are having the premier union conference and workshops in NYC this Saturday.
Labor Notes is an organization that is dedicated to rank-and-file members, local union leaders, and labor activists who know the labor movement is worth fighting for. They encourage connections between workers in different unions, workers centers, communities, industries, and countries to strengthen the movement—from the bottom up. MORE’s own Julie Cavanagh will be in attendance and making a brief speech, as well as many other members of MORE. We encourage you to register for this great chance to learn union and community organizing from experienced activists.

Register Today: New York City Troublemakers School, May 18 

Join us for a day of skill-building workshops, education, and strategydiscussions to put some movement back in the labor movement. 

Click here for details and registration (just $25, with lunch included.)

With Cablevision technician Lawrence Hendrickson on CWA’s struggle for a first contract, intensive care nurse Julie Semente on her union’s effort to stop the closure of Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital, and Chicago Teachers Union member Nate Rasmussen on their strike last fall and the continuing effort to rescue public education in Chicago.

Also with Josh Freeman on Lessons from New York Labor History; Dave Newman of NYCOSH on an Organizing Approach to Health and Safety; Labor law expert Robert Schwartz on Just Cause: How to Win Discipline Cases; and a discussion of After Bloomberg: A Union Agenda for New York City.

Plus workshops and panels on:

  • Beating Apathy
  • Dealing with Difficult Supervisors
  • Secrets of a Successful Organizer
  • Roots of the Public Sector Budget Crisis
  • Raising Wages for Low-Wage Workers 
  • Labor-Community Alliances Done Right
  • Using Direct Action to Get Results   

 

When: Saturday, May 18,  9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where: The High School for Health Professions and Human Services, 345 E 15th St, Manhattan (between 1st and 2nd Aves.)

 

For more info or to register, click here. 

 

Questions? Suggestions? Need child care? Contact Samantha Winslow,718-284-4144samantha@labornotes.org. 

What Is a Troublemaker’s School?
  
Wondering what a Troublemakers School is?  They just had one in Portland, Oregon, and here’s a report.TMLOGO.NORTHLAND

Here are a few graphs to illustrate some of the key results of the UFT elections:

TurnoutOverTime

Historical Turnout in UFT Elections

First, turnout was historically low, at 20% of the classroom membership of the union.  Interestingly, retiree turnout was also down – it seems to have tracked at almost exactly 20 percent higher than classroom teacher turnout over the last 15 years.

ElectorateOverTime

Voting Electorate by Division

 

Secondly, this was the first election where  retirees comprised the majority of the electorate.  This is partly due to an increase in retirees as a proportion of union members, as we have lost thousands of active teachers to attrition over the last few years.  However, it is mostly because retiree votes used to be capped at 18,000 but that cap has now been lifted to 23,000.

GainLossvs2010However, despite these countervailing winds, the MORE caucus came out with impressive gains in every division, increasing their percent of the total vote by as much as 12% as compared with the ICE/TJC opposition caucus in the 2010 election.  This means that while Unity and New Action were both losing voters as turnout declines, the number of voters for an alternative to the leadership increased, both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of the total.

For a more detailed look, see these links for votal totals over time from different divisions, and vote percentages over time for different divisions.  Finally, feel free to check our work and do your own analysis:  the full excel spreadsheet can be accessed here.

Please note that this data does not reflect final counts from non-slate votes and voided ballots; therefore, percentages may be a bit off from final calculations.  We are still awaiting a full accounting from the UFT Election Committee for these numbers.

*Turnout numbers for individual divisions were not available for 2001, so these numbers are an average of the 1999 and 2004 turnouts.

**Retiree numbers reflect the 18,000 vote cap for the 2004, and 2007, and 2010 elections.  Actual retiree votes counted proportionally to reduce the total to 18,000. For example, in the 2010 elections, each retiree vote was worth 0.72 active member votes.

General Meeting 5/11

May 5, 2013 — 2 Comments

 

moreparty

 

 

The Election Is Over, The Movement Has Just Begun!

MORE’s last general meeting of the school year. 

Saturday, May 11th 12:00-3:00pm

224 West 29th st 14th fl. NYC (btwn 7th & 8th ave)

 
 
 
Please join us as we continue the important work of building MORE. We will begin voting for our new elected leadership and analyze the post UFT election data. We will decide what issues to focus on and develop strategies for fighting for a contract, better working conditions and improved learning conditions. 
Join one of our working groups at the meeting to help during the summer.

Facebook Link here