Archives For social justice unionism

Our union needs to build power and exercise it. We are one of the largest union locals in the country and should be capable of fighting back against the powers that be, those who would squeeze us in the interest of tax “incentives” for the wealthy. Instead, for too long UFT leadership has acted like lobbyists towards our politicians and like customer support towards us, the members. No one has ever felt empowered by customer support.

We need choices in this election to keep the union healthy. After the Janus decision, why should new hires join? Why should current members stay? Too many members see the UFT as another deduction from their paycheck, another number to call when you give up on HR Connect, another vendor of CTLE hours. Too many members refer to the UFT as “them” rather than “us.” We need to strengthen our union by challenging leadership to do better, not weaken it by abandoning our colleagues to the whims of those who would stuff more children into classrooms and strip away our rights.

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[David Price, middle, MORE candidate for at-large seat]

There are lots of things to like about the UFT, but even those benefits are tenuous because of its top-down structure. My salary isn’t bad, but I’m still waiting on some of it to come in 2020. My district rep is great, and I would vote for him to be my district rep, but wasn’t given the chance to do so. This structure creates too much distance between union leadership and the rank-and-file membership. Our leadership has a fixed mindset about how to get things done at City Hall and in Albany: support incumbents (regardless of party) and negotiate behind closed doors. We need a leadership with a growth mindset about the power of the membership.

I was hired in 2012 and thus worked two years without a contract. I was hired in the first year of Tier VI of the retirement system and thus pay more into our retirement plan than all those before me. Seven years in and still with so much to learn, I’m shocked by how this short amount of time would qualify me as a veteran in so many schools. We need a union that works to keep and protect veteran teachers, rather than using attrition as a source of “savings” in each negotiation. Paying teachers more to work in hard-to-staff schools does not solve the root problems that make them hard to staff. Allowing the city and state to construct more and more complex and expensive hoops for us all to jump through in the name of “professionalism” (CTLE hours, edTPA, etc.) is not helping to attract dedicated and diverse applicants to the teaching pool. We did an amazing job of mobilizing in the face of Janus last year and kept our numbers strong, but I worry when little is said of how many new hires have not signed a union card.

MORE is fighting to build a union that sees beyond the nitty-gritty details of our contract and beyond the parallel bureaucracy that has developed in the UFT. Our union should be building strong chapters in our schools and strong alliances in our communities. Our students are over-tested and underfunded at school, while many of them face an ever more precarious life outside of school as New York City becomes a harder place to live for all but the rich. Because we believe in our students, we must fight for them, and thus we must build a union ready to do so, even if that means taking on fights that for too long have been treated as separate from our own.  

 

On September 28th, 95.6% of Chicago teachers voted to go on strike. They have been negotiating since 2014 for a just contract on top of non-negotiable items for the public schools and students they serve.

There are some striking similarities to NYC public schools, in the kind of attacks they have faced: disastrous budget cuts that have had effects on the equitable allocation of resources and professionals for mandated services in special education, libraries and other programs, such as arts and physical education. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, under the advisory of Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist who is leading the way for the charterization of Chicago’s schools, has withheld and cut funding to the public schools.

The Chicago Teachers’ Union want something very simple- the assurance that public school educators and students have what they need in order to have thriving public schools in Chicago. If an agreement cannot be made, teachers could go out on strike as soon as October 11. In 2012, Chicago teachers led the national educational justice movement when they went on a successful strike that gathered the help of communities and parents to fight for the schools that Chicago students deserve.

Now they need support from everywhere across the country!

Here are some of the core issues for CTU:

– No more budget cuts
– Restore the jobs lost (1,000 teachers laid off without recall rights)
– Keep salary steps and lanes

To learn more details, go to the Chicago Teachers Union site

ACTIONS WE CAN TAKE: Continue Reading…

RSVP Today!

Power on the job is the basic building block of strong unionism, however many of us find ourselves in situations where we face oppressive school administrations, weak union chapters, and co-workers who are either fearful or apathetic or both.  As social justice unionists, its up to us to rebuild union power at at the grassroots, but nobody is a born organizer and the UFT provides very little support to its membership when it comes to training us to do the hard work of organizing.

In partnership with Labor Notes, MORE is sponsoring a series of organizer trainings to help us develop our members’ capacity to do organizing in their schools, strengthen our chapters, and build power on the job.  The workshop will include sessions on:

Confronting Apathy
Identifying Organizing Issues
How to have an Organizing Conversation
Mapping Our Workplace
Turning Issues into Campaigns
How to “Turn Up the Heat”

The workshop is interactive and participatory, and participants will be planning campaigns for their schools.  We will make plans to support each other in doing the work of organizing when we go back to our schools, and continue to meet regionally to reach out to more organizers.

Participants are asked to bring a copy of their school organization sheet and an issue that is currently affecting their staff at their school.  Copies of the New Labor Notes book “Secrets of a Successful Organizer” will also be available for purchase, with the proceeds benefiting MORE.

Secrets of a Successful Organizer
Presented by the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators and Labor Notes
October 15th
1:00-3:30

CUNY Graduate Center Room 5414 (bring ID)

Please RSVP on Facebook and share and distribute the flyers below to anyone you think would be interested.

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Saturday, October 29 at 9 AM – 4:30 PM
City-As-School, 16 Clarkson St, New York, New York 10014
TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW!
JOIN US for the NYC Social Justice Curriculum Fair on October 29th hosted by the Movement and Rank File Educators. We are eager to bring together educators from across the city to share curriculum, come up with new ideas for our students, and have an inspiring day of dialogue. We want to look beyond packaged curriculum and test-centric lessons and create spaces that respect our students’ identities and build community.

If you are interested in tabling or sharing curriculum, please let us know on the registration page!

The day will include:
-Curriculum presentations and shares from elementary to high school and adult education in a range of subject areas from social studies to math.
-Spaces for dialogue around what it means to be an educator who teaches through a social justice lens.
-Tabling of resources and materials from organizations such as Rethinking Schools, Morningside Center for Social Responsibility and more!

Schedule:
9-9:45 Registration and Interactive Gallery Walk
9:45-10:30 Welcome & Table Visits
10:30-12:30 Curriculum Presentations and Shares in Rooms

12:30-1:30 Lunch (Option to purchase lunch by Woke Foods:
Vegan & Vegetarian Dominican, Caribbean, Latinx foods for $12)

1:30-3:30 Open Space- Join a grade level or content area group to discuss ideas for curriculum.
3:30-4:30 Closing Plenary: Teaching for Social Change: Challenging School Segregation and Fighting for Culturally-Relevant Curriculum in NYC with Sarah Camiscoli of IntegrateNYC4Me and others!

We suggest a donation of $5-20 for registration. Your contribution goes directly towards the space rental and other overhead costs. THANK YOU!

See you there!

Questions? Get in touch! Email: sjcurriculumfair@gmail.com

#6: Personal Letter to your Chapter
Write a personal letter to your chapter that you can email, hand-out or put in mailboxes. Why is MORE running? Why should members vote?
Example Letter

#5: Pass Out Election Literature
Make sure you have the latest election literature to put in mailboxes. Contact more@morecaucusnyc.org to arrange a drop-off.

#4: Election Meetings at Your School
Hold an elections meeting in your school. Share information about MORE/New Action and Unity. You can invite members from both caucuses. Election Meeting Flyer

#3: Happy Hour
Host a Happy Hour at your favorite bar. We’ll pay for the first round for everyone. Happy Hour Flyer

#2: Ballot Party
During the week of May 9th:  Members bring in their sealed ballots in exchange you have bagels, coffee,donuts, pizza (whatever works for you and your chapter).  Ballot Party Flyer

#1: MORE/NAC Commitment Cards
Use the Vote MORE cards to have one to one conversations with your colleagues and teacher friends.  Contact more@morecaucusnyc.org
to receive commitment cards.
Questions you can use when talking to people about commitment cards…
1Do you know the UFT elections are coming?
2. Do you know that there are choices beyond current Mulgrew administration?
3. What do you want  to happen to bring joy back into teaching?

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Do what you can to Get Out The Vote!

Starting May 5th, look for your UFT election ballot in the mail from the American Arbitration Association. Mark the box for the MORE/New Action slate and mail it back before May 25th to cast a vote for an active, member-driven union willing to stand up for the schools NYC deserves.tiny.cc/joinMORE

Starting May 5th, look for your UFT election ballot in the mail from the American Arbitration Association. Mark the box for the MORE/New Action slate and mail it back before May 25th to cast a vote for an active, member-driven union willing to stand up for the schools NYC deserves.tiny.cc/joinMORE