Archives For unions

On Wednesday July 16th 2014 we are hosting a summer series panel and open discussion on the history of groups that have competed for power and influence within the UFT. We will also examine the implications for MORE. More event Information here

Below are readings and video lectures from union/UFT historians on the background of the founding of UFT and Unity caucus, the ruling party of our union.

Suggested Readings

Democracy & Politics in the UFT, 1976 Edition

Democracy and Politics in the UFT is being reprinted in its original with no changes in order to provide a snapshot of the state of the UFT and education circa 1976 and how one opposition group approached these issues.Thanks to Vera Pavone, Ira Goldfine and Norm Scott for creating an online version of the pamphlet they produced almost 40 years ago.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/233191682/Democracy-Politics-in-the-UFT-1976-Ed

UFT/Unity Caucus Early History from “City Unions”

This chapter on the founding of the UFT and how Shanker consolidated power from the book “City Unions”. There is a lot of insight into how Unity has controlled the UFT since its inception.

 

http://www.scribd.com/doc/158371024/City-Unions-chapter-8

 

 

Here we have a series of videos about the history of our union, it’s founding, some discussions on past caucuses and dissident groups, and the relationship between non-Unity activists and the union leadership.

Historical roots of the UFT presented by Michael Fiorillo and Peter Lamphere at the State of the Union conference (Feb. 4. 2012).

Michael: Teacher unions up to 1968 (22 minutes): https://vimeo.com/45094559

Peter: Post 1968 (15 minutes):  https://vimeo.com/45094560

Both videos plus the Q&A (1 hour):  https://vimeo.com/45094713

UFT Friend or Foe- from 2013 Summer Series- How non-Unity Chapter leaders and activists relate to UFT leadership

Norm Scott: https://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/07/27/uft-friend-or-foe-event/

Vera Pavone https://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/08/14/uftaft-leadership-friend-or-foe-series-vera-pavone/

Ira Goldfine https://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/08/14/uftaft-leadership-friend-or-foe-series-ira-goldfine/

Peter Lamphere https://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/08/14/uftaft-leadership-friend-or-foe-series-peter-lamphere/

MORE Summer Series 2012- UFT Caucus History Since 1968 

Norm Scott http://vimeo.com/45705700

Michael Fiorillo http://vimeo.com/45698849

 

Join the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) for Summer Series 2014. Discussions exploring the past, present and future of teacher unionism. All are welcome!

Wednesdays 4:00pm-7:00pm
The Dark Horse
17 Murray St. NYC
Near City Hall, Chambers St, WTC

July 16th
Who Runs the UFT? Why Are There Alternatives? A Historical Perspective 1960-2014

The UFT formed in 1960 as a merger of several organizations. By 1964 the Unity caucus emerged as the ruling party of the UFT, which they remain to this day. Throughout the union’s history various dissident groups and caucuses have contested this dominance. At different times these groups merged, ran joint slates, or disbanded. We will discuss why these groups formed and their differing visions and strategies. How is MORE related to this history? What can we learn from it?

Other Summer Series Events

July 30th
Life Under the New UFT Contract

August 13th
Lessons from the Chicago Teachers’ Union- Featuring Guest Speakers from Chicago

August 20th
UFT 101: Why Does Our Teachers’ Union Matter?

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press inquiries media@morecaucusnyc.org

 

 

Retro!

January 11, 2014 — 2 Comments
"MORE calls for full retroactive pay for NYC educators"

The City has the money and we can prove it!

Sign the Petition

For most of the past five years, the city of New York’s workforce has been losing ground.
Starting in 2009, Mayor Bloomberg refused to negotiate new contracts for all city workers, effectively establishing a wage freeze while the cost of living in NYC continues to rise. Just over a year ago, city workers brought this city back from Super-storm Sandy.
We keep this city running every day.
We’re working harder and harder for less and less.
Not all New Yorkers have had to make such sacrifices. Since the massive financial crisis in 2008, and subsequent multi-trillion dollar federal bailout, WallStreet has made billions in profits – $24 billion in 2012 alone. Likewise, New York’s real-estate industry continues toboom, greased with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks. If we simply made the 1% pay their fair share, we would be able to fund city worker’s contract demands and restore Bloomberg-era funding cuts to much needed city services.
We Demand:
  •  Mayor DeBlasio negotiate full retroactive raises for all city workers and grant raises in line with the increased cost of living in New York City.
  •  The Municipal Labor Committee, the coalition of unions representing municipal workers, take a unified position and make these demands to Mayor DeBlasio during negotiation

Please take action now by:

1. Sign and share the online petition here 

2. Print the paper petition out and gather signatures at your workplace here

3. Like our FaceBook page and spread the word to your friends 

To NYC Municipal Labor Committee,

As you begin contract negotiations with the new de Blasio administration, the undersigned implore you to mobilize the full power of a united NYC public sector work force to put forward a powerful message.  After years of effective pay cuts, we expect and deserve not just a new contract, but one with retroactive wage increases and no givebacks.

NYC municipal workers have been working under worse conditions and for less pay than at any time since the recession of the 1970s.

Still, each and every day, we keep the city running. The deadly Superstorm Sandy showed the world, once again, the heroism of our nurses, firefighters, sanitation, transit, and other city workers, who saved the stranded and worked tirelessly to get the city back on its feet.

Why, then, are we losing ground?  Mayor Bloomberg has refused to negotiate new contracts for municipal employees.  With the cost of living on the rise, the net effect has been an across the board wage cut.  We are among the nearly half of New Yorkers — 49 percent — who are paying rents that federal benchmarks consider unaffordable.  Basic necessities increase as well.

Not all New Yorkers have had to make such sacrifices.  Since the massive financial crisis in 2008, and subsequent multi-trillion dollar federal bailout, Wall Street has made billions in profits – $24 billion in 2012 alone.  Likewise, New York’s real estate industry continues to boom, greased with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks.

To put it plainly, public sector and working-class New Yorkers have been subsidizing the billion dollar profits of Wall Street and the real estate industry with their tax money.

We are the teachers who put in extra hours helping kids learn. We are the health care and social workers taking care of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.  We keep the garbage off the streets, we take people to work and to school, and we respond to every emergency.  We earn what we receive, unlike the billionaires who treat our city budget like their personal ATM.

The city CAN afford retroactive pay for city workers and not cut back on other services. The city has run budget surpluses of over a billion dollars for over half of the last 8 years, even after factoring in the estimated $3 billion in tax breaks businesses receive every year.  Small increases to taxes on high-end real estate, financial transactions, and other taxes on New York’s 1% could turn the pending municipal crisis around.

The fate of New York City’s municipal workers is of critical importance for all New Yorkers.  Underpaid and unemployed workers need subsidies to survive.  As our standard of living decreases, it strains the economy, hurts our families, and makes it harder to do our jobs.  If we fight for a just contract, and stand in solidarity with other important campaigns, like the low-wage workers who are fighting for a $15 minimum wage, then a rising tide can raise all boats.

New York City today is a tale of two cities.  If mayor-elect de Blasio genuinely wants to tackle income inequality, we urge him to start at the bargaining table with city workers.

Fairness, and good economic sense, demand full retroactive pay raises and full cost of living adjustments for all New York City municipal workers.  

Sincerely,

Movement of Rank and File Educators- The Social Justice Caucus of The United Federation of Teachers

A Fair Contract Now!

December 21, 2013 — 2 Comments

No-Contract-only-001

We have worked more than four years under an expired contract. We deserve more!

The Movement of Rank and File Educators believes we should not accept any contract that fails to win the following:

1. Full retroactive pay: We have lived through four years of a wage freeze. Yet our bills, living costs, and transportation have not been frozen. If we agree to a contract now that doesn’t give us full retroactivity we are inviting the city to simply stall all future negotiations in order to impose a de facto wage freeze on us again and again.

2. Clear, enforceable language for reduction of paperwork: The new evaluation scheme, with its artifact collection and the scrutiny of lesson plans, has brought with it enormous paperwork burdens. The current contractual language for paperwork reduction (Article 8I) is toothless, while our right to control lesson plan format (8J) has become difficult to enforce.

3. Revision of the teacher evaluation plan to fix:

  • The Measures of Student Learning that inappropriately rate teachers on work outside of their own subject area and classes.
  • The use of the Danielson Framework, a one-size-fits-all rigid teaching prescription that takes away all teacher autonomy.
  • The problematic use of high stakes tests in teachers’ evaluations. As the UFT’s 2007 task force said, “The American Education Research Association has stated that tests are always fallible and should never be used as high stakes instruments.”

4. Pattern Bargaining: In 2008 most municipal union workers received 4% raises; UFT members have yet to receive anything. Pattern bargaining has been the traditional method for deciding raises for many years, we can not allow the city to deviate from this, because it will set a precedent that will allow them to negotiate no raises for UFT in coming years. This process has kept our unions strong and working together for many years, not receiving the same raise as the other city workers would threaten the very being of the labor movement in NYC.

5. Increased Wages: The city will argue they cannot afford to pay us the retroactive wages we deserve and increase our salary. The data says otherwise: Since 2005, the city has had annual budget surpluses ranging from $2 billion to well over $4 billion. Mayor Bloomberg’s 2014 Executive Budget states that Wall Street profits rose to $23.9 billion in 2012, (third highest on record) and will be $13.4 billion in 2013, tax revenue continues to increase. Let’s not forget the city continues to waste money; The Office of the New York State Comptroller issued an audit examining the DOE’s $342 million in non-competitive contracts. In 2013 the cost of the networks that’s schools belong to was at least $76.6 million. Millions of dollars are wastefully spent on educational consultants, test prep companies, Common Core/Danielson implementation, and on other failed projects such as ARIS and CityTime. We live in the most expensive city in the world and it’s time to give UFT members the raises we deserve!

NYC Educators Defense Fund

November 15, 2013 — 1 Comment

MORE CAUCUS OF UFT LAUNCHES TAX-EXEMPT FUND WITH VISION OF A GRASSROOTS NYC TEACHERS UNION: “UNITED WITH PARENTS AND STUDENTS, DEFENDING QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR ALL”

 

NYC Educators Defense Fund Will Press UFT Leadership to Stand with Students and Teachers, Break Ties with Corporate ‘Privatizers and Profiteers’

 NYCEDF Founding Donation Provided by Harris Lirtzman, Former Teacher and Whistleblower Who Stood Up for Students with Disabilities

New York – The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), known as ‘the social justice caucus’ of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), announced today the formation of a new tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, the New York City Educators Defense Fund (NYCEDF), with the support of an initial contribution of $12,500 by a former public school teacher, Harris Lirtzman. NYCEDF will help MORE achieve its vision of a transformed and fully empowered UFT that “organizes and educates members to resist all efforts to deprive them of their rights and to stop the corporate education ‘reform’ agenda.”

By forming NYCEDF, MORE and its allies intend to increase grassroots support for a fair contract and to organize effective opposition to the new teacher evaluation system imposed on city teachers by State Education Commissioner John King and the high-stakes testing regime that has been so detrimental to the City’s public schools and students.

“The groundswell against the so-called ‘education reform’ agenda is rapidly gaining strength here in the City and across the country. Educators now understand what a truly democratic and revitalized teachers union, working arm in arm with parents and students, can do to protect public education in New York City,” Kit Wainer public school teacher and MORE member, said. “Our hope is that NYCEDF can be a catalyst for the sort of change that will make the UFT a real leader in the fight on behalf of city teachers and the public school system.”

Mr. Lirtzman was the New York State deputy comptroller for administration from 2003 to 2007 and became a NYC public school teacher at 54.  He taught mathematics to students with disabilities at a high school in the Soundview section of the Bronx from 2009 to 2012. Mr. Lirtzman became aware of serious violations of federal law and state regulation concerning students with disabilities in his school and warned his principal about them, with no response. After being stonewalled by the NYC Department of Education, he refused to be silenced and took his case to the State Education Department (NYSED) and the US Department of Education. NYSED sustained the most serious of his allegations and placed the school and its principal under state supervision for six months to ensure that a wide-ranging compliance plan was fully implemented.

Mr. Lirtzman, who has since retired, is now an ardent supporter and friend of MORE. His donation provides money to pay for the costs of setting up and operating NYCEDF and to support its ongoing advocacy and education efforts.

“I am proud to be a member of MORE.” Mr. Lirtzman said. “The city’s teachers have been unfairly attacked for the last few years by corporate voices of something called ‘education reform.’ What these people really want to do is destroy public education and the union that represents City teachers, who work under impossible conditions every day to educate our children. I hope that NYCEDF can become a powerful advocate on behalf of public education in NYC and force the UFT to become the strong and democratic union that it should be.”

Marissa Torres, teacher and founding member of MORE, expressed the gratitude and enthusiasm felt by members of her caucus at the formation of NYCEDF. “Harris Lirtzman put his job on the line to defend the most vulnerable and marginalized students in the system,” Torres said. “His fierce determination and commitment to justice add fuel to our fire and give people hope. Now, because of his generous gift to NYCEDF, we can take our movement to a new level. We are honored and grateful for his support.”

For information on the fund or how to donate please email more@morecaucusnyc.org

One exciting and quick way to support MORE’s work is by asking your school’s UFT chapter to vote on endorsing our petition for a moratorium on the new “Advance” teacher evaluation system.

We’re all fed up with “Advance,” and all the teachers I’ve talked to wish the UFT was doing more to oppose this system and stand up for a better one.  My chapter was so excited to hear about this way of pushing the UFT to act that they suggested voting to endorsing this petition right after I showed it to them in our union meeting.

I wanted to make sure everyone had time to read up and consider their options before a vote though, so I sent them an informational e-mail, and we scheduled a secret-ballot vote for the next week.  Teachers cast simple paper ballots, they were counted by an impartial committee, and then my chapter leader and I composed a letter like the one below.

Voila!

It only took about 30 minutes, and my chapter is excited about their involvement in our fight to build a stronger union and a better evaluation system.

You can also take a vote to endorse at your next chapter meeting.

We will present the petitions and chapter endorsements at the November 20th delegate assembly, when we raise a resolution calling for a full repeal of this flawed evaluation scheme that was imposed on us.

Let us know your chapter endorsed our petition by emailing us at more@morecaucusnyc.org

Moratorium endorsement model

Date
(school name)
UFT Chapter
On (date) we, the UFT chapter of (insert school name here), voted to formally endorse MORE caucus’s Petition for a Moratorium on the “Advance” Teacher Evaluation System.
 The chapter endorses this proposal and encourages our leadership to act quickly in the face of actions that jeopardize our profession and our students’ quality of learning.
Fraternally,
(name)
Chapter Leader 
(name)
Chapter Delegate
 

submitted by Megan Moskop- Teacher/ UFT Delegate at M.S. 324- Patria Mirabal

Bill_de_Blasio_and_family

By Mike Schirtzer

Teacher/UFT Delegate

Leon M. Goldstein High School- Brooklyn, NY

Congratulations, Mr. Mayor Elect, no matter one’s politics there is universal agreement that twelve years of rule is enough, it’s time for a new day. I’m sure you have already heard from the so called education experts on how to best “fix” our schools. Some of our friends have already told you how to best address the education needs (Diane Ravitch and Assailed Teacher). Rather than write you a laundry list of everything we want to help our public school system we have one simple request; visit our public schools and speak to the real stakeholders, educators, parents, and of course our children.

There it is Mr. de Blasio, you have already said education is a top priority, so take time and actually show up unannounced to public schools around New York City. Please don’t show up with an army of advisors and consultants, when the “iPad mafia’ comes in from the DOE it disturbs our classroom by diverting our students attention. You do not need cameras or reporters either. It’s simple, show up, sit down, listen, observe, ask questions and find out the truth for yourself. Our elementary school teachers have a great expression, “use your five senses,” that’s great advice that can help your evaluation. I know there are bunch of folks at Tweed (DOE headquarters) who have fancy titles and resumes full of “qualifications’ that they believe makes them experts, but better to speak the real experts, the people on the ground, find out the truth for yourself.

Visit all types of schools, ones that are considered high performing, ones that have been labeled “failing,” those that are forced to share room with charters, schools in communities where poverty is the norm, and schools where parents associations and alumni have made up for the wave of budget cuts. When you get there sit in on our classes, watch what teachers do. Take time to speak to them afterwards. Find out from teachers about how all these new policies such as Common Core  standards, new aligned curriculum, evaluation schemes, and proliferation of testing is affecting our students. After you’re done talking to teachers, visit the guidance counselors, deans, paraprofessionals, and other educators and find out their thoughts on all the changes made in the last twelve years.

Hopefully you can find some principals and assistant principals to talk to who preceded the Bloomberg era and can explain to you how our school system has changed for the better or the worse. Ask them their thoughts on the leadership academies, where inexperienced educators are left to run their own schools. Ask them how much sovereignty they actually have. It would be a really good idea to sit down and run a budget analysis with them, make sure to to focus on the allocations for “network support” and “educational consultants”.  It would also help you out to ask our school leaders about networks, superintendent offices, consultants, Tweed, and if all that money being diverted to these levels of bureaucracies could be better used in the schools. Find out the impact that these so called experts are having on our children and if we can better allocate public funds, such as reducing class size, adding more after-school programs, and wrap-around services.

And while you are talking to the educators and leaders, meet with parents, ask them their thoughts on all the new curriculum changes and testing. Find out how closing schools and co-locating ten schools in one building is affecting their children’s education. Ask them how to fix education and if poverty matters. Give them the “company” line that “poverty is just an excuse”, lets see their reaction to that! Ask them if the lack of healthcare or a pathway to citizenship affects their children’s education.

Finally, make time to sit down with the most important group of all, the real experts, our students. Have lunch with them, taste the food, find out their thoughts on school, what they want, what they need. Do they like all the test prep, less creative-arts classes, less physical education, less after-school programs, What do they think of their teachers, their principals, all the school faculty? Talk to the children who had their community schools closed or lost space to fancy new charters, investigate what has been the impact of Bloomberg’s policies on these innocent children. Ask our students how education can be improved, talk to high school students about the limited choice of courses due to budget cuts, find out how our younger elementary children have gone from playing and enjoying school to being drilled for tests on a daily basis, discuss with our middle school children how much stress they have from the constant practice for their ELA and Math exams. The main question for all our children has to be, is the obsession with bubbling in the correct answer making your educational experience better?

We don’t think this is too much to request. Visit schools, talk to the stakeholders, and let these conversations dictate your educational policies and choice for chancellor, not the experts who are lined up at your door, but have never spent a day in our schools. This is our only wish, Mr. Mayor Elect, we only hope you take our advice. As one of the few, if not the only organized group of actual rank and file educators that are actively working in public schools we are more than happy to open our doors to you.