4:30 Mulgrew calls us to order.
Reminds us we have one snow day remaining.
One year anniversary of Betsy DeVos. Mulgrew calls up person in bear costume to wish her happy anniversary. Says bear would make better policy. Debate ensues as to whether or not pandas are bears.
National—February 26, when we return from break, will be officially Janus arguments. Only assembly permit approved has been for pro-Janus supporters. For Groundhog Day, Devos said private schools good, public schools bad, and ran back into her hole.
Next week is Public School Proud week. We have friends from Puerto Rico this week. We have done a lot to help families and friends there. Two days ago, governor of PR spoke of new vision, which entails charters and vouchers. None of this is done by itself. All planned activities. straight out of NOLA playbook. Pushed back in Houston. ALEC and little groups push these policies.
Secretary General Puerto Rican Teachers Association here, thanks her for putting up fight.
State—testified before committee—we need influx of revenue at state level. Proposed multi-millionaire tax, or clawing back Federal tax breaks for super-rich. Nothing on charters happening now. Believe there will be something about space for charters in NYC. Will have to move quickly.
Next year’s budget will have huge hold because of federal tax package. Could be significant cuts if we don’t deal with it. We were only local to not have layoffs in recession. People happy with few extra bucks in paychecks. They don’t understand what cut will mean to them until they file taxes next year.
NY State no. 1 donor state in country. Pay more for other states’ services than anyone else. Next year, NYS residents will pay additional 14 billion dollars to pay for billionaires and services for other states. Something has to be done to get value of expiring tax write-offs. Could be 10 billion deficit and significant cuts in ed. Done purposefully. When they defund, and schools do badly, they will blame us, union, and demand privatization.
March 19 Lobby Day.
Chancellor search—New criteria—anyone who won Broad prize ought to be off list.
Brooklyn Collegiate fought back closing, still more to do, including 42.
Won third lawsuit against KIPP.
Seeing toxic federal effects toward workers. Makes conversations difficult. Industries don’t care whether people can make ends meet. We were prepared with Visiting Nurse Services. Were able to enlighten leadership to understand it was in their best interest to take care of people who make their company what it is.
Negotiating Committee—March 1st.
Bad folks always have a plan. Very strategic about what they do. Fliers being mailed to people saying you don’t need union. Koch brothers spending 400 million to influence education. Expects it used in NYC. Plan is take unions out of political process. People say we shouldn’t be political, but what can we accomplish without being political?
Millions of dollars spent against pols who say public money if for public ed. No one tells private billionaires what to do with their money. We have to convince and educate membership. Many people, non-activists, don’t even want to listen to news anymore. Bad people count on our apathy. Will try to convince people to make decisions against own interests.
Many across country depend on what we do in this local. Wants to suspend rules to have back and forth with union leader from Wisconsin.
President Wisconsin Teacher Association—Kim Kohas—
Happy to be in presence of NY teachers. Thanks from every teacher in Wisconsin. Says our support is a reason she can still be here today.
We have been able to restructure and change nature of union. Seven years ago I was very happy 3rd grade teacher. Felt respected, adequately compensated, had 15 kids in classroom. Loved going home every night to family.
When Scott Walker proposed legislation, Act 10, took away collective bargaining rights. Required us to pay into pension and health, 6K cut first year. Collective bar. rights took away class size, calendar, ability to organize class, ability to grieve, arbitration, seniority, salary structure, and you could only negotiate for cost of inflation. We were at will employees, get contract for year or non-renewal. Non-renewal did not require rationale.
Lost prep time, 45 minutes added to work day, Mandatory management meetings. Ended 2 minutes before class. Added 3 PD days. No additional compensation. District made cuts too, had to find money to balance budget. Change insurance to 6K deductible. Lost 11K per year in first two years.
If sub didn’t show up, additional 30 kids in classroom. Was difficult for us to do work. No time to set up science labs.
Changed laws for worker compensation, got rid of civil services, tried to change pensions. Proposed 5% of all public schools fail annually and become charters. Eventually would be no public schools.
Vouchers statewide. 90% were previously in public schools, They now receive more funding than public.
Within 2 years, one third retired. Many went to work in Wisconsin. Students lost relationships. No longer can go back to last year’s teacher. Many new faces. No trusting faces to turn to.
To deal with shortage, they lowered standards. You can get an online teaching license with 15 months of coursework. On Black Friday, it went on sale.
Coordinated attack. Taken hits and lost good professionals. How do you take back power, and how do you win?
We accomplish a lot at local level. Train friends and members to run for office, in Senate and Assembly. Takes lots of time and energy. Our unions are stronger and we have better relationships with members. But how do you define win with no rights?
Teacher I asked to join us couldn’t afford to pay for her sub. Portenville hired bully administrators, harassed them, gave unacceptable duties. After first year, 50% left school building. Parents noticed and we met. Told 200 parents why teachers were leaving. Named bully. Parents showed up at school board meeting. Board president didn’t want to talk to them. Said teachers hadn’t filed complaint. Wouldn’t take group concern, only individual.
Did massive anti-bullying campaign at workplace. Named reason why teachers left. Second board meeting were 300 parents. Board member said we need to talk about issue. President told him you will never speak publicly again. We ran two parents and took out President. Supe resigned day after election, In January, they accepted principal’s resignation.
Huge win for employees. They previously had no union identity. No president. We have no identified one with great vision for this local. We now have stewards trained to speak with members. We also have a committee to recruit school board members. Local now has identity, value, and ability to change workplace.
These are hard things that are happening over years but we have amazing stories and amazing spirit. All members defend public ed. on a daily basis.
This is a coordinated attack. They want to hit us and hit us. But we are here for a reason, as professionals, and our union gives us the voice to do that job. I thank you for your involvement.
Our footsteps will be left behind, not in sand, but in concrete, and they are for our students.
Keep hearing about apathy. Wisconsin was one of strongest union states when this happened. Was a plan. Walker was just last piece in process. For years, they placed people in state legislature, supported by money by people who hate us.
Took years of damage, but Kim’s vision, that she could figure this out, shows we have more passion and vision. She never thought it could happen to them. Always thought it would be someone else.
Q—Is this on video so we can see? Can we show it to staff?
Mulgrew—She went on three visits and we made a tape. We have a tape.
Q—What was contract like before?
A—was 55 pages long, now fits on post-it. We can only negotiate inflation. Lots of work, but fun when you win.
Q—What happened to your pension?
A—We had many retirees. Started collecting sooner than anticipated. Despite lower salaries, pension fund is fine. Legislation trying to change formula. Contribution now 50% for us.
Q—Disconcerting this happened in Wisconsin. Walker came from Milwaukee. Maybe his history should’ve alerted teachers statewide. Maybe missed opportunity to stop him. Any advice for us?
A—I don’t think Walker ran on this platform, but had anti-worker history. He is a puppet for larger cause. Someone was coming in. GOP has control of house, senate, supreme court.
George Altomare—How much help did you get from neighboring labor movement? Support helped us build UFT. Once we made it, we helped others to make it as well.
A—I can tell you clearly, if we were not affiliated with AFT, we would not be here. Gave us human and financial resources, I’m a 3rd grade teacher, I work with crayons, why am I at capital? You talk to your members and you keep your local strong. You keep relationships and trust. That is how this movement will continue. Without it, we will fall apart. When I go home I am totally reenergized by your spirit.
Q—How do we get newer members to rejoin and keep them active?
A—Listen to them. Talk to them about what they value. My local 87 years old went through 10 strikes. I had great working conditions and didn’t know why. I would’ve shared with union members and asked for support. Find out what makes their day difficult and what union can do to make day better.
Q—What was public opinion in Wisconsin when they took away rights? Has it changed?
A—Teachers go to school, are well educated, were well compensated. In Wisconsin public educators were seen as elites. Were not treated well. Had parents pass out pacifiers to teachers because they saw them as babies. Had no sympathy. Early on, we said we will contribute to pensions and health to keep contract. People said I don’t have it so I don’t want you to. Now we have a country of that. It has become socially acceptable to be mean. Not OK.
Q—Can you talk about being an at-will employee.?
A—means you can be let go at any time. At year’s end you get contract or non-renewal. You then have eight weeks to work anyway. Makes it difficult for you to advocate for students. Saw teacher fired for publicly disagreeing with employer.
Q—How can we help you as far as phone banking?
A—Phone bank your members. Keep local strong. Attacks are everywhere.
Mulgrew thanks her to standing ovation.
Staff Director’s Report—LeRoy Barr
First Black History Month film last Tuesday, next Feb 12, story of Nina Simone, last Feb. 28 4:30 to 7. Great discussion afterward.
Working people’s day of action Saturday 2/24. March 3 middle school conference, Para luncheon March 10. Counselor’s conference March 10. Early childhood conference March 17.
Woman’s history month brunch March 25th.
Next DA March 21st.
Q—Totally moved by Wisconsin story. Took notes. Will tell members keep your local strong. Question about parents and community, divided and pitted against us, and how it was impossible to advocate—Last month we had an internal debate over a divisive issue. Right now it’s important we don’t do the work for Koch brothers. How can we keep internal debates and half truths from being brought to press? How can we keep union strong with Janus?
A—A union is a democracy. We set our own rules. This delegation sets rules. We voted against videotaping and recording. We’re not in secret but it’s our discussion. I understand and will protect anyone’s right to free speech. This is where it gets tough. Democracy means we get a vote and we make a decision. Some people believe democracy is when you agree with me only. That’s the US.
This is up to you as a body. Most people don’t know about these flyers being mailed. People have a right to say what they wish outside of this body. Would hope people are reflective Some things will only be used by our enemies. That’s a fact. They will constantly try to get us to debate with each other rather than plan and strategize. I don’t think anyone is maliciously trying to do anything but it is the decision of this body.
We made negotiation committee confidential. We would lose if our secrets got out. In terms of debate inside this body, rules are set by us. I understand. I’ve been dealing with issue. We’ll deal with it. I’m proud of all we do, and all positions we’ve taken. We’ve taken difficult stances and we won’t shy away from that. Our track record says no, you are wrong.
Op-ed done the other day, I answered it. Said we’re proud to stand up for city’s children and nothing stops us from being proud of people who dedicate lives to professions. We will be attacked by our enemies. We believe in sanctity of this body. If you want to do something about it that’s up to you.
People don’t understand that what they’re doing, in the end, could be putting their own personal agendas above those of the union.
Q—PS/ MS 42—Talk about congestion pricing. How can we help members driving through these zones?
A—MTA a mess. Idea can’t affect people we rep, I told people in Albany. You might have to go through midtown for work. Shouldn’t have bearing on people who serve children. That’s my position.
Q—We are trying to activate members, was walking people to subway, with many educators. One conversation not so positive, with ATR. Felt her union rep was in pocket of principal. Sounded struggling. Told her go to 52. Felt she didn’t have grasp of rights. For unconnected members, is there something in place to help?
A—Part of conversation we have to have at school level. Goes further than ATR. They wanted to make us at-will employees so they could fire the ATR. ATR works, though sometimes people make it sound otherwise. ATR pool at lowest number in almost ten years. City did all to try to fire them because principals didn’t like them. Needs to be understood.
Keep your local strong means keep your chapter strong. DOE only talks about how horrible we are, fighting with them over individual cases. Says we fight over bad employees. We say you hired bad employees to manage and that’s why we fight. Why aren’t we holding principals responsible? 140 schools have 20% annual turnover. City thinks we won ATR battle because they’re employed. We win when they’re all back to work.
For this month—Sterling Roberson—Resolution on wearing red February 14th to show Union Support.
James Eterno—Whereas NYSUT called for end of student test scores in evaluations, be it resolved UFT joins and returns eval. to local control.
We got a hint from Pallotta who said we should return eval. to local control. No more mandate for testing. Using student assessments to rate us is wrong approach. They argue few teachers are rated ineffective. Ratings don’t tell everything, but data doesn’t show fewer teachers facing dismissal. Said 366 tenured teachers 14, 391 15-16, In Bloomberg years average 271. If system were so great we’d face much lower rates of dismissal hearings. No one had burden of proof on them before. People rated D are getting charged. People leaving system at same or greater rates than before. My sister probationary, rated E, and discontinued. Members have had it with Danielson and being rated by assessments.
If we can start over, which we can because of new law, asks that someone who lived under Danielson respond.
Wendy Walker Wilson—I live under Advance, and I disagree. My student scores have saved my ratings. I’m a target as CL. I thank you because it has saved me. I hope this is voted down.
Motion defeated. Mulgrew says he sat next to Pallotta and supported him. Most charges because of DOE legal.
Sterling Roberson—Asks we place resolution to wear red on top of agenda.
Roberson—Says we want support to wear red.
Motion to extend for election.
Valentine’s Day red resolution passes.
Tom Brown—Reso to nominate David Kazansky for re-election. Says he has whole-hearted support to protect and advance retirement interest.
We are adjourned 6:03