Saturday, June 17, 2023

Vote NO on the UFT Contract. Here is Why:

The best reason to vote no on this contract is this: UFT Unity lied to us in 2018. They misrepresented that contract. It was predicated on deals we were not fully informed about. It is leading to our health insurance being significantly downgraded. We simply cannot trust them, and if you aren't sure why, read on.

There are a few obvious reasons, but they aren't the main issue. We know, for example, the compensation increases do not even approach cost of living, pegged at 8.7% by Social Security. MLC, evidently, can organize to demean our health care, but NOT to protect our income.The bonuses are non-pensionable. There is no contractual language about class sizes, and as Mayor Swagger cuts budgets and fails to hire new teachers, it's likely he will evade new regulations. Many alleged improvements are relatively minor, e.g. those stuck in the crap that is after school teacher torture are more or less still there. 

Let's set all that aside. There is one good reason to vote no, and again--UFT Unity fooled us once. In 2018, there was something in Appendix B that enabled them to really do a number on our health care. Here's how Michael Mulgrew described it at the UFT Delegate Assembly on October 12, 2018

Health care negotiated with all unions. Done six months ago. MLC thought something bad could happen with health care because of DC. We wanted to lock in a deal. No additional copays, but made a change for all unions. We tried to get plan in better place. Was proactive approach. Has been out for six months. Was smart thing to lock down our health care with no significant cost ships to union membership. Others pay 3200 out of pocket.

First, he says, "no additional copays". I don't know about you, but I took that to mean copays would not increase. A Unity member told me it meant there were no new copays, but that's a ridiculous assertion. Everything we do with doctors, aside from certain vaccines, already carries a copay. Since Mulgrew said that, urgent care visits have jumped from 15, to 50, to 100 dollars a visit. Mulgrew told a more recent DA he's have like to make it 400.  (I'd argue passing this contract might finally give him the confidence to do so.)

You'll forgive my fast typing at the DA, I hope. Mulgrew next says, and I'm correcting my typing now, "Was smart thing to lock down our health care with no significant cost shifts to union membership." That's an outrageous whopper that needs unfolding. The increased copays are indeed a significant shift, and far fewer members would have voted up that contract if we'd known about them. 

If you read this blog at all, you know that the deal Mulgrew made was to return 600 million dollars a year forever to the city, and in return they got a 3-year contract at or near cost of living. Mulgrew and his peeps told us then there were no givebacks in that contract. That's not merely another outrageous lie--it's also one of the dumbest deals I've seen in my lifetime. 

You probably know that Mulgrew has worked to dump retirees out of traditional Medicare and into a Medicare Advantage plan administered by Aetna. This means that retirees will have less choice in doctors, and that Aetna, rather than their doctors, will decide whether or not certain procedures are necessary for our most vulnerable members. While there is a deal to have a shorter list of pre-approvals, it will sunset. Doubtless UFT Unity hopes by then we'll have forgotten yet another of their broken promises. 

In-service members are not sufficiently aware that they too will be moved from non-profit Emblem GHI into a program that is 10% cheaper. That will be a big change for working members, but UFT Unity doesn't dare make it happen before this contract is passed. Let's keep them on their best behavior by voting down this contract. Sure, Unity claims health care on the cheap will be as good or better, but we know they're serial liars. Let's not trust them, and make them work for those expense accounts and double pensions.

Now I grant it's possible that the new contract does not contain any new poison pills. It's also possible that UFT Unity has not made any further shady deals with Mayor Eric Adams in exchange for this essentially crappy contract. But we know they have their leader stand up at our Delegate Assembly and tell us outrageous lies. We know not a single member has publicly said a word to correct them.

We know they lied to us to get the last contract passed. We know, therefore, that they'd have no issue lying to pass this one either. It's time to tell them we've had enough deceit. It's time to send them back to the bargaining table to work for us instead of Mayor Eric Adams. It's time to tell them enough is enough. Our first step is to tell them exactly what they can do with this agreement. 

Vote NO because the people who present this contract have lied to us before. Vote NO because the people who present this contract work to save money for Eric Adams, as opposed to rank and file. Vote NO to let them know we will not be fooled again. Let's find out exactly what they plan for rank and file before we consider any more of their deals.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Contract Announcement coming very soon.--It's here.

Mayor Swagger will probably talk about it around noon. Mulgrew has ordered the contract committee in at 2 PM and it will probably be voted on at DA today. 

Expect compensation increases that fail to keep up with inflation and an absolute refusal to discuss the coming degradation of in-service health care. Social security pegged cost of living in 2022 as 5.9% 2023 at 8.7%. Expect 3% per year, an effective pay cut.

"The new deal is expected to follow the pattern set by a deal previously hammered out by the Adams administration and DC 37, the largest municipal workers union in the city."

Friday, June 09, 2023

UFT Unity Works for Mayor Eric Adams

NYC Mayor Eric Adams has a great ally in the UFT Unity Caucus. For one thing, they both share the same slogan. They "get stuff done." They've screwed us once again on health care (and I'll get  back to that shortly).

UFT Unity was crowing about how they got yesterday, a day of frigging meetings, to be remote. Fine, but it would've been a lot smarter to do that Wednesday, when it was a surreal hellscape outdoors. 

I don't know whether they're taking credit for making today remote, but I will say that remote teaching is just abysmal. It doesn't compare to what we can do face to face. I hate it, and it's the very first thing that made me consider retirement.

Back to the main topic--yesterday Controller Brad Lander declined to register the AETNA contract. That felt like a good thing. I thought it would delay the crappy Advantage plan that UFT Unity and Mayor Swagger were foisting upon us. Alas, today I have it on good authority that the mayor will simply sign it anyway. Probably we'll all get an email signed by Mulgrew on the Great Victory he achieved. Now, Eric Adams can save 600 million dollars a year forever, and all it cost us, so far, was Medicare. Retirees on limited means must have been sick to death of having no copays, and will just love handing them over to increase profit for Aetna.

It's very, very hard for me to imagine this is a good deal. First of all, we are promoting privatization. This enables the parasitical Aetna to take money that ought to be devoted to our health care. How exactly that saves money eludes me utterly. It further means that Aetna will get a veto over what procedures we need. The fact is they have an eye on their bottom line, not our health. While there is an agreement for fewer pre-approvals for a few years, that will sunset. Then UFT Unity will likely find another great opportunity to save Eric Adams even more money. 

It's beyond remarkable that UFT Unity is working in the interests of Eric Adams, our contractual adversary. They failed to organize the MLC to enact a minimum raise. They enabled a raise that's one third of inflation. Then, they organized demonstrations in which they exhorted us to get out there and  demand sub-inflation raises. We all know they're coming after in-service health care next. Mulgrew gets up at the DA and says we need a plan that's 10% cheaper. Sorry, but working teachers need a plan that better, not cheaper.

Privatization hurts education. That's why UFT Unity, finally, after years of enabling charter schools, and even starting their own, has come around to oppose corporate charters. In their zeal to save money for Eric Adams, they seem to have lost sight of the fact that privatization of health care is not only essentially similar to privatization of education, but also a cancer--one that literally kills Americans who haven't got sufficient access to health care. I've known two such Americans personally.

It's not good enough for us to say, "We have ours, and screw everyone else." That's precisely the message Micheal Mulgrew delivers when he opposes the NY Health Act. He says we negotiated this, we negotiated that, and we're not giving it up. Personally, when I look at NYHA, I can't see how we'd lose anything except the catastrophic medical emergencies that lead so many of us to bankruptcy. 

Sponsors of NYHA have reached out to unions and offered to address whatever objections they may have. I haven't heard a peep about the UFT responding. Why not? I suspect they're interested in preserving all those sweet patronage gigs at the Welfare Fund. After all, we could've saved Eric Adams a ton of cash by consolidating all the city welfare funds. MLC, including UFT Unity, decided not to do so. They'd rather throw the members to the dogs than give up those patronage gigs that so neatly tie members to their caucus. 

Privatized health care, just like Aetna, has its roots in institutionalized racism. Aetna used to insure slaveowners in case they lost their "property." And health insurance in the USA has gone disproportionately to the people who got the good jobs, not the ones who got doors slammed in their faces. It's a discriminatory practice that hurts Americans. We, labor unions, are enabling and promoting it rather than addressing it. 

And even if you choose to reject the argument that shutting people out of health insurance is discriminatory, you can't refute the fact that our union leaders, including UFT Unity, are working day and night to make our health care worse. That is not what union is for. Union is supposed to raise standards for everyone.

UFT Unity is a disgrace, and needs to be voted out. Retirees will soon send them that message, and rank and file, once screwed with inferior health care, will follow. Leadership is supposed to represent us, not Eric Adams. To survive as a union, we need leadership that understands this. 

It's not good enough to "get stuff done." The "stuff" needs to benefit us (and ideally others as well).

Sunday, June 04, 2023

UFT Unity: Give Up on Money. Give Up on Health Care. FIGHT for 150 Minutes of Weekly Teacher Torture

Let me begin by telling UFT Unity leadership that there are things we actually CARE ABOUT. No one whose employment depends on towing the line will tell you what they are, but I will. Pardon my profligate use of all caps, but the older I get, the less tolerance I have for all things stupid.

1. We want a RAISE that meets or beats inflation.

2. We want BETTER, not CHEAPER health care.

3. We are GROWNUPS. We can better decide how to use our time than either the DOE or our spectacularly out-of-touch leaders.

I won't even bother to elaborate on points one or two. They're simple. If leadership cared about number one, they'd have organized MLC to demand a minimum raise, rather than diminished health care. If leadership cared about number two, they would NEVER agree to health on the cheap, and would ideally support the NY Health Act. As unionists, we should help EVERYONE, not only ourselves (and certainly not only those with patronage jobs).

I'm truly gobstruck at what our leadership will and will not stand for. Our UFT Unity leadership has drawn a line in the sand. What we need to fight for is 150 minutes of PD, parental contact, or if you're lucky, self-directed OPW (other professional work). 

One of the things that really drives people from this job is the micromanagement. You MUST write the aim on the board. It MUST be in the form of a statement. No, it MUST be in the form of a question. You MUST have a DO NOW assignment on the board. It MUST be five minutes. If it's six minutes, you are ineffective. Since no one can agree on what the hell good teaching is, we NEED a frigging checklist. You must do 22 things. Or 7 things. Or whatever.

If you have a reasonable supervisor, there is flexibility. If not, Danielson is a deity, and the checklist is the Ten Commandments. If you have a REALLY unreasonable supervisor, the checklist is filled in by the voices in his head rather than what actually happens. I once helped a member grieve an observation for which we had video contradicting many of the things the supervisor said. How many other delusional observations had this supervisor conducted? (Me? I'd guess all or most, except for those of the attractive young women he tended to favor.)

Is UFT Unity helping with issues like those? No. They are, rather, mired in the minutia of what we do with these 150 minutes. The DOE, perhaps, wants a return to the good old days of 37.5 minutes daily tutoring, (Yes, they NEED that half a minute.) or small group instruction, or whatever. This, to them, is somehow a win. To me, it's ridiculous. In our perpetually multi-session school, we simply stretched out instructional periods. That was not so bad.

Then we worked out a nine-period day giving teachers more prep time. That was a good thing, but I'm pretty sure we're going back to longer periods. I feel sorry for people in schools where they're stuck doing PD. I'm sorry, but the fact is almost all PD I've been to has been a waste of time. A lot of big shots, like Carmen Farina and Michael Mulgrew, seem to think we're in need of direction and orientation. Since they haven't been in classrooms in years, they haven't got a clue.

The best example of this in my experience occurred when we went to remote for the first time. I had never used Google Classroom and hadn't even heard of Zoom. I sat through lectures on what it was for hours on the two days we were instructed to return, despite COVID raging everywhere. I listened, but it didn't really help.

Then I sat for five minutes with a tech-savvy first year teacher. He showed me how to use Google Classroom, and he showed me how to use Zoom. We set up my meetings together. I tested Zoom with another first-year teacher and it worked well. I was ready when I had to meet my classes.

Rather than trust us, they herd us into teacher teams and force us to look at tests and analyze scores. They give us frameworks on what we must do. They demand reports addressing points A, B and C. 

The fact is we real live teachers talk ALL THE TIME. We discuss what happens in our classrooms. We exchange ideas. We DON"T NEED a schedule. We DON'T NEED supervision. But this is what the Unity Caucus battles for, alongside the clueless DOE. The only thing they disagree about is HOW to direct our time. 

The DOE assumes we will spend no time helping our students unless they force us. This is also ridiculous. Again, we are grownups. If we really didn't care about our students, giving an extra 37.5 minutes with them would be a total waste of time. In fact, we discuss issues with students among ourselves, counselors, paras, social workers, and anyone else who crosses our paths. The first year teacher might know tech better than I do, but I'm likely to have good suggestions for actual classroom issues. We support one another, and thus support our students.

So I have news for UFT Unity. I have the same news for the DOE. Teachers don't need your help to plan our time. The DOE, in fact, is our adversary in negotiations. UFT Unity, rather than fighting them over things we CARE ABOUT, is bending over backwards trying to save money for Eric Adams.

Short term, Michael Mulgrew needs to listen to someone other than the fawning sycophants jockeying for position. Long term, he needs to go, and his caucus needs to be voted out. And for the record, it's not just Mulgrew. UFT Unity would gleefully cut off his head and let another grow in its place. 

We need new leadership. And Unity can no longer count on retirees. I'm retiring from my job, but as a retiree, I'll work to get new leadership. 

New leadership will help teachers long-term, and that will help our students as well. A happy teacher inspires young people much more effectively than an overworked drudge mired in the endless nonsense Unity leadership and the DOE cook up, whether together or separately.

Friday, June 02, 2023

Letter to Colleagues


After 38 years teaching here in Fun City, I plan to retire in July.  I sent the following to my UFT chapter. If I get a chance, I will vote no on the next contract. There are a number of reasons. Primarily, though, it's because I don't trust leadership to tell me what's actually in the contract. 

I supported the last contract. To me, it appeared to be a plain contract that gave raises around cost of living. I was good with that. I was not good with discovering that UFT Unity, behind our backs, had schemed to save money for Eric Adams rather than us. I was not good with tossing all city retirees into an Advantage Care scam, as opposed to what we've been promised since we began. 

I like the demands at left. The ones that stick with me most, right now at least, are getting a raise that meets cost of living, and retaining our health care. UFT Unity has failed on both counts, and they have to go. Don't forget to vote.

Dear Colleagues,

First, I want to thank you all for the support you gave me as your chapter leader. It was my great honor to represent you for 12 years. I expect to retire on July 1st (and I believe this time I will follow through).

In parting, I’d like to caution you about UFT leadership. Leadership, along with the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), a group of city unions dominated by UFT and DC37, has diminished health care for retirees. Retirees will now be placed in a Medicare “Advantage” plan run by Aetna. This means our retirees will need the approval of Aetna for certain procedures, and also have fewer available doctors.

And we are next.  Leadership now has an RFP, or request for proposals to replace Emblem GHI with a plan that’s 10% cheaper for the city. It’s hard for me to conceive of a company replacing non-profit Emblem at that price without significant concessions from us. Note that the copay for an urgent care has gone from 15, to 50, to 100 dollars in a few short years. A new plan could make this even worse.

Leadership, along with the MLC, agreed in 2018 to save the city 600 million dollars a year, forever, in exchange for a 3-year contract around cost of living. Leadership voted this up without our consent, and concealed it from us when the contract was introduced.

Now, they want us to go out and demand a “fair contract.” However, the pattern set by DC37 is about 3% a year for the next five years. Social Security pegged inflation in 2022 at 5.9%, and 8.7% in 2023. This is an effective pay cut.

This will likely pass because many of our members, like those of DC37, are desperate for a raise. Alas, desperation is not how we help ourselves long-term. If this contract comes up this month, as I expect, I will vote NO. I urge you to do the same.

There was only one time we voted down a contract, and that was in 1995. That contract contained a clause that we’d reach max pay in 25 years. When it came back, the clause said we’d reach max in 22 years. So don’t let leadership frighten you. They have failed us and we need to send a clear message that’s unacceptable.

Again, I thank you for the honor of leading you for 12 years. I’d probably not have stepped down if it weren’t for the COVID apocalypse. But I’m still active. You can read my blog at if you’re so inclined, and I’m pretty active on Twitter, if that’s your thing, @TeacherArthurG.

Best wishes,


Thursday, May 25, 2023

We Demand a Sub-Inflationary Raise and Inferior Health Care

The UFT was out demonstrating yesterday, for a "fair contract." I want a fair contract, but it's hard for me to see exactly how we get there from here. The city pattern is 3% a year. However, inflation was pegged by Social Security at 5.9% for 2022 and 8.7% for 2023. So personally, I'm not taking time out from my busy schedule to demand what is effectively a pay cut.

Now sure, Michael Mulgrew is out there talking about paperwork, and I like paperwork as much as the next person. But if Michael Mulgrew doesn't know that money is the first concern of every working person in most contract negotiations, he's even more out of touch than I thought. Now sure, you can say that DC37 set the pattern. And you can further say that pattern bargaining is tantamount to the Ten Commandments in city bargaining.

You may well be right. It is highly unlikely that we will beat the pattern. I'm not counting on it at all. But our union is weakened by demonstrations that are essentially just for show. There are times to stand up, and when those times come along, we're either asleep or being stabbed in the back by the Municipal Labor Committee, including our esteemed leadership. More likely, we're asleep and being stabbed in the back by leadership.

It's nice to get out and do something spirited. I'm sure every Unity Caucus member, most of whom have or aspire to union gigs, were out there. I'm sure they dragged everyone they could. I also know a lot of opposition members who went. Good for them, I suppose. Personally, I could not muster the spirit to spend my time doing something so patently ridiculous. Paperwork sucks, but it's not what members complain to me about. 

Now I don't know precisely what paperwork complaints we're talking about here. Everything the big negotiating committee discusses is Top Secret, so I'm not privy. The fact is we've made some good progress on redundant paperwork complaints. Debbie Poulos initiated a complaint process for chapter leaders that's faster and more efficient than multi-stage grievances that take forever. As chapter leader, I filed a grievance that sat around for several years. When UFT finally got around to discussing step two with me, I was no longer chapter leader and the point was moot. Maybe fixing our grievance procedure is something we should be looking at. This notwithstanding, there are vital concerns that go well beyond paperwork.

UFT Unity leadership, along with their BFFs at the MLC, just tossed the retirees to the dogs, replacing standard Medicare with a corporate Advantage plan. Soon, they'll replace the popular Emblem GHI plan with something 10% cheaper, saving money for Eric Adams. In case you haven't noticed, Adams is supposed to be our adversary in contract negotiatons.

It's fine that UFT is out there. But the fact is, the overwhelming majority are not. The overwhelming majority of us are essentially asleep. That's been a feature of our union for decades. You can tell when people speak about it. People say terrible things about the UFT, not realizing they're describing themselves. Sadly, pathetically even, a lot of us feel no responsibility for anything whatsoever regarding our union. For many of us, the union is somehow the people sitting in offices. 

That's one reason I'm wary of people talking strike. Here's one of those people:

It's great to imagine that we won't accept the crap pattern increase, but it's sheer fantasy. Mulgrew may not be proactive. He may not bother trying to organize the MLC to demand a reasonable pattern. But has a lot of time to sit around reading blogs. I know this because after I wrote something particularly critical, he had his lawyers (technically our lawyers) threaten me with civil and criminal penalties for parodying him on this blog. 

Frankly, I don't believe the UFT, constituted as now, could carry out a strike. I think we have a whole lot of outreach to do before membership could be activated to that point. Most of us don't know what union is. That's why I, as chapter leader, saw multiple members indicate they wouldn't strike, even for safety. I was shocked when one member casually mentioned it, expecting me to smile and accept it. But this member is representative of a whole lot of us. Leadership is as aware of this as I am. They do nothing about it because they're good with it. They could never survive an activist membership. But we would all benefit. 

So here is what Mulgrew and the Unity Caucus will do. They will cave completely to the pattern, and then blame the 500-member negotiating committee. In the video he pretends they make all the decisions. However, I was on the committee during the 2018 negotiation, and I had no idea we were approving draconian cuts to health care. Our leadership deceived us.

This is the prime reason I will vote no on the contract. I believe it's coming soon, and I believe the Unity Caucus will claim these rallies had something to do with it. I believe the rallies are entirely for show. If we had real demands, we'd take real actions.  It's nice that Mulgrew pays lip service to strike, but the fact is we haven't heard him say much about it until he was put on the spot.

I don't know about you, but I'm not energized by lies. I'm energized by fighting for real progress.  Our leadership, Mulgrew included, is moving us backward. We should be a vibrant force, the "powerful teachers union" the tabloids are always complaining about. Instead, we're a sleeping giant

Step one in awakening this sleeping giant is tossing the Unity Caucus out of power. We'll begin that process with the retirees. I hope to be one by election time.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

MLC--What Is It Good For?

The city unions have an umbrella organization called the Municipal Labor Committee, or MLC. I may have mentioned them once or twice on this page. This group acts on its own, It does not seek approval from rank and file.

That, of course, is an issue when they make deals. At some point, to save money for the city, they agreed that all new city employees would be in HIP for the first year. I was not that upset by that. Many employees don't last longer than that. Of course, many disagreed, suggesting it was a slippery slope. 

It turns out they were absolutely correct. 

Emboldened by this agreement, MLC made a new money-saving deal in 2018. So far, this has resulted in retirees being dragged out of Medicare and dumped into an Advantage plan administered by Aetna. It's hard for me to understand how giving Aetna the right to pre-approve our care will make it better. It's hard for me to understand how having fewer available doctors helps city employees. Of course, I'm not on the MLC. 

Now they're looking for providers that will offer health insurance for us at 10% less. It's impossible for me to imagine that we will not pay for that, either with higher copays, fewer providers, or more likely both. The prime directive of MLC, like that of UFT President Michael Mulgrew, appears to be saving money for Mayor Eric Adams. You can't make this stuff up.

I've worked for New York City for the last 38 years. When I started teaching, my salary was around 13K. In fact, I was offered a job driving for FedEx that paid more. Nonetheless, what everyone told me was that while I wasn't making a whole lot of money right now, we had a great retirement plan and health coverage. This didn't matter much to me at the time. I really couldn't picture being retirement age.

And yet, here I am. I'm thinking about retiring July 1st. If I do that, I'll be among the first group of retirees to have diminished health coverage.  Of course many unions disagreed. However, they were voted down by UFT and DC37, who supposedly represented more members. Never mind that not a single one of them was consulted about this. All things considered, I don't love the MLC. Don't ask me to send them a Christmas card.

You'd think, though, that MLC could get together and work in the interests of membership. Specifically they could work to improve our contracts citywide. This year, for example, DC37 agreed to 3% a year for the next five years. However, considering cost of living, we won't catch up to this year's inflation until the contract ends. That's a bargain basement deal for Eric Adams, at our considerable expense. 

Now I'm sure DC37's members need more money. Many of them are paid close to minimum wage. It's tough for them, and a 3K bonus surely sweetens the pot. I understand why they voted overwhelmingly to ratify. I think UFT will vote to ratify as well. This notwithstanding, MLC could do better. It's tough to imagine how they can do worse.

Why can't they put their heads together and decide, for example, on a minimum they will accept for a round of pattern bargaining? And why can't this keep up with inflation, at the very least?

There are some trust issues, I'm sure. For example, in 95 there was this pattern that was total crap, and DC37 voted it up, supposedly. Later, their leaders were convicted of vote-rigging. I think that was the year we voted down the contract and got a letter from then-President Sandy Feldman that we must be "smoking something" if we thought we could improve on it. (But I also distinctly recall hitting max salary at 22 years rather than 25, as the original would have made me wait. I'm glad we voted it down.)

Now I shouldn't just beat up on DC37, because we're not without blame either. We accepted and established a crappy pattern in 2014.  We did this because we were so absolutely desperate to recover the two years of 4% that many of our colleagues had received. It would have made much more sense to have simply gone to arbitration. We'd almost certainly have gotten what everyone else did. And in the highly unlikely event we didn't, we'd have finally put an end to pattern bargaining. 

Our negotiators are awful. They fancy themselves brilliant. Mulgrew frequently gets up on his hind legs at the DA, boasting of how smart they are.

We, along with DC37, dominate the MLC. With great dominance comes great responsibility. And yet, the geniuses over there have not figured out how to come together and face down the pattern. There is absolutely no downside in demanding a compensation increase, for all, that matches cost of living. Perhaps there's a trust deficit in UFT and DC37, and perhaps it needs to be repaired. If that's the case, our leaders need to make that priority one.

What will our leaders say? That's easy. It's never been done that way. It's always been done this way. Someone on Twitter mentioned the other day that doing nothing is not a winning strategy. Yet that appears to be the only strategy MLC has for getting us paid. They're pathetic. All they do is hurt us. 

MLC need to change its MO, or it needs to be replaced with something that serves us, the people who serve the city.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Two Things You May NOT Request in a #FairContractNow!

Hi it's me, your esteemed UFT President, Mike Mulgrew. First, don't mess with me or I'll sue your worthless ass. Getting down to business, we're negotiating a contract, and it's very important that you all join me in a fight for a #FairContractNow!. 

That's one of those hashtag thingies they use on Twitter. And hey, everyone should be on Twitter. Except me. I don't like it because people might say nasty things to me and hurt my feelings. But you do it. What's the worst that could happen? (Look at the bright side--it won't be happening to me.)

The other reason I'm not on Twitter because I have Very Important Stuff to do here on the 14th floor at 52 Broadway. But that's where you duespayers come in. So get out there, and we'll let you know when and what to tweet. Until then, just keep demanding that #FairContractNow! I want you to know we are laser-focused on getting some kind of paperwork thingie done for you, so feel free to demand paperwork stuff. I can't tell you exactly what paperwork stuff because everyone on the negotiating team has signed an NDA. But you get out there and demand whatever it is anyway. That's what we call union activism.

By the way. I'd just like to mention a few things you may not demand in our #FairContractNow! One of them is money. Money comes and goes, but it doesn't look like much of it is coming to you. As you know, DC37 got three percent a year. Now that may not sound so good when you consider that social security rated the cost of living at 5.9% for 2022 and 8.7% for 2023, but hey, does social security give those folks a bonus? Of course they don't. But DC37 got a three thousand buck bonus along with the three percent. So there you go. That's maybe enough to buy the sort of used car I see a lot of you out there driving.

Don't you want a new used car? Don't listen to those frigging fearmongers in the other caucuses, the ones telling you that getting a 3% raise when there's 8.7% inflation is a 5.7% cut in pay. First of all, are you going to be persuaded by mere arithmetic? Arithmetic is for first graders, and you are all college-educated. Let's grow up here, shall we? I am the President of the United Federation of Teachers, and as far as you know, I didn't get here by behaving like a first grader. Let me tell you, there were all kinds of maneuvers I had to make to get here. 

And look, it's not like this doesn't pay off. I make three times your salary, I still get paid as a full-time teacher though I don't teach at all, and I have these jobs at NYSUT and AFT too. Also, when I retire I will collect not only one pension from the DOE, but also another from UFT. So are you gonna sit there and whine about getting a 3% compensation increase, or are you gonna start running for UFT President? Make no mistake, I can't do this job forever, and once I step down everyone in my caucus is gonna pretend I never existed and take no responsibility for either this contract, your health care reductions, or anything else. Never mind that all of them expressed full-throated support, and none lifted a finger to stop me.

Anyhoo, the other thing that you may not ask about in #FairContractNow! is health care. Look, you can't spend all your time worried about your health. After all, this job is a calling, so start getting your mind in the game. Health is all a state of mind. Start thinking about what I think about, which is how I can save money for Eric Adams. How can I satisfy that visionary deal I made in 2018 to save the city 600 million dollars a year forever? Get with the program, folks.

I just dumped all the retirees into some Medicare Advantage plan, and now they'll need preapproval for stuff, and can't see all the doctors they used to see. Don't feel neglected. I'm working on improving your health care as well. The way I'm going to do that is by cutting 10% off of what we pay to insure you. Now sure, that sounds like a lot, but look at it this way. It's gonna save a crapload of money for Eric Adams, and he really needs it, among other things, to pay police double what the city allots for their overtime. 

Now I may ask you to wear blue one day. It could be orange. You never know. But doing stuff like that is important in our quest for a #FairContractNow! So don't forget to do whatever we tell you to do, whenever we tell you to do it. If you don't, you're against union activism! Then we can trash you on Twitter and elsewhere, and stereotype you and all your friends (and your little dog too). 

So get out there, wear blue or green or whatever when we tell you to, and loudly demand the city grant us some unspecified something or other about paperwork. Do not ask about money or health. Remember, this job is a calling, That means you can't be worried about your selfish needs. You just worry about serving those students. I'll focus on making more money for Eric Adams. 

You follow these ground rules, and we'll get along fine. Otherwise I'll sic my lawyers on you. Remember, union activism is you doing whatever I tell you to do, whenever I tell you to. Don't step outside those lines, and we'll get along just fine.

Your Dear Leader,







Michael Mulgrew

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Blogging Is Slow Right Now BUT... can read my new piece in City Limits, giving chapter and verse as to how UFT leadership behaves in a distinctly anti-union fashion. 

“Those of us teaching the children of New York City do the work. Not only are we not getting the support we need, but we have leadership that actively works against our interests. This has to change.”

You can even read their response, which disputes absolutely nothing I wrote, and insinuates those of us critical of their outlandish actions are a bunch of crybabies.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Me, Aladdin, and 110 Newcomers

There's nothing quite like seeing a show with a bunch of students. I was lucky enough, after years of trying, to get into a program sponsored by TDF. The program dried up with the apocalypse but has finally reappeared. TDF buys out entire theaters and fill them with NYC students. It's a remarkable program, and likely the only way a whole lot of students like mine will ever see a Broadway show.

This year, we were slated to see Six, which, judging from the soundtrack, seemed a little more like a concert than a standard musical. It's a very clever play on Henry VIII's six wives, all together, dishing the dirt and standing up for themselves. It surely would've gone over the heads of many of my kids.

I was lucky enough to note they had a later showing of Aladdin, and was able to swap out our show. My students are all very recent newcomers, beginners or near-beginners in English. It was a whole lot easier to get them involved with Aladdin than the story of the six wives of Henry VIII.  They could likely find the cartoon film in their first languages. Just in case they didn't, I showed it in English and we discussed it. TDF sent us a great theater pro, four times, who showed the kids a lot about what staging a play entails.

There's a lot of work involved in taking 125 students anywhere. You have to enlist more chaperones, one for every 15 students. That's not so hard when you're seeing a Broadway show, though. There's a whole lot of planning and paperwork, which I hate. I'm really not very good at this stuff. But for this, I'll do it. 

There are a whole lot of kids who have second thoughts. I have a test that day, they say. It's kind of cool to be able to say that tests come and go, but you won't get this opportunity every day. Anyway, you can make up a test. You can't see a Broadway show for free every day. 

Some kids just didn't want to go. Why should they when they could go home and play video games? Almost every one of those kids had a change of heart as the date approached. I had a hard deadline to report our attendance, though, and a few of them missed it. Maybe they learned you have to grab opportunities when they come. Or maybe they're just more pissed off at me than usual. Who can say?

But those who were there loved it. Teenagers are a lot more demonstrative than we are. When Aladdin says maybe he won't free the genie, as promised, you could hear the audience scream, "Ohh...," and some kid near me shouted, "Oh no you DIDN'T!"

You can see the magic carpet above. When they sang A Whole New World, while flying on the carpet, it amazed everyone. I kept looking for the cables that suspended the carpet but couldn't see them anywhere.  When Aladdin and Jasmine shared a relatively chaste kiss, the crowd went wild. It was the most amazing thing anyone had ever seen, in the entire universe ever, even though it was entirely predictable.  

The best, for me, though, was when we finally got back to school. A whole bunch of boys, several of whom had ridiculed the idea of this trip, one of whom had refused to go until almost the last minute, raved about it. They said it was fantastic. 

I'll follow up by showing them how to enter theater lotteries, how to find discounted tickets, and even how to join TDF. I'll make theatergoers out of at least some of these kids yet.

Friday, April 28, 2023

On Dropping Cope

Ever since Unity Caucus determined I was public enemy number one, I've decided paying into COPE was a bad idea. I wonder whether it was my dues or COPE that paid the lawyers who wrote me a threatening letter. In any case, if Unity sees fit to subject me to civil and/ or criminal penalties for speaking my mind, they are unfit to spend my money. I won't give them one dime beyond what I have to in order to remain a union member.

It's important to remain a union member because a. I believe in union, and b.  I now believe we can vote the bastards out, beginning with the retirees. Their decision to modify our health care in order to secure a three year contract was an abomination. The fact is, securing something that hovers around cost of living merited no givebacks whatsoever. The "very smart" people Michael Mulgrew loves to blabber about traded 600 million dollars a year, forever, to get this contract. 

So while the contract is expired, our obligation has not. And we, as rank and file, had no voice in this. I supported this contract, thinking there were no givebacks. And while Mulgrew mentioned a health care deal, he presented it as something that would prevent more copays and have no drastic effects. Instead, he's turned our retiree brothers and sisters over to the tender mercies of CVS/Aetna. It's ridiculous and unconscionable.

I presented a way for you to opt out of COPE right here, but it appears to be a two-stage process. I was sent the card above, which I've returned. However, I've declined to provide my social security number, giving them my UFT ID instead. I don't trust the lying creeps who sic their lawyers on me with my social security number. They've proven themselves to be vindictive and stupid, and I trust them as far as I can throw them. 

They also send you a letter, which I will reproduce below. There is the name of a woman you're supposed to call to discuss it. In fact I had her name and email. Before faxing my request, I emailed her and she didn't bother replying. However, I will certainly call and ask her why I should contribute extra money to people who threaten me with lawyers for exercising my First Amendment right to parody our Great Leader Michael Mulgrew.  (Note--I've called twice and gotten a message that no one is there. Maybe they're tired of hearing from us lowly workers.)

A co-worker of mine swears he sent the fax four weeks ago and hasn't heard from anyone. He suggests I'm getting special treatment. I guess I am, what with them threatening to sue me and all.

Don't trust them. Don't give them an inch. And don't give them one cent more than you need to.




Saturday, April 22, 2023

Vote in the Paraprofessional Election!

As unionists, our biggest challenge is apathy. I can't vote in the upcoming para election because I'm a teacher. But if you're a paraprofessional, exercise your right. There is an alternative to Unity leadership. Please vote, vote now, and vote for the slate below!


Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Stop Your COPE Contribution--Quick and Easy

Since Michael Mulgrew has decided to pursue inferior health care for retirees, and is likely doing the same for those of us in service, since he's branded me Public Enemy Number One for parodying him, and since UFT endorses candidates against education champions like Robert Jackson and Jamal Bowman, I've decided to pull my COPE contribution. I wrote this form, and six colleagues I was with joined me right away.

I faxed it in, but you can mail it if you wish. Here you go. Feel free to cut, paste, print and share:

United Federation of Teachers
52 Broadway, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Fax: (212)-510-6435

To Whom It May Concern:

I no longer wish to contribute to COPE. Kindly stop my contribution, effective immediately.


Member ID or File #


Friday, April 14, 2023

My Union Dues Pay Lawyers to Threaten Me

I rarely check the blog email. It's full of spam and nonsense. I seem to have received the letter below late last month. Michael Mulgrew may not have time to protect our health care, but he has plenty of time to read blogs and fume over those of us who dare question his judgment

I have parodied two school chancellors on this page, rather unmercifully. Neither of them bothered to threaten me with legal action. I can only suppose they have thicker skin than my union president.

I now parody Mulgrew. This is because he now appears to work for Eric Adams, cutting our health care to save the city money.  I've removed Mulgrew's precious digital signature, but left the parody. Last I heard, parody was protected in these United States under the First Amendment. Evidently, lawyers paid with my dues disagree.

Note that the "client" does not appear to be UFT, but rather snowflake extraordinaire Michael Mulgrew. Evidently Mr. Mulgrew feels HE is the UFT. I don't know about you, but I've been teaching NYC kids for 38 years, way longer than Mulgrew did.

In fact, I am the UFT. You are the UFT. I'm proud to be UFT. I'm proud to speak out. It's extraordinary that leadership would attack and threaten dues-paying members. I'd expect this sort of thing from Ron De Santis, not a unionist (let alone a union president). But there you go.

A friend suggests that some members in Unity Caucus may not be able to differentiate between my pieces and actual  Mulgrew letters. Perhaps, he suggests they mistakenly quote my blog rather than the letters that carry that valuable digital signature.

In any case, here's what Michael Mulgrew sees fit to spend our dues on:


Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Activism Is Circulating the Petition

Activism is what we, as unionists, do. Right now I'm very excited about the petition demanding we get a voice in decisions regarding our health care. 

At first, I was skeptical. I thought it would be better for us to support NY Health Act. I still do, but given the behavior of our leadership, I think this petition is also necessary. It will take some time, but we'll reach the goal of 10% of union membership signing. 

We need to have a voice. Michael Mulgrew's eagerness to demean our health care does not represent the wishes of rank and file. Nor does Unity Caucus, which represents only UFT employees or would-be UFT employees. Nor does the Municipal Labor Committee, controlled by UFT and DC37 bigshots.

These orgs have dumped all of our retirees into an Advantage plan with fewer doctors and more pre-approvals. Now they want to replace GHI, which most of us use, with something or other that costs 10% less. If you think we'll get a better plan than we do from non-profit Emblem for 10% less, I have a bridge in Brooklyn with your name on it.

Leadership and its Unity Caucus will define activism as what they say it is, and nothing more. I was really surprised by a Unity claim that our HS Executive Board member, Nick Bacon, referred to contract actions as pointless. I don't think contract actions are pointless, and I'm absolutely certain Nick doesn't either. I think some contract actions are pointless, though.

My thinking is very much influenced by Beaten Down, Worked Up by Steven Greenhouse. This book documents effective and creative union actions, as well as some that have gone down in flames. I'll bet you dimes to dollars Mulgrew hasn't read it. Even money on whether anyone running our union has. Their actions don't remotely resemble effective ones I've read about.

Our leadership's most recent action was a work-in of sorts. Now it's one thing to gather boots on the ground to stand and protest something. I'm all for that, but UFT hasn't organized such an action in years. It's quite another to gather groups of teachers in various Starbucks to grade papers. In fact, considering the blatant anti-unionism of Starbucks, we probably shouldn't patronize it at all. Now sure, there are other places we could gather and mark papers, but I'm not precisely sure any of them are quite as visible. In fact, I'm not sure any locale will mobilize the public to say, yes, Mayor Swagger, give these teachers a contract. Frankly, even if we all graded papers at Starbucks like so many dancing monkeys, I doubt people would give it a second thought.

In fact, even in the highly unlikely event people wanted to urge a contract for us, we appear to be wedded to the pattern. We'd be out there battling for a 3% raise when inflation hovers closer to 9. So yes, I can see why members might perceive this as pointless. I'm in my building doing prep at 6:30 AM most mornings. I started this as chapter leader so I could work without interruption, and it just became my habit. There's no way I'm going to Starbucks to support Howard Schultz, who not only busts union, but also fails to provide me with books, office supplies, printers, copying machines, or any number of things I might need to do my job.

Our union leadership wants us to engage passionately in the actions it approves, and reject those that simply benefit us. They wrote a particularly nasty thing about Nick on Instagram. They essentially concluded that anyone who did not support their officially sanctioned action did not support action at all. It shows you the pretzels they need to twist themselves into in order to defend their preposterous positions. Next month they want to do leafleting. I might support that, but honestly I have no idea what we're even demanding. Whatever it is they do at those Contract Committee meetings is Top Secret to rank and file, so who knows? And does Mulgrew even tell them? Could it be the three percent raise that lags well behind inflation? More work for less pay? Eliminate health care entirely to save even more money for Eric Adams?

It really doesn't matter, since we know Michael Mulgrew is skulking behind the scenes, giving away our health care for nothing as though it's a grab bag of goodies for our swaggery mayor. What are we giving away this time? Will it be hidden away in some appendix somewhere like it was in 2018? The fact is we can no longer trust our leadership, and we need to face up to that before we blindly support demands to which we are not even privy.

Right now we need to protect ourselves. We need to protect ourselves from Michael Mulgrew, his Unity Caucus, and particularly his MLC. They sold out our health care to get us a contract that should've had no givebacks whatsoever. And that's why real activism entails circulating the petition to get us a vote in any changes to our health care.

I've been doing that all week, and I can tell you it's the easiest piece of activism I've ever performed. When I tell people they've degraded health care for retirees and are coming for us, they can't wait to sign. They can't wait to help. Retirees working as subs ask me for blank sheets they can get filled out. In my building I've collected hundreds of signatures in just three days, and people have jumped at the opportunity to help circulate it themselves. 

We need a lot of signatures to force Mulgrew to hear us. You can download the petition right here. My colleagues and I have collected hundreds in a matter of days. Your school may not be as large as mine, but do what you can. Print it out, make multiple copies, and get everyone you know to sign and/ or circulate. 

I guarantee you you'll feel better than you would sitting around some union-busting Starbucks shop grading papers.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Michael Mulgrew Is the Fearmonger-in-Chief

At left, you can see Unity's new campaign against those of us standing against further degradation of our health care. Their rationale for calling us fearmongers is that there will be premium-free health care. However, no one I know has claimed otherwise, ever.

Well, that's not strictly true. I know of one person who threatened UFT members with premiums. That would be UFT President Michael Mulgrew. He sent us an email in late October, and here's what it said:

The city’s Office of Labor Relations sent a letter to the head of the Municipal Labor Committee giving the unions notice of its intent to enroll all Medicare‑eligible city retirees in a NYC Medicare Advantage plan and eliminate all other retiree health plans, including GHI SeniorCare. If the unions don’t go along with it, the city has threatened annual health care premiums of roughly $1,500 for all in‑service municipal employees

Mulgrew was trying to get us to support amending Administrative Code 12-126. He suggested that if we didn't manage to do so, we'd get stuck with these premiums. Then UFT urged us all to post tweets demanding that 12-126 be revised. This would have allowed the city to continue offering GHI Senior Care for those who could afford it, like retired UFT officials who collect two pensions. And in fact, altering it would have opened the door for all kinds of cheap programs Mulgrew and Adams could have foisted upon us.

But guess what? The City Council refused to alter 12-126. And guess what else? You are NOT paying premiums for your health insurance. Now fearmongering is when you threaten people for no good reason. Given that Mulgrew threatened us with premiums if we didn't alter 12-126, given it was not altered, and given we don't pay premiums, at least so far, there's only one person we can persuasively accuse of fearmongering.

That person is UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

What we are saying is that our health care is being degraded, becoming more costly, and we've had enough. A Unity rep, paid with our dues money, might tell you there are no new copays, and that's true. However, it's true because virtually every procedure you have already carries a copay. What else are they going to attach a copay to? Breathing?

Mulgrew does not want to talk about the fact that copays have skyrocketed. It used to cost 15 bucks to visit an urgent care. Then it became 50. And then it became 100. Maybe some are still 50, but I have no idea where. There's an Advantage Care one near me. I went there once, when my daughter hurt her leg, and there were 20 people in front of me. A rep asked me what the matter was, told me we'd wait hours, and that they had no x-ray machine. I drove a few blocks and paid City MD 50 bucks (which would now be 100).

Now Mulgrew is arguing that his opponents are Tucker Carlson. A big thing propagandists do is project their own shortcomings on others. How many people has Donald Trump called crooks? Pretty much anyone and everyone who disagrees with him. It's very tough to argue Mulgrew isn't doing exactly the same here.

No one's arguing that the Medicare Advantage Mulgrew is imposing into carries a premium. We're arguing that there are fewer doctors will accept this plan than will accept standard Medicare. We're arguing that there are procedures that require approval that don't need it under standard Medicare. We're arguing that Aetna has every motivation to deny as many procedures as possible to maximize their profit. We're looking at those who've had this very experience with Aetna.

And no, we don't believe that we're going to find care equal or superior to that of non-profit GHI/ Emblem for 10% less. In fact, many of us have lost doctors because GHI pays them so little. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear Mulgrew is looking at Aetna to insure us all. And I don't trust Michael Mulgrew to save money for us, as opposed to Eric Adams. I don't trust him to put a halt to skyrocketing co-pays. Experience, not fearmongering, suggests he will do no such thing.

I also don't trust Michael Mulgrew to negotiate a good deal. Another thing he and his Unity BFFs don't say is that Mulgrew made a 2018 deal to save Eric Adams 600 million dollars a year forever in order to get a contract that hovered around inflation for three years. There ought to be no givebacks for a contract that meets inflation, because it's not a raise. But our contract's expired, and we still owe Eric Adams. We will owe him forever due to a deal Mulgrew made without our input, and that's why Mulgrew's messing with our insurance.

And FWIW, we wouldn't need to discuss this at all if we'd support and pass the NY Health Act. But Mulgrew says that would hurt us, and refuses to negotiate a workaround with its sponsors.Who's the fearmonger?

People who originally posted the picture above are members of the elite, invitation only Unity Caucus. Unity emailed them and told them to. They're almost certainly on UFT payroll. And let me tell you something--getting ahead in that union gig is a strong motivation for them to go along and post this baseless, ad hominem nonsense. Maybe they need the extra cash. Or maybe they don't want to come back to classrooms and do the real work. Regardless, the fact that they can't muster a decent argument suggests they're wrong. Don't trust them, and don't trust Michael Mulgrew.

Trust yourself. And sign this petition demanding a vote on your health care before Mulgrew tosses us to the dogs, just as he did to our retirees.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Mulgrew Writes About Health Care. Everything is Great.

I was fortunate enough to get the first draft of the email Michael Mulgrew sent to members today. For some reason, I didn't ever get the actual email. Go figure. Well, I've only been a UFT member for 38 years, 12 as chapter leader of the most overcrowded school in the city. Maybe I'm just not on the list yet.

UPDATE: Daniel Alicea told me I could change my contact preferences in the UFT Member Hub. I checked and found I was unsubscribed to emails, though I had received UFT emails for years and never unsubscribed myself. I checked subscribe, so I hope that works.  

UPDATE 2: I've now received a threatening letter from a law firm contending this is "impersonation" rather than parody.  I've removed the digital signature as a result. I've left the rest of the piece.


Dear Duespayer,

We  (notice, as President, I refer to myself in the royal we) are writing to give you an update on our in-service health care. All of our members have and will continue to have access to premium-free health care. The quality of this health care may not be all that great, but on the bright side, cutting costs and services saves Eric Adams a shit ton of money.

As you know, the UFT is one of the few teachers' unions in the country that still offers premium-free health care coverage for members. Sure, it costs you 100 bucks to go to an urgent care or get an MRI, and if I had my way it would be 400. But you're not paying a premium, and that's what you need to focus on. Remember when I told you that if we didn't change 12-126 you'd all pay $1500 a year? Well, we were blocked from doing that, and you now know, I was lying to scare you into doing what I wanted. I wanted to save the choice of decent care for those who could afford it, like my privileged and elite BFFs, but it didn't work out, so the hell with all of you.

It is our (royal we again) strong belief that an employer should not be negotiating our health benefits with insurance providers unless we are at the table. That is why WE are always at the table. YOU are not at the table, because we do this with MLC, where I get to vote and YOU do not. So if you don't like my our decisions, too bad for you. As a matter of fact, we just dumped all the retirees into a Medicare Advantage program, and man are they pissed! In fact, they're circulating a petition demanding a voice in these negotiations. Bastards.

This year, when deciding whether or not to renew our current in-service GHI CBP health care plan, the Municipal Labor Committee, along with the city, put out a request for proposals (RFP). You see, in 2018, we agreed to save the city 600 million dollars a year forever. For that, we got a three year contract around cost of living. That was a fantastic deal, even though it turns out forever is a little bit longer than three years. Anyhoo, while your copays have exploded, at least you aren't paying a premium. Focus on that. Look at it this way--if you never go to a doctor, this won't cost you ANYTHING. Woo hoo!

We just completed negotiations with Aetna on a new health care plan for all Medicare-eligible city retirees that preserves our retirees’ premium-free health care, lowers their out-of-pocket costs and improves their benefits. Well, lower until we figure a way restore copays and increase charges, at least. Sure, they no longer have as wide a choice of doctors. Sure, if they live in a dead zone they're screwed. Sure, Aetna can decide they don't need some procedures they actually do need and oh well, they don't get them. But I'm saving a TON of cash for Eric Adams, and isn't it your PATRIOTIC DUTY as a union member to save money for our employer?

We will continue to keep you updated as negotiations proceed, and we won’t stop working to ensure that Eric Adams can afford to continue paying police double their allotted overtime. Or we could just enforce an existing tax on Wall Street. But why get all persnickety over that stuff when we can just cut back on your health care instead? Also, we're working hard to get you a new contract that will provide you about a third of the 8.7% cost of living increase.  And that ALSO saves money for Eric Adams!

And if you don’t like that, tough noogies. 

Your pal,

Micheal Mulgrew


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Proctoring the PSAT

I don't mind telling you that I hate proctoring. It's not so bad in my own classes with tests that I've written. But I feel pretty stupid proctoring the physics Regents exam, or pretty much any exam involving subjects I don't know. Kids ask me questions and I feel pretty stupid when I can't answer them. In fact, I can't even know whether or not I'm supposed to answer. 

The PSAT is even worse. It wasn't really hard work. I had a partner, we managed to share the time, and we agreed whenever possible I would read and he would write. His handwriting was pretty clear. Mine is diabolical. While I usually understand it, lots of people do not. Sometimes kids laugh out loud at my handwriting. It makes me think I should've been a doctor. Doctors are notorious for bad handwriting. There's just the matter of my total lack of scientific ability. 

I never took the PSAT myself. I took the SAT once, and I remember it was a Saturday morning. The night before I had read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, so I was feeling very philosophical.  I loved that book. I've tried to teach it three times, and I've never been able to get students to share my love for it. I've stopped trying, Still, it beats the hell out of sitting for the PSAT. 

The first part of the test entailed having students fill out items 1-8. We all did that together. Evidently, it's important for those folks at College Board to know your name if they're going to score your test. That's fair enough. I wouldn't want to be stuck with the grade of some random stranger. Of course, random strangers tend to be better at math than I am, so there's that.

During the exam, a student asked me about the second page of information PSAT had. I wasn't sure. I had been faithfully reading the manual. I'd spoken to an administrator that day, and she said, "Just read whatever it says."

"You don't want me to improvise?" I asked.

"Absolutely not," she said, in a tone that indicated further discussion was not welcome.

I muttered something about expressing myself, but she was unmoved. So I went with the script. It was not entirely familiar to me. Having been chapter leader for most of the years we'd offered this test, I'd happily managed to weasel out of this particular assignment.

Anyway, after the test was over, there were additional directions about filling out further info, including but not limited to cell phone number and email. The script I read said some of this stuff was optional, but it would be beneficial for colleges to know who you were so they could send you information and such.

I had promised to read the script, so I did. But I felt like I was whoring myself out to College Board. Mayor Eric Adams, in his infinite wisdom, forced me and all my UFT colleagues to take a webinar on student privacy. If privacy is valuable, why is every high school teacher reading stuff on behalf of the College Board pleading for student information? Don't they get paid for the info they share with colleges?

Are these kids going to be bombarded with calls and emails from Fly by Night Online University, with a Delaware PO box mailing address? How much will College Board get paid for that? And since we're out there whoring ourselves out for them, why don't we get a cut? I mean, what sort of whores are we if we don't even get paid for our services?

Personally, I think it's unethical to urge minors to give personal info. I'm not an advocate of parents banning books, but I think they should know in advance when companies are going to seek personal information. I also think they should have a direct veto over sharing it. .

But that's just me. I'm not College Board boss David Coleman, famous for inflicting Common Core on our entire nation. Coleman's money comment is, "No one gives a shit what you think."

I would not be comfortable sharing my child's personal info with any company that sees fit to put a person like that in charge. I'm not sure why Mayor Swagger feels differently. The only thing I'm sure of is that neither he nor Coleman could care less what teachers think. 

That's just one reason why neither of them should be remotely involved in education.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Who Is Denigrating the UFT?


You know, if you read this and other blogs, that various groups and/ or members have received cease and desist notices from a fancy law firm. This is because they used the logo of their own union, the one designed and paid for by our dues. Our dues also pay the salaries of every single person who works for UFT. 

Some UFT employees have been posting the picture at left on social media sites, ridiculing rank and file members concerned about their health insurance. These employees are horrified. How dare UFT members criticize the people who sign their paychecks? 

At a recent Executive Board meeting, members in opposition were told that this threat was only for people who "denigrate" the union. Now "denigrate" means to criticize unfairly, or disparage. 

I learned a long time ago to differentiate between leadership and membership. When I say UFT, I mean you and me--the people who teach and care for New York City's children. Leadership, though, seems to think otherwise. They send their paid staff members to portray us as, well, hysterical chickens. 

So who's really denigrating the UFT?

Now I'm certain that UFT leadership doesn't like criticism. Who does? However, we all know that leadership is in a balls to the wall campaign to remove retirees from Medicare and place them in an Advantage plan. We also know there is a request for proposals to replace GHI/ Emblem, the plan most of us have used our entire careers. Who actually believes a cheaper plan will be as good or better?

Do you think Michael Mulgrew really believes that?

I have heard all the arguments. Last time, Mulgrew claimed every doctor who accepted Medicare would take the Emblem plan, and that didn't work out. He failed to examine 12-126 or its implications. Thus, he lost a few embarrassing lawsuits. We'll see what happens in the next one, which is inevitable.

What has he missed this time? As time goes by, hasn't GHI cost us a little lot more and been accepted a little less? Do you believe the city will keep paying to avoid the pre-approvals currently excluded? Do you believe it hasn't been misrepresented, as the previous plan was?

While this may be better than the last iteration of Advantage (which Mike Mulgrew said was the bestest thing ever), it's certainly not better than national Medicare. Mulgrew's caucus, Unity, is composed entirely of people who either work for the union or are bucking for a union job. They use this pic to ridicule you, me, and any other UFT members who question their plan. 

So again, who is denigrating the UFT?

I've read a lot about union over the past few months. I highly recommend Beaten Down, Worked Up by Steven Greenhouse. It tells inspiring stories of union's successes, failures, and resourcefulness in bettering the lives of working Americans.  UFT Unity, though, actively ridicules activists who fight for better working conditions. Make no mistake, it is the actual job of leadership to fight for better working conditions. Instead, they're looking to save money for the city and sticking us with a plan that their own former vice-presidents claim is inadequate. Meanwhile, Mike Mulgrew and Unity members loudly proclaim it's good enough for us.

Given that, who is denigrating the UFT?

Leadership is not doing their job. In fact, they are doing the opposite. They are working round the clock for Mayor Eric Adams, our adversary in negotiations. All of these changes are being done to achieve "savings." But said savings are for the city, not for us. Michael Mulgrew and the other geniuses at MLC made the dumbest deal ever, agreeing to 600 million a year in "savings," forever, in exchange for a now-expired three-year contract that hovered around the inflation rate.

If we point out just how stupid that deal was, are we denigrating the UFT? Or is truth still the best defense?

Now, Mike Mulgrew and the rest of us are staring at a multi-year contract that is around 3% a year. The Social Security cost of living adjustment for 2023 is 8.7%. That means our salary increase will leave us with, effectively, a 5.7% cut. Mike Mulgrew will tell us this is the best they can do, as always, and urge us to support an effective pay cut.

Is pointing out the obvious denigrating the UFT?

I don't think you need any more pointers to see who is denigrating the UFT. Obviously, Unity's plan is to gaslight us so we accept inferior health care and less buying power. We can do better. I understand that leadership has to make difficult decisions, but in terms of health care, Michael Mulgrew has misled and failed us at every juncture. 

Michael Mulgrew is not fit to make decisions on our behalf. That's why I signed this petition urging any changes in health care be voted on by us, the rank and file. You should sign it too. Michael Mulgrew insults our intelligence when he claims these changes, which are not good enough for his BFFs, are good enough for us. 

By gaslighting us, by selling us straw and pretending it's gold, and by having his paid minions issue us juvenile insults, Michael Mulgrew denigrates our union. Send  him a message. Let him know that representing the UFT entails representing all of us, not only his patronage employees, and certainly not Mayor Eric Adams. 

Make no mistake, WE are the UFT.