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.