Sunday, February 17, 2008


We have a new leaflet for you to distribute to UFT members in your school. (The Baizerman decision gives you the right to do this) The text is below. Reply to this email to get a pdf attachment of this leaflet, or a hard copy, to reproduce yourself. Or tell us how many copies you want, and the street address to send them to.
The Unity UFT leadership has surrendered so many of our rights. Now we must take action to (larger type:) ENFORCE THE RIGHTS WE STILL HAVE!
Bullet: A principal in a Bronx High School informs a teacher that he is investigating a student allegation against her, and advises her to transfer out of the school. The Unity chapter leader tells her he knows, but will not tell her, what the allegation is, and also advises her to transfer. The teacher stands her ground and she is soon told nothing has come of the allegation.
Bullet: An untenured teacher is U-rated by a principal in a Brooklyn high school, who replaces her with a friend of his wife. Because she is untenured, she loses her license and must look for other work to make a living. Three years after her U-rating, and a year after her hearing, she still has not gotten the hearing officer's decision.
Bullet: A small Manhattan high school principal violates the rules about professional assignments. The overwhelmed new chapter leader asks a union committee member to help her out by calling the District Rep for her with questions. The District Rep yells at the union committee member.
These are examples of the kind of cases people have reported to us. Specific, nonessential, details have been changed for their protection.
Our most recent leaflet "End the UFT's Free Fall" (available on our website, www. Teachers for a Just Contract. org) showed the many ways the UFT's Unity leaders have given up our interests and rights since they were reelected last April. An equally outrageous problem is how they have failed to protect even those rights they haven't yet given back.
Chapter Leaders who are prominent members of Weingarten's Unity Caucus are notorious for making "deals" with principals to the detriment of the members whose interests they are supposed to protect. District Reps, who are no longer elected but are now appointed by Randi Weingarten, often don't return phone calls, or are even abusive to members. The D.o.E. hearing officers and arbitrators take years to issue decisions on grievances, special complaints, appeals of U-ratings, and tenure revocation hearings. These delays keep lengthening, and the UFT leadership does nothing to buck the trend.

There are literally hundreds of schools where there is absolutely no union structure whatsoever, the contract is unknown, and the principal runs the school as a despot, benevolent or otherwise.
Our union must be strengthened, or it will become a useless shell that only takes our dues. The union leadership should be calling upon all active and concerned UFT rank and file to participate in a discussion about how to do this. TJC contributes these ideas:
Bullet: Revitalize union democracy by restoring the election of District Representatives. Appointed District Reps have no incentive to respond to the needs of the members and Chapter Leaders they represent, only to the orders of Randi Weingarten, who appoints them.
Bullet: Devote a portion of each monthly District-wide chapter leaders' meeting to discussion of problems in the chapters. At the Delegate Assembly, reports about victories in specific chapters need to go beyond celebration to in-depth presentations about the nuts and bolts of how the victory was achieved.
Bullet: Mobilize members of other chapters to demonstrate and support members in other schools whose rights are under attack. For example, where a principal is abusive, UFT members from the entire district could picket before work. This will put pressure on the administration, strengthen union solidarity, and build members' confidence in their own power.
Bullet: Revitalize union democracy on the chapter level by mandating that chapter consultation committees be elected by the members, rather than serving at the Chapter Leader's pleasure. Make chapter leaders more accountable to their members by restoring the two year term of office for them.
Bullet: The UFT staff members assigned to boost weak chapters must go beyond just recruiting individuals to be chapter leaders or committee members. They should be educating all chapter members about their rights and how to work together to defend them.
Although our jobs cannot be outsourced, UFT members are experiencing a loss of rights, power and security. This is because the Unity leadership of the UFT is more invested in its own interests as union bureaucrats than in safeguarding those of the members who work in the schools and sites. TJC is building a rank and file alternative, to the destructive policies of Weingarten and her Unity Caucus. We urge you to join us.
Visit our website. Www. Teachers for a Just Contract. Org, email us at
justcontract@ nyc.rr. com
One thing that worries Weingarten is a strong, active opposition. Even better than worrying Weingarten, it helps preserve what is left of our members' power and voice. It even keeps alive the hope that we may stop our union's free fall and reverse its decline. You can strengthen the opposition in many ways: attend TJC meetings or the meetings of other dissident UFT groups, give out our leaflets. Or, if you cannot do these things, a donation of money is always needed and welcome. Right now, TJC is flat broke: we spent every nickel we had in an all-out election campaign last spring. We would really appreciate your help rebuilding our finances so we can continue our work. If each of you who receives this email would give just five dollars, we'd be well on our way to being able to resume full-fledged operations all over the city. Can you spare five bucks for TJC? You can use your credit card to donate on our website: www. TeachersforaJustContract. org. Go to the right side of the homepage. Or you can send a check or even cash to TJC, P.O.B. 1346, Bronx, N.Y. 10471. Please make checks out to Teachers for a Just Contract
On Monday, January 21, a front page article in the New York Times announced that 2,500 New York City teachers are being measured on how much their students improve on annual standardized tests! Many are not even aware they are being scrutinized in this fashion. The story reports that city officials "say it is too early to determine how they will use the data . . They say could eventually be used to help make decisions on teacher tenure . . . And they hold out the possibility that the ratings for individual teachers could be made public."
Where is our union leadership that this is going on? Where is our union leadership that we learn these awful facts from the newspapers? The answer, according to the Times, is that the UFT leadership "has known about the experiment for months." But nothing has been said to the rank and file union membership, at Delegate Assemblies, in the NY Teacher newspaper, or in any other way. Weingarten was quoted merely as saying she has "grave reservations about the project," and that she and the city "disagree" about the possible uses of the data. "If one permitted this, it would be one of the worst decisions of my professional life." The trouble is, there are already so many bad decisions, this statement is pathetic. Instead of organizing us to fight against this new threat to our professionalism and our jobs, she kept silent. Even now, the most we can expect from her is a lawsuit that drags on for years as hundreds of teachers are subject to outrageous and unjust scrutiny and worse repercussions. (For the full text of the Times article, go to the NY Times website.)

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