Monday, July 27, 2015

A $5,900,000,000 NYC Surplus, a $350,000 Donation and Mike Mulgrew

    Another Victory For the UFT! (Updated Surplus Figures - Thank You, Mike!)

 Mike Mulgrew. Is there anyone left on the fence? Does he really have any supporters left? During the Bloomberg administration most of us gave him the benefit of the doubt. We were all getting hammered. Yesterday I read that he got Randi to make a $350,000 contribution before the contract negotiations! I think many of us are now feeling especially indignant that we got a contract written on toilet paper.

  What was that for? More Brownie Points to show how appreciative Mulgrew is that Bloomberg is gone and that we now have Bill?

 Most people when they give a monetary contribution expect something in return - not a big fat turd. Perhaps a good, or at least fair contract.

                                               Bill: " I'm so sorry Mike, the city is broke."

So now we are stuck eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (and I just got a notice today that my medical insurance may be raised) while Bill is celebrating a 5.9 BILLION dollar surplus!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What can be Done to Increase Voting in UFT Elections?

     Looking at the abysmal statistics for voting in UFT elections one thing becomes very apparent - the overall apathy of its members. Retirees are allowed to vote in UFT elections (!) and have been doing so at a higher percentage than their active counterparts. I don't know of any other union that allows retirees to vote in current elections. The retirees are actively seduced for their votes and have nothing to lose if they vote in an abject provision (via their vote for party or individual) that will fall squarely on the shoulders of the active members.

     What would happen if voting became mandatory? For instance, if you didn't vote you got a knock on the door (or a Skype call, etc.) in order to obtain that vote? The Census goes around to collect data that affects us in a myriad of ways. Our population pool is much smaller and technology has made information retrieval much easier. Our UFT votes and lack of them have a profound impact on our lives.

     Do I believe mandatory voting is viable? At the present time, no. That may change if union dues become optional. I'm assuming you wouldn't get a vote if you opted out of paying. What I do feel needs to be changed is the way in which we vote. Most people when they see that incredibly large envelope with a due date, leave it on the kitchen table and forget about it. When they remember it, it has expired and they toss it in the garbage. The people who don't, are the ones who have a lot of free time (i.e. retirees) and those who keep on top of union matters (an increasingly small minority). The UFT voting should be done electronically with an electronic signature. I have completed many legal documents this way and have never had a problem. This would greatly increase the voting statistics. This leads to another question - does our union want an increase in voting from its active members. I would venture, no. The reason being the whole retiree vote. It smacks of manipulation of data, in that there is no legitimate reason they should be voting in active elections. (This is meant as no offense to any retiree - I hope to be one soon.) In my opinion, the entire voting procedure for the UFT needs to be changed in order to assure an increase of input from the active members.

Update: I was informed that New Action brought an excellent election case to PERB requesting addresses of retirees. This was in order to give all groups an equal footing with Unity. PERB ruled that because retirees are not part of the bargaining unit, they aren't covered under the Taylor Law. The case was dismissed. So not only does Unity have full and unlimited access to a large constituency of voters, they have been basically allowed to legally thwart competing groups access to them. My incredulous reaction to all this is, how if they aren't part of the bargaining unit are they legally allowed to vote? It's in the UFT constitution.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Who the Heck is Bernie Sanders?

   I must admit I am an ardent Hillary supporter, but have paused to rethink my support of her now that Randi has decided for me. This is a direct result of Randi's incredible arrogance. Almost every teacher I know and my entire family is a Bernie fan. What shocked me is that my very apolitical brother has a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. I really didn't  know much about him, so I decided to do a little research.

    Bernie is a senator from Vermont. He has a direct unaffected approach that is like a breath of fresh air after listening to Cuomo and Christie all year. His policies make sense , an increasing rarity in the national political arena (i.e. Donald Trump).

    So has he won me over? Not yet, but there's still time. Why do I like Hillary so much? It's sometimes difficult to verbalize, but I've always felt that she has been much maligned and misunderstood. I also think she's brilliant and can achieve greatness for our country. The issues that are most important to me are the preservation of the middle class and a strong union. Both candidates want that, but Bernie has made a much more charismatic appeal. We all need to look at the issues and vote. Randi Weingarten will not be making my choice. Make no mistake, what Randi did hurt Hillary.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Randi Knows Best

Randi: Atlas, some of the teachers seem a little hostile towards me lately. My imagination?

Atlas: Perhaps it's because you, as AFT president, endorsed a candidate for US president, 16 months early without any input from the 1,600,000 members?!

Randi: Teachers are sheep. I don't need input from sheep. They don't know what's good for them.

Atlas: What's good for them or what's good for you?

Randi: It's the same thing. When I'm on the cabinet and Mike is president of the AFT, you'll all thank me!

Atlas: What happens if the Supreme Court rules against the unions?

Randi: All the more reason I need to be on that Cabinet.

Atlas: What happens if Bernie wins?

Randi: Impossible, I've already seen to that.

Atlas: I think you actually hurt Hillary by endorsing her this way. Not all of us are sheep!

Randi: That's correct, Atlas. Not all of you are sheep - some of you are ATRs. Just retire already!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Life Without Teaching! Now What?

"Please don't ask me to sub or run for office -
Mr. Portelos has my full support."

On my journeys around the Bronx I meet some very interesting characters. I talk to everyone, so I know people from the end of the South Bronx to Woodlawn. The saddest group I've met are the educators who have retired after 30 - 40 years and now have no idea what to do with themselves.

I've met retired educators subbing and have asked them, why? One very elegant bow tied gentleman told me, " you have no idea what it's like. I get up at 9, have breakfast and read the paper. Then its 10 o'clock, then 11 and so on. Then the next day, its the exact same thing. You see my entire being was focused on teaching and I didn't pursue outside interests or build a network of friends. So I'm subbing to save my sanity." I told him you may save it or you may lose it, and wished him luck. The conversation left a lasting impression on me.

Years ago I got a piece of valuable advice that I believe is true. Summer vacation is a dry run for retirement. If you find yourself climbing the walls, bored out of your mind or turning into a sloth- you're doomed. Outside interests, physical activity, and friends are very important for ones mental health. Have a great summer, no more blogging for me until the fall. Peace and love to all.

Some friends have asked me to continue my blog over the summer. If a topic of major importance comes up, I will. Thanks.