Bid to Topple Mulgrew in Next UFT Election – Chief Leader Newspaper

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Bid to Topple Mulgrew in Next UFT Election

Chief Leader UFT Article

Posted: Monday, October 5, 2015 5:30 pm

With an officer election six months away, two coalitions of union activists have begun forming slates to challenge United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.

Last month, two dissident slates—the Movement of Rank and File Educators and the New Action Caucus—announced a plan to run a joint team of candidates to challenge the union’s leadership and gain executive-board seats. Staten Island Teacher Francesco Portelos, an activist who has sued to open School Leadership Teams to the public, is also running for president on the UFT Solidarity Caucus ticket.

Won Twice in Romps

They figure to be uphill challenges. Mr. Mulgrew was first named president in 2009 as a handpicked successor to Randi Weingarten, who stepped aside to lead the American Federation of Teach­ers. In 2010, Mr. Mulgrew was elected over James Eterno by a tally of 41,521 to 4,075. Three years later, he received 35,913 votes compared to 5,708 for MORE candidate Julie Cavanagh. Retirees have played outsized roles in the three-year elections.

The officer election is expected to be held next April. The dynamic between the Mayor’s Office and the UFT has changed considerably since the most-recent vote, as the union has a much closer relationship with Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña than with their predecessors.

Mr. Eterno, who taught for 28 years at Jamaica High School in Queens before it was closed by the Bloomberg administration, is now a Social Studies Teacher and union delegate at Middle College High School. He said he would be a candidate on the joint slate, but couldn’t yet disclose which position he would seek. Its nominees will be disclosed this month, he said.

“Evaluations of Teachers based on student test scores has got to go,” Mr. Eterno said. “Not 20 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent or whatever percent; it should be zero percent.”

Contract Gripes

The New Action Caucus endorsed Mr. Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus during the past few ballots. MORE objected to the contract reached in May 2014 between the UFT and the de Blasio administration on the grounds that its terms were less generous than what they felt Teachers deserved.

Mr. Eterno said in an interview that the back pay was staggered more than necessary. The first lump-sum payment, which is equivalent to 12.5 percent of the money Teachers have accrued since 2009, was given to members Oct. 1. The remaining back pay will be distributed through 2020.

“Now the city has a $5.9- billion surplus; they certainly could have afforded to have given us the retro money from 2009 to ’11 now instead of making us wait,” he said.

“We’re optimistic that this is going to be an opposition slate that does better than we’ve seen in decades,” he added.

Voice for the Discarded

Mr. Portelos said his Solidarity team, which is still coming together, is trying to advocate for educators who feel they have been cast aside by the Department of Education, including those in the Absent Teacher Reserve and probationary Teachers who are dismissed by administrators before they are granted tenure.

“Our thing is: go out there, speak to the Mayor, collaborate as much as possible, but if members’ rights are going to be attacked, if students are going to be neglected, then we’ll definitely increase the knob on activism,” Mr. Portelos said.

The Staten Island Teacher pointed to supportive Facebook comments that tell “a different story” of a disconnect between the union’s leadership and its rank-and-file members. He said it was too early to quantify the slate’s support, but counted about 100 active members, a number that he said sounded low, but was high compared to other groups. “Our name is being pushed out from The Bronx to Staten Island,” he said.

Both he and Mr. Eterno said their slates would encourage parents to opt their children out of standardized testing. Though New York State United Teachers actively campaigned for their members and for parents to opt their kids out of exams in April, the city Teachers union was more muted.

“It’s a democracy,” Mr. Mulgrew said in an e-mailed statement.

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3 Comments

  1. It is great to see true and experienced activists- like these two men- try to “democratize” a union that functions more like a Soviet Politiboro; to attend a UFT Delegate Assembly is to witness a total “Groupthink” and an “iron heeling” of dissent by Mulgrew, who runs the union like a party boss from the Tweed era. The Unity Party will never surrender power, but the fact that they are being challenged by such strong candidates will bring out the worst in them: even when Randi Weingarten had the election “in the bag” years ago, her minions drove it home by mailing out red-colored notices that accused her only opponent of “leftist affiliation”- classic red-baiting, from a union that was started and run by NYC Jewish Leftists!

  2. Ernest G. Mignoli

    This UFT is all about power, control, and politics. It’s primary goal is self-serving, with the closest attention/mission to its administrative
    growth and increasing self compensations, power retention, and political pander, and powerful UFT “Legal Might” to smash all in their path. UFT is a epic cash cow, feeding all except the UFT Members, challengers are portrayed as slim chance radical outsiders with a personal grudge, no chance, no experience and more. UFT fights real dirty, we’ll funded with our own Membership dues, Philadelphia “level down and burn” tactics,
    and long forgotten are the Teachers,and Staff, real heroes, that clung together in NYC streets, cold, rudiculed, and in the “smash path”, however,they
    prevailed, and would not appreciate the money hungry, power grab, by the top echelon UFT obliterate all outstanding and better for all, “silly challengers who have “chalk dust on their hands”.
    UFT probably owns the “Chief” too, as evidenced by this biased, skewed, and probably paid by UFT, article and portrayal of this Un-American “smash”
    rhetoric and one sided talking points.
    Shame on you “Chief”,you are reporters,
    not “political arms”.
    These, and other candidtes,in this UFT Members opinion, are better, brighter, braver, a lot poorer, and squarely within the “UFT Spirit” of its founders, and ‘The American Way”.
    My heart felt thoughts and prayers, go out to all the UFT Members not equitably represented by UFT might, power, and self-serving UFT current Administration.
    “The Chief”, why not run articles portraying UFT President as in this article, the “only non–raical American”, and “the smashed”.
    Give these candidates equal, and the can and should win, to all our betterment!
    Best regards,
    E.G.Mignol UFT Member

  3. Eterno talks about changing the Collective Bargaining Agreement. I think a better place to start is to get the City to follow the CBA (because they use it, quite frankly, as toilet paper) and for the UFT to spend their time enforcing it.

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