Sunday, October 15, 2023

End the Mysoginy at the UFT HQ. Restore Amy Arundell as Queens Rep. Remove Michael Mulgrew as President

End the Misogyny at the UFT HQ. Restore Amy Arundell as Queens Rep. Remove Michael Mulgrew as President

UPDATE: Michael Mulgrew will have the audacity to show his face at the Queens UFT office tomorrow at 4 PM to exaplin this latest example of the pure contempt he has for professional women who rise through the ranks. He will be flanked by three other men. If he reads this, he will probably bring a token woman along with him. 

Folks who know the UFT have long known that a culture of suspicion and fear permeates the organization. Its headquarters at 52 Broadway is a hotbed of fear and loathing.  It has been described by many as a toxic place to work and has made many victims of great teachers and unionists. This culture is not entirely built upon the misogyny I am about  to describe but the contempt, mistrust and suspicion of women -specifically women who dare to reveal themselves as equals to the men who actually run the union- has had a significant presence on that culture for many years. This is the reality of the UFT office staff under president Michael Mulgrew and has been since Randi left for the AFT. This, among folks who know the union, is known and never mentioned. 

It's ok to be a woman if you work at UFT HQ, by the way.  Just don't ask to be seen as equal to the small handful of men who make all of the decisions. It's ok if you're not a man, mind you. It's probably better if you dress nice or make the important men feel nice. Just don't you dare present yourself as equal to those men. If you do, bad things will happen. It is the most disguised and disgusting form of misogyny that we have in New York City.  The women are there. They're capable. They go to every meeting, attend every event and support every initiative that is requested of them. But they are nowhere to be found in the highest levels of officership in the union and they won't be any time soon.  

When Amy Arundell took over the Queens office, there was no UFT presence in those schools at all. Teachers were harassed and abused in the workplace in schools all across the borough as a matter of routine. It became common. Nearly all of the hardcore unionists, including the bloggers arose from Queens precisely because this fact.  As Queens Rep, Amy Arundell began organizing chapters, supporting chapter leaders and supporting individual teachers. She held "organize your chapter' events and  took to social media posts to answer teacher questions and concerns. She became widely known as the only UFT official who really cared about teachers' rights and teachers' work experience and teachers from all over the city came to knowAmy Arundell's tough, direct approach. "Amy Arundell is the Best Unity Has to Offer" is how well-known teacher Arthur Goldstein described her. By the end of the last contract negotiation, Amy was organizing teachers all across the city for professionally themed days of action and was personally responsible for the UFT's newest tool; the Contract Actions Teams (CATs). Those teams helped organize chapters of schools all across the city. She is also the only UFT official who has refused to say "don't strike" when prompted to on a zoom training that she (as opposed to anyone else) organized and offered to all teachers. 

No one was paying much attention last Friday, October 13, when this dynamo uniost (the same one who organized the entire borough of Queens by supporting teachers) was quietly removed from her position as Queens Borough Rep. No one was paying attention when a white man replaced her either. That's how misogyny breeds: It grows when no one is paying attention. And no one pays attention on a Friday afternoon. That's when workplace abusers do their best work. 

But the fact is that on that on a rainy Friday in October, when he knew the DA would not meet for another month and he knew the Executive Board would not meet for another 2 weeks, Michael Mulgrew had another man, Anthony Harmon, send an ALL STAFF email out to every UFT employee in Queens informing them that the person who rebuild that borough office had been reassigned. The email gave no explanation (after all, who are they to have to explain themselves?) but said that Mulgrew was coming down on Monday -with three other men- to speak about it to staff. 

When no one is looking. When no one is paying attention. That's how this contempt for women leaders grows and sustains itself. 

Teachers found out anyway. Many took to DOE Teacher Chat -a Facebook group with almost 32,000 NYC UFT members- to share the news and to express their outrage at the decision. Amy is the *only* union official who routinely helps teachers, you see, and much of her work has been done in that group. So it stands to reason that some of the posts and comments told a tale of anger and betrayal. You see, none of those UFT people give a sh*t about teachers and we know it. Amy does and we know that, too. So the anger was there on Teacher Chat all weekend. 

"Why did Mulgrew remove a person who has been sop helpful to us?", wrote one teacher. 

"Shame on whoever removed Amy Arundell as the Queens Borough rep. I am absolutely disgusted and embarrassed for our union hearing about this" wrote another. "I urge every Queens chapter leader in this group to mobilize their staff and pusg back against this nonsense"

One Chapter Leader from Queens started a petition in support of Amy which, after 18 hours (over a weekend; when on teachers pay attention) neared 500 signatures. (You can sign the petition here).

And the union trolls -those despicable union officials who normally patrol the DOE Teacher Chat by shaming teachers into silence there- were noticeably silent throughout the entire weekend. Hiding, I'm sure under the nearest rock they could find. 

They are almost all men, by the way  The trolls are mainly DRs  and member reps from the Brooklyn and Manhattan offices and many of them help Michael Mulgrew sustain the culture of fear and suspicion that he has established over at the UFT. They are almost all men. 

(Some of them were, no doubt, behind this misogyny (as in I have no doubt) and, as a consequence, they hid in silence -like slugs who hide from the daylight; the hid away while teachers expressed how abandoned they felt to have the one unionist they felt was ont heir side removed.  The trolls posted nothing under the real names all weekend. But when things turned bad on Teacher Chat, they did try to post -anonymously- to throw shade on the woman who they had targeted.  Otherwise, they shelter in the swamp they have helped nurture.)

Now misogynists will always make an excuse for their abusive acts of misogyny. This is a fact of life for successful woman. Behind those excuses, though, is a simple contempt for women who can do the job better than the cigar smoking man ever could (Amy Arundell does the job better than them). Misogyny takes the form of a silent accusation before the woman is usually swept away. This case is no different.  No sooner did word about her removal begin to spread, did we all started reading sudden anonymous posters on facebook who claimed that Arundell had yelled and screamed and defended Palestinian civilians last Wednesday (Arundell is not a yeller or a screamer and many witnesses have publicly said this never happened). One of the accusers -a man- had accused her of trying to amend a resolution. That wasn't true.  Another -again, a man- said that she didn't defend Israel or some such. Witnesses again say no. 

Since contempt for women is on the menu, it didn't much matter than two Zionists immediately went public in their defense of her. One actually wrote that that, "Her views on the government of Israel are totally in line with many of my Jewish friends and family". None of that matters at UFT HQ. The culture of fear and suspicion had all the ammunition they needed to attack another woman and they used it. 

The Misogynists had their excuse to get the woman who made them feel threatened. That's Misogyny. It's just that simple. Last Friday, misogynists took false advantage of an historically horrible moment and attacked the woman who made them feel threatened. That's how the game works at the UFT. 

But Michael Mulgrew will have the audacity to show his face at the Queens UFT office tomorrow anyway. He will be there at 4 PM to mansplain his latest example of the sheer contempt he has for professional women who stand on the same level and who do the job better than he.  He will be flanked by three other men. If he reads this post, he will probably bring a token woman or two along with him. 

Michael Mulgrew and the two other men who run the UFT are hiding behind a terrible moment in history specifically to remove a woman who they see as a threat to them and to their power. Mulgrew needs to be removed as president. This union is suffering under his poor leadership and is hurting under his overcompensating act of punishing a woman -or anyone- who can do the job better than he can. 


Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Why You Should Vote YES On the Contract Tomorrow

It's raining this morning. I write when it rains. 🤷‍♂️

Let's be clear. This is too much damn work for a lousy 3% yearly raise.  This is bullsh*t. Teachers work very hard stressing every single detail every single day. Teachers know hard work. We're no strangers to it.  Yet even by teachers' standards, this raise is bullsh*t. New York City teachers work twice as hard as even their own colleagues in other urban districts and many of us have been discovering that the teacher shortage has now made its way to New York's suburbs as well. I see more and more leaving for the suburbs every year. This contract will accelerate that process and the reason that process will be accelerated is that this is too much damn work for a 3% per year raise. The realities of financial life will lead teachers and potential teachers to make their own economic decisions from this very practical position. It's too much damn work for that level of pay. We will have a brain drain soon, if not a full-on shortage. That dye has now been cast. 

I am glad that Power's That Be in the UFT and NYCDOE have concluded that, sure, they can probably loose x% of their teaching corps to higher paying jobs in the suburbs or the private sector over the next few years yet still operate a school system. That's nice. It must be nice to look at a whole system in that light.  It fails to capture that those of us who are not going to leave for the private sector or the suburban school districts are going to suffer from a peculiar type of anger that will only seethe toward or employer but will be fully and professionally expressed in union interactions, andso I am sure it must be nice. But that's going to be the tone and tenure of this teaching force over the next several years. Whatever to the DOE and screw the UFT is going to be the theme over the next few years and that is because of this terrible pay increase. 

If I weren't less than 10 years from one of the last livable pensions in the US, I'd bounce, too.  If an Uber driver coupled with a few free-lance gigs from home, can land a person more cash than a tenured teacher's salary in New York City, then why else stay?  I can explain why I would go: Because this is too much damn work for a lousy 3% raise for the next few years. There is no other way to assess this financial package. 

Having said all that, if you haven't voted by today (July 4th) then I suggest you take a subway down to the AAA tomorrow 7/5 and vote yes for this contract. Here's why:
American Arbitration Association
120 Broadway, New York 10271 

1. It's less work than we had in 2018. 

Many of us will be paid for as many as 55 minutes each week for what many of us already do from home; call parents. Also, we will have to be in the building for at least one day less every year (more, actually). It agrees that PTC are remote. This all means less work at work and that frees up time. Some of us may get a jump on traffic so that means even less time commuting! It means less time to be away from the family and friends and more time to be near them. That's what it means. 

The extension of OPW time means less time being droned at by supervisors in meetings. For me, being droned at feels like work. But spending that same time in my classroom, grading papers so I have less papers to grade when I'm at home doesn't feel like work. Maybe that's just me.  For me, that's just getting some work done so that there is less for me to do at home. Don't let people fool you: Extending that OPW time means less work for us. That is now our time to catch up. This is less work. 

This is too much damn work for a lousy 3% yearly raise. And it is still too much work. But there will be less of it because of this contract. That's why I voted yes. 

2. New Opportunities to Make Extra Money

This blog has always been super favorable of UFT HS VP Janella Hinds. I have called her transformative in the past and this contract is an example of the transformative leadership I was writing about. Our remote learning experience has done many things. Among those many things is advance the process of teacherless teaching.  This was a real concern. This is exactly what Bloomberg meant when he said he wanted to cut the amount of NYC teachers in half (half!). At one time in high schools,  classes for credit recovery had as many as 100 students in them or more, each learning from some dumb watered-down not educating online system or another -and one teacher being paid to watch over it. COVID's remote learning experience threatened to advance that process. The technology package of this contract ensures that good paying remote teaching jobs, for teachers, go -to UFT teachers. Not to some website or company sucking on the teet, but to city teachers. And not for per session, but pro rata. (Per session is a fixed amount per hour rate. It is worth roughly half of the hourly rate of top salary teachers. Pro Rata is 20% of your annual pay for each year-long section or course you teach). The UFT and the DOE have guaranteed that remote learning can continue to grow in New York City without watering down the learning process and without preventing teachers from being paid a fair wage for doing so. This whole topic was a lemon for us and had been for years and Janella Hinds and her team turned it into lemonade (that's the transformative part). This is money. This is a chance for teachers to make more money in good paying pro rata overtime jobs -forever- from our homes. 

There are lots of items I choose to indignantly ignore about this contract. For instance, the "signing bonus" is insulting, but I'll probably spend it. The "annual retention bonus" promises -someday- to pay just enough for a suit and pair of shoes to wear on our next job interview, but I'll probably spend that on something else. The terrible pay increase negotiated for para educators ensures that no para will ever be asked to work in my presence again (THANK YOU for coming in to do this with us every day). And keeping track of the time allotment among these new complicated SBO choices for the school day has officially become more difficult than the statistics unit from an AP Psychology course. But I have developed a lot of indignance over the years, so I will continue to ignore. 

I'm angry at the pay. But the creation of new time means less work and the chance to work from home for some good overtime are the two reasons you should head over to the AAA tomorrow (before 5PM) and vote yes for it. 

American Arbitration Association
120 Broadway, New York 10271 

It's just across from Zucotti Park. You can take the 4/5 to Wall Street.