Posts tagged "United Federation of Teachers"
June 18, 2013
Even as Bill Thompson has continued to criticize the Bloomberg administration’s education policies, he has courted the mayor’s education allies.
Thompson has privately dined with charter school backers and assuaged their fears about what his mayoralty would mean for them. He’s taken thousands of dollars in campaign donations from a Success Academy board member and won the fundraising support of Merryl Tisch, a top state education official who helped expand the charter school sector.
Most recently, he has distanced himself from some Democratic rivals by refusing to oppose a key education policy that the Bloomberg administration has used to help non-union charter schools thrive.
Thompson has managed to stay in favor with these groups even while getting support from Randi Weingarten, an old friend, and emerging as a favorite to get the United Federation of Teachers endorsement, which is scheduled to come on Wednesday (The principals union, a close UFT ally, is endorsing him on Tuesday). His ability to cultivate support from advocates who are often at odds with one another on education is a testament to his political savvy and his experience as a schools policymaker in New York City, political observers say. (more…)
June 12, 2013
A steady stream of blue flowed down the Brooklyn Bridge Wednesday afternoon as union teachers marched in solidarity with more than 100 other labor organizations that are without contracts for the first time in New York City’s history.
Public school teachers haven’t had a contract, or a raise, in more than four years since it expired in 2009. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew has said that either Mayor Bloomberg or his replacement will have to find the money to pay his members more than $3.2 billion in back wages.
“It’s time, it’s overdue,” said Rosalina Vazquez, a school librarian. “Not just for the UFT, but for all the unions. We’re here as one, united.”
The teachers ended at City Hall Park where they joined police, fire fighters, sanitation workers, nurses and other public employees who make up the city’s 300,000 workforce for a rally calling on Bloomberg to negotiate back pay in their contracts. (more…)
May 31, 2013
An organization founded to tackle one shortage area in computer science education is teaming up with the teachers union to address another.
Girls Who Code, whose founder Reshma Saujani is running for citywide office this year, launched last year to address stark gender inequities that exist in computer science, one of the many job markets in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) where women are underrepresented. The organization’s eight-week curriculum began last summer with 20 girls and will expand to 160 this summer, with new programs in Detroit and San Francisco as well.
The organization will also be lending its curriculum out to help train a small group of 20 teachers, the United Federation of Teachers announced this week. The union is trying to keep pace with the evolving demands in career and technical education and union chief Michael Mulgrew said one challenge is retaining young math and science teachers, who leave “because we don’t give them something engaging to do.”
“We’re going to make the difference by doing it where it really counts, which is training the teachers so they can bring it inside of the classroom because that’s where the students are,” Mulgrew said this week at an event announcing the pilot, called “Teachers Who Code”. (more…)
May 23, 2013
The United Federation of Teachers might not have endorsed a mayoral candidate yet, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been busy picking politicians to support. The union has endorsed candidates in more than 40 local and citywide races, too.
The UFT endorsed 13 City Council candidates in their Democratic primary races at its Delegate Assembly meeting Wednesday night. Seven of them are running for seats whose current occupants cannot run again because of term limits. The union plans to endorse candidates for all 19 open council seats.
The union endorsed state Assemblywoman Inez Barron in the primary for the 42nd district, an East New York seat that has been filled by her husband Charles for the last 12 years. It’s support that Charles Barron could not secure last year while running against Hakeem Jeffries in a Democratic primary for Congress. In that race, the UFT opted not to endorse either candidate.
The UFT is also supporting one of its own in the 47th district primary, which encompasses several southern Brooklyn neighborhoods. Mark Treyger, a civics teacher and union delegate from New Utrecht High School, officially got the union’s support on Wednesday evening. (more…)
May 22, 2013
Randi Weingarten is ramping up her support for Bill Thompson’s mayoral bid, just days before her successor at the United Federation of Teachers is due to make an endorsement of his own.
Weingarten, UFT president from 1998 to 2009 before moving on to head the union’s national organization, is helping to host a Thompson fundraiser at Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch’s home on June 12, according to an invitation that’s being circulated to drum up support from women voters. Tisch is Thompson’s campaign chair.
Weingarten worked closely with Thompson when he was president of the city’s Board of Education, from 1996 to 2001, and counts him as a personal friend. She has previously donated to his campaign, as have other education heavyweights who have personal ties to the candidate.
Weingarten is in South America visiting schools as part of her work with the American Federation of Teachers and did not respond to requests for comment. But a spokesman said, “She has great confidence in his character and abilities.” (more…)
May 15, 2013
When former comptroller Bill Thompson took the stage at the United Federation of Teachers conference on Saturday, he joined fellow mayoral candidates in criticizing Mayor Bloomberg’s education record.
But Thompson, the former president of the city’s Board of Education who ran against Bloomberg is 2009, took a more measured approach when putting together his formal education platform. He outlined the platform today in a policy speech at New York University, becoming the first candidate to set out a complete education agenda.
Thompson’s platform — which skimmed over some important issues — reflects ample criticism of Bloomberg administration education policies. He reiterated a commitment to avoid school closures, promised to “lead with teachers” rather than threaten them, vowed to involve parents in policy making, and pledged to reduce schools’ emphasis on testing.
But it also signals that Thompson would expand, not end, many of Bloomberg’s school policies. (more…)
May 13, 2013
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn fought hard to distance herself from the Bloomberg administration during a mayoral debate hosted by the teachers union on Saturday, but she could not escape being the only candidate to be booed by union members angry at the mayor’s education policies.
When UFT officials asked the mayoral candidates at the teachers union’s spring conference whether they believed the next chancellor needs to be an educator, Quinn’s answer stood out from the chorus of “yes” responses.
“Not necessarily,” she said.
It was not a new stance for Quinn, who has said for months that she believes a qualified non-educator could successfully lead the school system. But when she cited as someone who fit the bill U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, whose agenda overlaps with Bloomberg’s, she drew loud boos from the crowd.
It was a major misstep for Quinn, the Democratic frontrunner, as she worked to hit the right notes during the United Federation of Teachers’ mayoral debate, which came a month before the union — one of the city’s most powerful political forces — plans to endorse a mayoral candidate for the first time since 2001. (more…)
May 2, 2013
Mayor Bloomberg said today that a deal to give teachers retroactive raises to make up for five years without a new contract would cost billions and cripple the city’s financial stability.
“It’s just something the city can’t possible afford,” said Bloomberg, who made the remarks while presenting a $69.8 billion spending plan, the final proposal of his administration.
Retroactive raises for the more than 100 municipal labor unions and organizations with expired contracts is a looming issue for the city’s fiscal future and in the mayoral campaign to replace Bloomberg. Bloomberg has refused to negotiate new deals if it means the inclusion of the raises, which would total 4 percent for the city’s 80,000 teachers.
He estimated today that costs from retroactive teacher raises would be $3.8 billion in 2014 and $1 billion every year after. Raises for all city workers would cost a combined $7.8 billion in 2014 and $3 billion in subsequent years, he said. (more…)
April 5, 2013
Even as many unions nationwide are struggling to retain their clout, the United Federation of Teachers is still flexing considerable muscle in New York City. But with a teacher evaluation deal still up in the air and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s last months in office approaching, the teachers union is nonetheless at a crossroads.
Just how much the current moment translates into change for the UFT will not be clear for years. Other turning points in UFT history have been more obvious. Here are a few:
1960: The UFT is born out of rival factions
The Teachers Guild, a group made up primarily of older teachers, and the more confrontational High School Teachers Association merged in 1960 to create the UFT. Relations between the two groups, which were not the only unions representing city teachers, had thawed after members picketed together the previous year. The UFT’s future hegemony was not at all obvious then, as the union didn’t have collective bargaining power until December 1961 and the Teachers Guild didn’t dissolve until 1964. The UFT would play a crucial role in the education upheaval later that decade, including the 1968 teachers strike precipitated by the firing of teachers in Ocean Hill-Brownsville.
1968: Teachers strike for months (more…)
April 2, 2013
The UFT is a politically powerful organization with millions of dollars at its disposal and sweeping campaigns that aim to make change at the highest levels of education policy. But at the heart of all of the spending and lobbying is the union’s contract with the city.
Clocking in at 165 pages just for classroom teachers, the contract spells out everything teachers must do, and everything they should not. Some of its clauses, such as those specifying what teachers cannot be compelled to do, have drawn fierce criticism for impeding administrator discretion so much that student performance suffers. But the contract is also the only guarantee that teachers are compensated for their time and receive due process rights when they are accused of misconduct.
For all of the conflict the contract elicits, it has meaning on the ground only if someone enforces its terms. That job falls to the small army of “chapter leaders” who represent the union at each school, and who are many teachers’ only contact with their union.
UFT Secretary Michael Mendel calls chapter leaders — who are elected by their colleagues every three years — “the backbone of the union.” But who are the chapter leaders? What do they actually do? What challenges do they face? The answers to those questions, which have long been obscured behind individual schoolhouse doors, are essential to understanding how the UFT serves its members and calls upon them to take action. (more…)