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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Movement Starts: Toward an End To Involuntary Payment of Dues to the UFT

The BECK Amendment deals with the issue of members' dues to their union, and where to draw the line. It's an issue that needs to be addressed, especially in New York City and particularly with teachers, paras, and other members who pay UFT BIGs - Mike Mulgrew, Leroy Barr, Ellie Engler - a lot of money basically to do nothing.

Communications Workers of America v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735 (1988) is a decision by the United States Supreme Court which held that, in a union security agreement, unions are authorized by statute to collect from non-members only those fees and dues necessary to perform its duties as a collective bargaining representative. The rights identified by the Court in Communications Workers of America v. Beck have since come to be known as "Beck rights," and defining what Beck rights are and how a union must fulfill its duties regarding them is an active area of modern United States labor law.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

And the worst part of this is, UFT members do not have a choice; in blunt language, if you join the UFT you MUST pay your dues. Paying is not voluntary. Doesn't this leave the BIGs to do whatever they want, from helping someone to doing nothing, as they will get your dues money anyway?

Time to do something about this:
1) make paying dues voluntary
2) permit a member to pay their dues money to benefit THEIR welfare, not that of UNITY folk who couldn't care less what classroom or rubber room you are in.

Betsy Combier

Free the teachers from automatic dues

, NYPOST, Jan 21, 2014

AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT President Mike Mulgrew

A favorite talking point for the teachers union is that charter-school operators earn more than the schools chancellor.
Funny thing: As the United Federation of Teachers’ own spending reports show, at least five UFT executives earn more than the chancellor’s $212,614 base salary; union president Mike Mulgrew makes $250,000.
More interesting is that the source of this money is force. While everything about charters is voluntary — no one forces children to attend, teachers to teach there or foundations to pay executive salaries — it’s the opposite for the rest of the system.
For the salaries of Mulgrew and Co. come courtesy of an automatic payroll deduction from every teacher’s paycheck that goes for dues. And the city does it for them. Thus, Mulgrew is spared the expense of having to persuade the UFT members he’s worth the dues he asks. And taxpayers underwrite public-sector unions that then use their dollars to buy political influence to extract even more money from the public till.

Teachers’ union boss spent $18K in Bond-like HQ spy sweep

, NYPOST, Jan 20, 2014
Something’s bugging teachers-union boss Michael Mulgrew — or, at least, he thinks so.
The United Federation of Teachers president blew a huge wad of union cash to play out a paranoid James Bond fantasy when he paid $17,849 for a security team to sweep his headquarters for bugs, documents show.
A crew from Protective Countermeasures & Consulting Inc. was hired to sweep for listening devices at the UFT’s offices at 52 Broadway, a review of union spending reports reveals.
The payments were made in January and March of last year, just as the union leadership grappled with key strategic decisions such as labor-contract negotiations and who to support as the next mayor.
The union would not say if any surveillance devices were found.
Some union members thought it was unlikely anyone would bug the union — and that it was ridiculous that Mulgrew is using Cold War tactics to play a game of “Tinker, Teacher, Soldier, Spy” in the UFT headquarters.
“I have no idea why they’re doing it. It’s very odd,” said James Eterno, a dissident UFT member who ran against Mulgrew for president in 2010. “I didn’t know we were like the CIA and have to keep secrets. I didn’t think we were that important. It’s not like someone is going to get killed if something leaks out.”
Protective Countermeasures, a New Rochelle-based firm, specializes in identifying security threats such as “corporate eavesdropping” and helps craft “counter espionage” plans.
Its Web site says it uses equipment that “neutralizes” bugs. The sweep also checks the electric grid, light fixtures and walls for video transmitters, infrared recorders and laser technology.
Eterno wondered if Mulgrew was looking for the UFT version of Edward Snowden. “I don’t think there’s any worry about me or anyone else planting a bug in Mike Mulgrew’s office,” he said.
A UFT spokesperson would say only that it pays for “routine security services.”
The anti-spy initiative was just one of the entries listed in the UFT’s $190 million spending report covering its massive empire, fueled by $50 semimonthly union dues paid by rank-and-file teachers. The UFT also poured nearly $4 million into political campaigns through its super PAC, United for the Future, and spent an additional $4.2 million on TV and radio ad blitzes and advocacy.
The teachers union defended its spending as appropriate.
“The UFT’s financial report covers funds spent on our 200,000 members, including refreshments, reimbursement for transportation and parking and other expenses, along with routine security services,” a union spokesperson said.
“We are proud of every dollar we spend on our members and on advocacy groups fighting for better schools.”

$tate of the union

  • 54 union reps and staffers got salaries of more than $100,000. The average was $144,000 — triple the starting teacher salary of $45,000.
  • Five UFT officials were compensated more than the $212,614 base salary for the schools chancellor. UFT chief Michael Mulgrew makes $250,000.
  • $264,000 to groups that campaign against charter schools, including the rebranded ACORN, now called New York Communities for Change.
  • More than $1.7 million on food, including conferences at the Hilton and Waldorf.
  • $150,000 for tickets to movies, the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show, Mets and minor-league baseball games, and union swag such as mugs and tote bags.

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