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Friday, September 4, 2015

The Issue of Mandatory Dues For Collective Bargaining

UFT members who do not want to continue to pay for the fun freebies and bi-monthly catered buffet at the UFT meetings (52 Broadway - you should go! Lots of food), listen up:

withdraw from COPE, and look at the BECK Amendment.

Betsy Combier

Supreme Court takes case on public union dues
Mandatory union dues are currently forbidden in 25 states, and Pell hopes the Supreme Court will extend that nationwide.
Supporters of the teachers say that the supposed distinction between political spending and collective bargaining is blurred when it comes to public sector unions.
"What the teachers are objecting to is the fact that in the public sector, the distinction between union dues for political activities and union dues for workplace bargaining is artificial," said Will Collins of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a group that has filed a brief in support of the teachers. "All workplace bargaining involving public sector unions necessarily affects the size and
scope of government making it an inherently ideological activity."
But the unions contend the dues for collective bargaining which goes toward issues such as contract negotiations and grievances are not used for political purposes and instead are necessary so that the union can represent all employees whether they are members or not. The unions say they negotiate on behalf of all workers -- members or not -- and believe that everyone should pay their fair share.
"We are disappointed that at a time when big corporations and the wealthy few are rewriting the rules in their favor, knocking American families and our entire economy off-balance, the Supreme Court has chosen to take a case that threatens the fundamental promise of America: that if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to provide for your family and live a decent life," the four major unions representing public workers said in a statement.

Liza Featherstone on Open Meetings For School Leadership Teams


School leadership teams shouldn't meet in secret

Mayor Bill de Blasio is having a hard time keeping his promise of transparency.
His administration is appealing a State Supreme Court decision in April by Justice Peter Moulton that school leadership team meetings at public schools be open to the public. The city maintains that team deliberations don't fall under the open-meetings law, and should not be open to the public or the media. Recently, the mayor ordered that requests to any city agency under the Freedom of Information Law be routed through his office.
The teams were founded in 1998, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg abolished elected school boards. Each NYC public school has a leadership team of elected parent and teacher representatives, as well as the principal, the teachers union representative and the PTA head. It meets monthly, advises the school on policy and helps craft budget and curriculum priorities.
Under de Blasio, the meetings began taking place behind closed doors. Some, including the advocacy group Class Size Matters and Public Advocate Letitia James, have joined a lawsuit to open them to the public.
De Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen FariƱa are appealing the judge's decision and refuse to abide by it, telling principals to keep the meetings closed. This sends a message that only parents and teachers need to care about what goes on in public schools.
But in his ruling, Moulton wrote, "The proper functioning of public schools is a public concern."
As a recent leadership team member at my son's elementary school, I agree. We would've welcomed the public and media to our meetings, which provided a valuable window on the challenges administrators face to provide a great education for NYC kids on a limited budget.
Observers also would've seen what a flawed substitute the teams are for representative democracy under mayoral control. As engaged as my team was, it didn't make policy decisions. Those were made by the principal. The team was only consulted -- at best.
The meetings should be open because they invite public discussion and the possibility of more democratic school governance.
Liza Featherstone lives and writes in Clinton Hill.

ALERT: UFT Professional Development Credit Offered For Bird Watching

Wow. Is Project Pigeon Watch hiring teachers? How much money are they getting from the NYC DOE?

What sayeth you, oh leader Mike Mulgrew?

Betsy Combier

UFT President Mike Mulgrew

October 17, 2015
11:45 am - 2:00 pm
Boathouse in Prospect Park
Brooklyn, NY
Join us for our upcoming workshop, Bird Watching Basics. Learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home and how to create lesson plans about birds that meet the Common Core requirements.
Information will also be provided on Project Pigeon Watch which students from preK-12 can enjoy. Bring binoculars if you have them.

This workshop qualifies for two hours of professional development credit. Registration fee is $5. See the flier.