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UFT November Delegate Assembly

November 26, 2009 am30 11:52 am

For years I took notes at DAs. What was the point. But I regret not taking notes last week. What follows is from memory. The “quotes” are really paraphrasings.

This was, before I jump in, one of the more discouraging President’s Reports I’ve heard… because we are facing tough times. But it was also one of the most heartening, maybe the most heartening President’s Reports I ever listened to, because the new guy seemed in touch with reality (no matter how tough it was) and showed a willingness to… well, you’ll see.

“How are you this evening/afternoon?” In a few months or a few years, this question will get old. But Michael Mulgrew asks this of each speaker from the floor, and each pauses, decides it is a real question, and answers. It is disarming, humanizing, personalizing.

1. Motion to Authorize our Negotiating Committee to Declare Impasse

This was the biggest item, but almost a non-item. It was not a declaration of impasse, but more like a vote of confidence that the negotiators have been trying, and that the City has been difficult, without filling in any details. Will we declare impasse? I don’t know, but the option is there, and has the support of the DA, if it becomes necessary. Debate was handled well. The objections (look what the fact-finders did to us last time) are real… and must be taken into account. It would of course be better if we were so strong that it was the City that was running looking for assistance. But given the balance of forces, and if negotiations stall, we may need to take this route. At that point, if we get there, we should look at what other options we have (delay a contract, concede on non-concession issues) and make the decision. And we can do so with the confidence of the Delegate Assembly.

2. Race to the Top

I wish I had taken notes. Mulgrew says, we would like the money, but we’re not going to give up core principles to get it, we don’t absolutely need it. I wish I had the wording. In short, he says that if the money comes poisoned, we should pass.

3. Data/Progress Reports

Mulgrew got HS delegates with A’s and D’s to raise their hands, said that teachers in both groups of schools were working hard, mentioned that the DoE was manipulating its own scores by changing cuts, questioned the quality of the data, etc, etc. The Chancellor talked earlier that week about how the schools he created were doing better than the other schools, and Michael’s comment was good, quotable from memory “They are all your schools!”

4. Special Ed/ No Excuses

Update from Carmen Alvarez. Real push for more reporting of violations.

5. Thompson

UFT leadership got called to task for not endorsing Thompson. Fifty-thousand votes in NYC is pretty close, and I can’t promise that the UFT could have made the difference, nor can you tell me that a UFT endorsement would not have made a difference. We could have made it damned close.

So Mulgrew’s response, essentially that the race was not close enough, was wrong. The underlying idea, that we should only endorse winners, was wrong.

But this is the Delegate Assembly, which is sometimes the theater of the Bizarre.

Mulgrew was being challenged on our failed endorsement policy by a leader of ICE – which along with Unity and TJC, did not endorse Thompson.

Only New Action (my caucus) endorsed Thompson, and that was back in June.

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