THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE
CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXV, No. 11 Feb. 9, 1998
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MERGER
by Morty Rosenfeld
The day that many of us have longed for is at hand. It seems clear that there will be a merger of the NEA and the AFT. The goal of one union of education employees able to speak with a single voice will be a reality by 2002. Yet, given the current leadership of both organizations, what can a merged organization be counted upon to say? How will the lives of those working in our nation's schools be improved by the creation of the largest union in the U.S. - a union comprising over 3 percent of the workforce?
Those of us who have worked for this merger hoped to build a united organization that having put behind its union against union struggles could focus the energy and power of a 3 million member union on militant advocacy on behalf of education workers. We hoped through merger to renew our movement, to charge it with the kind of spirit that rescued workers in schools from conditions that were tantamount to serfdom and gave them the resources to shape their own destiny, a movement that said in a strong, clear and united voice, we have made much progress, but there is much more to be done to improve our conditions.
Sadly, the national leaders of the NEA and the AFT appear to be shaping a different kind of organization. Both Bob Chase and Sandra Feldman are preaching the gospel of the "new unionism." Though neither clearly defines the term very precisely, I fear their meaning is nonetheless clear. When in the name of quality education they call upon us to participate in removing our members from their employment, when we become embarrassed by having a political action fund and seek to change its name to "The Fund for Children and Education," when we are asked to cooperate with management in places where the power relationship clearly mandates that the cooperation will take place on management's terms, in short, when we become ashamed of what we are and of our aspirations for a more decent workplace and standard of living, when we forget that our primary obligation is to the members we serve, what will a merger do for us?
TAKES A DIVE
The District's food service, operated by Whitsons, has undergone a gradual deterioration this year. Recently, however, it has hit rock bottom. Claiming that the company is losing money on its operation, Whitsons has stopped serving in the faculty room of the high school, leaving about 150 staff members to stand on line with 1400 students. Members will also be interested to know that they have fired an employee who has worked in our high school cafeteria for 13 years and recently came down with multiple sclerosis. The PCT will be talking to the Board of Education to see if we can't get a food service that is interested in our business.
FOR ROSE-MARIE LOPEZ
The officers of the PCT have announced their plans to hold a memorial ceremony for Rose-Marie Lopez, who for many years faithfully served our union and welfare fund, on Thursday, March 5, 1998 at 4:15 PM in the auditorium of the Stratford Road School.
Members wishing to speak at this ceremony are asked to notify the PCT Office as soon as possible.
January 16, 1998 was the cutoff date for submission of petitions to run for election as a PCT Officer. The following members submitted petitions:
President - Morty Rosenfeld
H.S. V.P. - Cindy Feldman
M.S. V.P. - Vicki Ahlsen
Elementary V.P. - Jolynn Gabel
Treasurer - Tom Syrett
Secretary - Judi Alexanderson
President - Cathy Regan
Vice-Pres. - Mary Ann Bruder
Treasurer - Diana Haber
Secretary - Joanne Catanese
Chairperson - Eileen Vein
Sec./Treas - Rose Weiner
Alternate - Ronnie Osofsky
NEA/NY CONVENTION DELEGATES
Mary Ann Bruder
There being only one candidate for each position, the constitution of the PCT provides that the Secretary cast one (1) ballot for each candidate. This process will take place at the March meeting of the PCT Executive Board.
NEA/AFT MERGER - THE DETAILS
On January 25, 1998, at the NEA Northeast Regional Leadership Conference in Portland, ME, NEA President Bob Chase announced that the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are very close to an agreement on a statement of principles for a merger of the two teacher unions, a merger which would create the largest union in the United States with 3.2 million members or 3% of the American workforce. Assuming final details can be worked out, the statement of principles will be presented to the national conventions of both organizations in July. Should both organizations ratify this document, an agreed upon process, including the drafting of a constitution, would be triggered which would bring the two organizations completely together by 2002.
Between the ratification of a new constitution (1999 or 2000) and 2002 there will be a transitional governance structure, with the NEA and AFT presidents named "Founding Presidents." The NEA Founding President will have the duties of president and the AFT president will function as an executive vice-president.
When completely merged in 2002, the governance structure of the as yet unnamed new organization will be as follows :
OFFICERS - 7 full-time national officers - president, executive vice-president, 4 vice-presidents and a secretary-treasurer.
EXECUTIVE BOARD - 7 officers plus 30 additional members elected at large by delegates to the convention of the new organization.
LEADERSHIP COUNCIL - 400 members including the national officers, Executive Board, state presidents, presidents of locals with membership of 2500 or more, representatives of constituency groups and at-large members equal in number to those who owe their positions on the council because of election at either the national, state or local level. The leadership council will be the highest governing body between conventions.
CONVENTION - Held annually through 2007 at which time the interval will be reviewed. There will be approximately 10,000 delegates elected from state and local organizations.
One of the many thorny issues in the merger talks was the issue of who shall belong to the new organization. The AFT has many members who do not work directly in education. There is agreement that there will be 6 categories of membership, K-12, educational support personnel, higher education, retirees, professional and technical health care workers and professional and technical government employees.
Another difficult issue has been AFL/CIO affiliation. The tentative agreement will have the new national organization affiliated with the AFL/CIO with state and local organizations having the option of affiliation. It should be remembered that individuals do not belong to the AFL/CIO, organizations do.
Finally, there is the issue of mergers of state organization. The tentative agreement calls for the NEA and AFT to encourage mergers of state organizations, but the decision to merge or not will be left to the state affiliates of both organizations.
OPERATION FIGHT BACK
IT'S TIME FOR THE TRUTH ABOUT AL D'AMATO
PCT members are more than aware of the attack on them by Senator Alfonse D'Amato in his bid for re-election this fall. The teachers of New York State, however, are not about to simply absorb D'Amato's assault. Coordinated by NEA/New York and NYSUT, our members are organizing to fight back against a legislator whose record on education issues should make him the last one to blame us for the problems in our state's schools.
Last week, PCT members received a report card on our junior senator detailing his lack of support for public education. The PCT is organizing to distribute 10,000 copies of that report card to the members of the Plainview-Old Bethpage community on Sat., Feb. 28, 1998. That's our part in Operation Fight Back.
Building Reps have received distribution assignments for members in their building and will be signing up individual members for particular time slots. This is an important job that the officers and building reps cannot do for the membership. If you are outraged at the unprovoked attack of Senator D'Amato on you and the work that you do, this is you chance to get even, to speak up for yourself and your colleagues. Volunteer today in this important political action effort.
LI WRITING PROJECT
This summer, the Long Island Writing Project, a branch of the National Writing Project based at Nassau Community College, will be offering its sixth annual Summer Invitational program for teachers of all subjects, K-College, who are interested in developing strategies for improving student writing. Twenty teachers will meet on the NCC campus from June 29-July 24 from 9-3 to write, participate in demonstration lessons, and work on adapting strategies to their classroom settings. A $500 stipend will be paid to each participate. In addition, six graduate credits can be arranged through Hofstra University at their regular graduate tuition rate. On-campus child care at Nassau's highly-regarded day care center may also be available for children under six. If you are interested, please contact your principal, who has been sent a nominating form, which must be returned by February 13. Any questions, please call Melanie Hammer at 572-7630.
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