THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE
PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXV, No. 14 May 5, 1998
IT'S POLITICAL ACTION TIME
By Morty Rosenfeld
If it's the beginning of May, the PCT is beginning to gear up for the forthcoming Board of Education and Library Board elections. This year, there are three contests for the Board of Education and one seat up on the Plainview Public Library Board. Of course, the budgets of both institutions are also up for a vote.
Five candidates will be vying for the three seats on the Board of Education that will be filled in this election. The candidates are incumbents Ginger Lieberman and Alicia Kabak and challengers Cathy Schapp, Stratford Road PTA President, Lisa Lablang, former principal of the Stratford Road School, and Alan Borko, a parent and businessman making his second run for the Board.
In the election for Trustee of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library, Trustee Michael Polansky is running unopposed.
On Tuesday, May 5, 1998, the PCT Political Action Committee will make its recommendation on endorsements to the PCT Executive Board. There additionally will be a recommendation on the budgets of the school district and public library.
Preparations have been made for the PCT to take its usual active and effective part in these elections. Building Reps will be recruiting members to participate in our phone-bank operation to be conducted on May 17, 18 and 19. This year, we will be trying a new approach of assigning different schools to different time slots of our phone-bank operation.
Taking a position to endorse candidates means essentially nothing if it is not backed up with the voluntary labor necessary to ensure the endorsed candidates' election. It should go without saying that who sits on the Board of Education is vitally important to our membership. That being the case, it is equally important that all our members take part in our political action efforts. Everyone is busy; everyone has family responsibilities; everyone is experiencing the stress of the impending end of the school year; everyone can think of more pleasurable things to do than to make hundreds of phone calls. But, some three thousand of them will have to be made if the PCT is to continue to be an important political presence in our community.
For almost twenty years, I've worked with the officers and members of our union to attempt to build the habits of peace in our labor/management relations with the district. Recently, with the addition of the librarians of the Plainview Public Library to our ranks, we have worked to accomplish the same thing in that workplace. In recent years we have met with success. There still have been hard issues to face, but more often than not, we have been able to resolve them equitable and peacefully.
That hasn't come from our suddenly turning nice or adopting some new conception of unionism. It has come from being tightly organized around steadfast beliefs. It has come, too, from skillful political action, backing and electing candidates who are not threatened by the presence of a strong union, people who do not feel the need to challenge us in the hope of defeating us.
I know that the officers and I can count on you to make a maximum effort in the upcoming elections.
On the weekend of April 24th, our state organization, NEA New York, held its annual convention. The PCT was represented at this important meeting by the PCT and CUPCT officers and delegates Kermit Wilson, Helen Cohn and Jackie Pekar.
By far the most important item on the agenda was a vote on the Principles of Unity negotiated between the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Would our state organization support the proposed merger of the two great education unions in America? Although the PCT has long supported a merger, the issue is a controversial one in the ranks of both unions.
By a secret ballot vote, the delegates voted, by a bit less than a 2 to 1 margin, to support the proposed merger.
The next step in the merger process will take place at the NEA Convention in July. If two thirds of that body approves the Principles of Unity, and if the AFT convention does the same, the two unions can begin the process of formally merging the two organizations, a process that will probably take three to five years before it is completed.
There remains a huge doubt as to whether two thirds of the delegates to the NEA Convention will endorse the Principles of Unity. At a meeting of the NEA Executive Board on May 2, 1998, the Board, made up of leaders from across the country, endorsed the Principles of Unity by a vote of 106 to 53, just two thirds and this from the highest leadership body other than the Convention. One thing is for certain, the July NEA Convention will be interesting. Members wishing to read the Principles of Unity will find this document on the PCT Web Page.
PCT delegates to the NEA New York Convention were also pleased that all of the resolutions that they brought to the convention were adopted by that body. Chief among them was our resolution calling upon the New York delegation to the NEA convention to work against NEA President Bob Chase's New Unionism and the threat it poses to the solidarity of the member organizations of the NEA. Additionally, our representatives convinced the Convention to support President Clinton's call for elementary class size reduction and using the growing federal budget surplus to fix the Social Security System.
One item on the Convention's agenda proved a disappointment to our delegation. A proposed amendment to the NEA New York Constitution, proposed by the Board of Directors and supported by the officers of our state organization, that would have broadened the authority of NEA New York to organize "professional" workers in educationally related fields failed to receive the necessary two thirds vote.
LEGISLATIVE COCKTAIL PARTY
On Thursday, March 26, 1998 representatives of the NEA/New York locals on Long Island met with state legislators and their representatives at a cocktail party held at the Maine Maid Inn in Jericho. High on our legislative agenda is passage of what has come to be called the Tier Reinstatement Bill, a proposed law that would permit public employees who left service only to return later to be restored to the retirement tier they were in when they were first hired. Our representatives also spoke to the need to pass an NEA/New York bill that would extend the rights of Tier II members who were hired after June of 1971 to use a five year final average salary to calculate their retirement benefits.
Other items discussed were our opposition to Governor Pataki's proposal for charter schools. Under the Governor's proposal, charter schools would not have to employ certified teachers, would not have to abide by collective bargaining agreements in the districts in which these schools are established and would not have to comply with most of the regulations that public schools are required to obey. In short, charter schools are but the latest attempt to undermine the public schools and replace them with a privatized system of education.
This year's legislative cocktail party drew the largest number of members to date. The only downside of the party was the unfortunate fact that both houses of the legislature were unexpectedly in session with the result that many legislators had to cancel their attendance at the last minute. Recognizing this, PCT representatives were particularly glad to note that our Assemblyman, David Sidikman found a way to make our party and was publicly supportive of our legislative agenda.
CONGRATULATIONS TO SUE SALZMAN
For the second straight year, the child of a member of the PCT has won the $2000 NEA New York Scholarship. Bonnie Salzman, daughter of Kennedy High School Foreign Language teacher Sue Salzman, is this year's recipient. In addition to an outstanding academic record at Syosset High School, Bonnie caught the NEA New York Scholarship Committee's eye for her work with the elderly and mentally challenged. Our warmest congratulations to Bonnie and the Salzman family.
ALFONSE AT IT AGAIN
Not content with his attack on the tenure system, Senator Alfonse D'Amato recently offered some other prescriptions for the ills of public education. In an op-ed piece in a recent edition of Newsday, our senator called for merit pay and teacher competency tests which he hopes to enact in a piece of legislation he has drafted called the Merit Act. The proposed legislation would provide financial incentives to states that adopt teacher competency testing and merit pay schemes.
SAFE DRIVER COURSE - LAST CALL
The spring session of the PCT Safe Driver course will be held on May 27 and May 28 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Choral Room of POB Middle School. As of this date, there are 22 places left. PCT members wishing to enroll should call the PCT Office immediately. The cost for the Safe Driver Course is $30.
PCT WEB PAGE BUILDS READERSHIP
As we might have expected, our recent crisis brought significantly increased activity to our web site. During the period that we were protesting, we had over 600 hits at our site. This compares to the approximately 150 hits usual for this period of time. It will be interesting to see if the numbers continue and if people who found us during the crisis return.
The May edition of our web page is up for viewing. Members are encouraged to let us know if there are items that they wish to see on our web page. If you haven't visited our site yet, it can be reached at:
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