THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE
CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXVI, No.9 June 1,1999
By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld
Being a gentleman of a certain age, I sometimes forget that my experience of unionism is different from many in our ranks. Having had a grandfather in the needle trades and a father who was a significant player in the birth and development of the union representing federal civil service employees, I tend to take as self-evident the reasons members of unions are obliged to work in common cause. I have never had any doubt about the importance of subordinating my thoughts and needs for the benefit of the group. The people who helped shape me did that routinely and with pride. They knew that their solidarity gave them power to better all their lives. To paraphrase a line from Eugene V. Debbs, a great union leader and candidate for President of the United States, they did not wish to rise from the ranks but to rise with them. They knew that their chances were better together than they were individually.
I was reminded of my responsibility to talk about some of the basic tenets of unionism by a conversation Ive had with several members who hold a different view of whom the PCT should have supported in the recent school board elections. They knew one of the candidates personally and thought this person superior to the PCT endorsed candidates. They saw nothing wrong in publically working for their preferred candidate and rejecting the endorsement of their union.
Why would members reject the recommendation of the elected officers and executive board of their union? I seems to me that such members must believe that their interests are better served by following their own inclinations and rejecting the democratically determined position of their organization. But how can that be so?
A union in which members go their own ways on issues is no union at all. Belonging to a union is recognizing that ones ability to earn ones living and ones chances of being protected from arbitrary treatment on the job are almost certainly improved by acting together with ones colleagues than by going it alone and making a private deal with an often willing management. There is a small price to be paid, however, and its not union dues. Its the need of union members to put the welfare of the membership foremost in their minds, to participate actively in the work of their organization and to support the democratically determined policies of the union even if they were on the losing side of the vote. Sharing solidarity is easy when everyone agrees. Its when we have some differences, when all points of view cannot be accommodated that we must strive to achieve a democratic discipline so that from many voices comes the one loud and clear voice of the union. To do otherwise is to put selfishness first and ones colleagues last. It is the surest way to ensure that in the end were all last.
This has been an outstanding time for PCT political action activities. To begin, we had the best fund-raising drive for PCT/PAC we have had in years. We quickly raised some $30000 for our work in support of candidates for the Board of Education, the Public Library Board and the budgets of both organizations.
In the days leading up to the election, we did mailings and flyers and made over 4000 phone calls in support of Board of Ed candidates Ginger Lieberman and Sharon Dinkes and Library Trustee Elaine Gross. The response of our membership to our call for workers was nothing short of amazing. Its rare that people who wish to work are turned away because of a lack of anything for them to do. But, this time we turned people away.
The most important thing is that our efforts were completely rewarded. All of our candidates were elected and the budgets of both the school district and the public library were passed overwhelmingly.
On May 12, 1999, the PCT Negotiating Committee and the Board of Education Representatives met for the first formal session of the current round of collective bargaining to replace all of the PCT contracts which expire on June 30, 1999. The session was cordial and frank.
The major part of the session concerned a discussion of the teacher salary schedule and the extent to which it is substantially behind districts with which we are often compared. Also discussed were the Districts demands concerning extra time for staff development activities.
The next negotiating session is scheduled for June 1, 1999 at 4:00PM.
NEA/NY CONVENTION REPORT
Held over the weekend of April 23, 1999, this years NEA/New York Convention was held in Rochester. PCT delegates to the convention have a history of being active in the policy debates that take place at these meetings. This year was no exception.
The PCT brought resolutions seeking the support of NEA/New York for legislation to provide tier reinstatement for members of the Employees Retirement System, a patients ill of rights, extension of the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act among other items. All of our resolution passed and are now NEA/New York policy.
Our biggest success at the convention was passage of a resolution calling upon our state organization to investigate organizing "educationally relate workers" into our state organization. A similar PCT resolution was defeated at lat years convention. The leadership of the PCT believes this to be important in that there are many workers in public libraries and teaching hospitals who could benefit from becoming to NEA/New York, as we could benefit from broadening the membership base of our state organization.
Finally, NEA/New York PAC Committee Chair, Judith Alexanderson spoke for the committee in advancing a resolution to support legislation to change from a misdemeanor to a felony bomb scare or other threats of violence in public schools.
Once again, PCT delegates to the NEA /New York Convention set the agenda of the state organization.
PCT PAUL RUBIN SCHOLARSHIP AWARDED
At the Awards Night at Kennedy High School held on Wednesday, May 26, 1999, PCT President Morty Rosenfeld presented this years PCT Paul Rubin Memorial Scholarship to graduating senior Donna Lazarus. The Rubin Scholarship is awarded yearly to a graduating senior who shows promise of working for the betterment of others. The award is named for a past president of the PCT who was a leader in the struggle to build the first teacher unions in New York. The amount of the scholarship is $2000.
Rubin Scholar Donna Lazarus is a young person of great promise. An outstanding student, a volunteer at a nursing home and with the Police Athletic League, a worker in political campaigns, this young woman has done much more than most of her age. With grandparents who were activists in the labor movement in the 30's, with a mother who is a teacher unionist in another district, Donna aspires to become a lawyer practicing on behalf of working people and their unions.
NEXT YEARS ASSIGNMENT
One of the more overlooked clauses in the contract between the PCT and the school district is the one entitled Teacher Assignments. This clause says that teacher assignments "...shall be developed cooperatively between the teacher and his/her supervisor." The clause goes on to say that assignments will be made in a fair and equitable manner taking into account the interest, skills, background and preferences of the teacher.
Have you had a discussion with your supervisor about your program for next year? You are entitled to one, and you should arrange to have one soon.
As of this writing, the following PCT members have informed the district of their decision to retire.
Sandra Bennardo - Parkway
George Blouin - Kennedy
Jeanne Gargulio - Kennedy
Janet Gordon - Mattlin
Charlottee Hellreich - Kennedy
Angela Palumbo -Central Office
Muriel Phillips - Stratford Road
Del Presowitz - Kennedy
Carol Siminoff - Plainview Middle
We wish all of our retiring colleagues best wishes for a healthful and interesting retirement. We thank them too for their dedication to the making the PCT on of the best unions anywhere.
In the fall, we will again hold our PCT party to honor our retirees and to welcome those who will replace them. This has proven to be a better received PCT party than the traditional end of year fest that competes with parties for individuals.
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