Clare Rose Picketing

Reminder – we’re asking everyone to wear red tomorrow, (preferably your SWRTA shirt) even if you’re not joining us on the picket line. NYSUT has declared May 1st a National Day of Action. It is also International Workers Day, as well as Loyalty Day in the United States. And of course, it’s ALWAYS a good day to show support for public education.

More Information About Picketing
SWRTA will be supporting Clare Rose workers between 2:30 and 5:30 tomorrow (May 1st). Erin Schmalzle, SWRTA Grievance VP, will be the point person until around 4:30. I hope to be there from around 3:30 to to the end.

We currently have just shy of 20 people who’ve responded positively. Since a good number of them are only able to stay for a short while, we’d love to get at least another 5-10 folks to make sure we have a continuous, solid presence.  If you haven’t already done so, please reply to say you’ll join us (or just show up).

Picketing is on the West side of William Floyd Parkway, immediately South of the Expressway. Turn right onto Rose Executive Blvd. You can park along that road or in the Police Station lot (that link was incorrect in yesterday’s email. It’s now fixed.)

BRING THE KIDS!
A few people asked if it’s okay to bring kids. Not only is it okay, it’s very much encouraged. It’s good bonding time, it’s a great learning opportunity, and having kids there is a reminder that, ultimately, all of our union work has a tremendous impact on the next generation.

SIGNS
A lot of people also asked about making signs. You definitely don’t need to, but it’s a good idea. Here are some ideas:

  • Union Busting Is Disgusting
  • SWRTA Supports Teamsters Local 812
  • Clare Rose Hurts Working Families
  • Tell Clare Rose To Not Cut Workers Pay and Benefits
  • Teachers Standing With Teamsters
  • SWRTA Stands with Teamsters Local 812
  • End the War on Workers

BOYCOTT
Again, for the duration of the strike, please don’t purchase any beer distributed by Clare Rose.

LATEST STRIKE NEWS

Supporting Teamsters Local 812

Thank you to everyone who has responded so far about joining us on Monday to picket Clare Rose in support of Teamsters Local 812.

Why is it so important that we do this? There is one main reason, along with a number of additional benefits.

First and foremost, this is what unions are all about. Union members look out for one another, and when one is being mistreated, we stand together and say “this is not acceptable.” There is safety in numbers – and there is strength and power. Think of it as the grown-up version of the anti-bullying messages we give our students: be an up-stander, not a bystander.

Last year, when Verizon was threatening to freeze pensions, gut job protections, and force some workers to work away from home for up to two months at a time., many other unions – including ours – stood with them. (click the image below for more pictures).

The result was that wages were increased, pensions and protections were maintained, and previous work rules were upheld. There’s never one single factor that causes an employer to reach a fair agreement, but pressure from the outside (including other unions and the general public) can be a valuable asset for striking workers.

Exactly a year later, we have the chance to help again. What Clare Rose is trying to do is completely abhorrent and we need to support our brothers and sisters.

In addition to the above, there are some additional reasons why we really want to have a good presence on Monday.

It builds support with other unions – Let’s face it, teachers unions have a big target on us these days. When we’re out there supporting other unions, we’re generating positive feelings among other unionists that will come back to us in the future (we heard this A LOT from CWA workers last year)

It’s in our own interest – Every union fight affects us all. If Clare Rose succeeds in breaking this union, it is one step closer to an overall reduction in union strength in this state and this country. This will have very dire consequences for us in the not-too-distant future.

It just feels good – When you’re walking on another unions’ picket line, the one thing that you’ll hear over and over is how much your presence is appreciated. These folks are in a rough place right now, not getting an income and being very unsure what the future holds. If our presence gives them a little mental boost and helps them feel they have support, then that alone should be worth the half hour or so of your time.

So please, join us on Monday, any time between 2:30 and 5:30. Stay for as little as 10 minutes or for as long as you like. The picketing is on William Floyd Parkway, JUST south of the L.I.E.

You don’t have to RSVP, but it would help to get a sense of how many folks are coming if you can reply to this email.

Tomorrow I’ll be sending out details about where to park, what to write on signs if you decide you’d like to make one, and updates about the strike.

Finally, if you’re a beer drinker, please boycott products distributed by Clare Rose until the strike is settled.

Strike Alert

As you may have heard, drivers and warehouse workers at Clare Rose (distributor of Budweiser and quite a few other beer brands) launched a strike on Sunday. This is in response to a contract proposal that would slash wages by 30% and eliminate pensions for some workers.

As with last year’s Verizon strike, there’s a lot a stake here. The company is threatening to “permanently replace” the workers, a move that would have serious repercussions, and further weaken the position of all unions – including ours.

Also as with last year’s Verizon strike, it is critical that other unions (including ours) come out and show support for the striking workers. NYSUT has already begun to have a presence, and they are asking locals to take part.

We’ll be reaching out soon with information on how you can help. Please stay tuned.

2017-18 State Budget Summary

The New York State Legislature finally reached an agreement on a state budget last week, a little more than a week past the deadline. This was the latest budget during Governor Cuomo’s time in office (although quite shy of the 2-4 month late budgets of the late ’90s and early 00’s). You can click here to see the final bill and get an understanding of why it is referred to as “The Big Ugly.”

The following is a top-line look at some of the key issues. For more detail, please see NYSUT’s detailed summary (from which this post was excerpted and modified).  For the sake of comparison, if you want to look back at what NYSUT was advocating for and what the individual houses were proposing, please see this prior post.

School Aid

  • The budget includes an increase of $1 billion in school aid, which includes an increase of $700 million in Foundation Aid and fully funds expense based aids. This is far less than is needed just to maintain everything at last year’s level.
  • The proposal to eliminate the Foundation Aid Formula was defeated.

Millionaires’ Tax

  • The Millionaire’s tax was extended for two years, without any progressive expansion.

Teacher Centers

  • Funding for Teacher Centers was restored and increased by $5.74 million, for a total of $20 million.

Charter Schools

  • The proposal to eliminate or increase the charter cap was defeated, as was the proposal to unfreeze charter school tuition rates which would have provided these schools with hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • The proposal to require school districts to reimburse charters for costs related to the employment of school-related professionals such as: nurses, food service workers and others was rejected ($124 million).
  • Charters will receive an additional $500 in funding per pupil in 2017-18 that will be paid in the first instance by the resident school district but is fully reimbursable by the state in the following school year. After 2017-18, per pupil charter school tuition payment increases are linked to the growth in per pupil spending in each school district, which is not be reimbursable by the State.

Tax Cap

  • There was no change to the Tax Cap law.

“Free College”

  • The final budget includes something that the Governor is touting as a major accomplishment, but critics say is just a gimmick to boost his progressive credentials in preparation for a 2020 Presidential run: Free tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools. Undoubtedly it will be a big help to many students who might not otherwise be able to attend college, but the program is extremely flawed, as described in this piece at Slate.com.

Union Dues Deduction

  • Union Dues may now be deducted from income for calculating State Income Tax. Previously, union dues could be included under miscellaneous deductions, which had to exceed 2% of adjusted gross income (this is still the case for Federal Income Tax). This will open the deduction up to many more people, but still only to those who itemize rather than taking the standard deduction. Estimated savings for those who can take advantage is somewhere around $75.

FOIL

  • The changes to the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) that would have made collective bargaining agreements subject to FOIL prior to their ratification by union members were not included in the budget.

NYSHIP Retiree Health Insurance Benefits

  • The Enacted Budget rejected the proposal to eliminate the reimbursement of Medicare Part B premium rates for NYSHIP retirees, as was the Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts (IRMAA). The Enacted Budget also preserves NYSHIP retirees’ individual (and their dependents) share of their health insurance cost, based upon their years of service and grade-level as a state employee.

Governor’s Right to Modify Budget

  • Because of the uncertainty stemming from the Federal budget proposed by the President, the State budget includes language allows the Governor to modify and limit state spending once the Federal budget is solidified. In that situation, the Legislature has ninety days to pass their own plan, and if after ninety days, the Legislature has not acted, the plan developed by the governor and the division of the budget will be put into place.

Welcome to Gerald Poole

The Shoreham-Wading River welcomes Gerald Poole as the new Superintendent of SWR Schools.

Mr. Poole began his career as an elementary teacher at Phillips Avenue School in Riverhead, where he taught 3rd grade and later worked as a literacy coach. He left Riverhead for an Assistant Supt. position in Valley Stream before taking the position in Freeport, which he has held for four years.

He is a lifelong east-ender who currently lives in Mattituck with his wife and two high school age sons. You can read more on the SWR Website and in this article from the News Review.

We offer Mr. Poole our sincere congratulations and look forward to working with him.

Support Christine Pellegrino

Christine Pellegrino, a veteran reading teacher in Baldwin, is running in a special election in the Ninth Assembly District to fill the vacancy created when Joseph Saladino was elected Supervisor of Oyster Bay.

For the past couple of years, NYSUT and the AFT have been pushing for teachers to run for office – from Boards of Ed, to town councils, etc, and Ms. Pellegrino is one of the most high-profile examples of this. Running as a Democrat in a very Republican skewing district, she is a longshot. But with enough support, a victory is definitely possible. And of course, this is not just about political party – it’s about protecting public education. Think back just to 2015, when the “Heavy-hearted” Democrats in the Assembly sold out public schools, and it’s clear to see the tremendous benefit of having an actual educator in that body.

The election is May 23, and it is very likely that we will be calling on you in the next few weeks to help in getting her elected.

In the meantime, learn more about Ms. Pellegrino from her website. And if you want to throw your support behind her right away, you can click here to find out how to help.